Just a Little Lunch with Friends

A rainy Sunday morning made it easy to hang around the house.  My first task of the day was to prepare my favorite Baked Cranberry Relish for Thanksgiving dinner, which I will be hosting.  The most difficult part of the recipe was finding fresh cranberries. I had read they weren’t available in Valencia, but as one who doesn’t like to be told, “It can’t be done,” I went on a search.  I managed to find two little boxes in the Mercado Central on Saturday.  The gentleman behind me was none to happy to see them disappear.  For those of you who like to cook, here is the recipe.  I have used it for so many years, I have no idea where it came from but it’s a keeper.

Baked Cranberry Relish

Baked Cranberry Walnut Relish

1 pound cranberries

2-1/2 cups sugar

1 cup coarsely broken walnuts

1 cup tart orange marmalade

Juice of 1 lemon or lime

Wash and drain cranberries, put in shallow baking pan and stir in sugar.  Cover tightly with lid or foil and bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 1 hour.  Put walnuts in same oven to toast during last 10 minutes of baking.  Add walnuts and remaining ingredients to cranberries.  Mix well and chill.  Good with poultry or pork.  Makes about 4 cups.

By 2:00 the rain had stopped and we headed off to Pepe’s house for lunch.  On the way we stopped at Le Parisien, one of our favorite bakeries.  We picked up a fruit tart and in a few more minutes we arrived at our destination.

Before I had even crossed the threshold to his apartment, Pepe had placed a glass of Via Mágica in my hand and planted a kiss on my cheek. Via Mágica is a wine produced at the bodega of Pepe’s friend Benjamin Gomez.  It was first produced for the national magic convention in Valencia in 2008.

Then hugs and kisses from Sara and Gioco.  I must say, this is the “kissiest” place I have ever been.

The table was set with a bowl of olives, a plate of pulpo (octopus), another of tomato, onion and pieces of a regional fish much like bacalao (salt cod) all drizzled with a bit of olive oil. I nibbled for a while and then went to the kitchen to watch Pepe finish preparing the arroz meloso de bogavante (rice with lobster).  Arroz meloso is rice that is not as dry as paella, nor as liquid as soup. The dish is made with a rich fish stock that Pepe had prepared the day before.  In addition to lobster there was squid and pieces of absolutely succulent fish.  Pepe shared a few secrets with me but I am sworn to secrecy.  Needless to say, el arroz was amazing, as is everything that Pepe prepares.


Arroz con Bogavante - in preparation

Arroz con Bogavante - ready to eat

Gioco's approval

All gone!

The fruit tart was a perfect end for the meal.  Then on to coffee and a little shot of rum.

La Tarta de Frutas del Bosque

At that point Gioco wanted to share the DVD of La Venganza de Don Mendo, the play he has been performing in.  Try as he might it would not project.  Never one to deterred, he then left to get his laptop and the other 20 copies to see if at least one of them would work.  At last he gave up and resorted to his laptop rather than Pepe’s big screen.  We watch for a little while and Sara gave a running commentary of the technical aspects of the DVD.  We all had a good laugh.

After a Skype chat with Jaime, Pepe’s son who is at the University in Liverpool, we headed out for a gin and tonic.  We strolled to la Plaza de la Reina and found an outdoor table.  How delightful to be sitting at an outdoor café in late November.  We chatted for a while longer and lunch was officially over at 7:30 PM.

Cathedral in La Plaza de La Reina


Sara and Pepe

About susanvida

Happily retired, I now spend much of my time in Valencia Spain. I fill my days with photography, cooking, dining and visiting with friends. In my "former life" I was a Director of Human Resources for Starwood Hotels and Resorts. I am married to Martin Kaplan, who shares my passion for Valencia, food and of course, our daughter, Rachel Sara.
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