Skip to content

Trip to Barcelona 2016

Early this past summer Iceland Air had a sale on flights to select cities. There were some good deals for travel in the Fall. We had only three days to decide since I had heard about the sale at the end its time period of availability. We picked out some dates and I wrote to Oliver and Karl asking them if there was a conflict with any thing they might like to have us around for. I  also off-handedly mentioned that they were welcome to join us. We never took advantage of that sale but Oliver said he was up for vacationing with us! Karl was perhaps interested but the cities in the Iceland Air sale were all cities we had visited, except for one or two. I began thinking about traveling in mid-October and visiting a city where the weather had a chance of being good. Barcelona seemed like a good choice and so we decided to travel to Barcelona for two weeks from October 18 until November 1. Oliver said he and Heather would join us and Karl & Eun-Ha said they would meet up with us during our trip. Unfortunately it ended up that Heather couldn’t get away.

We traveled to Barcelona leaving the evening of October 18 and arriving early in the morning of October 19. We stayed in Barcelona until Friday, October 28,  spent 3 nights in Valencia, and then the day and night of October 31 in Barcelona. 29974313104_46af31a5c0_m Oliver joined us on Monday, October 24, and Karl & Eun-Ha joined us on Wednesday October 26. They all left on Friday October 28. 30571425382_723b121fa2_mIt was really nice traveling and enjoying Barcelona with them. An excellent trip all around.


Our non-stop flight from IAD arrived at BCN on schedule,  about 7:45 am. After easily passing through immigration we found the Aeropuerto AutoBus that took us to its last stop Placa de Catalunya in downtown Barcelona. The trip cost about 5 euros per person, took about 40 minutes, with wifi on the bus.  Placa de Catalunya was about 5 or 10 minutes form our first lodging.

Where we stayed

We rented a small one bedroom apartment via AirBnB for our first seven nights. It was very conveniently located in the old city at Carrer de n’ Amargos 2. A few turns off of a main street, across the street from a local cafe/bar, a few blocks from the Cathedral de Barcelona, and an easy walk to many parts of the city. The apartment was on the second floor, it was clean, and the bed was comfortable. The people who rented it to us were accommodating and helpful.  Oliver joined us for two nights at the place and when Karl & Eun-ha arrived at the Placa de Catalunya form the airport we all went back to our place to store their luggage for a bit and wash some of their clothes.

After Karl & Eun-Ha arrived we spent two nights at Hotel Andante. About 15 minute walk from our apartment. A very lovely place near Las Ramblas, La Bouqueria market, and the Para-lel metro stop. The hotels bills itself as a “responsible and sustainable hotel.” I think that is accurate. The rooms were modern, quiet, clean, completely functional. The hotel has a small infinity pool on the 11th floor with spectacular views of the city. Really wonderful.

We went to Valencia for three days returning for our last night before leaving. We spent the night at Hotel Colon, a very nice hotel facing the Barcelona Cathedral. 30575106482_829b134216_m
The hotel had all the accouterments and personnel representing of what you’d expect in a well-run European hotel. They also had a roof deck with great views of the cathedral. 30394969680_e66201dd91_m Two are posted  here.





Barcelona has a reputation for good food and dining experiences from restaurants, to neighborhood bars or cafes, to tapas bars, to the bars and stands in La Bouqueria.

Places we ate included:

Merce Vins 1982 – Right across the street from our apartment in the old city. Very comfortable, very local, very good food. We had breakfast there several days. This quote from captures its spirit. Merce Vins: Home Away from Office “Mercè Vins is exactly between two worlds, located on the quiet, narrow and dark Carrer d’Amargós, close to the shopping area of Portal de l’Àngel, near the Cathedral and Plaça de Sant Jaume, and on the border between the Barrio Gótico and Born neighborhoods, where there are numerous offices and public institutions, filled with employees looking for a breakfast that goes beyond a sad, ersatz “croissant” or for a lunch that approximates the kind of meal they would get if they were able to sneak back home.”

Hofmann Pasteleria – A shop with excellent pastries and candies. The pastries were the most original I’ve seen and tasted.

Ciudad Contal – Tapas, breakfast, excellent selection.

Mil Gritos – Restaurant with modern, imaginative dishes.

Casa Lolela. We ate there several times. One of favorites was the orz rissoto with black truffles. WE also had Mojama de Tuna twice. Solid, good food. Well prepared. Excellent sangria. I’ve found the sangria for sale in Fredericksburg at the Old Towne Butcher!

Amelie. A really nice restaurant in Gracia district in a square away form the hustle/bustle of the streets. Owned and operated by our friend.

Tagged , ,

Trip to Valencia 2016

In October 2016 we visited Barcelona, Spain. Oliver, Karl and Eun-Ha joined us for a few days there. On the day they left, October 28 we took a  train to Valencia and spent 3 nights there.

valenciafountainatnightValencia is a beautiful city.

It has a  large green space created from a riverbed. That space is filled with trails, museums, a concert hall, and places to relax.

The beach! A large public beach on the Mediterranean. Great restaurants and loads of public spaces.

We stayed at the Hotel Ad Hoc Monumental just between the old city and the green space. A great location. The hotel was clean, comfortable, and the staff was very accommodating and helpful. When I made the reservation I asked for a room with a terrace or balcony, on the advice of another traveler. We were upgraded to a ‘superior’ room with a terrace on the top floor. The terrace was tile with decent views and enough furniture for several people. What a nice touch!  The clerk, Antonio, said that we got that room because we asked and that the hotel was booked and no one had reserved a superior room.

Right after arriving, about 5 minutes before the restaurant closed,  the desk clerk arranged for us to have lunch at the restaurant associated with the hotel, Boix Quatre Restaurant. 

Other places we ate wee

We  spent one day walking from our hotel along the green space.  Along the way we visited  Palau de la Musica the concert hall of Valencia. cityartsandsciencesvalencia2016 Then down to the City of Arts and Sciences. Fantastic architecture, beautiful setting.   Then we walked to the beach  which was full. Lynn took off her shoes and waded into the sea. I was feeling pretty sick – cold or flu symptoms – and just walked along.  After lunch we walked to a restaurant and then eventually took a  bus back to our place. When we went to the cathedral square, a platform was set up with folk dancers. Another morning we went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Valencia, about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Two floors of several rooms of paintings and religious artifacts primarily from Valencia and Spain. Excellent collection and display.   We had a very nice time in Valencia.

On the morning of October 31 we took a train back to Barcelona. First class with a meal included.


Tagged , ,

Lemon-Garlic Roast Salmon on New Potatoes

Rooftops near Sorbonne, Paris, FranceI should have included this recipe in webliminalblog long ago. Went looking for the recipe tonight. Made it and it was, always, delicious. Used any sort of white potatoes, not just new potatoes. I’ve modified the recipe to reflect what we did tonight.

Lemon-Garlic Roast Salmon on New Potatoes
Copyright 2007 Lynne Rossetto Kasper. All Rights Reserved.

Serves 4 generously and multiplies easily

For this Greek-inspired roast dish, all you’ll need on hand is some boiled potatoes. Before putting the salmon in the oven, look at the tips after
the recipe to help with timing.


1/2 cup good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
5 large cloves garlic
Juice of 1 large lemon
Salt and fresh ground black pepper taste

The Fish:

1 1-lb wild caught Alaskan king salmon filet
4-5  medium sized, unpeeled potatoes, microwaved to barely tender and cooled
2 generous teaspoons pickled capers, rinsed

1. About a half hour before cooking, heat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, puree together the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and
pepper to taste. Pour over the salmon steaks and refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Have a shallow baking dish that can hold the salmon with some room to spare. Sprinkle in a little olive oil to coat the bottom. Peel and
thin slice the potatoes, then overlap slices to cover the bottom of the dish.

3. Moisten the potatoes with a little of the marinade and sprinkle with half the capers. Top with the filet and the rest of the marinade and capers.
Bake the salmon 10 to 15 minutes, or until the center  is no longer raw looking (make a small cut to see). If the fish was cold when it went
into the oven, it could take 4 to 6 minutes longer to cook.


Chutney Roast Fish: Make the marinade, but reduce the oil to 1/4 cup and add 1/4 to 1/3 cup fruit chutney after everything is pureed. Mixture should
be chunky. Finish the recipe as directed, but do not use the capers.

Coconut-Chile Fish Pan Roast: Instead of olive oil, lemon and garlic, marinate and roast the fish in a blend of 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1/2 teaspoon
fish sauce, a generous tablespoon each minced ginger and garlic, and fresh hot chile to taste. Top the finished dish with fresh lime juice and
chopped fresh Thai or sweet basil, or fresh coriander.


Fish needs some attention and a little fiddling. Once you have the knack, success will come. It’s all about timing.

Start with the standard rule of 10 minutes cooking time per inch of thickness of the fish. Because of variables like how cold the fish is when it
goes into the oven, how high your oven temperature is, and whether or not your oven is properly calibrated (most are not), I suggest you start
testing the fish after 8 minutes to the inch.

Test by pressing the fish gently; properly done fish is almost firm. When you think you are close, make a small slit in the center of one steak and
check for doneness. There should be no sign of raw fish — you want flesh that is opaque, but it should not flake. Fish that flakes is overcooked. If
you have any doubt, better to slightly undercook and let the fish stand 10 minutes before serving. It will continue cooking and will be perfectly

Tagged , , ,

Katydid on Basil

katydid on basil, front garden, homeMost days I spend some time in the morning checking on the plants and vegetables in our  garden. Seeing what is doing well, what needs attention, what might be ready to harvest, pick or cut,  and occasionally taking some pictures. The light is usually very good between 7 and 8 AM. The sun is rising and its light is cutting across the trees, flowers, and plants. Often putting them in a stark light.

I noticed what I thought was a grasshopper jumping from one plant to another. It landed on a basil leaf and I took a few shots, one of which is shown here, with the camera on my phone a Samsung Galaxy S4. I also posted the pic to facebook with the title “View du jour” that I often use. I think the saturation of green in the pic and the insect on the leaf got a fair amount of reaction. The discussion centered on whether the insect was a grasshopper, as i thought, or a katydid. LisaBeth correctly identified it as a katydid and explained why that was the case.

I like this photo and have been enlightened as to the difference between a katydid and a grasshopper.

Tagged , , , ,

Suicide Survivors Support Groups

Rooftops near Sorbonne, Paris, FranceSuicide survivors support groups. MHAF facilitates several support groups. One is titled SOS Survivors of Suicide. As part of a marketing effort to publicize this group I’ve been looking at similar groups and related articles on the Web.

  • Alliance of Hope The Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors provides healing support for people coping with the shock, excruciating grief and complex emotions that accompany the loss of a loved one to suicide.
  • Survivors of Suicide – Lost someone to suicide?‎  Learn about survivor of suicide services, helpful ways to heal and cope with your loss and if you’ve attempted suicide, learning ways to survive and thrive.
  • Survivors of Suicide Loss   Our goal is to give survivors a place where they can be comfortable expressing themselves, a place to find support, comfort, resources and hope in a judgment-free environment. This organization appears to be located in San Diego and contains links to similar organizations in California.
  • Suicide Loss Survivors.  Books and Resources for Survivors. Links to handbooks, videos, support information.
  • Understanding Survivors of Suicide Loss. An article by Deborah Serani, Psy. D., in Psychology Today.  “Suicide, however, has been described as a death like no other … and it truly is. Death by suicide stuns with soul-crushing surprise, leaving family and friends not only grieving the unexpected death, but confused and lost by this haunting loss.”

Many other resources on Google.


Tagged , ,

Notes from VABF conference January 29 – 30

Lynn and I attended the Virginia Biological Farming,,  conference at the 4-H Center at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia.  The image below is taken at sunrise from the front door of our motel room. The motel, Westlake Waterfront Inn,  was located on a small peninsula into a finger of the lake.


Many of the people at the conference were farmers. We are consumers but also interested in food issues in the Fredericksburg area.

Some notes:

Tagged , ,

Brief Review. Liberty or Death: A Thea Kozak Mystery by Kate Flora

Liberty or Death: A Thea Kozak Mystery by Kate Flora

Another or Flora’s books that feature Thea Kozak a competent business woman who is put in a difficult situation – the kidnapping of her groom on her wedding day – and who rises tot he situation to triumph (of course). The story involves right-wing militia in Maine, and gets somewhat heavy-handed and appears to be adhering to a formula as it progresses. A happy but not very subtle ending. This turned out to be more of an adventure story than a mystery.

Tagged ,

Selected Items from the Scout Report, October 2, 2015

Street musicians, Spain Some items from the current Scout Report. See all the items in this issue in  Scout Report of October 2, 2015.

  • Encyclopedia Virginia


    For educators teaching the history of the early United States and the history of Virginia, Encyclopedia Virginia is a cornucopia of primary sources, as well as commentaries, blog posts, and other information. Readers may want to begin with the featured resources on the landing page, such as the history of Indians in Virginia, and an article about the United States Colored Troops (USCT), an African American branch of the U.S. Army that was founded in 1863. The A-Z Index of the encyclopedia allows for easy browsing. For instance, selecting “H” reveals an entry on Thomas Hariot which then links to his book, A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia, and offers valuable perspective on the work and its context. Readers may also enjoy the Blog on the site, which boasts many erudite entries on topics such as whether the U.S. Constitution was a racist document. [CNH]

  • Yummy Math


    For educators who are continually looking for up-to-date, real-world examples of how mathematics impacts daily life, Yummy Math is a welcome ally. In fact, every article on the site seeks to link math to what is “relevant to our world today.” For instance, a recent article presented some of the math-related possibilities for the upcoming release of the new iPhone 6S and 6S plus, suggesting that students explore past iPhone launch sales data in order to predict sales for the new model using bar graphs and scatter plots. Educators can scout the site by Genres (Holidays and Annual Events, Math and Food, Math and Science, Math and Social Studies, and others), as well as by grade level. While all activities are freely accessible, some educators may select to sign up for a membership, which provides extra services, such as solutions to activities, access to a wider variety of resources, and access to teaching tips.[CNH]

  • KeepVid


    The premise of KeepVid could not be simpler. Just copy and paste a link from YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, DailyMotion, and other supported sites and select Download. The program then downloads the video or audio onto the user’s computer free of charge. While KeepVid is safe and legal, readers will want to be careful about how they use their downloaded content. For instance, downloading the latest Taylor Swift video to one’s computer is legal. However, using that video for profit or any public purpose is usually a violation of copywrite laws. Nevertheless, for readers who would like to download their favorite videos from YouTube and other sites, KeepVid is an excellent resource. [CNH]

Tagged , ,

Recipe. Marriane’s Peach and Frangipane Galette

cap canaille cassis france It is near the end of summer here in Fredericksburg, VA but there are still plenty of peaches available at the farmers markets. I’ve used the recipes in Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes From The Celebrated Greens Restaurant
by Annie Sommerfield for years to make blueberry and peach pie. This year I used the pie crust from Debra Madison’s book
Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm, and Market for the pie crust. But Madison’s book also contains a recipe for almond frangipane and this galette with the pastry and galette recipes in her book and as modified as mention in the previous posts. This galette is wonderful!

1/2 the recipe for pastry/galette
1/2 the recipe for almond frangipane
1 1/2 peaches
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon of honey

Preheat oven to 400.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel (if necessary) and slice the peaches into a bowl.
Roll out the dough into a circle about 11 or 12 inches across and transfer to the baking sheet. It will overlap the edges.
Spread the frangipane with 2 inches of the edges of the dough.
Lay the peaches over the frangipane.
Flop the dough over the fruit letting it overlap.
Melt the butter and honey together
Brush the dough with the butter and honey mixture.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Turn down heat to 350 and cook another 10 to 20 minutes until the crust is a nice brown color. Cool some before slicing. Then enjoy. (This is so good!)

Tagged , , , ,

Recipe. Almond Frangipane

Street in Marseille, France I love almond flavored pastries, especially almond croissants, and have been intrigued by frangipane. SO I was especially happy to see a recipe for almond frangipane in Debra Madison’s book Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm, and Market. This recipe makes enough for two galettes or tarts, It keeps in the refrigerator for a week, Just get it to room temperature before use because it has to be spread.

  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons flour

Mix the above in a food processor until the almonds are finely pulverized. Not quite the texture of flour, but fine.


  • 1/3 cup of maple syrup
  • 7 Tablespoons of butter

and process until smooth. Then add the following and mix using the food processor until all are incorporated in a somewhat smooth paste.

  • 1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of amaretto or kirsch

Refrigerate until ready for use.

Tagged , ,