Monday, December 26, 2016

Paella in València

We hit yet another free walking tour in València. At times I wondered if I was being a true adventurer while going on all of these walking tours, but it was just a really good way to get a lot of learning done in the space of a couple hours. After we sort of got the intro class to a city we were then free to go back to places that we wanted to see more or wander around to someplace new. I also appreciated having access to local people. I could speak with them and ask them questions about the specific city we were in or about Spain in general and they were always happy to help. I also liked to ask them concierge type questions about like where to eat or whether whatever was open due to the Christmas season making a lot of opening hours around here kind of wonky. Plus the tours were all "free". They asked for tips at the end but it was still about the cheapest entertainment around. Long story short I'm still super edgy despite going on all of these group tours like a senior citizen. Edgy, case closed.

I want to say our guide's name was Elena this time. I think it was a mixture of her being a really good guide and València being a great place, but this was probably my favorite tour.

València is known for paella. It's funny because in the US we think of paella as like the national dish of Spain but in Spain it's more of a regional dish. The word paella means "pan" in the Valèncian dialect of the Catalan language. The opera singer-looking lady on the wall there is hanging out in a good example of a paella pan.

Our guide told us that at one time this tiny place held the record for the narrowest apartment in the world but that some Dutch place surpassed it in its tininess. There's a story about a girl who used to live here wanting to go to a fancy ball but her gown was so big it wouldn't fit into her house so she had to get dressed on the street in front of it.

Elena stopped us in a really crowded pedestrian shopping area. It was so lively that it was difficult to pay attention. My favorite was this street performer. I think just the center head on the table is real and the other two are like puppets.

I think we first encountered the "three kings bring kids the presents" phenomenon on our trip to Puerto Rico, but it seems to be a Spanish thing as well.

They had a model of this church on hand for blind people.

After the tour as we retraced some of our steps we came upon this interesting car crash.

Some of our past tour guides were a bit overly focused on the history and didn't give us much of the local culture. Elena was really good about teaching us about the local language and especially about the food. Apparently they have their own twist on horchata but I was never able to track any down. What we were able to try was agua de València, which is pretty much a mimosa with Valèncian oranges and a bit of additional hard alcohol. It was pretty darn tasty.

I'm working on agua de St. Louis in the lab. I'm thinking something like grape Vess mixed in Budweiser with maybe a toasted ravioli on top as a garnish?

Another Elena pick was to try paella in a little nearby town called El Palmar where maybe it was invented? Anyway there were lots of rice paddies in the area so it already seemed pretty legit when we arrived.

There were restaurants everywhere with a lot of these cool canals with little boats floating on them.

Restaurante Isla had a decent-looking menu of the day so we popped in.

The decor was very church basement.

We did a poor job of choosing appetizers.

The paella itself was really good though. There's only one way to eat real paella, and that's with: "white rice, green beans (bajoqueta and tavella), meat (chicken and rabbit), white beans (garrofón), snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary".

Our set menu came with some yummy desserts as well. It's 4:30 and we're still eating lunch. Europe: accomplished.

Our final action of the day was to drive to our next city of wonders: Barcelona!

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