Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Green place, no space, green space

Bar Central - one of our 'happy places'.
This is our third visit to Bar Central in the main Valencia market. I pondered on Facebook if it was possible to become an 'occasional regular'. The Valencian chef, Richard Camarena who runs the place espouses a nil kilometre philosophy aiming to source as many ingredients as possible on daily basis from the surrounding market stalls.

Though the lunch we had here last year was delicious, I left disappointed. Having made my choice from the menu, it was only as we were leaving that I noticed the group of office workers next to us tucking plates of tempura vegetables. They looked very tempting; we had failed to notice the list of daily specials chalked up on a board behind the bar. The big question today - would 'veduras di tempuras' be on the board today?

veduras di tempuras - Yes!!!
We were lucky, but then we had an 'eyes bigger than stomachs' moment. The cod fritters looked equally delicious and what about the chef's take on a Russian Salad? We ordered them all and a bowl of patatas bravas too. I don't know how many calories I consumed, but half way through I could feel my body temperature rise and I broke out into 'gluttony' sweat.

cod fritters 
Eventually we managed to eat the lot, but there was no doubt about it, we had over-ordered. As Gill asked for two cortados to finish lunch she mentioned to the server how much we had enjoyed the carrot cake last time, noting that it was not on the board today. "But Richard's apple cake is even better, at least I think so," came the reply. So, despite having overeaten already, we found ourselves sharing a portion of de-constructed apple cake. 

Oddly enough, it was so light and fresh, if anything the dessert almost acted as a 'digestiv', l swear I felt less full after I had eaten it. Was the bartender correct, and the apple concoction more delicious than the carrot cake? I think further investigation would be needed to come to a proper opinion.

Afterwards we bought some sausages and vegetables from the market. It is truly a beautiful place, somewhere else, like in San Sebastian, where you sense that life can be bountiful, cities can be civilised and simply wandering down a street can lift your spirits and makes feel a little more optimistic about humanity.

Time to head out into the city. Our digestion system whatsapped our brains advising that an after lunch afternoon of sightseeing was not really an option. What our stomachs demanded was somewhere shady to sit down. Luckily Valencia University's botanical gardens were only a few hundred yards away, down a few graffiti daubed narrow streets and through the old city gate.

A wandering minstrel.....
The gardens are shaded by an extensive arboretum with specimen trees from every continent. More importantly, the shadowy paths had seats every few yards. We spent an hour or so bench hopping and staring at plant labels, mostly written in Latin.

It was them time to head home via a Mercadona. With another public holiday looming we need to stock up with enough food to see us through the next few days. Tomorrow we are heading to a remote campsite inland on the border of Valencia region and Castilla la Mancha. So far as we can tell there are few shops nearby, we need supplies for at least five days. I am sure we will return to Valencia, not just to settle the carrot versus apple cake question. It's an attractive interesting city. Furthermore, the Valencia Camperstop at the end of the metro line at Betera is strategically placed on the route south towards Andalucia. 

Valencia Camperstop - converted from an abandoned factory in Betera - simple, practical, well managed - 12 euros per night!
About half a kilometre from the metro stop
Twenty minutes to Angel Gomera in the centre - The camperstop reception sell tickets.
Not that we are heading down the coast on this trip. Instead we are cutting across the interior to explore some of Spain:s less well known rural hinterland. The weather forecast is for wall to wall blue for the foreseeable future with afternoon temperatures in the high twenties. So far it's proving a summery autumn with mornings cool enough to be active, but afternoons that demand that you take it easy.

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