January 18, 2009 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine, Travels in Spain

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Yesterday we spent the day at a friend’s ranch (la finca) and what a treat it was! We had been trying to make it happen for a couple of months and finally managed to get everyone together yesterday – which included Juan Pi (whose family owns the ranch) his wife Laura, their darling daughter Carlota and a few other couples. As it turned out though, not everyone could make it after all – Almudena went into labor, so she and her husband of course stayed behind…as far as we know, their little boy has yet to make the official arrival though :).

The ranch is located southwest, about an hour from Madrid, in a town called Fuentidueña. The drive there was beautiful, especially with the sun beaming – we could tell it would be an exceptional day.

When we arrived in the little old village we managed to get somewhat lost trying to find the ranch and ended up driving down a long road to what Juan Pi called “the ugliest part of town”. So after we were finally redirected and no longer driving just based on Jacob’s memory of how to get to the ranch, I saw a mother and son with a small dog. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – it was a shiba inu! Now I know most of you have no idea what I am talking about and, if you do, you are thinking why would it be such a big deal. Well, my sweet puppy Kobi back in the States is a shiba inu and it so happens that I have never once seen a shiba in all of Europe. In fact, Jacob and I even asked at the pet shop just the other day if they knew if we could get one (I desperately want a puppy – Jacob on the other hand is not so keen on the idea….we’re merely in an exploratory phase, wink, wink). Anyway, when I saw the dog in that random village in the middle of nowhere, I flipped. I made Jacob drop me off while he and the other couple, who joined us for the drive, searched for the ranch. The lady and her son were so sweet and I would like to think that they didn’t think I was completely crazy as they had been told by many that their dog had never been seen before. Anyway – seeing this puppy was so exciting for me! I am now officially on a mission to find a shiba of my own here (don’t tell Jacob!).

So, the ranch, what a wonderful and relaxing place! When we arrived we took a tour of the ranch itself, visiting the horses, chickens, vietnamese pigs, peacocks, rabbits and even a little turtle! It was Dear Hollow all over again (hopefully someone from the South Bay knows what I am talking about here). After a tour of the ranch we went for a stroll down to the Tajo River, one of the most famous rivers in Spain.

Then it was time for lunch and boy were we in for a treat (as is usually the case here in Spain). The weather was actually so nice that we ate outside in the warmth of the sun – what a change from a few days ago when it was snowing! Lunch started with a bunch of yummy aperitivos – jamón, olives, various cheeses, sobrasada (a meat sauce on bread) and even some empanadillas made by Juan Pi and Laura’s nanny from Honduras! After filling ourselves up on the aperitivos it was time for the first course – a shrimp bisque. With the freshly baked bread (from a loaf the size of an extra large pizza), the bisque was pure heaven. Following the bisque was a meat dish made from pig – at this point though, I was feeling a bit full (and honestly saving the last morsel of space in my stomach for dessert), so I enjoyed bites of Jacob’s dish which were of course delicious. Now for dessert, my absolute favorite Spanish dessert, arroz con leche. If you don’t know the joys of this dessert, then you are really missing out – and a homemade version is just plain off the charts!

Several glasses of wine later and I was just about tuckered out. I am lucky enough now that I understand pretty much everything in Spanish, so I have no problem following along with the conversation throughout the day – but after eight hours, a switch just turns off and my brain needs a rest. And so it was, we got in the car with our two other friends and I slept the entire way home. What a lovely day!

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