Camino Days - 6 & 7
Yesterday, Tuesday, we started a little later than we would have liked but the host at our lodging was persistent in his attentions, barely left us alone and talked continually about himself. He determined that our day’s walk was not very long and so he wanted to sleep and serve breakfast at 9. After some clearly articulated resistance he relented and he, or rather his long-suffering wife, served us breakfast at 8:30 while he continued to regale us as we ate.
We finally started out about 9:15 in the rain, which while not as intense as on the previous day, continued with brief intermittent breaks for most of the day. Our terrain was easier today, not much in the way of climbs, but the trade-off was that while we did not have mountain torrents in our path, we instead had ponds and lakes. The paths are worn down and most are 6 inches to a foot below surface level and of course fill with water. They generally run alongside farmers’ fields and so one side is a wall or fence and the other side is rough treed ground with little or no verge. You are perforce constrained to use the path and must slog through water and black mud.
My traveling companions are also managing through their own knocks and bumps. Di has taken two falls, one on Easter Day and one today but fortunately not on the day of our climb and she is bandaged and scraped. The others each have their bumps, scrapes and sore feet but everyone watches out for each other and helps when needed. We arrived at our hotel at about 4:30 after what seemed a very long day, and as it turned out with good reason. The walk while listed at 18K on our documents turned out in fact to be 25K by GPS tracking. We had had do do some back-tracking and our last night’s hotel was a couple of K off the Camino trail so 7K longer than we had planned and we felt every extra metre of it when we finally arrived.
Tonight and Wednesday are being spent at a parador in Tui, Spain, resting our feet and gearing up for our final 7 day walk to Santiago. After some of our accommodations the parador is the lap of luxury with a restaurant and bar, a comfortable lounge and coupled with free day for R&R I’m planning to drop anchor in the lounge, put my feet up and spend the day reading.
Wednesday morning - It goes without saying that today, a non-walking day, the sun is shining and the landscape sparkles after the rain. I refuse to look at tomorrow’s forecast, if I don’t pay any attention maybe the good weather will continue un-noticed.
Just returned from lunch in the parador restaurant and once again reminded of the fact that some of the most interesting experiences that travel provides are culinary. I had a hamburgesa and the menu suggested that it was served with the juice of red fruits; I imagined that this was a creative translation of ketchup. When it came it was a thick, freshly made patty of what I think was a mixture of pork and beef, laced with herbs and savoury green bits and just cooked enough to change the colour to that fine tone just between very light pink and very light brown, in other words perfectly cooked. It was covered by a thin layer of melted local cheese and was served on a long diagonal slice of toasted baguette, but the most interesting addition was a thick layer of blackcurrent jam on which it sat. Sounds very quirky, but the sweet pork mixed with savoury herbs and tangy jam and cheese, took it to new heights. One of the best things I've had in a while!
We have had a couple of really great dishes in the various places where we have stayed. Elaine, one of our walking companions, requested the desert recipe from our hostess at our first night’s lodging and here it is in Elaine’s words…
Surely this recipe has to be one of the best desserts we will enjoy on this pilgrimage. Teresa Pamplona, our patroness at Quita das Alfaias, served us a superb birthday meal for fellow pilgrim - Gerry. We had baccalau casserole- salt cod with potato and olive, followed up by the lightest of desserts. It seemed to be a cross between creme caramel and bread pudding - yes!!!
Preheat oven to 450 F - 230C
Here are the ingredients:
Half litre orange juice - fresh is really the secret
Zest of 1 and 1/2 oranges
1 t flour (that’s right, 1 teaspoon)
10 T sugar
Beat with a whisk or egg beater. Line a rectangular pan with underside and overside greased parchment and bake for 20/25 minutes - until it no longer shakes and is brown on top. Do not overcook.
Take from the oven and invert onto sugar (Demerara) covered parchment paper (we think you should add a little more orange zest to the sugar); roll it up like a jelly roll in the sugar.
Serve at room temperature.