AGUILAR DE CAMPOO (PALENCIA) _ The raspy, lispish singer on the radio tells us flamenco ``no es coto privado, ni sociedad anonimo,创 before heading into a song entitled ``Gallego Calidades.创
A strange choice considering there aren磘 many flamenco singers or gypsies, which he sounds to be, in Galicia. He磗 making a point about exclusion, I think, from private hunting reserves, cotos, and corporations, and feels kinship with rural Gallegos.
A woman with a reedy, belle canto voice sang earlier about preguntas and respuestos as I got used to the Mercedes van. The Europcar agent let us have the larger van for the same price because the Seat van we had reserved wasn磘 ready.
Lily, 8, and Andrea, 4, slept most ofthe day. Andrea entertained me at JFK by playing ``Touchy, Touchy, Touchy,创 a game in which she repeatedly poked my face, and when I went to stop her she placed my hands in various positions and told me not to move them for three weeks.
As we pass Burgos and head toward the mountains, I decide we have to stop in Aguilar de Campoo, simply because I cannot figure out what the name means. A resident says it has something to do the eagle on the heraldic shield of the castle perched above town.
No matter, the small town has a nice hotel and restaurant with tablecloths and waiters in black vest.
Andrea gets minestra, a plate of mixed stewed vegetables. Lily gets Pisto Manchego, which despite its name does not contain cheese. Rather, it磗 sauteed vegetables served in an earthenware dish with a fried egg on top _ delicious. Robin gets paella, Lisa gets jamon and mushrooms in a cream sauce, and Papa gets gamba (shrimp) in a garlic sauce with gulas, tiny toothpick sized fish. I have a salad and dorada panadera _ a small whole roasted snapper type fish served with peppers, onions and thin-sliced potatoes with which it was cooked. The sauce, too plentiful to be pan drippings, reminded me of my mother磗 empanada filling.
With an 8.50 euro bottle of Albarinho, the whole meal was 79 euros.
Hotel Valentin, Anguilar de Campoo (Palencia)
A mix of styles is used to find our way into Avin that night.
Lisa has gone to MapQuest and printed out the directions. Unfortunately, they contain every left and right turn that must be taken, almost down to the parking lot at the airport. We settle on the time-honored method of following signs for big cities along the way and trying to stay on major highways. That works well until we get close and my father begins to employ the ask-the-old-timer approach. This method works well, except the old-timers only know the well-worn way along the small roads through each village.
``Avin? Oh, that磗 past Posada!创 one says.
``Avin? Carrenas? Five km to the turn, Carrenas is to the left, Avin is to the right,创 another says further along.
Eventually, we get close enough, recognize a local landmark and find Juan磗 house.
The past winter has not been good for making sidra, bubbly, alcoholic apple cider.
``Temporada muy mala,创 a bad time, he says pointing to sediment that has collected near the cork in the three inverted bottles in his sink. He opens them upside down and lets a little cider shoot out before quickly righting the bottle.
He was right. The cider was a little brown, not bright straw colored as two years earlier, and the taste was not as crisp.
Cider making is a deceptively simple practice. Put the freshly squeezed cider in a wooden barrel in November. In March, put the cider into bottles. The longer it磗 in the bottles, the more carbonation it gets. I guess the cider goes into the barrel at the end of November and into the bottles at the beginning of March because Juan says it磗 a three-month process.
While the cider wasn磘 up to Juan磗 standards, the chorizos were outstanding.
Mildly smoky and bright red from plenty of paprika. Outside the peacock he had two years ago is still there and his chickens cluck inside the small outbuilding.
It磗 as hilly as West Virginia, except dotted with stone houses with tile roofs _ some immaculately maintained, others crumbling, sometimes right next to each other. Fog from the ocean, just miles away, clings to the grey-green hills.
We磖e staying just up the hill at El Campu, Casa de Aldea, a small inn run by Juan磗 niece and her husband.
Campu is the Asturiano way of saying campo, countryside, and aldea means little town.
Everything ends in ``u创 in Asturias _ ``que bonitu, comprelu创 I once overheard a boy say to his mother.
Posted by Alex at July 06, 2004 07:16 PM