Tag Archives: paella

SONOMA – CALIFORNIA

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The Tin Man and his quest for wine has lead him to Sonoma…..Sonoma is considered the birthplace of wine-making in California, dating back to the original vineyards of Mission San Francisco Solano  about that in a later  then improvements made by Agoston Haraszthy, the father of California viticulture and credited with introduction of the Zinfandel/Primitivo grape varietal.

The Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival takes place late each September, and is California’s oldest celebration of its winemaking heritage…

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The drive into Sonoma takes one past a most beautiful sculpture of a man working a wine press, it is quite lovely against the horizon….

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Every hill is covered by vineyards and prestigious winemakers….

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The Tin Man resists the urge to stop and begin tasting wine, as his destination is the historical town square of Sonoma…

El Pueblo de Sonoma was laid out in the standard form of a Mexican town, centered around the largest plaza in California, 8 acres in size. This plaza is surrounded by many historical buildings, including the Mission San Francisco Solano, Captain Salvador Vallejo‘s Casa Grande, the Presidio of Sonoma, the Blue Wing Inn, the Sebastiani Theatre, and the Toscano Hotel.

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In the middle of the plaza, Sonoma’s early 20th-century city hall, at the plaza’s center and still in use, was designed and built with four identical sides in order not to offend the merchants on any one side of the plaza.

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The plaza is a National Historic Landmark and still serves as the town’s focal point, hosting many community festivals and drawing tourists all year round.

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Throughout the area surrounding the Plaza are so many beautiful sights…

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There are approximately thirty restaurants in the plaza area, including Italian, Irish, Mexican, Portuguese, Basque, Mediterranean, Himalayan, and French. It provides a central tourist attraction. It is also the location of the Farmer’s Market, held every Tuesday evening from April to October.  Well you know The Tin Man…..off to find an interesting restaurant………well tucked in the back of an alley off the main plaza, we found a delight…

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The moment we saw the sign we had to find a table.  The Tin Man so loved the food in Lisboa

Here is a pic of the clams from Lisboa, Portugal…

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Well don’t you know Tin Man was expecting no less from La Salette….

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The lovely Portuguese Bread….a little sweet ……of so delightful….

Then the starters……….of for the love of Hestia…..what delights….

Honey Roasted Almonds, Cow’s Cheese with Apricot Jam, Escarcot, Pork Trotter Terrine (yes…..Pig’s Feet) and lovely dark bread…

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Then the Clams………wow what a presentation…..

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Beautiful and Delightful……but alas, missing the olives…..perhaps too much for the American pallet…

oh yes….the Paella……….yummy..

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It was a most marvelous visit to the Plaza of Sonoma, hope you enjoyed coming along….

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Madrid – Spain

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While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets.  This reason is perhaps why we so love to visit this magnificent city.  We always stay in the old section near the center so that we can walk to all the interesting places.  We find Madrid to be so clean, friendly and fun.

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Madrid  landmarks include the Royal Palace of Madrid; the Royal Theatre with its restored 1850 Opera House; the Buen Retiro park, founded in 1631; the 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) containing some of Spain’s historical archives; a large number of National museums, and the Golden Triangle of Art, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising three art museums: Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

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Many contend that the original name of the city was “Ursaria” (“land of bears” in Latin), because of the many bears that were to be found in the nearby forests, which, together with the strawberry tree have been the emblem of the city from the Middle Ages.  Whatever the derivation of her name, she remains a noble and beautiful city of the world.

When Toledo surrendered to Alfonso VI of León and Castile,

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 Madrid was conquered by Christians in 1085, and it was integrated into the kingdom of Castile as a property of the Crown.

This becomes important to us because King Alfonso has added Augustine’s family (PENALVER) to the Royal Court just before and given them the Cross of St. John, symbol of the Templars as their crest…

….which is also the Flag of the Country of Malta….where the Knights of Templar took possession of the island, a gift of the Emperor Charles V with the approval of Pope Clement VII.,

 including the Knight Penalver from Spain….

The Penalver Family has left their Castle in Penalver, Spain to join King Alfonso IV in re-establishing the Royal City of Madrid….

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Madrid has a beautiful street named after the Penalver’s first Count……

El Calle del Conde de Penalver…

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The perfect place to stop and enjoy a coffee….

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 Christians replaced Muslims in the occupation of the center of the city, while Muslims and Jews settled in the suburbs…

The Calle de Conde de Penalver begins with this iconic street corner…

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On this trip we began and ended our visit to eight countries in Madrid.  From the photos you will see the difference in the weather during those visits.  The initial visit was cold and overcast and the end visit was sunny and fair, as you can see from these photos of the Plaza Mayor…

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We always stay in the Hotel Ibis Prado, which allows us to exit the lobby and find ourselves in the middle of the old city.

The hotel has a Wine Theme, which works perfectly for our tastes!  We always stay on the top floor and have a private balcony, wonderful for enjoying a glass of wine in the evening…

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The colors and art of the hotel are so vibrant and reflect this wonderful city….

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One evening we were sitting on the balcony and suddenly the city erupted in firework, music and shouts from every direction!  We were astounded by the noise.

We had to go out into the streets to see what had transpired………they were PACKED with thousands of happy people…

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Oh……..Madrid had just won the world cup in Soccer ……….how we get it!!  Of course we joined in the fun!

I suppose our favorite part of visiting Madrid is the food……..TAPAS……..TAPAS………TAPAS……..

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One of a fast, fun, favorites is el Museo de Jamon, located near the Plaza Mayor…..there are many other locations; however, this one is always the best…

Here is the inside…………a world of culinary delights…….

We had to order EVERYTHING…..

Then of course there is Meson el Jamon de Gran Via…….with the best croquettes EVER….

………….oh and then there was this place…….I have forgotten the name!

…..but the Serrano Jamon and Seafood Delights were amazing…..

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Perhaps some crepes at Cerveceria Santa Ana…..

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At the heart of the old city lies the Plaza Mayor…..a center of continuous activity and to be entered through these marvelous arches….

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Once inside the world changes………

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the street performers delight and entertain…

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Here are some more shots of this most beautiful city…..

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…..one of our most FANTASTIC dining experience of our lives took place just outside the Plaza Mayor…

El Rincon de Madrid…an unassuming small place with a typical Tapas Bar….the difference…at the end of the bar is a stair case leading down into a vaulted chamber that dates to Knights Templar…

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We have the place to ourselves………..

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The food is wonderful……….but the experience is over-the-top!!

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The Paella from his Grandmother’s recipe……..he said he is still trying to perfect it to what she prepared….a true passion and love for food…

We so love visiting this most wonderful city and look forward to returning again soon….

Chapel of the Holy Grail – Valencia, Spain

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It was time to board the train from Madrid to Valencia.

The anticipation was great, as we were going to visit The Chapel of The Holy Grail, something I had been looking forward to on this trip.  I could hear the music from the Indiana Jones movies playing in my head, as the train was zipping through the countryside of Spain.

We arrived at  Estacio del Nord in Valencia and began our quest for the Holy Grail

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First a bit about this special city;  Valencia was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC.

The city is situated on the banks of the Turia river, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula,  fronting the Gulf of Valencia on the Mediterranean Sea.

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Major monuments include Valencia Cathedral

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 the Torres de Serranos,

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the Torres de Quart,

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the Llotja de la Seda  declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996

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and the City of Arts and Sciences,  an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela

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The Museu de Belles Arts de València houses a large collection of paintings from the 14th to the 18th centuries, including works by Velázquez, El Greco, and Goya, as well as an important series of engravings by Piranesi

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The Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia  was consecrated in 1238 by the first bishop of Valencia after the Reconquista, Pere d’Albalat, Archbishop of Tarragona, and was dedicated by order of James I the Conqueror to Saint Mary. It was built over the site of the former Visigothic cathedral, which under the Moors had been turned into a mosque

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The cathedral contains numerous 15th century paintings, some by local artists (such as Jacomart), others by artists from Rome engaged by the Valencian Pope Alexander VI

who, when still a cardinal, made the request to elevate the Valencian See to the rank of metropolitan see, a category granted by Pope Innocent VIII in 1492

Here are a couple by Goya….

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On our way to find the Chapel of the Holy Grail we stumble upon a mummified arm in a glass case…….yikes!

Turns out it is that of Saint Vincent, the Patron Saint of  Valencia.

Tthe story of Saint Vincent the Martyr begins (ends) when they tried to burn him but his body wouldn’t burn so they tied 4 horses to each of his limbs, whipped the horses and let them run, tearing him apart in the middle of the city, so today one of his arms rests in the Cathedral.

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Okay, past the arm and ……..hello …….tombs…

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Okay, move on,  it is time to find the Holy Chalice the most revered in the world right here in one of this cathedral’s chapels;  this chalice has been defended as the true Holy Grail

………and there it is!  The Chapel is filled with the smell of incense that has been burning for hundreds of years…..

Most Christian historians all over the world declare that all their evidence points to this Valencian chalice as the most likely candidate for being the authentic cup used at the Last Supper

It was the official papal chalice for many popes, and has been used by many others, most recently by Pope Benedict XVI, on July 9, 2006

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 This chalice dates from the 1st century, and was given to the cathedral by king Alfonso V of Aragon in 1436.

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It was quite exciting to be in this place and be in the presence of this acclaimed artifact (by now the music score from the Indiana Jones Movies was BLARING inside my head)…..time to move on..

We visited the rest of the Cathedral, which was quite beautiful and filled with amazing artifacts…

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……wow that was a most exciting and interesting visit…now off to explore the city….

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We found Valencia to be incredibly clean and well kept.  The people were so helpful and friendly!

We had heard about Canela, a most well respected and sought after restaurant….

We arrived when the owner was closing and locking the door…………..NO, please let us in, please……guess what …….. he said yes!!

We went upstairs and the art was amazing…

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The meal was the BEST of our entire lifetimes!  A seven course delight…

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the final course ….. Paella con Arroz Negro…..Paella with rice made with squid ink

Over the Top AMAZING

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If you are ever near Vallence….you MUST eat at Canela

But you know the Tin Man………it is now time to search out the sweets Valencia is known for …….CHOCOLATE

We found it at Valor, known for their outstanding Chocolates….right on the Plaza de la Reyna…

Of course we  had the Chocolate Flight with Churros…..

What experiences and delights we enjoyed in beautiful Valencia….but now it is time to move on…until next time…Adios