Five Days in Madrid

In true Valencian form, we decided to escape the Fallas this year and head to Madrid. Madrid greeted us with sunny days and perfect temperatures. It was perfect for enjoying the city.

Westin Palace

Westin Palace

We arrived at the Westin Palace on Wednesday afternoon after a pleasant and short ride on the AVE. What a treat to have the rapid train connection between Valencia and Madrid. After a little lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant we explored the “Literato” neighborhood.

Evening we walked to Teatro Marquina to see “Bajo Terapia.” It was a very well acted and enjoyable play.











Our walk past the Palacio de Cibeles and the Fountain of Cibeles was a bit of a surprise. They are now both illuminated with colored lights. Very pretty.

Palacio de Cibeles

Palacio de Cibeles


































We ended our evening with a couple of tapas at one of our favorite places, Cevecería Cervantes, which is just down the block from the hotel. The pulpo was delicious and tender, as always.



Carlos Adriano

Carlos Adriano


Thursday we spent a lazy morning. At 2:00 we met Carlos Adriano for lunch. Carlos is an Argentine magician who has made his home in Spain. His primary focus is magic for children. He has written several books and a periodic column will be appearing in the “Linking Ring” in English. Marty is doing the translating.

Martin Kaplan

Martin Kaplan



The conversation was lively and, as you can imagine, about magic. Carlos shared the story of his arrival in Spain which was fascinating. Marty did a magic trick.



Carlos and Marty

Carlos and Marty

Later we made our way to the “Espacio Telefónica.” Amazing space! We attended an “espectáculo didáctico” which was a combination of lecture on the history of magic and performance of some of the magic discussed. Miguel Angel Gea did the Magic while Ramón Mayata gave the lecture.   After the performance we were invited by Camilo to join the group for drinks. Among the group was Jaime Figueroa, a magician we have enjoyed several time. He invited us see his performance on Saturday.

Espacio Telefónica

Espacio Telefónica

Espacio Telefónica

Espacio Telefónica


Ramón Mayata

Ramón Mayata

Miguel Angel Gea

Miguel Angel Gea



Marty and Gabbie

Marty and Gabbie

Friday morning started out with coffee with one of Marty’s former Westridge students. As I had discovered that there was an Escher exhibit in town, we then made our way to the Palacio de Gaviria to see it. The Palacio is a little tired to put it mildly by the exhibit was mind boggling. 200 works on display! It will be there until June 25 for those of you who might be interested.





Around 2:00 we caught up with Zahava and Klaus for lunch at Tandori Station. Best Indian food we have eaten in Spain. Everything was absolutely delicious and authentic.




P1080525P1080563-EditBack to the “Espacio Telefónica” for another magic event.   This time it was a one- man show discussing and performing the magic of Houdini and magicians of the period. The presenter-magician was Manu Vera. Manu did a good number of effects highlighted by a spectacular “Metamorfosis.”

Manu Vera and Marty

Manu Vera and Marty

P1080562Saturday we took the short walk from the hotel to the Thyssen Museum to see “Masterwork from Budapest from the Renaissance to the Avant-Garde”. Quite lovely.   At 5:00 we presented ourselves at “Off Latina” and were surprised to see that Camilo and his wife were also there. Camilo is a magician that Marty has know for many years. We wandered to a nearby bar and had a cold drink as it was still early. We returned to “Off Latina” to see Jaime Figueroa’s show. We went down several flights of stairs into a rather unusual venue. It looked like it might have been a bodega once upon a time.   I had seen Jaime perform before but this was totally different. “El Bazar de Jaime Figueroa” was an hour show with original music, a persona changing script and magic. I had no idea that Jaime had such a fabulous singing voice. Just loved the whole thing.


Then on to the Centro Cultural de la Villa at Plaza Colon.   They were performing Fernando Ferán Gomez’s   “Las Bicicletas son para el Verano.” Both of us were a bit disappointed in the performance.

Sunday we slept in. Then about 1:00 Ramón and Juan Diego came to pick us up. We headed toward Casa Parrondo where we had lunch reservation at 2:30. We found a nearby plaza, sat in the sun, had a drink and caught up on what we have all been up to. Ramón and Juan Diego have been quite busy with magic performances. Then on to Casa Parrondo. As usual the meal was outstanding. Ramon and I enjoyed a particularly good “cochinillo asado.” We ended the meal with a great “crema de licor.”

Juan Diego and a very late birthday celebration

Juan Diego and a very late birthday celebration

Crema de Licor

Crema de Licor

Marty, Susan, Ramón and Juan Diego

Marty, Susan, Ramón and Juan Diego

As the sun set we went back to the hotel and packed. Monday and our return to Valencia would soon be here.


Posted in Art, Madrid, Magic, Spain, Theatre, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In the Mood for Mood Food

Test 2_28 Mood Food Card 1








In the mood for a very enjoyable meal in a very comfortable setting? Make your way to  Mood Food on Calle Pintor Salvador Abril.  This is the second Mood Food opened by the talented Carlos Ruiz.  His first Mood Food was on Calle Comedias.  I have had the pleasure of enjoying his food over the last few years. It was time to learn more about Carlos and how he came to open Mood Food.

_MG_0127 _MG_0126 IMG_7331 June 11_33As often is the case with chefs I have met in Valencia, Carlos did not start out with the idea of cooking and opening a restaurant.  His university studies prepared him to be an engineer.  Somewhere along the way he found he really wasn’t enjoying engineering.  What he enjoyed was eating good food.  And with that, his culinary journey began as a dishwasher at Gino’s.  In time he was making salads.  With the encouragement of friends, the owner of Sangonereta on Calle Sorni hired him in spite of his lack of formal training.  Realizing that he needed to be more formally prepared, in November of 2005 Carlos enrolled in a 1 1/2 year  culinary training program at the  Centro de Desarrollo Turístico de Valencia.  He did his practicas at The Westin, Mar de Bamboo,  Veles y Vents in the port and El Sucrer, an arroceria  near Cullera. To further broaden his experience, Carlos  spent 4 months in London working at PJ Bar and Grill in South Kensington. Upon his return to Valencia, Carlos worked at Submarino, the Casino, Mulandara with Alejandro Platero, and Samsha with Victor Manuel Rodrigo. An opportunity to instruct culinary classes for a culinary training project for European students took Carlos to Romania. He  opened his first Mood Food in February of  2013, upon his return to Valencia.

The food at Mood Food is both delicious and eclectic.  There are well prepared traditional dishes, among them very tasty fideuas and paellas. IMG_2186 You will also find dishes with an Asian flair such as the  outrageously delicious Gambas Mood Food.DSCN7424 The ceviche is one of the best in town. June 11_25

His steak tartare and his tuna tartare with avocado are  outstanding. DSCN7420 DSCN7417 When asked about how he creates his menu, Carlos explained his process. “I make what I like to eat.  I enjoy the process of buying fresh ingredients and transforming them into something to eat.  I respect the product and don’t care to ‘over manipulate it.’  It has to be both  appealing to the eye and healthy.  What you eat determines how you feel.” June 11_26 DSCN7296-Edit DSCN7300 IMG_2193 DSCN7426 Above the open kitchen are the words  “Soul Kitchen.”  I asked about that choice of words.  Carlos explained food must be prepared with cariño y alma (love and attention, and soul.) A chef must cook with passion and give the best he or she has.   A visit to Mood Food will definitely show you that Carlos  has that passion and that his dishes are prepared with cariño.



Posted in Food, Spain, Travel, Valencia | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

It Was a Very Good Year

It is December 31, and I thought I’d take a moment or two to look back on the year 2012- and what a year it was!

We began the year with and intimate dinner at La Fórcola, one of our favorite restaurants.

This was followed a few days later with my birthday celebration, surround by friends and complete with an Arroz con Bogavante at Carosel.

Ofelia and ZahavaArroz con Bogavante

Then it was time to join the celebration of Pepe’s 50th birthday at La Cuchara Mágica.

And if that weren’t enough we ended our month in Pedreguer with Pepe’s family and a traditional puchero.


Pepe´s family

February we joined Ofelia at La Matandeta in celebration of her birthday.

We enjoyed the magic and antics of Jandro.

February brought bit sadness at the passing of my father at 94.  While we will miss him, how wonderful that we had so many years to enjoy him and that he was in good mental and physical health until end.

March, of course, was filled with Las Fallas and a wonderful visit by our daughter, Rachel.


The Ever Delightful Rachel

A quick trip to the beach to toival the pots and pan and we were set to cook for our kosher daughter.

The Mercado Central provided all the food items she needed. She loved Valencia and will be back for a visit.

April was the wedding of our good friends Ramon and Juan Diego.  We have known Ramon for nearly 20 years and were delighted to be able to attend this very special event.

Marty and Ramon

Virginia Sampere

We also got a chance to catch up with old friends from the Institute International Sampere.  I also did my first restaurant blog on our neighborhood restaurant A Nou.

In May we found ourselves giving serious thought as to where our  home would be.  Maintaining two homes seems silly in that we were spending most of the year in Valencia.  It was decided that in July we would return to Los Angeles and sell our condo, our cars and furniture.    I began the search for a larger apartment and we contacted our realtor in Los Angeles to begin the process of selling our home.  Marty celebrated his birthday among friends at Carosel as we sat on the terrace and had yet another great meal prepared by Jordi.

I interviewed Mike and Santi and wrote about their restaurant Ginger Loft.


June I did two restaurant interviews and photo shoots for the blog – Carosel and La Comisaria-Tapas y Copas Ilegales.

Jordi Morera of Carosel


Eddie of La Comisaria

My friends from Pilates Class introduced me to the Mercado de Jerusalén.

July we moved into our new apartment.  I fell in love with it on first sight.  The kitchen alone would have convinced me I had to live there.

We celebrated the 4th of July  at the home of Linda Casanovas.

Dressed in red, white and blue for the occasion

And,  with our very ample apartment we were able to entertain our friends from Westridge days.  Hillary and her son as well as Juliet spent several days with us.


The month ended with Melanie and Andrew, also from Westridge, bringing a student group to Valencia.  We had several opportunities to visit with them and their adorable sons, Tommy and Robbie.  We ended our month with a great Jazz concert at Jimmy Glass.

Melanie and Robbie

August found us in LA, getting rid of things we could leave behind, packing things we couldn’t live without and trying to sell our house.  Sorry, no pictures, too busy packing.  I did continue with the Dynamic Advantage Strength Training and my frequent walks with Mary.  It was also a good time to catch up with friends.  At the end of August Rachel came to visit.

In September, Rachel and I drove back to Boulder together where I would help get a few things organized.

On the way to Boulder

Rachel making sure we had enough gas to make it to Boulder

I then went on to Nevada City to spend some time with my family.  It was a great way to relax before the final push before we returned to Spain.

Brother Bob enjoying a glorious day


The last week of September our worldly goods were picked up and shipped, we closed on the sale of our condo, and our furniture and two cars were sold.  We packed our few remaining belongings in our suitcases and checked into the Westin Pasadena for a couple days’ rest before starting our journey home to Valencia.

October we got settled in.  A few days after our arrival we hopped a train to Madrid to catch our friend Jorge Blass in his latest magic show.

We also got a chance to see Ramon and Juan Diego.   Back in Valencia, Nacho treated us to a homemade  Arroz al Horno.

Arroz al Horno

We began the month of November with an excursion to the Bodega Hoyas de Cadena in the Requena-Utiel area with Brian.

Marty and Brian

Klaus and Zahava invited us to join them on an excursion to Benisanó to the Restaurant Levante and a paella cooking class with Rafael Vidal.  What fun!

We celebrated Thanksgiving in our new home with 13 of us gathered around the table.

And so the year is coming to an end.  Klaus and Zahava invited us to their home for latkes and the lighting of the menorah.

I joined the ladies from Pilates for our annual Christmas lunch.

We caught up with Dani Daortiz, another magician and old friend of Marty´s.

Marty did his first school  magic show in Valencia .

Sofia and Marty


An enthusiastic audience

Ofelia and Brian shared their family Christmas Eve with us.

Christmas day was spent with Pepe in Pedrguer enjoying yet another wonderful puchero.  This evening we will be heading out with Jordi and his wife Carol to end this year and begin our next.

I look forward to 2013 and wish all my friends and family a new year filled with health, joy and prosperity.

Posted in Family and Friends, Spain, Travel, Uncategorized, Valencia | 1 Comment

Someone´s in the kitchen at…La Fórcola

In 2010 Marty and I arrived in Valencia for a 3-month stay.  We had taken a small apartment on Calle Borrull.  Prior to our arrival, Marty had done his usual research and discovered that there was an Italian restaurant just a half a block from our door.  Not only was there an Italian restaurant, but also it was reviewed by many as the best Italian restaurant in Valencia, La Fórcola  .   After our long trip from Los Angeles and the delights of airplane food, we were ready for a good meal.  What we got was more than a good meal.  Our waiter, Francisco, was welcoming, informative and just delightful, our pizza was perfection personified and the experience led to our weekly visits to La Fórcola ever since.  Francisco has moved on to open his own restaurant, Bailando Nudi, but there is always and equally delightful server to take care of you.

Juan stops to chat with Marty at his birthday celebration

Marta helps us celebrate the arrival of the New Year









Antonio takes a little break


La Fórcola was opened in May of 2008 by a group of friends from Italy, Antonio, Andrea and Sonia.     Their goal was to create an informal restaurant with high quality food, served by a well-trained and friendly staff in an attractive space at a reasonable price.   They were successful   on all counts.  The staff seems like a family serving friends who drop by to eat. It is always fun to catch a quick peek at them gathered around a long table as they share their pre-shift meal.  It doesn’t matter who your server is, everyone seems to be taking care of you. They are attentive and playful if that is what you want.  However, if you want a quite meal with no interruptions they seem to sense that as well.   The room in oranges and browns is attractive and comfortable.  Original art graces the walls.  A brick pizza oven, transported from Italy, is open to the dining room.

The food is consistently outstanding.  This is no surprise given the quality of the ingredients used, many imported from Italy, and the culinary staff that was professionally trained in Italy loves what they are doing. 

I had an opportunity to observe this first hand when Antonio arranged for me to spend a Tuesday in the kitchen watching the team prepare the fresh pasta for the week.



Andrea begins to make the gnocchi









Ready to go






The menu is quite extensive with not only pizza and some outstanding pastas, but fish and meat as well.

Bottled water is used to make the pizza dough


And it was delicious!


Preparing the pasta for the Tagliatelle al Cacao con Porcini








It simply melts in the mouth!

The appetizers are delicious, with the clochinas (mussels) being my absolute favorite. They are absolutely succulent and flavorful.  The salads are fresh and visually very appealing.  The pastas are absolutely delicious.  Desserts, which I often pass up elsewhere, are a must at La Fórcola, especially the homemade ice creams and the tiramisu.


Ensalada de granada y feta








When I asked Antonio, why they had chosen the name “La Fórcola” for the restaurant he explained that they considered several alternatives.  They wanted a name in Italian that was easy to pronounce in Valencia.  They wanted a name that was fairly unique so that Internet searches for their restaurant would have them at the top of the list.  Most importantly, since much of the staff came from Venice and la fórcola is unique to the boats of Venice, La Fórcola just seemed right.  There are several on display In the restaurant.

We have eaten at the La Fórcola for lunch, for dinner, weekdays, weekends, birthdays and anniversaries.  No matter when we go it is busy and with good reason.  It always delivers a memorable experience.

 Carrer de Borrull, 29  46008 Valencia, Spain

963 15 59 09



Posted in Food, la fórcola, Spain, Travel, Valencia | Comments Off on Someone´s in the kitchen at…La Fórcola

Someone’s in the kitchen with….Jordi of Carosel


We met Jordi Morera , Chef Owner of Carosel, in 2009.  He was teaching a cooking class called Arroces de tu abuela  ( your grandmother’s rice dishes) and we thought it would be great fun to attend.   It was and an after-class conversation with Jordi led to an invitation to eat at Seu Xerea where he was executive chef.  The following Monday Marty and I found ourselves seated in front of our first puchero Puchero, a very traditional Valencian dish, is a bountiful array of meats and vegetables and the stock they are cooked.  The stock is then served with chickpeas, and noodles and the meat and vegetables are served separately.

It was  wonderful.  We visited with Jordi as he shared his culinary point of view.  He is committed to using fresh, local and organic product.  He even cultivates some of the produce he uses.  His cooking is deeply rooted in traditional Spanish cooking and most particularly Valencian cooking.   However, Jordi does not stop there.  He is  highly innovative, finding ways to present the flavors of traditional dishes with  a new and fanciful flair.

When we returned to Valencia the next year we discovered Jordi was no longer at Seu Xerea.  In March of 2010, he had opened his own restaurant, Carosel,  near the Mercado Central.  Needless to say, we had to give it a try.  It is a modern and open space  with indoor seating for 50 and an ample terrace seating 48.






It has become one of our favorite places.   It has also become the place we choose to celebrate special occasions because we know we can count on Jordi to create just the right experience for the occasion.

Marty’s Birthday Feast







So, I was really delighted when Jordi said I could spend the day with him.   It was 8:30 in the morning,  the restaurant was dark, the doors  closed and the patio was quiet.






Jordi arrived and we crossed the street to the Mercado Central where he would do a little of the day’s shopping.  As we walked, Jordi gave me a bit of his history.  He started cooking at 16.  When I asked why he had chosen to be a chef, he thought for a moment and simply said, “ I like to eat.”  He learned to cook by working in restaurants, reading book,  taking cooking courses and ultimately  attending Bella Mar Escuela de Hostelería  (Bella Mar Hotel School) in Marbella.  Over the last 25 years he has cooked in Madrid, Barcelona, Venice, Milan, the Spanish Embassy in Rome and, of course, here in Valencia.

We arrived at the market and he led me to the stand that sells preserved fish.  He explained the ancient way of preserving fish was salting it  or putting it in olive oil.  It was clear from the variety in the case that preserved fish is very popular in Spain.

Jordi  made his vegetable purchases and we proceeded to the fish monger.

Clochinas Valencianas are very much in season and Jordi is featuring them  on his menu board.

With purchases complete we returned to the restaurant and Jordi began the preparations for the days .






First order of the day was making the bread. Jordi  took out a masa madre (sour dough starter) and went to work.





Next on t0 the estofada de rabo de toro(oxtail stew).

Pot number one makes its way to the stove just as the fish delivery arrives for the fish stock Jordi will soon be preparing.




Jordi salts the meat  and returns his attention to the bread, taking a few minutes to feed the  masa madre and shape the bread for the first rising.






He adds a generous amount of red wine  to the estofada.  Time to knead the bread for the second rising.







Preparation of the fish stock for the paella is the next order of the day.










Jordi’s assistant Eva arrives  and prepares the potatoes  and onions for what will become  tortilla de patata y jamón fría y caliente(Hot and cold potato and ham omlette ).  While tasting exactly like a tortilla de patata, it is a dance of textures and temperatures.




On to the preparation of the honey ice cream, but first a quick trip to the nearby honey shop.

The last rising of the bread  is complete and the dough ready for the oven.








Talk about your multi-tasking.

Eva begins to assemble the bote de escalibada, con puré de calabaza  y queso fresco texturizado y salsa de perejil ( jar of cooked vegetables, puré of pumpkin, creamy cheese and parsley sauce).








It is nearing 1:30, the doors open and a few early customers are seated in the patio


The easy pace of the morning changes to a flurry of activity as the first orders come in and the “tabla de entrants” is assembled.






The vegetables are grilled and main courses are ready to be served.

By 2:30 I couldn’t resist the urge to call my husband and invite him to join me at Carosel for lunch.  He happily agreed and we again enjoyed an exceptional meal.


Taula de Canvis 6, Valencia, 46003
In the Carmen, near the Mercado Central

961 132 873

Posted in Carosel, Food, Spain, Travel, Uncategorized, Valencia | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Someone’s in the Kitchen with…. Eddie of La Comisaría -Tapas y Copas Ilegales

One of the delights of Valencia is that you never know what you are going to find as you wander down a narrow street or turn a corner.    The day we were wandering through the Carmen, was just such a day.  There was a sign that said La Comisaría- Tapas y Copas Ilegales . Of course we thought that was amusing and took a picture, as have many people.  What we didn’t know initially was that La Comisaría  is an absolutely wonderful place to experience some exceptional food and some equally exceptional service.   We are now regular customers who find ourselves there often.  So, it seemed logical to make La Comisaría my next interview.


At 10:00 AM on a Tuesday morning, I met with the chef/owner Edward Phillips Blanco, know to all as Eddie. As he prepared his kitchen and assembled a couple of dishes for me, he told me about his personal journey to become a chef and how La Comisaría- Tapas y Copas came to be.

Eddie, son of an international investment banker, traveled a great deal with his family. They took advantage of their travels to dine on a wide range of international food. His mom loved to cook and even stocked her kitchen with ethnic foods, categorizing them by cuisine types.  It only seemed natural that Eddie developed an interest in cooking.   A cricket and rugby player for Midlands Regional, Eddie still found time to work in a restaurant at age 16. As was expected by his family, he went on to University in Nottingham. While studying economics, politics and Spanish, he found himself more devoted to the kitchen than the university.  Unlike his sister and brother, who are also investment bankers, he felt this was his calling. His parents were not keen on this decision, concerned about the hours, the stress and the commitment.   However, he felt it was time to fly the nest.





Working at Nottingham’s 2-star Canal House, Eddie started as demi-chef of desserts and rose to chef de partie (line cook) of the garde manger in 6 months.   He had made a commitment to himself and his father, that if he was going to be a chef, he’d go to the best.  In London he had the good fortune of securing a position as a stash (apprentice) at Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin 3-star Claridge’s and sister restaurant Petrus . He started with lettuce, then starters, then deserts and finished as a chef in the fish section.   He worked in a kitchen with a staff of 35 that gave him exposure to chefs from all over the world. After two and a half years of British Modern French food he was ready for a new experience.



Through a contact in Human Resources, he was able to get a position as stash in    Nobu , a Michelin One-star Japanese Restaurant.  Within 2 months it turned into a paying job.   Nobu afforded him the opportunity to work with a staff that was primarily Asian. It gave him an understanding of the philosophy of Japanese cuisine at its essence –getting the base flavor and taking it up to another level with technique.  I was amazed to learn that a well-trained Japanese chef may spend up to 7 years learning how to cut fish.






After 2 years at Nobu, he wanted more experience. At the invitation of friends, he decided to visit Valencia for a month.  He fell in love with the city and its people.  At that time he had received an offer to go to Japan to work for Alain Ducasse at one of the best restaurants in Japan.  Before he could leave for Japan, a family illness prevented him from accepting it.

In 2001 he returned to Valencia and spent a short while working in Denia.  He later met Marie, his fiancé and mother of their daughter, Grace.  Marie was only in Valencia for a couple of months, so he went with her to Hamburg when she returned to Germany. There he worked at the 1-star Tafelhaus, with  featured modern Germanic-French fusion cuisine.  It was a good team and experience  but Valencia kept calling him.

In 2007, he was sent a business plan by a group of businessmen in Valencia who wanted him to open a restaurant on the 6th floor of the Ateneo.  They wanted Michelin level cuisine and staff.  He selected his staff and returned to Valencia.  Six months later, due to lack of finance, the project ended.    It was time to set up something for himself.

At a time before the “gastronomic tapas” became the vogue, he opened Tapa 2 Gastonomic in the Carmen.  It served   “small plates of lovely food.” It was very successful but after 2 years he sold the business.   His next venture was the 80-seat Tahine near the Mercado Moissén Sorréll.   The business was going well and he began working on opening the smaller restaurant.  Unfortunately Tahine was closed down due to license problems in 2009.

In 2011 he opened La Comisaría with  very personal style Mediterranean food.  He is clearly achieving his goal to create a place that consistently delivers “perfect service and the perfect cuisine.” Watching Eddie and his small staff work only 85 cm from your table, you can feel the love and passion that they have for the food and their desire to create a memorable guest  experience.   Watching Eddie prepare a plate is watching an artist at work.  As they begin their 2nd year, they are planning to revamp the menu and the image, always attempting to reach perfection.







As our conversation ended, I asked how he came up with such an unusual name for the restaurant. He explained that on the night he put down the deposit for the restaurant, he went out for drinks with a few of his police buddies .  As the evening progressed, they started suggesting names for the restaurant. They came up with La Comisaría- Tapas and Copas Ilegales.  It seemed to stick.  Eddie hopes to brand the concept and open another in the future.

Plaza del Arbol 5, (por calle Baja) Barrio del Carmen, Valencia

Posted in Food, La Comisaria - Tapas y Copas Ilegales, Spain, Travel, Valencia | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Someone’s in the Kitchen with …..Mike and Santi

I firmly believe that you learn something new every day.  The day, several years ago, when our friend Pepe Monfort invited us for a gin and tonic at The Ginger Loft was no exception.  It was a lovely evening and we chose an outside table.  We were soon approached by Santi Noce, waiter and mixologist extraordinare.  I ordered a Tanqueray and Tonic.  Santi very kindly informed me that they only had very exceptional gins, some sixty brands, and simple Tanqueray was not one of them.  I am a big fan of gin and tonics but had no idea of the range of choices that existed.  Santi then asked if I liked my gin dry, floral, botanical or with a hint of citrus.  I settled on a Tanqueray Rangpur and was soon served the best gin and tonic I had ever had.  This was the first of many wonderful cocktails I was to enjoy over the next few years.  As we headed home, Pepe mentioned that it was also a great place to eat.  We returned a few days later and were not disappointed.  We have been eating there nearly every week since then.

So,  it only seemed right that I should learn a bit more about  Santi Nose, from Peru and Mike Gray, from Scotland and how they ended up with a delightful restaurant with an Asian flair in Valencia Spain

I met Mike at the restaurant as he arrived from the Mercado Central with the day’s meat and vegetables.  We chatted as he set up the work area and checked all his equipment.  The “kitchen,” if you could call it that, is a very small workspace behind the bar with a convection oven, induction plate and two small burners.  It amazes me what Mike can produce with such limited equipment.






Mike, who grew up in the kitchens of restaurants where his mom worked as a waitress, says he knew he wanted to cook from early age.  In spite of his parents’ attempt to convince him to follow other career paths, Mike was clear about what he wanted to do.  He took a year of general culinary training at Aberdeen Technical College.  This was followed by 2 years of more intensive classical culinary training  with a emphasis on French cooking.  He also took additional courses in the business side of running a restaurant.  He began his career cooking for a small privately owned hotel group, working in the smaller  of the 3 that had a fine dining restaurant.  When they opened a small Country House Hotel, Mike moved there, later working in various restaurants throughout the UK.  He spent 3 years a the famous London French restaurant, L’Escargot .

For Mike, things had gotten a bit repetitive and he decided to go back to school and go into food manufacturing. He spent 2 years as a development chef and 2 more year in processing for a large multi-national company.  Mike described food processing as “attempting to make massive quantities of food that taste like it came out of your grandmother’s little sauce pan. “

A friend ,working in Japan at an English Garden in Nagano, encouraged  Mike to come to Japan . A Modern British Café featuring “restaurant style” plated pastry was opened next to a department store carrying a line of English design clothing .  Mike had just the skill set they needed and he soon found himself in Japan.   After a  one and a half years, Mike took a position at an American Restaurant in Tokyo where he remained for two and a half years.

Santi, with a Peruvian mother and Japanese father, followed a different route.  His studies were in fashion design. A family move to Japan did not offer him an opportunity to continue in fashion and he found himself working in a car factory in Nagoya.  It was in Nagoya where Mike and Santi crossed paths.  It was at Mike’s suggestion that Santi applied for work at the Aichi Expo 2005 as they were looking for someone who spoke English, Spanish and Japanese. Santi was fluent in all three.  After an initial rejection, Santi was offered a job where he continued until he moved to Tokyo.

In Tokyo, Santi took a job at a Latin restaurant that he describes as “the worst job of my life.”  He later accepted a position at the restaurant where Mike worked, beginning as a busser, then server and then host.  Always curious and asking questions, Santi spent time “shadowing” the bartender. When the restaurant needed a bartender, Santi was asked to step in. Never one to pass up a new opportunity, Santi  said “yes.”

One evening a regular customer who worked in PR  at the Four Seasons Hotel gave him his card and suggested he come work for the hotel.  He was offered the job.  When he told his boss at the restaurant,  she made him an offer he couldn’t refuse – more money, more hours and a promotion to Assistant Manager.    While working in the restaurant, Santi began to work at Ralph Lauren as a personal shopper and sales assistant.  This eventually led to a full time job at Ralph Lauren.

After several years in Japan both Mike and Santi felt it was time for a change. They settled on Spain because at least one of them spoke the language of the country. A friend at the Spanish Embassy encouraged them to consider Valencia.  After three visits the decision was made and The Ginger Loft was born.

The Ginger Loft is an informal space with an Asian feel to it. The menu, while varied, leans toward Asian and Middle Eastern dishes.





The food is fresh, well seasoned and the tastes are authentic.  Mike even makes his own English Muffins for the Eggs Benedict for Sunday Brunch – a treat you shouldn’t miss if you are in Valencia.The soups vary according to the season and are always a wonderful way to start your meal.

The cocktails are amazingly good and Santi doesn’t hesitate to create something original for you.

When I asked Mike how they had arrived at this concept,  he said, “The stuff we do here is what we like.  We love Asian décor, good cocktails and Asian flavors and spices.¨  The good news is that their customers love it too.



As Mike and I finished the interview,  my husband and I decided to stay for lunch.  I asked for the apple, carrot and garbanzo soup I had watched Mike make.



“Hot or cold?” he asked.  It was a warm day so I said cold and he promptly chilled it for me.   We then decided to share an order of Moroccan meatballs with couscous and Thai pork with rice.






Both were perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of heat and absolutely delicious.   We lingered over coffee and dessert and then left, feeling, once again, that we’d enjoyed a great meal with old friends.

 ¡Aquí se come bien!

the ginger loft
Calle Vitoria #4, by c/san vicente martir and c/moratin, 46002
Valencia, Spain (34) 963 523 243

Posted in Food, Spain, The Ginger Loft, Travel, Valencia | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Someone’s in the kitchen with…….Teresa of A•Nou



After several years of enjoying and photographing the food of Valencia,  it seemed time to do something more than pass on my photos to my husband for his blog and post a few on Facebook. With a little prodding from Marty, I finally did what I’ve talked about for years.  I approached a number  of restaurant managers. I asked if I could take pictures of their chef working in the kitchen, as well as get a recipe from them.  To my delight they not only said,  yes, but thanked me for wanting to do it.

My  first stop was  A•Nou,  the restaurant almost directly across the street from our apartment.   In November of 2010, I watched with interest as the construction was completed and it opened it’s doors.  Little did I realize this project  had started in 2006.  As with many things, a variety of permit and construction issues delayed the opening. The good news is ever since A•Nou opened its doors we have had the good fortune of enjoying  many delightful meals prepared by  Chef Teresa and served by warm and friendly Javier Daza .

So,  how do you create a wonderful restaurant?  Well,  in the case of A•Nou, you take one industrial engineer, Teresa Carratalá Ferrer,  and one computer specialist, Javier, who decide their passion was not in the fields for which they trained.  You add a passion for cooking and clear idea about what they would rather be doing – creating a unique dining experience for a diverse public to enjoy.

Teresa  enrolled in culinary school, for formal training.  While that gave her the basics she needed,  she admits that working in a number of restaurants gave her a more realistic understanding of what it took to be a creative chef and have her own restaurant.  Javier decided the dining room would be his domain.

An enthusiastic Teresa describes their vision

 When I asked Teresa to describe their vision, she explained it was Cuina d’ Intuicio  “Intuitive Cooking” and provided me with a definition of intuition .

Intuition-  The ability to understand things instantly without logic. An intimate and instantaneous perception of an idea o a truth that seems evident to the person who has it.

La cucina d’intuicio” is a project created by a young couple, casados por el banco, dedicated to  creating a  dining experience  with traditional flavors but reinterpreted  in a way that manages to surprise, using the best of fresh product and letting the product and intuition dictate the result.   It is a winning combination.



A• Nou is an informal and attractive space with deep red walls serving as a lovely contrast to the black and white chairs and the crisp white table clothes.  The kitchen is in view behind the bar area giving one a glimpse of the chef and her staff as they work.






I began my visit in the kitchen as I watched Teresa and Javier prepare for the day.

Javi checks the paperwork for the day


Teresa places order with a vendor









I am always pleasantly surprised when the first course of “the menu of the day” arrives.  It is a bandeja with three different taste treats.  They make a lovely picture and allow you to enjoy a variety of wonderful tastes.



The main course of the “menu of the day” always includes a choice of arroces, fideúa or coca. Coca is a Valencian pastry that can be either savory with meat, fish or vegetables,  or sweet.   There is also a varied a la carte menu.

Arroz Meloso

Salteada de Verduritas con Coca


Bandeja con Coca de Huevo y Jamon - photo courtesy of Teresa

Fideuá de Mariscos


It would be rude to lick the pan, but it was tempting.


For those of you who cannot drop by to enjoy, Teresa has kindly given me her recipe for Fideúa de Secreto con Setas A•Nou.

Fideúa de Secreto con Seta A●Nou

(A● Nou Pork and Mushroom Fideúa)

Serves 2


  • 200 gr.           Secreto ibérico  (highly marbled cut of pork)*
  • 50 gr.             Seta de cardo (substitute Oyster Mushrooms if not available)
  • 50 gr.             White Mushrooms
  • 50 gr.             Setas  (Wild Mushrooms)
  • 200 gr.          Angle Hair pasta
  • 1 clove            Garlic chopped
  • 2 Tlb               Grated tomato
  • 250 gr.           Chicken stock
  • 1                      Sprig of rosemary
  • 1 tsp                Sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp              Colorante **
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil

*  The Secreto Ibérico is a piece pork that is behind the shoulder and into the bacon. The meat that accumulates fat infiltration in muscle mass, creating a white veining which provides a texture and exceptional flavor

** A  powdered food coloring that gives color to rice dishes and fideáu)


  1. Saute the pork in a paella (or large frying pan) in a little olive oil until it is golden
  2. Add the mushrooms and saute them well
  3. Add chopped garlic and tomato and saute
  4. Add the noodles and mix them with a teaspoon of sweet paprika  and ½ teaspoon of colorante.
  5. When all is well mixed and the noodles are glossy add salt and pepper
  6. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes over high heat.
  7. After 3 minutes adjust the salt and place the sprig of rosemary on top
  8. Let rest for about  3 minutes then enjoy

¡Aquí se come bien!

C/ Borrull 33, 46008 Valencia, Spain

Posted in A Nou, Food, Spain, Travel, Valencia | Comments Off on Someone’s in the kitchen with…….Teresa of A•Nou

Afternoon at the Beach

Yesterday I had business to do out in the Port area. I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day to walk along the beach and take a few pictures. In spite of the fact that it is February and still a little cool, I wasn’t the only person with that idea. Around 2:00, Marty joined me and we had lunch at La Perla where enjoyed the meal and the sun filled view.


Snacking at the beach


We hopped a bus back to our place. While in route I decided to get off at Nuevo Centro to pick up a few things I needed at Corte Inglés. Outside the mall are a number of large tents. I quickly discovered that this is where they display the Ninots until March 14 when they are moved for the Fallas which are celebrated from the 16th to the 19th. These are amazing figures that reflect the theme that has been chosen for the year’s event. They are highly political and very satirical. Most of all they are quite beautiful and delightful to see.


Posted in Spain, Travel, Valencia | Comments Off on Afternoon at the Beach

Human Touch

So, as I waited for the guitar concert to start at Instituto Luis Vives last night,  I observed something that got me thinking.  A woman got up from her seat to greet several friends who had just seated themselves in the row in front of me.  The friends, 2 men and a woman,  got up from their seats and there was much cheek kissing  and hugging.  For the length of the conversation that ensued, the two women held on to each other’s hands.  It occurred to me this was a very common interaction here in Valencia.  This led to the question, “How does all this touching  reflect the basic nature of the culture, or does the basic nature of the culture result in all this touching.  This then led to a conversation later in the evening with Marty.  My point of view was that the kind of contact I had observed was very positive and nurturing.  It made people feel good, at least here in Valencia.  I do not think that is the case everywhere or for everyone.  This morning Marty researched the topic.  There is not a great deal of scientific research on the subject, but what there is was very interesting.  The article he found points out the Human need for physical contact and that environments where this is more the norm are more peaceful societies and those where physical contact is less prevalent, frowned upon or less acceptable, tend to be more aggressive. Here is the link, and while  the article is titled Touch and Sexuality, Sexuality is not the main point of the article at all. and Human Sexuality.htm

Earlier during our stay in Valencia, Marty and I had talked of how “connected” we feel here.  Our observation was as we were no longer arriving in our destinations by car, but walking, we were much closer to our environment and the people in it.  People greet us in the street as we pass, stores often have their doors open and proprietors wave or say hello. The  abundance of besitos  and abrazos ( kisses and hugs)  from old friends, but also from people we meet for the first time has definitely contributed to my sense of connectedness as well.  I must admit,  I really love it.

Patio of Instituto Luis Vives

Posted in Spain, Travel, Valencia | Leave a comment