Bulls and Olives
This weekend we went down to the Central Valley to stay with Karen, but also to go to a bullfight on Sunday in Escalon.
This was to be my third bullfight and Bruce's second. Our friend Seth and some of his friends were also organizing a posse from the Bay Area to meet us there. Like last time, I wanted to bring a bottle of port and some Portuguese cookies, only this time I didn't have time to make the cookies.
This led to some desperate searching of Portuguese bakeries open past 2 PM on Saturdays. After calling around and giving up, I spotted a bakery open in Hilmar as we were on our way to a quilting store there (Karen's been bit by the quilting bug in a big way). The Hilmar Portuguese Bakery was a bare bones operation, but they had what we needed, as well as some things that we might have to buy on a future visit. Here I found some nice looking bacalhau, or salt cod, for around $9 a pound. They also had some freshly baked sweet bread, Portuguese sardines, olive oil, and a lot of other imported items.
We also found another Portuguese bakery that was open by chance while driving through Riverbank. This bakery is new and called 9 Islands Portuguese Bakery, no doubt an allusion to the 9 islands that make up the Azores. Most Portuguese immigrants in California, especially the Central Valley, hail from the Azores. Bruce's Great-Grandfather, Joe Enos Farias, was no exception. At the 9 Islands bakery, we found the hot pepper sauce that I had made earlier plus some different kinds of cookies. This bakery will also have to be another stop when we come back.
On Sunday, we stopped by the olive trees we picked from last year and picked about 13 and a half pounds of green olives. These we are going to cure with lye and then flavor with garlic, oregano, and lemon. I'll show you how I do this on another post.
The bullfight in Escalon was at a ring I have never been to. After driving a few miles outside of town, we spotted it on the left-hand side of the road. It was small and very low-tech and in order to get to it, we had to drive through an empy field. We were some of the first folks to arrive, and I noticed that some of those people were having pre-fight tailgate parties. Soon after, Seth and his posse showed up. Without wasting much time, we charged headon to the food tents to buy some of the great Portuguese food we had been dreaming about for the last few weeks. We weren't disappointed.
On the menu was a seafood plate featuring whole mackerel that had been battered and deep-fried, spiced and sauteed onions, sliced bread, and boiled potatoes with the hot pepper sauce. Also on the menu was the spicy, tomato-octopus soup and fried eel. At another tent they were selling real linguica sandwiches that had been grilled.
This was the food I had been expecting and waiting for since last year and I wasn't disappointed. Unfortunately the linguica sold out before other folks in our group got a chance to try it.
To make a long story short (something I usually don't do), the bullfights were great, the food was great, the company was great, and we had a great time while we were down there.
Sorry for rushing through this, but it's Monday night and we just got back. I have olives to cure. I have to get ready for the work week and I need to make dinner.
UPDATE 9/8/05: Check out these pics taken by our friend Harlan. Oh, and no funny business! Ask him if you want to use them!