Good Wine, Good Friends & a Little Kindness

The days seems longer here. I think it’s because they’re so packed with things we’ve never done before. Navigating, learning how to do things and seeing stuff that leaves us in awe.

My day started with grabbing a Valenbisi bike (the best bike service anywhere) and riding 25 minutes to the city center to meet up with some friends, to go out to an area east of the city about 60 miles away. We were going to go for a full day of wine tasting and then lunch – or very late lunch by American standards. I am learning so I ate a very heavy breakfast.

Our first stop was at a winery called Chozas Carrascal.

http://www.chozascarrascal.com/en/la-bodega/our-vineyards.html

It sits on a plateau about 700 meters above the sea. When it’s cold in Valencia, it can be snowing up there. They have 100 hectres of grapes and 20 hectres of olive groves. A hectre is about 2.5 acres, for those of us unfamiliar with this measurement. They make wonderful wine and excellent olive oil. Both of which, I bought. The wines made at this amazing vineyard are unique in that they have varying special designations (Designation of Origin) as all the grapes in their wines are grown on those 100 hectres of land.

It reminded me so much of Napa Valley or even Eastern Washington state that I was homesick for about a minute. The gentleman who took us around asked me where I was from. I told him I had lived in California wine country for several years. He said he had never been there but had hoped to go someday. I told him he was wrong.

‘Look around. This is exactly like Napa Valley used to be 25 years ago. No crowds and a more simple feel. You have the best of Napa Valley right here. You don’t need to go there, you have this.’

They were lovely people and the tasting and tour were generous. At one point after we left, I broke the bottle of olive oil I bought from them (I won’t go into how), they heard about it and they saw that another bottle was brought to me to the village where we had lunch. I was so touched by their generosity and thoughtfulness.

Then we went to the town of Requena. Of course, it has it’s own castle. But we went to taste some wines and to take a walk into the past – the distant past. To the time when the Moors were ruling all of Spain and they utilized the caves below to store grain, (they weren’t drinkers) before the Spanish were storing wine in them. We all know the Moors are no longer running the show so the caves were converted to wine cellars and the rest is, literally, history. On some of the walls, you could see the finger prints of the people who had lined them with mortar centuries ago. Some of it was chipping off but most of it was still there.

In the winery we went to, the caves go back to times when they stored the wine in large terra-cotta vessels, so large we have no idea how they could ever have gotten them down there. We watched a video of donkey’s pulling them in 100 year old photos, but the stairs I went down couldn’t have been traversed by donkeys and there wasn’t an opening large enough to accommodate the immense size of the cisterns. But there they were, the vessels are still down there and you can see them in the pictures. The wine was great too and Anna, who showed us around, was very nice and while she said here English wasn’t good, it was excellent.

Our lunch at Los Cubillos Gastrobar, ( https://restauranteloscubillos.com/ ) right below the castle walls, was a Menu del Dia – of the usual 3 courses, but the food was local and one of the tastiest I’ve had since arriving here in March. The staff was really nice too. And spending two hours to eat lunch isn’t half bad. But if I get asked about American politics one more time I’ll jump off a castle. And here I can make good on that threat!

As lunch ended and it was time to go back to Valencia, my replacement olive oil arrived. I was so surprised. There was no reason for them to do this for me and yet they had – unbidden. I’ll enjoy it that much more every time I drizzle on something or dip something in it. A taste from a special day, with new friends in a place I’ve never been. I’m smiling thinking about it again already.

The Color of Happy

Don’t hate me, but I believe I now own the most beautiful grocery trolley every made. Yes, as you can see in the picture, my new yellow, 4 wheeled, grocery trolley is safely ensconced in the foyer of El Compartimiento.  And I couldn’t be more proud.

Grocery Trolley

We woke up today, and headed out early. We used our new Valenbisi bike service to cycle our way to the central city to enjoy a coffee and then do a little shopping at El Corte Ingles. The other day, I had seen a credenza there that might just go in our living room and Jeff and I went back and bought it. It’s being delivered on Thursday.

Next, we went to the kitchen section. We are in desperate need of a silicone spatula (Jeff is pretty sure the perfect one exists) and we needed to check them out. We went up a few floors and came around a corner looking for kitchenware, and there, under a spotlight,  sat my bright yellow trolley from my dreams. I think I heard angels singing. I approached it with the reverence it deserved and found it was 20% off. It’s like it was begging to come home with me, right then.

‘Ditch that horrible Ikea trolley (we can barely call it that, can we?) you bought the first day you got here. Take me home and I’ll never let you down.’ I heard it whisper.

Very sure Barry White was playing in the background. Yes, I could dig it. But we had come to Corte Ingles for other priorities, so Jeff peeled me away from that lemon colored beauty, and we perused the kitchen utensil section. He found the perfect spatula for his grilled cheese sandwiches (Emile would be proud), but he saw me eyeing that bright yellow, 4 wheeled – not 2 wheeled – grocery trolley.

‘We’ll come back after we have lunch at the beach.’ he promised me.  Ugh. I reluctantly agreed and we set off with our spatula and Chromecast Ultra, to round out our media viewing, safely in his backpack.  We cycled to the beach and enjoyed some tapas and refreshments. The marina was, as yet, undiscovered by us and we took full advantage – enjoying an after lunch drink overlooking where they keep those big yachts they race in the Americas cup.  A gorgeous day.

Valencia Marina

Heading home, we nearly missed going back for our bright yellow trolley. It had been a long day. We were a little tired and got plenty of sun. But then we got on the wrong train and ended up having to go back to Colon to get the right train. So since we were already steps away from Corte Ingles outside the Colon Metro station? Well, that trolley was going home with me!

We bought it and went down to the basement Supermercado and bought a bunch of food to put in my new trolley. It’s not Harrods food hall, but it would do to christen her for the inaugural run.  No pulling this trolley. NO WAY!! I’m pushing it on it’s 4 wheels – all the way home.

Getting off the subway and walking on the sidewalk, Jeff chided me a bit for pushing it like a stroller.

‘You know, it would be easier on the uneven pavement if you pulled it. It’s not a stroller.’

I shook my head in disbelief. How could he suggest this?!?

‘I don’t think you get it. It’s got 4 wheels. I can now push it and keep up with everyone pushing their food trolleys in our neighborhood.’

He shook his head. ‘I’m just saying it’s not a kid.’

‘Well, think of it like a food baby.’

He had no comeback for that! We walked in the door and there sat our sad Ikea trolley. It couldn’t hope to compete with my new Yellow, super trolley and it knew it. It just sat there sagging. You could feel it hoping that it hadn’t seen it’s last run to the Mercadona or El Chino. I didn’t promise it anything, but Jeff told me not to get rid of it because we’ll need to do some big grocery runs when we have guests, and we’ll be happy we have it.

But for now, the star of our house is our new Canary Yellow trolley. As I write this I ask myself – What the Hell has become of me!?!