Monday, May 21, 2012

Hello Jambo, Oli reporting from Valencia, 15th May, Bulgarian cooking, this week’s online purchases, to Montrondo and Galicia and back and other stories.

Eladio and I in Bueu this weekend

Hello again

It’s Monday and you will have realised I didn’t write yesterday but that was because we were away for the weekend and a fabulous weekend it was as you will hear later.
On Monday we said hello to Jambo.  Jambo is Suzy’s new kitten and has been given the Tanzanian Swahili name actually meaning “hello”.

Little Jambo, Suzy's new kitten

So, yes hello Jambo.  Suzy rescued the tiny ginger kitten on Sunday evening as she was driving home.  It was in the middle of the road and in immediate danger of being run over.  Suzy is very like her Father Eladio in that she loves animals so of course she had to rescue it and give it a home.  The tiny little creature soon adapted to her cozy new flat and has been receiving visits all week.  Jambo also came to visit us or rather was left with us as Suzy went to give a lesson to San last Tuesday, 15th May. 

Suzy and Jambo

I suspect that we will be hosting Jambo many times.  In fact this week Suzy is in Barcelona where she will be giving an important presentation to the management of her company, Aramark and actually Olivia is in charge of looking after Jambo while she is away. We will probably have the pleasure of the little creature’s company once again and will have to be careful to keep it far away and out of the danger of our frisky and over enthusiastic dogs Norah and Elsa who wouldn’t think twice about taking a mouthful of Jambo. 

Jambo came to visit on 15th May, a bank holiday

Whilst Jambo was adapting to life with Suzy, Olivia was in Valencia reporting for the morning programme she works for; La mañana de la 1.  She was to be live on the screen two or three times a day throughout the week. 

Olil reporting for TVE from Valencia this week

 Many of the cases she reported on were court cases and by now she seems to be well versed in how these work as well as familiar with the jargon. 

Oli interviewing a witness in a court case in Valencia this week

Although she was based in the city of Valencia, she travelled with her team all over the area, including Murcia, Alicante and Castellón. Her favourite report was about a Counsellor called Olga Camps from Burgassot. The counsellor became famous overnight in Spain when the town hall held an important voting session in the hospital where she gave birth as her vote was considered important to improve a local plan. 

Oli with the counsellor whose story hit the news this week

Tuesday was 15th May, an emblematic day in many ways.  First the 15th May is a holiday in Madrid to celebrate the capital’s patron saint, San Isidro.  It is also, as I wrote last week, Eladio’s youngest brother’s birthday who is called Isidro as most boys are in Spain, who are born on that day.  For me the 15th May is tinged with sadness, as it is the day my dear brother George died in 2001, aged only 46.  What can I say, except that life has never been the same and that we miss him but carry him always in our hearts and here I speak for my Father and myself.  He was a beautiful boy as you will appreciate in this photo I treasure of the two of us when were about 18 and 20 years old.

George and I when we were young

The 15th May was also the anniversary of the so-called Spanish revolution, the beginning of demonstrations of discontented young people, symbolized by the taking over of Spain’s most famous square, the Puerta del Sol.

For us it was a quiet day at home and I must say it was very warm, in fact the whole week until the weekend seemed like the middle of the summer and we spent a lot of our time outside. 

Me by the pool on 15th May

Here I am sitting by the pool in the late afternoon.  There are more photos of 15th May here in this file you can access in this link.  All in all it was a memorable day as you will now understand.

Last week we had a taste of Bulgarian cooking thanks to Ivanka. I remembered dishes my Mother and Aunt used to make and asked her whether she could cook them.  Of course she could. My favourite is a cold cucumber soup made with natural yoghurt, cucumber and garlic, called Tarator and you drink it like you would gazpacho.  It is so refreshing and of course has hardly any calories.

This is what tarator looks like

Ivanka also made “sarmi” which my Mother used to call “gloupsi” and is a dish of stuffed cabbage leaves.  The filling is made with minced meat, rice and onion.  When Ivanka is cooking in the kitchen, it reminds me of when my Mother used to cook and gives me a good homely feeling.  I know she can also make “baklava” but I’ve told her to leave that till Christmas as it so fattening.  

This week some of my online orders arrived.  The first to arrive was a parcel from Amazon with two Jubilee cushions.  They are now gracing our sofa in the bedroom and are my contribution to the Diamond Jubilee fever.

My jubilee cushions which came from Amazon this week

Just before we went away for the weekend, the parcel with more soft yellow towels from Marks and Spencer’s arrived.  You probably didn’t know, but now you do, that I am something of a towel freak, to Eladio’s despair of course. 

The lovely yellow towels which came from M+S online this week

The last order arrived in our absence at the weekend and I was delighted to open the parcel from Emma Bridgewater when we got back on Sunday.  I had ordered more pottery to replace some of the pieces Olga had broken and others that Suzy had taken to her new flat.  Here you can see how I enjoyed a cup of coffee this morning with my new polka dot cup and saucer with a matching napkin.  Coffee tastes even better if the cup is attractive.

Coffee in Emma Bridgewater cups always tastes better

On Thursday Eladio and I left for Montrondo where we were to join José Antonio and Dolores for the weekend and also to be there on Sunday for this year’s family gathering in honour of Antonio, my Father in law who passed away 7 years ago on 20th May.

The weather was lovely but got much cooler as we approached the mountains.  We were there in good time to make a simple but delicious dinner after which we went for a walk to nearby Murias de Paredes and back.

In the morning, we packed our bags again as the four of us were leaving for Galicia.  However before going, I took a short walk in the village to take a few photos with my lovely Samsung Galaxy S2 to capture Montrondo at its best in the middle of May.

Montrondo is lovely at this time of year

We were going to Galicia, to the “Rías Bajas” on a sort of personal site inspection trip to look for accommodation for our holiday this year and José Antonio and Dolores, who is from Lugo in Galicia, were coming along for the ride. 

The Rias Bajas in Galicia in north west Spain, one of the most beautiful parts of the country

Our destination was the small fishing town of Bueu where we were to go and look at a flat belonging to a friend to see if we wanted to stay there in the summer.  We had booked rooms at one of the three modest hotels in Bueu and our choice was the Hotel Loureiro on the small beach of the same name. 

The view of the Ría de Pontevedra from the dining room at the Hotel Loureiro in Bueu

We arrived at about 14.30h just in time for lunch and decided to try the seafood on offer at the restaurant at the hotel.  We were not disappointed.  The zamburiñas (small scallops) were out of this world.

The zamburiñas (small scallops) were delicious
In need of stretching our legs and eager to explore Bueu, we walked into the small town centre which is dominated by the fishing port.  Here we walked the length of the sea front and back and then returned for a siesta.

José Antonio, Dolores and Eladio at Bueu

 I myself skipped on the siesta and went in search of the beach the other side of our hotel.  I was delighted to find it was the Porto Maior beach we had been to with my Father in 2007. 

The Porto Maior beach just outside Bueu

Later we went to visit my friend’s flat in the centre of the town, after which we got into the car to visit nearby Sanxenxo.  Sanxenxo is perhaps the area’s most famous town and beach and is where Spain’s Prime Minister spends his summer holiday.  I had only been once before and only briefly by car so did not recall it very well.  I was bowled over by the wonderful Silgar beach and seafront.  There and then we decided that at least a part of our holiday would be spent there.  Sanxenxo, if you haven’t been, is a sort of min Santander or San Sebastián with the sea front being an integral part of the small town.  We would be back the next day to further search for accommodation.

The Silgar beach in Sanxenxo

From Sanxenxo we made our way to nearby Poio in search of a recommended restaurant, the Casa Solla.  Casa Solla, an old Galician stone house, converted into an haute cuisine restaurant with a Michelin star, turned out to be an amazing gastronomical experience with lots of tasty appetizers like you get at the finest restaurants in Spain, such as Arzak in San Sebastian.  We expected an enormous bill but were pleasantly surprised when we were presented with a most reasonable bill.

It was fine dining at Casa Solla in Poio

With very happy stomachs we returned to our modest hotel and got a much better night’s sleep than I had expected.  The next morning we rose to a fantastic view of the Ria de Pontevedra and saw that it had rained heavily until early morning.  The weather forecast for the weekend was dreadful but in the end it hardly rained at all and the sun was out most of the time, to our delight of course as we had gone equipped with umbrellas and all sorts of rain gear that wasn’t necessary in the end.

Breakfast was simple but delicious.  José Antonio and I enjoyed two of these amazing croissants whilst Eladio and Dolores preferred toast.

The croissants at the hotel in Bueu were fantastic

We checked out bright and early and by 10 were in Sanxenxo.  We went into an estate agency to enquire about summer rentals only to be advised that it was much cheaper to book rooms at a hotel if we were only two people.  Then I remembered Eladio’s sister, Pili and her husband, Andrés, had stayed at a hotel there the year before, so texted them to get the name.  It was the Hotel Rotilio right by the harbor with views of the port and the Silgar beach.  We loved the rooms on sight, but thought we would go and see the more luxurious Hotel Sanxenxo first before deciding.

The hotel Rotilio where we will be staying in the summer in Sanxenxo

In the end we booked 7 nights at the Rotilio and decided over a cup of coffee at a café in nearby Portonovo that the other week would be spent in Asturias.  So there and then I rang Montse, the owner of La Casona de la Paca in delightful Cudillero ( similar to Robin Hood’s Bay) and booked the “special room” for 5 nights to be spent straight after our stay in Sanxenxo. 

The Casona de la Paca hotel in Cudillero, Asturias, where we will be staying in the summer after Sanxenxo

Delighted with our arrangements, we decided to have lunch at nearby O Grove, a rather fashionable little town on the seafront just across the way from the even more fashionable tiny island of La Toja.  For Eladio and I, it was our third time at the much recommended Posada del Mar where we had been with my Father on previous visits to Galicia.  Here we feasted on “caldo Gallego” (local broth) and Dolores and I enjoyed zamburiña pie.

Eladio and I in O Grove by La Toja island on Saturday

After lunch it was time to head back to Montrondo, some 500km away, so a long drive.  This time we took the motorway via Santiago, La Coruña and Lugo and actually were “home” by 8.30.  I hardly had an appetite for dinner after so much food in Galicia and whilst Eladio and José Antonio were watching Chelsea play Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, Dolores and I went for a much needed walk to Murias and back.

We came home to see the English beat the Germans, again in a penalty shoot out and went to bed exhausted.

The next day we were up early and I spent a good part of the morning making lentils as a first course for the family lunch. The rest of Eladio’s brothers and sisters and his Mother arrived at about midday and 12.30h had us at the village church for the memorial mass for Antonio, the family patriarch.

Just before the mass started Alejandro, one of Eladio’s brothers, went up to the belfry and started ringing the bells. He was shortly joined by Eladio and the two had a grand time as you can in the picture.  I think they were remembering their past and how they used to love ringing the bells when they were boys.

Eladio and Alejandro who enjoyed ringing the bells at the church in Montrondo on Sunday

After a short and boring mass in the very cold church, we visited the cemetery to pay our respects at Antonio’s grave after which we all walked back to the house and started preparations for the family lunch.  Everyone had brought something and we all shared our contributions.  Best was Adela’s cocido.  We were 12, just the adults as the younger generation was not able to come this year.  Once again I realised that thanks to Antonio, the family was reunited and remembered my smiling and somewhat cantankerous father in law with great fondness.

You can see all the photos of our trip to Montrondo and Galicia here

It was too cold to enjoy being outside so soon we all said our goodbyes and got into our cars to make the journey home.  Eladio and I were home by 8.30 and glad to find the house nice and clean and looked after by Ivanka.  My Father was pleased to see us and I had brought him some typical Spanish biscuits made with almonds for him to enjoy with his tea in the afternoon.
The girls were not there, Suzy being at her new flat and Olivia out to the cinema.  We did see her briefly though before we turned in.  I would have liked to see Susana before she left for Barcelona this morning at the crack of dawn for her important event in Barcelona which I think takes place on Wednesday. Tomorrow will be Olivia’s 27th birthday and for the first time ever, I think, Suzy will be missing.  

As I finish this week’s post, just a few words to tell you that José Antonio is having an operation right now in the hospital in Madrid where both my girls were born.  Eladio is at the hospital and we are waiting for news. Meanwhile, I wish him lots of luck and a speedy recovery. 
On that note my friends, I leave you until next week.
All the best/Masha

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