Alcoi a dins i a fora


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Europe » Spain » Valencian Community
August 27th 2009
Published: August 27th 2009
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Walking off the train we were greeted by Inés, bronze as ever and looking very Spanish after having returned for the entire summer. We headed right to her famlily's place just a few blocks from the train station. The piso was very traditional, much to the dismay of Inés who wasn't the biggest fan of the classic look. With 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a large living and dining room, office, laundry room, and kitchen, it was a very nice sized home. Looking out the the window one could see much of the town sprawled out between the mountains. Her parents were at the summer home, one brother was in Barcelona, and the other was at work, so we didn't get to meet the family quite yet.

After showering quickly, we headed out into town to meet up with Inés' friends for drinks and some dinner - dinner or course would come many hours afterward. At 65,000 people or so, Alcoi is a sizeable city but very much manageable. It is famous for its Moros y Cristianos festival in which the historic battle of the expulsion of the Moors from Spain is reenacted over several days. There are pictures of Inés and her family participating in the house. Anyway, we walked through the city for maybe 15 minutes before arriving at the Plaça de Dins, a cute little square with cafés and restaurants. It was there that we met Silvia, David, Joaquín, and Rebeca, the friends with whom we'd spend the rest of the evening.

Meanwhile my hopes for more Valencià being spoken was fulfilled. In fact, it seemed as though the entire town functioned in the language. For those unaware, Valencià is the dialect of Catalan spoken throughout the Valencia region. For political reasons, and arguably historical ones as well, the dialect is considered a separate language and is governed by a separate institution based in Valencia. For as awesome as it was being totally surrounded by this awesome language, it meant I had to work extra hard to understand, and it really didn't seem like anyone was interested in reverting to Castillian to make things easier. I was able to understand enough, but found myself analyzing the various nuances of the language that separated it from standard Catalan. Meanwhile Chris was at the mercy of my translation or the occasional attempt at English by the Spaniards.

We sat for maybe two hours enjoying our beers and chatting before moving literally next door to another area of seating where we enjoyed an absolutely delicious dinner of a variety of dishes for sharing. Sobressada Caramelitzat (caramelized pork pate), Camembert, Albondigues (typical Alcoian meatballs), Foie Gras, and this interesting dish of essentially accordion potato chips (á la Taste of Chicago) covered with jamón and a fried egg. Topped off with some sangría and a sweet regional fortified wine, the meal was wonderful. I was too embarassed to be a weirdo tourist and take pictures with all the natives around me, so you'll have to just imagine what it looked like. Later, after running through a rainstorm we drove to a bar to enjoy another drink and a card game before heading home around 2am.

-end day-

The next morning I was awoken by a phone call from Inés, who obviously was just in the other room. It was noon, and her family was home. $&*%! Nothing like waking up late and being gross when you get to meet the family! Her mother and brother were happy to meet us (or at least faked it, lol), and as it turned out we were off to the mountains to spend the day at their casita in the campo. So....we threw on some clothes and off we were downstairs to the car. The family has had the small rural mountain abode at least since Inés was a child, and since it is maybe only 20 minutes outside the city, it is a very accessible escape. Driving through the hills and whatnot seemed very confusing with questionable signage and crazy twists and turns, but obviously we made it ok.

The house itself was a small cement structure, with another building next to it for storage and also more fridge-freezer space, as far as I could tell. It had a bedroom, bathroom, tiny kitchen, and a living room with a pull-out couch - very cute. Soon Inés´father arrived for his lunch break from work which meant it was time to eat! We also had gotten to meet Lluna (aka luna aka moon), their cute little stray dog they had picked up years ago. She was slightly spastic and reminded me of Ginger. Moving to the stone table further away from the house, we sat down to a meal of traditional Alcoian stuffed peppers - roasted red peppers with rice and tasty spiced meat. On the side there was a salade niçoise, cheese, and potato chips to nibble on. Yum!

Unfortunately the weather eventually turned slightly sour, and rain began to fall, which meant we spend the next couple of hours inside. We decided to watch something uplifting - 'The Pianist' - and I chose Catalan audio with English subtitles for Chris. Soon enough it was snack time back outside on the porch, consisting of Coca, a typical Catalan pastry, and also llet MMMMM, essentially ice cream - I chose pistachio, Chris and Inés vanilla-esque with cinnamon. Once her father returned, we headed out on a little excursion to a nature park further up in the mountains for absolutely spectacular views of the city and region. Nestled in the mountain vally, the city looked to me very much like the Bulgarian city of Veliko Tarnovo I had studied in 3 years ago. We could see olive trees and almond trees as well as lush, green forest. There is also a church at the top of this mountain, with a fountain that is supposedly supposed to cure one's ailments. Inés' mother commented ¨Ja no teniu la gripe A!¨- ¨Now you don't have swine flu anymore!¨, hahaha.

On the way back we stopped in the town center to pick up a cake for dessert later, as well as to grab some orxata and aigua de limón, both typical drinks of the region. Orxata (a variant of which is known as horchata in the states) is essentially a sweet almond milk flavored with cinnamon and other things. Aigua de limon, meanwhile, is basically a lemon slush. I opted for a mezclaet, which is a mix of the two, and surprisingly very good given the not exactly common combination of flavors for Americans.

Back at the caseta we relaxed for a few hours until dinner at around 10:30. Inés friend and former gymnastics coach, Tavi (from Octavio), David from before, and another friend came to join us. Again we enjoyed an array of tapas including goat cheese with a berry marmalade on toast, and then enjoyed the main meal of bonito (a fish similar to tuna, cooked in oil and onions) and then some kind of pork filled with jamón and cheese. Dessert consisted of fresh melon and peaches, then the dark chocolate-covered almond cream cake we had picked up before. Incase you haven't figured it out, we're getting nice and fattened up.

A couple hours later we were off back to Alcoi and ready for a good night's rest before a day at the beach close to Alacant (Alicante).


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27th August 2009

Jealous
I’m reading your entries at work and drooling…I’m glad I can live vicariously through your food, errr, I mean, travel blog ;)
29th August 2009

Food, food, food
All of your mouthwatering food talk makes our little snack of kabanosy and kalamata olives pale in comparison. BTW - I am putting in a request now for you to bring me some, actually LOTS, of olives when you come home for Christmas. Some jamon potato chips would be nice, too. Aah, fond memories!

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