Dominoes, Paella and Thunderstorms.

Dominoes, Paella and Thunderstorms.

A lovely, lazy Sunday was planned because the weather forecast predicted rain, but for most of the day the Sun managed to beat the clouds into submission. We are getting bored with the pantomimic ‘You choose, you choose’ conversation so we quickly agreed to go to Las Barcas in Calpe Port, play dominoes (it is a ritual with us there) then have lunch there.

This time we decided not to confuse the staff with our Lancashire dominoes set (they go up to double nine) or the bewildering triangular dominoes. Instead we took the standard set. Several cups of tea, glasses of water and games of doms later we moved into the restaurant for lunch.

Las Barcas is a favourite venue for Paella and the quality of the Paella is evidenced by the number of Spanish families who go there to eat it. Sometimes you can’t hear yourself think for the sound of the Paella pans being scraped to get the best bits off the bottom. It is a perfectly acceptable Spanish pastime and after consuming a lovely, healthy Special Salad each, we cheerfully joined in this charming Spanish ritual.

There are so many rules surrounding Paella it is mind boggling. Bomba rice must be used. Nothing else will do. It should never, ever be stirred. The pan must only be shaken. That way the rice sticks to the bottom to create the umami crunch of the socarrat, the black crust that sticks to the bottom of the pan, ‘Valencian caviar’ as it is jokingly referred to. That is why the Paella is cooked and served in the paella pan.

Paella is traditionally a Valencian Sunday picnic dish cooked over a wood fire in the open, but nowadays Spanish people are busy so they prefer to go to as restaurant to eat it. It is never eaten in the evening and having consumed it many times for Sunday lunch we now fully understand why it is a lunch time dish. You definitely need a siesta after eating it!

Most paellas are the classic summer variety, containing rabbit, chicken, snails when they are in season, Valencian tomatoes, flat green ferradura beans and lima beans, but we had Paella Mixta that contained seafood as well. Don’t tell the rule makers or we will be drummed out of Communidad Valencia!

Suffice to say, the paella pan was scraped clean, every single grain of saffron infused rice was greedily scoffed, every item of seafood prised open and eaten and those rabbits and chickens did not die in vain. Deeeee-bloody-licious.

Amazingly we even managed a pudding (postre in Spanish.) For me that is a rare and very special experience. This wasn’t the usual raw fruit that I get offered. Bugger that for a game of soldiers, that’s an ingredient, not a pudding. No this was a proper pudding. Granted, my choice was very limited but the Arroz Con Leche (rice pudding) was lovely. I don’t like English rice pudding at all but the Spanish serve rice pudding chilled with cinnamon and it is lovely. All in all, this was a delightful repast, but maybe the ‘light’ in ‘delightful’ didn’t really apply.

We had a few more games of dominoes, more tea and coffee then the sky turned into a foreboding shade of navy blue so we paid up and left, just in time for me to realise that I didn’t know where the windscreen wiper controls were. Oops! Much fumbling and experimentation later I worked it out and got home with them on full pelt. It was a good thing that I had remembered to put the umbrella in the boot or poor Garrath would have been soaked to the skin opening the gate.

When we got inside we turned off all the electrical gadgetry (momentary withdrawal symptoms only assuaged by the knowledge that the storm could have burned them all out) then had the privilege of witnessing the most spectacular thunderstorm either of us have ever seen. It was stunning! The lightning was fabulous, the thunder deafening. The rain drummed on the roof like the best orchestral percussion section we have ever heard. Have you guessed by now that we both adore thunderstorms.

I have managed to get some terrific photographs of the water features that appeared in our garden. What once were steps became a waterfall. The patio became a pool. The drainage channel by the gate directed water to a stone that then became a fountain, both roads, front and back, became rivers. It was wonderful, joyful, natural and ooooooh sooooooo welcome. You could almost hear the trees sucking up the moisture in blissful gratitude, and the softer plants revelling in this much needed source of sustenance after a two year drought.

Somehow it always rains when we are here. See here –

We don’t mind. The ground needs it, the reservoirs need it and we are not made of sugar so we won’t dissolve! Whatever, it is predicted to be a rainy week so this is the week when I will do the preserving.

After the thunderstorm we both had the much needed, post Paella siesta, then guess what – off to the local watering hole.

Life is good!