Monday, December 29, 2014

Good food and vacinations during Christmas week

Our Christmas festivities started the day before Boxing Day when we had some friends over for afternoon tea. This may sound like an odd thing to do in Spain but I think our Edinburgh friend and his Spanish wife enjoyed starting out with bubbly cava with lovely egg sandwiches - with no crusts of course -and open faced gravlax with dill. For those of you unfamiliar with gravlax, it is pickled salmon from Norway with a sprinkling of dill on top. All this was followed by Assam tea, or Aryuvedic tea made up of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and red peppers to name a few things in it. Mince pies and Christmas cake with a thick coating of marzipan topped with icing decorated with snowmen made a fine accompaniment to the tea.

It was an early start for us on Christmas Eve day, as we had to drive to a hospital in Girona for our hepatitis shots. The hospital had a much calmer air than some of the North American hospitals we have encountered and it served really good espresso. The doctor took lots of time to chat with us. One thing that we were happy to get was a prescription for diarrhoea. This may not be Christmassy but it may help you sometime. Basically, it is charcoal that swells in your stomach once you swallow it. Charcoal, being absorbent, gives you some much needed help. We could have used this on some of our previous trips. The doctor, who spent much time in Africa, shared his observations on just how bad things were economically. Apparently the Chinese are ruining Africa with their shoddy imports of things like bikes and other equipment. There are no spare parts for them as they have been gathered up. A bike may last a couple of months before it has to be replaced thus becoming a costly proposition.
Shots completed, and refueled with more coffee, we headed into the center of Girona for a quick visit. We took a short walk into the old town crossing the river and admiring the views of the multicoloured houses. From there we just meandered about eventually discovering a little Italian shop where the lady made her own panettone, pesto and pasta. Last night we ate the pasta with pesto and I think it was one of the best pastas I've ever tasted. We stopped for lunch at a tiny little bistro specializing in seafood. We asked for the Menu del Dia. Good news, it came only in Catalan. This usually means that you are going to get a really good but inexpensive lunch. The server brought us a little glass of celery soup with baby squids on top to start with. Then we had a beautiful green salad followed by grilled sea bass that had been cooked on a bed of potatoes. Dessert was a baked apple. For €14 each we got all of this, wine, water and coffee. What a deal!

On Christmas Day the usual bar that serves coffee was shut. Finally, we found the only place that was open. We don't go there too often as it is a bit creepy. There is a very white, old lady, who always sits in the same seat, tends to stare and doesn't say a thing.  She is part of the family that owns the bar. Her sister or daughter, who is also old, serves the coffee. Once you have finished the old lady wordlessly springs out of her seat to clean your cups away. I greeted her with a loud, "Merry Christmas," which almost caused her to crack a smile. We missed the Sardanas - Catalan folk dance with accompanying band - in one of the squares as we got chatting with a Dutch couple from a nearby village.

Back home we prepared our Christmas dinner but there was a slight problem. Where were the parsnips? We searched the house high and low for them but they had disappeared. We came to the conclusion that we had left them at the market. It didn't really matter as we had lots of other veg to accompany our duck breast with Grand Marnier sauce. Our dinner later that day came to a perfect ending with plum pudding. Thank goodness for Amazon uk.

Yesterday was wet with the wind gathering strength. This can become quite tiresome as it makes walking anywhere difficult. Today the winds continued so we decided to go for Sunday lunch to Empuriabrava, our little Venice of Catalonia. As we reached the top of the mountain that we live on, we could see snow-capped mountains not too far away. In fact the snow level is down to 1000 meters. We stopped at the French bakery for some fig bread. The lady now is making a few dishes for takeaway including sanglier - wild boar - in a stew. Although we hear the hunters near our house shooting the wild boar, we never find any to buy but today we were lucky. The French lady explained to us that the Spanish don't really eat wild boar whereas the French do. In fact everything in the shop is made with French products. This is one meal we are looking forward to.

Blue Sky is our favourite restaurant, run by a husband and wife team. Sarah is from England and Angelo from Italy. It was Sarah's mum who did our Christmas baking with ingredients brought from England. We shared a salad with lettuce, endive, corn, pickles, celeriac and tomatoes then Seamus had porcini mushroom risotto and I had cannelloni with meat, foie gras, mushrooms and hazelnuts followed by yogurt with fresh red fruit. Unfortunately, by the time we left the wind had picked up again making it impossible to go for a walk. We have two more days of the wind. Cabin fever is setting in.

1 comment:

Country Girl said...

It was good talking with you on Christmas Day from Spain, El. Hope you continue to enjoy your trip!