Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Second Scariest Hotel Ever

Last weekend we headed out to the Ribeira Sacra, to Lugo, on the banks of the Cañones do Sil. It's a great place to visit in fall, as it's one of the few places where there are leaves that change color. And we wanted to take advantage of the Outono Gastronómico, a special annual event that couples rural hotels with fall-themed dinners and is a great way to discover new places.

We had planned to stay at a Casa Grande, which is, literally, a large house. Also sometimes called a pazo, it was usually the house of the richest guy in the neighborhood, and they're not kidding when they call them Big Houses. Some of them, which used to be single family homes, have more than a dozen bedrooms. One of these houses is where we had our wedding. A lot of the ones I've visited were built between the 15th-18th centuries, and this one, the Casa Grande de Rosende, was no exception. Originally built in 1511 by a man returning from Mexico (laden with riches, no doubt), it doesn't seem to have changed much in the intervening 500 years. Not only is the property original in its details, it also is stuffed to the gills with antiques and items proper to the time period. Sometimes, visiting places like this feels like walking back in time. ...And other times, it feels like walking into a horror film. This was one of the latter... 
(I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. I forgot my beloved Canon camera and was stuck with my supbar iPad.)

Everything that could be creepy about this house was creepy. It was huge and labyrinthian; we never quite knew which doorway or secret staircase (no, seriously) to take to get to where we wanted to go. We forgot about rooms and would come upon them unexpectedly, such as the chapel, decked out with a few too many crosses on its dingy painted walls. Some of the doors were locked, and some doors and windows were burnt black from a fire that had destroyed a lot of the building some years past. They'd saved those doors because, even though they were burnt, they were still historical, but now they looked scaly and ominous. There were antique baby carriages (shudder) and a headless mannequin wearing a black period costume, strategically placed near our room. After Isaac and I saw The Woman in Black last year at Halloween and scared ourselves silly, this mannequin was an unwelcome sight. 

The main rooms were accompanied by the library, full of dusty old volumes with their covers long gone, and the suit of armor that guarded the stairway. There were also tons of gigantic mirrors, which I avoided looking into, lest I see more than one pair of eyes staring back. There was also a kitchen, with an enormous lareira, a kind of fireplace that you can actually sit inside. In olden days, it served for warmth, for cooking, for smoking chorizos and hams, and for sitting around on those long, dark winter nights as the only source of light.

Even the rooms, which were themed, had their oddities. Ours, for example, was the Virgin Mary Room (no, I'm seriously not kidding). It was, as could be expected, covered with images of the Virgin Mary. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but coupled with the creepiness of the rest of the house, gave the room a very Exorcist vibe (like, maybe she was there to protect us from something?). Outside our window, even the gutters, shaped like gargoyles, seemed foreboding.

We arrived late in the afternoon so shortly after settling in and taking a quick walk around, we headed to dinner. It wasn't the most spectacular rural dinner we've had, but the capon with chestnuts and spinach pie were warm and tasty. Coupled with the wine, and the shots of liquor that we enjoyed afterwards, we had a pretty warm and fuzzy feeling when we headed back into the old kitchen to sit by the fireplace and play a few games of dominoes, and thoughts of ghosts faded into the background. 

We both managed to sleep fairly soundly, but we woke to see the whole house and surrounding village blanketed in thick fog. It gave the house a very eerie feeling, as we could even see the white fog pouring into our room through the open window, billowing like a witch's cauldron. 

After breakfast, we decided to take a hike through the surrounding vineyards (the area is famous for its wine production). But first, we wandered through the house's large gardens. 

In the fog and morning dew, everything seemed forgotten, lost in time. The dewdrops clung to the spiderwebs, illuminating them throughout the garden. The fog cloaked everything in a grayish ghostly mist.

There was a fountain, but it didn't work and seemed covered in a green layer of algae, as if from disuse. There were grapevines, but the grapes had long since been collected, leaving the vines to die through the winter. There was an apple tree, but many of the apples had fallen to the ground and been left to rot. There was even a hedge maze, but it was strung with spiderwebs that crisscrossed the paths, as if nobody had been there for a long time.

The fog was so thick we couldn't even see the houses across the street, or the vineyards we'd walked through just the evening before. But we headed out to hike anyway, and soon the fog lifted and the sun emerged, revealing quite a different picture. It was as if, the further away we got from the old house, the better the weather seemed.

We wanded through vineyards, though the vendimia had come and gone, and the grapes were now being crushed and fermented into wine for the winter. The grape leaves were turning red and purple on their vines, left alone for the season.

From the river, it's impressive to contemplate how vines are grown on these cliffsides with extremely steep inclines and little road access; from high above it was no less impressive.

The sun shone brightly and soon we were shedding jackets and sweaters. When we reached the end of the trail (or at least, the end for us), we headed back...but not before noticing a few vultures hovering ominously above the direction of the house.

We headed on to Monforte de Lemos, where we visited its fortress, walked around and had lunch. Afterwards we headed back home to our house, where we watched some scary movies from the comfort of our not-haunted, well-lit living room couch.

I would like to clarify that our experience of this hotel was actually pleasant. Even though the place was old, I don't want this to seem like a negative review of it - it was just fun for us to stay in a place that could be haunted. The caretaker was friendly and the room was up to our standards of cleanliness and comfort (an unclean hotel bathroom? Now that's frightening). It was quiet and the breakfast was delicious, and there were several other guests staying there, so it seems like a fairly popular hotel.

....But, as I said in the title of this post, this was still only the second-scariest hotel I've ever been in. Here's the first: the Farrington Inn in Boston - an experience I will never forget.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ode to a Kitchen Window

We moved! It sounds like something we just did overnight, but really, we've been thinking about moving for a while. We loved our cozy little apartment, but it had zero storage and the fixtures were getting old. And this past winter, it was so cold and rainy that the mold on the walls grew to a worrying level, and that's something we'd have to get professionally treated. I had begun to wonder if it was contributing to my allergies and (though I cleaned it regularly) whether the level of mold was dangerously toxic.

So last year we thought about moving in summer, but the summer came and went, and what with honeymoons and scuba diving and starting a new job, it was put on the backburner for another year.

When summer rolled around again this year, we decided we'd look for a new place. After a bit of online searching, we came across one that seemed too good to be true. More spacious, more beautiful, a HUGE kitchen, outdoor clotheslines, and barely more than we were paying for our little place. We went to look at it and it was indeed just as lovely as the pictures promised.

After a month or two of more searching and several apartment viewings that ended in us needing a bottle of wine to recover (so much ugly!), we knew that that first place was the place for us.

But it was still hard to let go of our cozy little place. The new place was much bigger, and better; we knew that. But that little apartment that Isaac had moved into as a bachelor five years ago was the place we had our first kiss. It was the place I got voilently ill while trying to impress him on one of our first dates. It was where I moved when we decided to take our relationship "to the next level" and I came back to Spain. It's where we decided to get married. It's where his family stayed on the night of our wedding. It's where we brought our little cat home from the shelter, and where she lived for the first three years of her life.

I knew I would miss it, even with its terribly uncomfortable couch and strangely-angled living room walls, its tiny old oven and the cold drafts of wind in winter. But mostly, I'd miss my kitchen window. 

It was a place to look out while I was doing dishes (and it feels like I'm always doing dishes). It's where I would stand and stare out over terracotta roofs at the big old pine trees and the little houses on the hill while I baked dozens of cakes and pies and cookies for street fairs. It's where my basil lived (and died. And lived. And died). It was my favorite view in the house. Here's to you, kitchen window, and the memories you helped create. Thanks for the breeze and the fresh air, the smell of rain and woodfire smoke and the sound of birds outside in the morning. I'll miss you, but, kitchen window or not, I know there are many memories to come.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spring in Santiago

Spring has finally sprung! After a long and very dreary winter, it seems that spring not only sprang, but jumped all the way into summer. We've had several days of warm, sunny temperatures, and people have been soaking up the sun like there's no tomorrow (because, meteorogically speaking, in Galicia, there may not be). 

The plants, too, have been eager to enjoy the change of seasons. Out at the farm, my raspberry bushes are taking over the garden, and maybe (maybe!) I will be able to eat more than three raspberries at a time this year. The blueberry plant, too, has tons of flowers and hopefully will yield ripe blueberries before the birds get to them. We even discovered wild strawberries growing in the underbrush! True to their reputation, they were tiny and misshapen but, oh, so delicious. 

Spring is definitely my favorite vegetable season. We've had a bumper crop of spinach and have been eating it at all meals, all week. Popeye would be proud. I've also managed to find fresh radishes at the market, which is something that rarely happens. Ecologically grown, these radishes were the sweetest and spiciest I'd ever tasted. If you don't like radishes, try growing them yourself. They've got nothing to do with the tasteless blobs you get at the supermarket. The fava beans and peas are quickly ripening on their vines, and strawberry season is melting deliciously into cherry season. Oh, and don't forget the new potatoes! Tiny, delicious, with transparent skins, nothing is better than some fresh Galician pork roasted with new potatoes and garden peas. With berries for dessert!

But it's not just the plants that have been blooming. We also have some brand new baby bunnies!
In the Alameda, the roses have been blooming. And after a recent renovation of its central pond and fountain, the ducks are back.

A few years ago (ahem, during the crisis), the pond's resident ducks started mysteriously disappearing. My own unfortunate take is that they ended up on someone's dinner table. It was actually headline news in the newspaper, because nothing crazy ever really happens here. And now, a few years later, they are back. The ducks are unique, colorful, and a hoot to watch. In fact, our new hobby is taking a walk over to the pond in the late afternoon and feeding them any old bread we've got lying around (I save it now on purpose). There are two black swans, two white swans, two peacocks, and a host of other small ducks, not to mention the usual gangs of pigeons and sparrows that find sport in attacking each other for the meager crumbs we give them.

Spring also means the beginning of the festival season. Though Galicians celebrate holidays year-round, summer is really the best time to find food festivals, outdoor concerts, and fairs of all kinds. For the third year running, we participated in the Feira da Primavera in San Pedro, though it was so busy this year that I didn't manage to take any photos at all. All of our friends came by to visit and we sold out of apple pie, cheesecake, carrot cake, lemon bars, and almost everything else. You can see our bright green tent in the picture, buried in the throng of people on the street. The festival is always a lot of fun, but it's best when it's warm and sunny, and people are enjoying free outdoor concerts, cold beers, and food handmade by a variety of vendors (that's us!).

Photo courtesy of El Correo Gallego

We've got several more fairs lined up and have already been making plans for another summer of local tourism and festival-hopping on the weekends. And I've also been making big plans for the rest of the spinach, and the favas, and the peas, and the potatoes, and the lettuce, and the tomatoes...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Wild Abandon

I have always been fascinated by abandoned places. I love seeing ruins of former glory, wondering what these places looked like when in they were full of life. It's the same reason I love shipwrecks and archaeology. Luckily (or maybe not), Galicia is full of abandoned places. Some of it is the effect of the great migration from tiny aldeas to cosmopolitan cities; sometimes it's due to longstanding conflicts over inheritance. Sometimes people just plain don't have the money to fix up their old buildings (and, in a place that's been inhabited for over 2000 years, we've got plenty of old buildings). 

Either way, it's astonishing to see how quickly (and how effortlessly) nature reclaims our works. Vines snake up into roofs and break through cracks in windows. Moss clings to old stone and creates a velvety silhouette with only a trace of human intervention. Birds make nests in old rafters, and animals find shelter under old grain silos. Stones come loose and fall away. Plaster peels from walls. Wooden beams are slowly whittled away by time, rain, and brutal winds. Eventually, entire villages are enveloped back into the forest, to come back from whence they came and return to the Earth all its materials, which were only on loan to us temporarily anyway.

In the book The World Without Us, author Adam Weisman explores what would happen if humans just disappeared tomorrow, leaving everything -everything- behind. It's fascinating to take a look at what would disintegrate almost immediately (most siding used in American homes), and what would never, ever, ever disappear (all the plastic in the world). As proof, Weisman talks about various parts of the world where reclamation by nature is already taking place, such as the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, the area surrounding Chernobyl, and even parts of New York City.

Since I love seeking out and exploring abandoned buildings here in Galicia, I thought I'd put together a gallery of images. To me, these places are a poignant reminder that we're really not the ones in charge, and no matter what happens to humans in the future, nature will keep on surviving in its own way. In fact, all of the images are from places within the Santiago city limits - you don't have to go far to see nature at work, reinventing, recovering, and reclaiming Galicia as its own.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

48 Hours in London

mind the gap

Even though I've lived in nine different countries, and traveled to dozens more, I've actually never been to London. I know! That seems unbelievable, especially considering the amount of times I've had to pass through Heathrow on my way to somewhere else. But the opportunity just never came up....until now.

big ben...note the illustrious sneakers hanging from the tree
Under the guise of checking out famous London bakeries as "market research" (ha), I told Isaac we should take a long weekend. It was March, after all, and prices were low, and fortunately, London is one of the few places to which we can fly directly from Santiago. So off we went!

...and they still have telephones inside
It's always strange visiting a large, well-known city, because you always have so many expectations of how it will be. You've seen the monuments in movies, you know its street names by heart, and you love to annoy your husband by singing the litany of nursery rhymes that involve said city (I think I sang "Do you know the muffin man?" down the whole of Drury Lane). You want everything to be just as you've imagined it from pictures you've seen, and yet you hope to feel something more when you find yourself actually standing in the midst of its magnificence.

london bridge is falling down....oh nevermind, that's tower bridge anyway

The thing that surprised me most about London is how not-old it seemed. Not new, exactly, or modern, just...not old. I suppose I expected more cobblestone alleyways, or more ancient-looking pubs, or something. Though I found London fascinating, I also felt...a little disappointed, I guess, that so many parts of it didn't feel like a place that's been around for a millennium. Of course, cities are constantly reinvented, and even back in the 1600s, the oldest parts of London had probably already been torn down and built upon in the constant cycle of growth and progress.
parliament...hope guy fawkes isn't around

That said...we had a blast. We only had about 48 hours, so this time around we didn't bother with museums, galleries, or libraries. We just walked the length of the town from one end to the other, pausing to look at unique things, and stopping as often as possible for a snack or a spot of tea.

On Friday, when we arrived, we hung around Piccadilly Circus (which is not a circus, but of course who doesn't know that? *ahem*), Covent Garden and Soho, enjoying the atmosphere of quirky boutiques and classic taxis maneouvering between those iconic red double-decker buses. We saw the obligatory Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. We ate fish and chips for lunch and a really good chicken curry for dinner. (I was desperate for foods we can't get in Santiago. And two words: malt vinegar.)

cloister of westminster abbey with the afternoon sun pouring in

On Saturday, after a huge English breakfast (complete with crumpets) we headed out to Notting Hill, with its quaintly picturesque rows of colored flats and tiny shops, and wandered through the Portobello Road market.

notting hill

The market was selling everything from vintage t-shirts to silver teapots, and we wandered in and out of galleries filled to the brim with curiosities. At each stand was what seemed to be the quintessential old British gentleman: white-bearded, dressed in tweed, enjoying a cup of tea (from a porcelain teacup with saucer, of course), and chatting amiably with the other sellers about the good old days when the word "antique" really meant something. One of them had a fascinatingly peculiar selection of books:

I especially love Cosy Chair Stories and Choice British Ferns

After walking the length of Portobello Road, we headed over to Buckingham Palace, just to take a look. The changing of the guard was not happening that day, but we got a good viewing of the guards anyway.
hat's a bit big, don't you think?
We then made our way to the impressive and imposing Tower of London, which is not really a tower, by the way. Of course, I knew that. Who doesn't know the Tower of London isn't a tower? *ahem* We didn't go inside this time, but it is definitely on our list for our next visit, as it sounded pretty interesting, but foreboding as it was (and knowing the stories or prisoners held inside), looking upon the Tower from outside was enough for us.

not a tower, obvs
Then it was time for tea. One of the things I had most looked forward to was a traditional English high tea, which I haven't enjoyed since Nick and I would spend afternoons at the Peninsula in Manila downing mini eclairs and cups of Earl Grey while waiting for various ministers to show up so we could accost them for interviews. Man, those were the good old days.

cloisters of westminster abbey

We found an out of the way place in the cellar of Westminster Abbey, where the monks had stored food and supplies in the 14th century. It's been lovingly restored and was a refreshing change from the rose-wallpapered and lace-embroidered teas elsewhere. We were served traditional scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam (one of the best things on this planet. If you've never tried clotted cream, please tell me you will, as soon as you have the chance. It's like butter and cream had a delicious, rich, creamy baby made for scones and jam...yum), as well as finger sandwiches (cucumber, ham, and salmon), and an assortment of tiny pastries. We enjoyed our tea as we rested our tired feet and looked over our map, deciding afterwards to head to Camden Town and visit its famous market.

hipster alert
We'd read that Camden was an "alternative" to the Portobello Road market, and I'm not sure what either of us was expecting, but either way, as soon as we stepped off the Tube, we wandered agape at the scene. Unbridled hipsterism: vintage shops lining every street, a mass of people (all bearded and plaid-ed, of course), foods from every possible corner of the globe, and plenty of signs warning us to watch for pickpockets. The whole "town" seemed like one big flea market, selling everything from vintage furniture and records to light-up t-shirts.

We tried our best to blend in. First we'd worried we weren't dressed nice enough for tea, and now we were worried that Isaac's sideburns weren't long enough and I don't own a Ramones shirt. I'm just kidding, was a really cool and unusual area of the city, an antidote to the images of uptight white-gloved Ladies Who Lunch that people sometimes imagine Londoners to be.

eating everything from burritos to pho
When we'd exhausted ourselves with peeking into t-shirt shops and wondering what they might sell at the "Amsterdam of London" shop, we sat down to dinner at one of the places claiming to have the best burger in London (ugh, a good of things I most miss from the US). I don't know if it was the best, but it definitely satisfied my craving...for the moment. Then it was over. Our weekend went so fast. The next day we only had time for breakfast and a walk in the park before it was time to go back home. Luckily, London is only two hours away by plane. Hopefully we can make it back soon; if not for the museums, parks, monuments, and shopping, then definitely, definitely for the clotted cream.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Recipe: Caldo Galego (Galician Soup)

It rained. And rained. And rained. For sixty days and sixty nights it rained. Wind howled through empty streets and whistled in through the cracks between windows and doors. The clouds enveloped our little village, and the world became small, seeing nothing beyond green and gray, green and gray.

Indoors, fires crackled. Chimneys smoked, and the smell of fresh burning wood was in the air. Flannel blankets covered beds and everyone was hidden beneath layers of wool and fleece. On stoves, soup pots bubbled, warming kitchens, bellies, and souls. Outside, the clouds rolled in, the rain fell and beat against the windows, and the wind howled to be let in, but inside, with a blanket and a bowl of soup, all was right with the world.

This is one such soup. It is what we would call in Spanish "reconstituyente," which is like refreshing, comforting, and renewing all in one word. It's been eaten in Galicia since the beginning of time and it's hearty, healthy, and simple - perfect for cold, rainy, disgusting winter days.

It contains only a few basic ingredients, and yet the sum of it all is so much more than its humble individual parts. Some white beans, some fresh hardy winter greens, a few potatoes and a bit of whatever meat you've got lying around is all you need. Start by soaking your beans. Sure, you can use canned, and I have done so many times, but trust me when I say that using dry beans makes all the difference in this soup.

Cook them with some bacon, or a ham hock, or whatever you've got. In Galicia we use salted cured meats, such as lacón, panceta or costilla salada (salted ribs), but just use whatever you have. Some kind of ham or pork is best. I personally like bacon for the smokiness that it adds.

Add some chorizo and potatoes, cut into big chunks. Don't freak out about it. This isn't fine dining, this is home-cooked farm fare. Lastly, add some grelos. What are grelos, you ask? Good question. They're greens. Any kind of greens. In Galicia, technically they're turnip tops or broccoli rabe. Sometimes even kale. Just add some greens that won't fall apart in the soup. Whatever you have. Let it cook a bit, and then serve it up steaming in bowls with a big loaf of rustic bread, and imagine the smell of the fire, the sound of crackling logs, the sound of rain on a stone roof, the fresh cool air of a recent rain on green trees in old forests.

Recipe: Caldo Galego (Galician Soup)
Serves 4

*This isn't really a recipe. The measurements are Galician Grandmother measurements, wherein nothing is actually weighed but simply estimated or eyeballed per person.

250g dried white beans (about a coffee cup full of dried beans per person)
A few slices of bacon or a ham hock or other salted pork (rinsed if salted)
Half a chorizo per person, diced
4 medium potatoes (about one per person), peeled and cut into sizable but edible chunks
A big-ass bunch of greens (that's the official term), such as: kale, broccoli rabe, turnip tops, chard, spinach, or whatever you've got lying around, cleaned and stems removed
Unto (similar to lard...if you want to be really traditional about it, you'll need a tiny bit of this, about the size of a walnut. You could also use olive oil but honestly, no fat is necessary for this dish.)

1. Soak your beans. I find white beans tend to soak faster than black beans, and for me, just six hours was plenty. Just put them in a pot with cold water, and leave them there for a while.

2. Cook your beans. If you're using bacon, dice the bacon and cook it in the pot first. When it's cooked, add the beans and enough fresh cold water to fill the pot about 3/4 of the way. If using an already cooked ham hock or other cured meat, just add it to the pot with the beans and water. Cover and let the beans cook for about an hour on medium high heat. Stir occasionally, removing any foam that has gathered on the surface.

3. While you're cooking the beans, you can blanch the greens. This is step is totally optional, but can help with two things: 1) it will help reduce the bitterness of any especially bitter greens, such as kale; and 2) it will keep the soup from becoming an unappetizing shade of green, though this is purely aesthetic. Just boil the greens in a separate pot for a few minutes to soften them. Then rinse them under cold running water to stop them overcooking and retain their green color. Chop them a bit if the leaves are very large. Feel free to skip this step entirely, but then make sure to cook the soup long enough for the greens to become soft and silky.

4. When the beans are pretty much cooked (they don't have to be totally, completely done as we'll keep cooking them), add the potato chunks and chorizo. Make sure to keep the pot at a rolling boil as you add the potatoes.

5. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and easily pierced with a knife. Finally, add the grelos and taste for salt. If you used a salted meat, you probably won't need any additional seasoning.

6. Finally, add the greens and let cook until greens are soft. Taste again for seasoning. The soup should have taken on an almost creamy consistency, though it remains a broth. Eat immediately or save for later. It's even better on day two. Don't forget the bread!

Recipe brought to you by Galician grandmothers everywhere

Monday, January 20, 2014

Almost Famous

So, I was recently on television, and I can confidently say that the only thing more nerve-wracking than appearing on television is having your house also appear on television.

No, wait. The only thing more nerve-wracking than appearing on television and having your house appear on television is having to cook in your kitchen, on television.

No, wait. The only thing more nerve-wracking than appearing on television and cooking in your kitchen is also having to practice yoga...on television.

No, wait. The only thing more nerve-wracking than having to cook, in your home, and then practice yoga on television, is having to also do your own hair and makeup (Ree the Pioneer Woman knows what I'm talking about!).

No, wait. The only thing more nerve-wracking than appearing on television, having to do yoga, doing your own hair and makeup, having your house appear as well, and having to cook in your kitchen, is having to also sing...karaoke...on television!

Oh, and if that weren't enough, how about doing all of this in a language that's not your first language, and is also not even your second language?

Yes. I think that's about as nerve-wracking as it gets. Oh, don't forget you also get to do all your own cleanup! On television!

The story:
A while back, a crew from the local (but surprisingly popular) Galician channel came to film me for a program about foreigners living here in Galicia, where I demonstrated by baking abilities (or lack thereof) and spoke about life Galician. Here are some things I learned about being on TV, and cooking on TV:

There are always more dishes. No matter how clean your kitchen is, it will stay that way for about 26 seconds, and when you don't have a dishwasher, or a magical dish-hiding fairy, and you are making three cakes, on television, there will always, always, always be more dishes to wash. Always. I swear to God they materialize out of thin air when I'm not looking.

There's a LOT of waiting around. Like, a lot. And a lot of repetition of steps, and feigning surprise for like five takes in a row. My level of acting ability goes from scant to nonexistent with each "Cut! Let's try that again!" 

People either love or hate to be on television. Most of the friends that agreed to appear on the show were more than happy to talk to the camera, but a few times we surprised unsuspecting clients in bars or shops that practically yelped when they saw the cameras and ran screaming in the other direction. I totally understand.

But there's plenty of goofiness that happens, too. One of my favorite moments was when we went to pick blackberries for a pie, and the steps we filmed did not provide enough blackberries, so the director set the whole camera crew to rummaging through the blackberry brambles to help collect more fruit! Then, later, as we were cutting a cake for a scene with Isaac and I having coffee, we finished up and I asked if anyone wanted cake. The crew yelled in unison, "YES!!!!"

But maybe the best part was just spending the day visting various friends around town, and having them say really, really nice things about me and my bakery. On television. It warmed my heart to know that people support this crazy American girl who foists her cupcakes and pies on everyone she knows and drags them into undesirable adventures, like being on TV. I'll be eternally grateful for their kind comments and general willingness to appear with me in public. Now if only they could do the dishes...

Oh, and if you'd care to watch it, here's the show! Unfortunately, it's in Galician with no subtitles, but don't worry, the feeling of secondhand embarrassment is universal!

(all photos courtesy of TVG)