Monday, 30 July 2007

Fiesta Time

16:50 and I decided to pop down to the Red Lion to wait for her only to see her standing on the corner busying herself phoning me. A quiet "hello" (in English) got her attention. "Fancy a drink while I'm here?" I asked. "No, I have wine in my bag, we can drink indoors, it's cheaper". Suited me. And that heralded a quite boozy afternoon and evening. The meal didn't quite go according to plan but the Pinot Grigio did; my fears about being out of my depth in the kitchen were well-founded. But all was not lost, it was edible and there is none left. Next time, a dry run to practice first will be in order. Or maybe I should stick to Paellas. Anyway, after the meal we did hit the town. In a big way and with not a cent of cash between us. Neither of us remember much about the end of the evening except that we bumped into each other at the loo-door here in the apartment during the middle of the night. I thought I was dreaming. Then I woke up at 08:30 this morning feeling decidedly fragile yet a little strange and it took me but a very short while to work out why....I still had my boxer shorts on. Oh-Oh, someone has put me to bed! The dream! It wasn't! She's here somewhere and sure enough there she was soundo on the sofa. She stirred with the words "Te quiero tambien" Music to my ears and to which I responded "do you want some tea?" "No, just water....ohhh my head hurts". "So does mine, here, have some aspirin, where did we go last night? There are tabs to clear today." "I can't remember all the places." As I write I have to admit that at least one bar has not been paid for our drinks because neither of us know where it is. She finally got herself up at 11am, asked if she could borrow a pair of beach shorts, put them on and settled on the sofa as if she owned the place. She phoned in sick and then got on the phone to Madrid and Omsk organising Katrina's arrival back here for a months holiday. Yep, Katrina is coming back. I spoke with her earlier today at Larisa's behest and I have to say that she is now speaking very good English. She arrives at 6am on Saturday and already a dinner date is being organised for the 3 of us at Larisa's place. I don't get to cook....hmmm, I'll ponder that one. My lesson with David at 4pm meant that we left here to go to the Train Station at 3:30, her passing comment as the train arrived....I'll call you tomorrow. This diary has only scratched the surface of what has been, for me, an inmeasurably special 23 hours.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Dinner Guest

I'm up at the crack of dawn. Actually that's not true because dawn has not cracked yet, it's just 4:15am. But anyway, I am up. I have a dinner guest coming and there is plenty to do. First things first though...a pot of tea!....OK, the tea is made, the cosy is over and while I wait for it to brew (2 yorkshire, 1 Lapsang Suchong and the scientifically proven 5 mins brewing makes a gorgeous cuppa!) I'll mention the planned Menu - Caviar and Chicken Kiev. Now there's a clue or two.

I just hope that I am not pushing the envelope too far with my Culinary Skills, I'm planning tecniques in the kitchen that I haven't used before and today just might not be the day to do that! But what the heck, in for a penny..... Oh, let me explain, the caviar is lumpfish roe (which will look the part) while the Kiev will be more a Torre (my very own variation on the theme).

My invitation, sent on Friday afternoon, was accepted as follows - "Si, yo te llama y podemos preparar juntos una comida a la 'derek'" which translates as 'Yes I'll call you and together we can prepare a meal a la'....anybody would think that I enjoy cooking!! Which is good because I'll have some help with the fiddly bits. And, not being daft, I've deliberately plonked the menu right up her street, where she just might know how things SHOULD be done, although "Chicken Kiev" was actually first created by a Frenchman and then, I presume, adopted by that city. Also, did you know that Russian Salad is a Spanish dish? Not a lot of people do. Funny old world.

Just like every other Party Host I'm worrying about whether the guest will turn up. Of course she will. Won't she?

5:30am and it is a muggy 70F outside. I think that I'll keep the AC on. The forecast is for 88F at least and slaving over a hot stove in that ambience is not a joke. Mind you, the chilled Pinot Grigio will probably go down very well....I need a 1/4cup to steam some Asparagos but it only comes by the bottle and people ask why I enjoy cooking so much! I do not think that any of them have ever had an intelligeable answer.

Can't make much noise yet, the windows are all flung wide open and people are still asleep in this neck of the woods but when you are trying to be quiet even breathing sounds like an Express Train. Just remembered to plug the mobile into its charger. One thing I DON'T want today is a flat battery when she calls to announce her arrival. I'll have to remind her that there is a landline. She does know, she has used it once (about this time last year as it happens) but, of course, my inability to converse in Spanish over the phone means it has been better to TXT via mobiles but that's all a-changing, conversation is becoming decidedly easier without the line-of-sight body language advantage which, up until now, has been so important to me. I have to thank David for that, he is really pushing me on with learning the language; to the point where, sometimes, I could shout out loud for a rest from it. It's not just the formal lesson once (or sometimes twice) a week it's also when we meet socially etc, he never lets up!!!

08:45 and a tea break. Can something be Hauntingly Beautiful? David has lent me a CD of Davy Spillane playing the Uilleann Pipes (I hope I've spelt that correctly) and also one of the score to 'Riverdance' in which he plays a piece by Bill Whelan called "Caoineadh Cú Chulainn". If the answer to my question can be yes then this piece on those pipes has to be. I cannot bring myself to take the player off repeat!

10:30 Timeout. Things are going well and I think that I will be ready by late afternoon which will be just fine. An explanation of the menu:

Starter - Tapas Variados
A selection of toppings presented on Endive leaves
Fillet of Mackeral
Blue Cheese
Cream Cheese

Main Course - Pollo Torre (In the style of Chicken Kiev)
Chicken breast rolled with ham and swiss cheese, finished with
a mustard, honey and sourcream salsa.
Patatas fritas juliennes (Fine cut chips)
Espárragos (Steamed Asparagos).

Which, according to my research, somewhat follows the traditional way a Kiev would be served in Kiev (the capital of The Ukraine.) Larisa is actually from Southern Siberia but I'm sure that that won't matter!

12:30 The phone!!! Geez, why do I jump so? A message.....yes!!! 5pm more or less. I don't care. More is better than less but less will be good enough. I'll never be ready. What's left to do? Too much!! Blame a Frenchman. She asked "what are you doing right now - waiting for me?" How do I know that? Blame a Scotsman. I hope she's not going to skip down the steps early bearing in mind I replied with a yes. No, I don't hope that, I wish she was here already. I need a cuppa.

16:00 And I just need to shower and change after a well-earned tea break.


Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Home Sweet Home

The journey back was uneventful; everything was ontime. The biggest trauma was discovering 3 dead houseplants here on the terrace, but I expected the toll to be much worse. Killed the 4 hour stopover in Atlanta with some very interesting conversation with folk I met in "TGI Friday". Even had a meal bought for me by a guy returning to his duties (as a civilian) in Baghdad. And I hope that the couple from Arizona are enjoying their stay in Eire!

Walking the paseo last Friday to go and de-brief with Phil and Denise at the Bar, whom I hadn't seen since May 31, I became aware of just what a pleasant place Torremolinos is. I really don't want to be anywhere else!

Spent the weekend tripping the light fantastic in Discotecas at the Marina and in Fuengirola and that knocked a few pounds off the waistline I can tell you! Yesterday evening I was invited to cook a couple of Smoked Haddock fillets for David and, in his kitchen, conjured up a nice creamy Kedgeree which was consumed along with a few glasses of Vino Rosado. Tomorrow I have been invited to a Birthday bash in Montemar by Fred and his wife Pauline who I know from the Bar Jardin and it's nice that me and my customers from those days are keeping in touch. I'm hoping that I will have a friend with me for that, I am waiting to hear whether she can come or not....trouble is the party is in the afternoon and she has a job now it seems.

Housework beckons, as always.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007


No wonder I'm complaining about the heat....the USA is currently suffering record temperatures across many states. Here in South Carolina we have been 2 degs short of the all-time record for Conway (Myrtle Beach) of 99F, achieving 97F the day before yesterday with more to come in the next week or so as 3figure temps move eastward towards the Atlantic seaboard. Whilst we can match, and indeed beat, these sorts of figures around the Med it's the high humidity that makes the heat here so unsufferable. Persistently well over 90% day in, day out. According to the US Met Office conditions are building in the mid-atlantic for the formation of the 1st tropical storm of the season. (Un)luckily for me I travel back to Europe next Wednesday and whilst I would like to experience some "serious" weather I think I will be home 'n' dry before anything hits land this side of the ocean.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Letter from America

Just to let you know that I'm still alive and kicking....albeit in South Carolina, USA. Internet connection is through a library "hot spot" which of course is only when I visit the library for that purpose. The weather is extremely hot and although the trip to the library is a walk of 4 or 5 minutes I don't look forward to making it. I'm due back home on 19th July when the website will be brought back online properly as I can see that the local server has "hung" in my absence (the webcam is not updating and weather details are absent).