Hanging Out in Alicante

Sun 25 Aug 2013 16:39
Monday evening Lynn returns to our Cartaginian home. Temporary it may be but
I have grown to like this town. It is a solid, unpretentious place, modest
about its past but worthy of its original name of New Carthage. We have
another day here as Oyster have organised a firm of air conditioning people
to come to us to resolve the problem with the unit in the saloon which
basically is not getting the temperature down enough. We wait all day, they
don’t show! I get through to them on the phone at 17.00 they say they will
have guys here within the hour. They don’t show but they ring an hour later
to ask if we can get to Torrevieja tomorrow where they will arrange a berth
for us and do the job. Reluctantly I agree, Torrevieja is not some where
high on our list of must visits. Whilst this telephone conversation is going
on a high rise housing block berths! Five hundred and sixty feet long,
fourteen stories high from the waterline this thing is vast. Imagining ‘my’
city swamped with the inmates of this leviathan Torrevieja seems a little
more appealing and anyway it’s a complimentary berth.
Next day is not a good sail to Torrevieja, 10 knots of wind almost on the
nose and a languorously rolling sea. We plug the forty miles or so away
motor sailing. I call the marina as we close on the port; they know nothing
of any pre-booked berth. Calls to the refrigeration people are unanswered.
Roger is cross and getting crosser! We berth in an awkward visitors dock
adjacent to a swimming pool and several bars. Still handling mooring lines
and fenders we are surrounded by scantily clad residents of Essex asking if
they can have their photo taken by the boat. Roger simmers. A phone rings,
the engineers will be with us in thirty minutes, the line clicks off before
I can question about the £100 a night mooring fee that I have now paid! A
couple of hours later our saloon is as cool as a supermarket dairy counter.
We gratefully move to a new berth well away from the bars and clubs. So glad
we did as the music pumped out all night long whilst the holiday making
revellers chomped on burgers and downed gallons of larger and goldfish bowls
of questionable cocktails. Exploring Torrevieja next day we decided that it
had little to commend it and that we should move on. Then I spotted it! A
narrow oak beamed entrance, cool, dark interior. Closer inspection revealed
beamed ceiling hung with upwards of one thousand ancient hams quietly
maturing, small inverted Cooley hats hung beneath them to catch any gentle
seeping’s. To my left on glacial beds of ice, small fish, large fish,
enormous fish, sharp toothed mouths agape, Octopus with tentacles as thick
as your arm in bowls of wine and tomato. Lobsters and clams and langoustines
and huge scallops in their shells prepared in half a dozen different ways.
There were oysters and dressed sea urchins, flat fish, soles and turbot,
cusk eels and monk fish. Above them sirloins and ribs of beef, delicately
pink loins of veal, birds in variety and suckling pigs both whole and in
parts. Moving further inside past the starched linen and silver cutlery were
aquariums alive with all manner of denizens of the sea. Taking seats at the
bar at the far end, under still more ageing hams we saw Le Patron, well over
six feet tall, hands the same size as the hams that surrounded him, thick
dark hair and a prominent nose he stood before a huge stone fireplace inset
with rich green, Spanish tiles, horn handled knife in hand, slicing
carefully at the half dozen or so hams fixed in stainless steel clamps that
were set in front of him. Surrounded by this gourmand masterpiece, perched
in front of the massive oaken bar behind which glass fronted cupboards held
all manner of epicurean delights, some we recognised others we did not, we
sipped at frozen glasses of pale ice cold, frothing beer deciding on our
tapas and having already decided to forgo the sausage and mash aboard for
another night in Torrevieja and dinner at El Meson de la Costa. The tapas
were a delight, shredded beef with pimentos, soft white, fish flaked with
cheese, Spanish mackerel hot smoked over green oak and of course ham sliced
so finely you could read a newspaper through it, its rich dark, complex
flavours belying the fact that it was just pig.
Our evening repast was simple, dishes of hot butterflied gammas dripping in
garlic, butter and sea salt. Mussels their shells filled with and surrounded
by a rich tomato and herb sauce and a couple of huge scallops their
perfectly cooked flesh complimented by a sauce of reduced onions, white wine
and garlic. This was followed by the forequarters of a suckling pig cooked,
a la confit, served with a little fried potato and a basket of finely
shredded vegetable. Washed down with a lightly chilled, youngish
Tempranillo. During dinner we discussed our sailing plans and decided to eat
again the week after next! If ever you have the misfortune to find yourself
in Torrevieja I highly recommend you treat your battered senses at El
A late start next day we slipped our lines for Alicante and had forty miles
of champagne sailing. On slight seas we enjoyed a breeze of 15 to 22 knots,
at first close reaching and then as we rounded the eastern end of Isla de
Tabarca ( once the haunt of pirates and privateers)it came on our beam. Our
thirty five tons slicing at nine knots through the light swell, such a
pleasure. After a bit of argy bargy we are moored side to under the huge
mound of Santa Bárbara Castle casting its shadow over the water as it has
done for over a thousand years and just around the corner from a full size
replica of the Santísima Trinidad, one of the many huge, unwieldy, Spanish
ships sunk at Trafalgar. We are here till Monday when Jane and Ian arrive
for their first taste of sailing, I guess an Oyster 575 is not a bad place
to start.

Roger & Lynn
The crew of Pamarzi