Yesterday and today were chore days. Yesterday’s big task was installing the new 5.7 water pump. It was a quick and easy install. All worked great, and Eric and Colin were proud of themselves. Until an hour later when the pump died. After a quick troubleshoot, it was clear that the fuse connector was loose. With a quick squeeze of the pliers to make the connection tighter, the problem was instantly solved. They also cleaned the AC water maker. Today’s big project for the men was to change the oil on the main and repack the lazarette. Of course, the lazarette had to be unpacked to access the water pump. Eric also removed another smelly pad from the bildge, so hopefully our smell is gone for good now.
Christi has been doing spring cleaning. Knowing nothing will be cleaned for three weeks, she wants to get as everything as clean as possible before we go.
The other important thing is we went through all the emergency and safety gear on board. We made sure everyone knew exactly what we have and where it is located. This was a good review for Eric and Christi. Since we never use those things, it is easy to forget about them. We also reviewed emergency plans.
We are ashamed to admit that we only left the marina once, and that was to go to a restaurant literally across the street from the southern marina entrance. We have two excuses. The first is that it was windy with scattered showers both days. When it rained, it rained hard. And it was a long walk to get out of the marina, let alone go anywhere outside of it. We are pleased to report that this marina is nice and calm in all the wind. After all the rocking around in Mallorca and Gibraltar, we are extra appreciative of flat marinas.
The second is that Lonely Planet says that Las Palmas has some unsafe neighborhoods, and to take care, particularly at night. Since Las Palmas is a commercial port town, it has all the unsavory things that come with port towns, such as drugs, crime, prostitution and a high number of transients. There is a security car that constantly patrols the marina grounds and the gates all require keys, both to get in and out. Clearly, they take security seriously. We have seen many transients wandering up and down the docks asking each boat if they need crew. There are some scary looking people, too. We know that lots of boats take strangers on as crew and have no problems, but we don’t think we’d ever do such a thing. How do you know you aren’t letting Billy Zane aboard?
Anyway, the restaurant across from the marina was a fancy restaurant. Colin ordered croquettes. Out came a whole tray of little deep fried balls. We think they are potatoes wrapped around a tasty cheese and small pieces of local ham. Eric ordered a local fish called cogote de merluza. It came baked in an earthenware deep dish pan, similar to what paella is served in. It was baked in a rich tomato sauce with onion and bell pepper. We also got a side dish of asparagus and were surprised when a completely different variety of asparagus than we are used to came out. It is fat, probably about ¾ inch in diameter, short, maybe 3 inches long, white, and tender. We got a dessert called milhojas de crema that is like a mille fleur, a puff pastry with a cream center. All the food was excellent.
However, the thing that most stands out in all our minds was the ham serving station. On display out in the open for everyone to see is an entire pig leg, from buttock all the way down to the hoof. It is put inside a purpose built holder. When someone orders ham, they just slice pieces off the leg. None of us have ever seen anything like that before and we were all flabbergasted. Sadly, the photo we took of it didn’t come out.
We did go out to eat at three more different restaurants within the marina complex. One of the places was always packed, and we mean always, because they have free wifi (there is no wifi to the boats here). In a break between showers, we packed up the computer and went over there for lunch. They only had 4 indoor tables, all occupied by people with laptops and long finished beverages. We sat down at an outside table and ordered food. It started to rain. We went inside and asked them to find us a dry table. Fortunately, the waitress made a table leave to accommodate us. Actually, one table took notice of us as soon as we walked in out of the rain. They must have known that whoever had gone the longest without ordering was going to have to clear out, because they suddenly became desperate for another round of beers right then. Sadly, for some reason we couldn’t connect to their wifi. Christi ordered pasta with pesto sauce. It was your typical basil pesto, but it was served with boiled potatoes and green beans mixed in. We don’t think we’ve ever seen potatoes served with pasta before.
Of course, we tried a few other interesting foods at the other restaurants. One was a local spreadable cheese called torta de la serena, which was served with croutons. It is not as soft as cream cheese, though it is creamy, strongly flavored, and viscous. The best way to describe it is that it tastes like concentrated cheese. Unless you put only a small quantity on the crouton, it is overpowering.
We finally tried Iberian ham. In Mallorca, almost every restaurant had Iberian ham on the menu and it was invariably the most expensive thing on the menu. For the price, we were expecting it to be magical. Our favorite kind of hams are soft, like proscuitto or parma. This was tougher, closer in texture to a jerky than the standard ham we get in America. Like the cheese, it has a strong, concentrated taste, almost like a gammon. It was good, but we didn’t think it was good enough to justify the cost.
Christi and Eric also tried black pudding (AKA blood sausage) for the first time. Black pudding is literally animal blood, a thickening agent, and seasonings stuffed into sausage wrappers. It is a traditional European dish. We tried the Burgos Iberian style, typical on mainland Spain, which is made with rice as the thickening agent. They were well seasoned and surprisingly tasty. The waiter told us that the Canary Islands version uses sweeter foods as thickening agents, so the taste is completely different than the ones we tried. Colin told us that in Scotland they use oatmeal as the thickening agent, and in England they put bits of fat in there.
We also tried a dessert called “Nougat Foam” topped with pine nuts and served with pistachio flavored ice cream. It is basically what the Italians call a semifreddo, an almost ice cream like nougat served cold.