It’s always lovely to come to Spain to visit my very good friends Linda & George. I have to say it was especially lovely this year to leave a wet, grey and chilly UK and fly out to sunny Spain where my first four days have seen gorgeous blue skies, full sun and temperatures around 27C during the day with just enough of a slight breeze to keep all comfortable. Their house is in the hills inland from Moraira on the coast, the nearest town Benissa. It’s quite isolated but not too far from civilisation for this city girl. I love the peace here and the views are spectacular – from the pool to places where we might sit to eat or have an early evening glass of cava.
We took things easy at first. Monday, my first day, we ventured only as far as Moraira where Linda and I sat late morning having a typical Spanish coffee – cortado – before popping into Hendrika & Co, a fabulous vintage shop, to say hello to Rita (who is Dutch). I can never resist buying something here. Last year I bought an antique silver spoon that had ‘Enjoy the day’ engraved on it and I gave it to my daughter the night before her wedding last September. I discovered completely by chance a few years back, going into the shop with Linda who thought I would like it, that Rita has been a faithful follower of my blog since almost the beginning. Linda didn’t introduce her to it – she just found it. Rita said she was expecting a delivery of some foodie things any day so I’ll be back for a better look another day.
On Tuesday, Linda and I went to Javea, about half an hour’s drive away, to have lunch at Mira Luna. I really like Javea and the food at Mira Luna is excellent and there’s a great view across to the sea.
We discovered that there were new owners – also Dutch – who took over in January. But the food was as good as ever and the tuna tostada we both had the best ever. It was amazing value (about €3.95) and excellent. Perfect for lunch.
We shared a slice of homemade (made by the lovely Dutch woman and owner serving us) apple cake with our coffees.
Linda and I got up fairly early on Wednesday to head to Valencia for the day. We drove to Xeresa and took a train to Valencia Nord, which takes you right into the centre.
I’ve been to Valencia a number of times now with Linda but never fail to love it; it’s a beautiful city and even the arrival at the railway station is exciting because it’s such an amazing building. We thought we’d do some different things this time and so didn’t head to the wonderful indoor market – but don’t miss it if you make a first trip to Valencia. I always think if I didn’t go there with Linda and George it would be a perfect destination for a weekend break.
We headed to the old town and the Centre del Carme – formerly the Convent of Our Lady of Carmen – where Linda had recently seen an exhibition of the work of famous Valencian artist, Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923). I thought I’d like his paintings too from what we looked at online and the Centre’s website suggested there was a permanent display. Sadly there wasn’t. The place wasn’t well organised and not really worth a visit.
Walking through the Old Town was lovely; Valencia is such an attractive city.
We’d looked up restaurants online and found one with good reviews we liked the look of in the Old Town. Unfortunately when we turned up we discovered ‘summer hours’ meant it didn’t open at lunchtime! Only evening. The guy inside was very friendly and offered to take us down the road to another restaurant he recommended – a fusion of Peruvian and Spanish food: Simalu.
It seemed a safer better than pot luck, and there was a good-sounding menu at €13.95 for 3 courses. In the end, it was only average. The waiter was great and when Linda said she couldn’t eat one of our three starters – a meat one – he insisted on bringing an alternative. We had a nice baccala – salt cold – salad to start, followed by a cherry gazpacho, which was new to both of us but surprisingly delicious.
It was the main course – the fish arroz, a kind of ‘wet’, more sloppy paella – that let the meal down.
It lacked depth of flavour and wasn’t great. My dessert of coconut panna cotta had a nice enough flavour but was very solid. So, not a brilliant lunch but OK. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of being in Valencia again and spending the day with a special friend. We headed back towards the station stopping at a great chocolate shop I’ve been to before: Cacao Sampaka.
It’s a chocolate lover’s heaven. It it hadn’t been so hot outside I would have bought lots to bring home. As it was, I settled for one bar of 70% dark chocolate with sea salt to take back to the house.
We were home by 8.00 for a relaxing evening of drinks and supper in the nia – covered terrace – enjoying the warm evening and watching the sunset.
Today is a lazy day. It’s slightly weird to be here knowing the Referendum vote is going on today at home. I’ve already done my postal vote. I’m a passionate Remainer and am strongly hoping when I wake up tomorrow it will be to find that the UK has voted IN and we remain in the EU.