January 18

Mistela at Midnight


I am keeping somewhat normal “American” working hours while in Spain. It’s an interesting feeling to have the mornings available before work instead of the afternoons available after work. To be honest, I get quite a bit done in the mornings, and have used the time to take advantage of the warmer weather and different environment.

And although it sounds ridiculously late, going to dinner at, say, 10:30 is actually eating dinner at 4:30, like the proverbial “early bird” at restaurants in Florida. My stomach is actually adjusting well to some different time zone management, and the result is that I eat when I am hungry.

Last night, when I stopped working around 10:45, I decided to hunt down my food at a venue that had been recommended, a place called Bodeguilla del Gato. Sounded like a good idea, and I made plans to head out at for a 15-minute stroll to the place. Although I ended up very close, I missed it somehow. What I did find, however, was a neat little place called Sesame Cafe-Restaurant. One of the lures into this cozy little restaurant was the sign on the door offering conversational English, so I knew the employees would probably be comfortable with my creaky Spanish.

Boy, was I right! The two ladies waiting the tables were extremely pleasant, and made me feel very welcome, although I don’t think people eat out alone very much here. (Note to self: find a dinner buddy, pronto!) I started with a glass of Spanish white wine, and the “Ensalada Inca,” a beautiful cold grain salad that reminded me of tabouleh, but with quinoa and a large serving of other fresh vegetables and cheese. My main course was “Ñoquis Vegetarianos,” which was three small oblong patties of spinach, herbs, and vegetables. These amazing flavors were served with a white sauce made from Gorgonzola cheese that complemented the vegetables perfectly.

At this point, I decided that a dessert was in order, too. When asked for recommendations, the server immediately said that she always picked a white chocolate pannacotta, a dish that I have never had before. This lovely little concoction was a white custardy-moussy experience, and downright delicious. After a little coffee (and I do mean little, as in teeny-tiny deliciousness), I finished this spectacular meal with something I enjoyed three years ago: Mistela.

Mistela is an enriched wine made from muscat grapes here in the Valenciana area, and is the local version of the Moscatel or Muscadine wines served elsewhere. Served cold as an accompaniment to dessert or a final sipping drink to a delightful repast, Mistela is sweet but not syrupy or heavy. I have to find a source of this stuff before I leave!

My belly full and my leisurely dinner complete, it was now after midnight. Confident that I was going to be home in 15 minutes, I trotted off along the familiar route I had used earlier in the evening. However, I made a wrong turn somewhere, because I got lost. Not too badly, but still lost. The maps available throughout the city do not account for minor streets, so I missed a turn somewhere and ended up on another main street while enjoying cool breezes and having the street mostly to myself. All in all, a great evening that ended around 1:15 when I made my way back to the hotel.


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