Thursday, November 10, 2011

Desastre en La Cocina

Después de muchos meses en los Estados Unidos (San Francsico, CA), tuvimos ganas de comer una tortilla perfecta como comimos muchas veces en Catalunya.

La otra noche, Teo y yo hicimos uno pero fue un desastre:

?Alguien sabe que paso? 
Es posible que no usemos aceite suficiente o usemos demasiado patatas.
No lo sabemos. !Ayudados!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Now that we've been back a while, I can admit to being completely nostalgic for a few things from our previous life, right? Here goes, in no particular order:

Carrer de Lleo, Our Street
I always loved walking home, seeing all the same people going about the same business on our block. It's just not the same kind of community in a car-culture. I wonder if the neighbors miss me as much as I miss them?

Never Knowing What You're Going to Get
When we first arrived in Spain, I was longing for familiar foods like burritos, but I quickly became a fan of trying dishes I previously never considered food items, such as Rabo de Toro (Bull's Tail):

Weekdays Between 6pm and 9pm
This is when the neighbors come out on the plazas to have a beer or a chat or a kiddie game of street ball. The whole world slows down, lets the day go and actually enjoys time outside with friends. It's a beautiful thing.

Totally Un-P.C. and Sometimes Just Wrong
I once wrote about how the Spanish can seem offensive when viewed through an uber-politically correct American lens, but sometimes their awkward humor is just down right funny. I loved seeing odd uses of the American language, such as the following name for a clothing store. Do you think Granny realizes what she's posing under?

Celebrating Barsa
Clearly, if you read this blog, you know we are devout Barsa fans. Watching every game at BJ's 100 Club with all of these crazy fans was definitely the highlight of every week. We still stream the games live from our laptops, but jumping up and down by one's lonesome just ain't the same.

Sunday Paella
Is there anything on earth more tasty-looking? I don't think so.
For my birthday is this weekend and I'm making myself a big pot of paella to help cure my Spanish-homesickness. The Sunday Paella tradition lives on...!!!

 Note: This list does NOT include any of our dear friends we miss terribly. Come visit!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Back in the Bay

After barely escaping an all-out brawl with two thugs and the pilot on my return flight, we finally made it back to where we started. I would say "back home" but we're couch-surfing (thanks everyone!) and don't know yet where we'll land.

First stop in San Francisco: El Metate for tomatillo sauce, black beans and enchiladas. Mexican food never did taste so good!

Next stop: our lovely storage closet:

How in the world did we go from carrying everything we need in these two backpacks to an entire room full of junk?!

Ted couldn't find the charger to his beard trimmer in all that mess, so he went around like this goofball for a while:

But the real question we're asking ourselves is, did we ever leave? Everything here seems just as we left it, minus a few new babies and talking toddlers. A year goes by so fast! Did we just dream up that Catalan adventure?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

We made it: Santiago de Compostela!

After two weeks of trecking across Portugal and Spain, we finally arrived in Santiago de Compostela. We hiked over 200 kilometers and somehow escaped blisters, sickness, dog bites and all other major dramas.
The best part of the trip were evenings spent chatting with and cooking dinner with people from all over the world. I highly recommend the Camino Portuguese to anyone who likes walking, meditating, eating good food and making new interesting international friends.

We can´t wait to be back in California next week!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Portugal into Spain

And, on the seventh day, they took a rest.

To celebrate our re-entry into our adopted country, Espana, we´re taking a pause from all the walking to  enjoy the beautiful town of Tui in the region of Galicia. We´ve heard the food here, especially the seafood, is outstanding, some of the best in Spain.

This morning we crossed the river Minho which separates Portugal and Spain and it was a bit sad to leave that lovely country. The people of Portugal were exceedingly friendly and helpful. Once, we were invited into a family´s home to spend the night after a long day of walking. The family fed is three meals and treated us like honored guests. It was an unforgettable experience of generosity and warmth.
More later (like everything in Spain, the library is taking itś siesta now. I must gooooooo!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Camino Portuguese

Bon Dia from Ponte de Lima, Portugal.

Ted and I (and the littlest peregrino with a passport) have begun the Camino de Santiago, Portuguese route and are loving Portugal and it´s overwhelmingly kind and generous people. We started hiking on Saturday from Porto and hope to be in Santiago de Compostela, Espana by St. James Day, the 25th of July.

We´re taking it very slowly, walking about 15 kilometers per day through corn fields and vineyards, through bucolic little towns and over many ancient roman bridges. It´s proving to be the time we needed to reflect on our year in Barcelona and look forward to the excitement and challenges we´ll face during parenthood.

More to come on our Camino adventures...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Barcelona: A Dream

I walked past this hostel on our last day in Barcelona:

The slogan pretty much summed up our 10 months in that wonderful city. Even though we have left, I am not ready to wake up from the dream!

Here are some of our best buds helping us with our belongings. We miss everyone already!!! And special thanks to Marcial for shipping our bags via TDT!

And, this is me on the last day in our apartment:

While I'm not ready yet to reflect on our time in Barcelona, I am pretty excited about the next chapter ahead.

By the way, it's a chica!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

'A Wonderful Nightmare' in Sevilla

A few weekends ago in Sevilla, we were getting a taste of the southern Spanish culture before heading back to the States. The city's bullring just so happened to be across the street from our hotel and when in Sevilla...

I've seen a corrida once before, in Pamplona, while hiking the Camino de Santiago:

 From this dusty road, we wandered into this frenzied party. Someone passed me a calimocho (vino con cola), put their arm around my neck and then, I was swaying back and forth, along with the entire stadium of people, faking the lyrics to a traditional song.

The thrilling, beautiful world of colors, culture, history and passion, swept me away. I remember being awe-struck by the purity of the man versus beast theatre happneing below and captivated by the warm embrace of my fellow fans:

Six years later, in Sevilla, it was an entirely different scene - no shade in the sweltering Sunday heat, no padding on the concrete benches, no singing, no drinking and well, a few more years of contemplation on the tradition. 

I think Ernest Hemmingway summed it up best when he described the spectale as "a wonderful nightmare."

I am still drawn to the simplicity of the setting - an architecturally beautiful ring full of people all waiting to see a spectacle of man versus beast. 

And then the angry bull, suddenly, comes charging into the ring:

The ritual begins with several torreros, who taunt the bull with their bright pink capes in an attempt to tire him out: 

Things then turn gruesome. A horseman with a large spear comes parading out on a blindfolded horse and stabs the bull repeatedly. It is cruel. Seeing this for the first time (sober), Ted and I almost left.

Once the horseman has done his business, another man appears, holding two short spears, which he sticks directly into the bull's neck with one swift, precisly timed movement.

The bull, now visibly bleeding, is in the center of the ring. The matador, in a sparkly outfit, approaches, ready to perform the final act. 

He completely controls the tired bull, twirling it in circles with his flashy cape. There is indeed something beautiful in the moving shapes and shadows as they go about their macabre dance. After several minutes of show, a sword appears in the matador's hands, and with one motion, he drives it into the bulls heart.

Hopefully now, the torture is done, and the bull drops dead to the ground. If the crowd thinks the matador did a good job (whatever that means), they will wave a white flag called an 'oreja', an ear to show their approval. 

The crowd goes wild and quickly, a team of horses sweeps the dead animal away with men brushing up the dripping blood:

I don't ever need to see another bullfight, but they were experiences I will never forget. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Escape to the Mountains

A few weekends ago, we visited the aforementioned Caterina at her Pyranees mountain refugio where she's working as a chef for the summer. The refuge, more like a mountain resort, is nestled high in these granite rock formations which are part of a national park. 

The only way to get up to the refugio is to hike up the mountain. Fortunately, the 6-hour hike abounds with breathtaking sites such as this waterfall...

 And these tranquil lakes....

We took several breaks to enjoy the views and learn how to snack on local flora:

Finally, after hours of hiking, we spotted the camouflaged Regufio Amitges:

And tasted some of Caterina's delicious food:

Here's the view from the kitchen window.
And that lake is where she hangs out during her off time. 

We tried to impress the staff with our dish-washing skills, but they told us they weren't looking to hire any extra help.

 We were sad to leave - thinking about spending time here with Caterina, cooking for hikers and becoming familiar with this beautiful mountain landscape would have been a ideal way to spend the summer. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

To Make: Paella!

It seemed fitting that before my dear friend Caterina left Barcelona to work as a chef in a Pyrenean mountain lodge - I miss her already!!! - a group of us got together to make a giant Catalan paella in her honor.

Each region of Spain has it's own take on paella and Catalonia isn't especially well-known for it's particular version but I can't get enough!

 The following recipe is a combined effort of many of Caterina's friends remembering how their Catalan mother / grandmother used to make it. I was a very happy observer in this undertaking.

One thing everyone agreed upon: only fresh seafood will do. Don't bother otherwise.

Seafood per person
2 large prawns in shells
3 mussels
3 clams
1/4 lb squid

Other than the seafood, the remaining ingredients are easy to find:

Ingredients (for 6 people)
3 cups of white short-grain rice
6 cups of fish stock
olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
24 oz of chopped tomatoes in juice (canned or fresh)
2 tbs of red bell pepper paste
Handful of peas
1/4 cup chopped parsley
(optional: one chopped carrot, red pepper, green pepper, if you are feeling healthy)

Note: they tell me saffron is just for color and tourists. Who knew?

First, soak the mussels and clams in salty water so excess sand dissolves. Throw away any shells that don't close once in water, but then reopen them with a knife once they are clean.

Next, chop the squid into thin, bite-sized strips. You may have to use scissors for the tough parts:

In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion (and carrot / peppers). Once soft, add the can of tomatoes with juice and the squid strips. Stir this mixture for about 15 minutes until the squid soaks up all the juices. 

In another pan, stir-fry the un-peeled shrimp until they turn an appetizingly pinkish-orange color and set aside:

Next, add the peas, rice and parsley to the squid and let heat for a moment. Then add fish stock, clams and mussels and stir until the rice gets completely cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Finally, arrange the seafood in an beautiful pattern and viola

The paella was surprisingly easy to make and more delicious than anything I've been served in a restaurant. As for Caterina, she is the best too!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spanish Indignos Revolt

So begins the revolution....

They're calling themselves indignos (indignant people)...

...and Generation Tahir:

They're normal people, fed up with the disengaged Spanish government and it's inability to do anything about the unbelievable unemployment rate (41% for young workers) among other economic crises. They're camping out in Plazas across Spain, demanding the government do more:

Ted and I, along with friends from Oakland, Rebecca and Martin, went down to Plaza Catalunya last week to check out the scene. We couldn't help but smile to see so many people, united, peacefully demanding the government change, do something to help it's people.

But yesterday, the peace was abruptly broken at 7AM when the "acampada" in Plaza Catalunya was stormed by helicopter squads and attacked by policemen armed with rubber bullets and pepper spray. Sirens and screams could be heard all over Ciutat Vella - it felt like the entire city was under attack.

Police claimed they needed to clean the Plaza before tonight's Barca / Man U game, but this only enraged the protesters and prompted many more to join the fight. They barricaded exit roads and came at the police from all sides:

Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/AP

By 2PM, the police had surrendered and made a strategic, speedy exit. More people descended upon the Plaza, with groups setting up on the streets, blocking traffic and any further attempts to disassemble the camp:

This morning, the indignos responded to the attack by scrubbing the Plaza and refortifying the camp:

Photograph: LaVanguardia
The people, determined to maintain peaceful demonstrations until their voice is recognized by the government, are inspiring. Viva la revolucion!