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.


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.



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.

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



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