Friday, 31 August 2007
Haircut that is, a No3 haircut. It's too hot to keep wearing the usual crop of hair so I've had it cropped to No3 length as the photo, taken by Tina in the Red Lion, shows.
Right now, 2045, I'm cooking dinner but no doubt I'l be back later!
OK. I popped out to Ana's to see the reaction to the new haircut and very favourable it was. I might keep it this length for the forseeable future (and throwaway my comb!)
I'm going to finish the shopping tomorrow ready for the possibility that I find myself doing a Paella for 3 on Sunday. But I've decided that it'll be tinned seafood etc that I get in because I have no confirmation that anybody is actually coming, yet; I'm guessing Sunday as it is her day off. I've used tinned stuff (which works well) before and, in actual fact, many food writers say that Spanish tinned seafood is the best in the world. I certainly wouldn't argue with that. The other week, on the Saturday, she called about 7pm to say that they would be arriving about 1am and staying the night, if that was OK, so perhaps I'll leave the shopping expedition until the evening in case something similar happens tomorrow, which I'm doubting, allowing me to shop with confidence so to speak (another problem is that I have no more room in my freezer to store stuff if I get the usual fresh ingredients in and it doesn't get used.)
What's the time? Bedtime!! See you in September.
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
It's been the hottest day so far this year today, officially 37C/98F but I'm sure that locally it was hotter. It has meant that most of my spaghetti earlier was consigned to the bin because I just did not have the appetite for it. Now, at 2300hrs, I'm cooking again because I'm starving. It's cooler, more comfortable and I know I'm going to devour my Kidney Pie and three veg with gusto!!
Tomorrow I prepare for another paella. Some shopping, some cleaning and then I wait. For the call. "Vamos" (We are on our way). Probably Sunday, despite my thinking that Katy would be flying out on Friday but Lary definately said in her txt earlier today "vamos a comer tu paella"...we are coming to eat your paella. So, as far as Katy is concerned I've not the slightest idea what's going on. She told me that she was here for 4 weeks and that is "up" this weekend. Perhaps Lary is right - estoy loco.
Stick with me here....I'm shortly going to text Lary regarding Katy's departure.
Well, I sent that I wanted to wish Katy good luck for the future and got back a "Thankyou, I hope to go back soon and we are coming to eat your paella" and an emoticon :@ which means 'I am angry'.....I have sent back that she is always welcome here, that I am sorry for making her angry and that I am sorry to hear that she will go back soon as well. Actually I half expected that last bit...I think that I mentioned a post or two ago that she might go back as well. Let's see what happens though, life is full of surprises, ain't it.
And she's just followed up with "Thankyou!! Today we have no time, another day. See you later". Well, I didn't expect to have to produce Paella at a moments notice so that's no surprise and she's just starting work anyway judging by the time right now (5pm). But, perhaps, the weekend......? At least it seems that we are both going to carry on with our friendship knowing exactly where we each stand. I feel better for that. Funny how the world works. I thought I'd really 'screwed things up', actually I think I did but she's waited. Waited for me to go running back on my knees. I just did; putting her firmly in charge; lock, stock and every smoking barrel!.......
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
1. Renting a bar that is about to be shut or
2. working as a paid employee in another bar whos owner wants to take advantage of the sutuation fast developing here in El Bajondillo.
Right now I'm cooking some Tomato Chutney and leaving the world to sort itself out.
On a very personal note, there are opportunities arising here that would have stopped me sending some vital SMSs earlier last week and those I now want to try and rescind, if I can. Oh boy! What would I give for a crystal ball. Excuse my "French" but..... SHIT!
On a lighter note, the chutney is beginning to taste good but another hour or two on the heat won't go amiss. The trick is to let it stew until the liquor is nice and thick. There is nothing worse than runny chutney (except runny eggs!!)
Katrina goes back to Russia this weekend (I think) so I'm going to send a message to her via Lary's mobile (cos I can't do anything else) late tomorrow (Wednesday) wishing Katy all the best for the future. I'll probably get a smacked face in reply (from Lary, and I know that I deserve it). But I'll have tried. At least Lary now knows where I stand and with this poorly excusable contact she may realise that I don't really mean what I say....but then she's Russian, different culture, different rules, different everything, and I may be the loser. Trouble is, I really hope not, but a big gamble has gone very, very wrong.
Monday, 27 August 2007
Red Lion Bar at the end of September. And I might add that upon my return from the States I was told that there was a conspiracy afoot to get me into and running a bar somewhere nearby to fill the void created by said closure.
I haven't heard from Larisa since I sent that TXT; well I have...I sent another the following day asking a question about some wine she brought to the Dinner Party the other Sunday and the reply I got back was definately written in a "don't call me and I won't call you" mood. So, that's that. I expect she'll return to Madrid when Katy starts her journey back to Russia because the 1st part of that is a free lift to Madrid with their friend Jesus (pronounced Haysoos of course). A shame, but I can move on from here quite successfully I think. On the other hand she may be leaving me to 'simmer down' for a week or two. Who knows? I certainly don't.
Monday, 20 August 2007
Spent the night until 5am yesterday morning at the fair. We had a fun time going on half-a-dozen rides, a couple of which were quite "white knuckle" and we went our separate ways in the coach/bus park, she caught a direct coach back to Fuengirola and I caught the bus back to Torre.
I said a couple of months ago, when she came back from Russia, that this summer would be make or break for us. Yesterday afternoon I sent a long TXT to her indicating that I wasn't too happy with things. Obviously I'm not going to go into detail here but she sent back that I was being silly and that she'd call later etc which will probably be next weekend. And therein lies most of my problem - once a week we see each other for a short few hours, normally. Ok, it has been a little different just lately what with the dinner parties and stuff but basically it is once a week for a few very short hours. On the one hand I know she works 6 days a week and I know she now lives an inconvenient distance away but it wouldn't be that difficult to wangle more hours together. So I've spilled my thoughts out, and been told not to be daft! So let's see what happens. Perhaps when Katy goes home after her holiday things may change because then Lary will be home alone, just like me. On the other hand I told her that if my comments didn't warrant a reply or even seeing me again (and I really thought that would be the case) I wouldn't blame her.....but she did reply, pretty quickly......"estás loco!" I don't think I need translate that opening phrase.
Saturday, 18 August 2007
Monday, 13 August 2007
Long, balmy summer days in Rural Kent with Family and Friends! Remember "The Darling Buds of May"? Well, take away the Kentish countryside, add back in a touch of Torremolinos beach, some extra August swelter and there you have the picture. Perfick as Pa would say! And so it was, just perfect, solamente perfecto.
I wasn't up too early as it happened because of the extremely late night before. But having got up, and with not the slightest murmur coming from behind the bedroom door I began to quietly busy myself peeling spuds, putting breadcrumbs into soak, starting a stockpot etc etc. Everytime I went to a cupboard to get something be it a pot or pan, whatever, the whole cupboardful would come crashing down onto the floor. Sod's Law I suppose but, no, not a murmur. She emerged with a stretch and a yawn about 10-00am. "What are you doing?" "I've started to prep the food", "There is plenty of time, we are going to go to the beach", "But!","Beach, when Katy rises, where are your shorts?" More banter over a cup of tea until Katy made her entrance. "Buenas Noches!" said I with a smile having looked at the clock saying 11-00am. Oh what a beautiful grin came my way. Then, from Lary, "Nos vamos a la playa, ahora" "Si senorita!!" I said standing sharply to attention with a click of the heels (which no-one heard because I was barefoot). Oh what a look came my way, "there is time Derek, don't worry", "I know" was my sheepish reply.
The sea was gorgeously warm. The crowds using it were in the way. The sun was relentless. We had a fun time and, this time in, they both got their hair wet. Those two are special. They are Aunt and Niece, but you'd think that they are Mother and Daughter one minute and Sisters the next. It's marvellous to watch their relationship change back and forth as the day (each day) progresses. No photos, which is a surprise as you'll realize later, of "pranks on the prom" but no doubt there will be soon and, anyway, my knees are too knobbly and my shorts keep falling down. Listen to this! Clever clogs tried a handstand only to have to abort halfway through after realizing that something drastic was occurring around the nether regions. A while later, after a freshwater shower on the beach to wash the salt and sand off, we were taking a dripping wet walk home to the apartment here, no towels, no change of clothes, nada. But the sun soon made us forget that dilemma, and don't forget, the beach is only 3 or 4 mins away depending on how fast you walk although I prefer to take at least 10 in certain circumstances, a Time Management thingy!!
CHAPTER 2 - Passing the Afternoon.
Looking at the clock when we got back only to find that it was just 12-30 surprised me. During the walk back I had guessed that it must be about 2pm, so I suddenly had 2 extra unexpected hours so to speak but then 2 words changed everything. "Puedo ayudarte?" Sure you can help me. "Que puedo hacer?" What can you do? Erm...you can stuff the eggs, they are in the fridge. Whilst I was allowed to 'keep control', my position as kitchen supremo disappeared. Larisa took over the helm, steering wherever she thought she should, and together, by 2-30, we produced, or prepared for lastminute cooking a la table, the 5 starter tapas, whilst Katy mopped the terrace tiles (not that I hadn't already), laid out the table setting and many other oddjobs. 2-30pm was the deadline. David (pronounced 'Dahbeed' in Spanish) was due to arrive then and he did just that. After the greeting between him and them Lary asked about the Sangria..."ahora?" "Yes, there is Cava, casera, triple sec, peach schnapps and a jug here and orange and apple in the fridge". "Vale". My, or what had by now become our, dinner party began in earnest when Lary served a few minutes later the aperitivo over a glacé cherry in some 'Babycham' glasses that Tina had kindly let me borrow for the purpose. By now I was beginning to realize that there is actually only one guest. We three are throwing a dinner party and David is the only guest, our guest.
It didn't take David long to realize that Katy is learning to speak English and was soon in "teacher" mode, engrossed in answering her questions about the language and, of course, having Spanish as common ground made communications all the more easy. Those two sat on the terrace nattering while Lary and I fussed over the cooking, plating and presentation of the menu, sitting out when we could with the other two to have our share. 2 hours or so and 2 jugs of Sangria passed in that manner until the Tapas came to end. Paella time! My intention was to cook it from scratch so that everyone would get a relatively long break from eating and that's exactly how it happened, on the terrace, in the open air, with everybody (unexpectedly from my point of view) lending a hand, David's stirring technique is well honed. The only thing missing was the open fire, I used an electric hob that had a big enough hotplate for the job. A huge success, utter perfection including the all-important socarrat. Actually there was too much in the pan leaving me no room for the whole crayfish and unshelled mussel garnish but never mind- hay otro dia!! Most of it went, David in particular discovered an appreciation of paella that he was not aware of before. The party took just over 3 hours and during that time nothing, absolutely nothing, went wrong. A long, slow gastronomic extravaganza indeed.
But the food is not the whole story. Oh no. Guess what? Katy brought a camera. In fact she brought 2 and found 3 more here! "Soy Paparazzi".
You don't say!! She pressed every button she could find in the apartment to see if it went 'click', I beat her to it and put my shirt on!! David has a great sense of humour and loves to tease and I had secretly reclaimed one of my cameras (albeit temporarily) so managed to snap this shot of the girls responding to one of his teases. I think that he has been 'twigged' and I have captioned it accordingly. But thanks to Katy's efforts throughout the afternoon there is a comprehensive photorecord spread between 5 digital cameras including some video somewhere. Talking of video, when the webCam was reinstated to give the wave via the internet she took great interest in seeing a moving image on the computer screen and spent ages shifting the camera around. Then she was told that the whole world can see. "You're joking, the whole world, how?" So she was shown the website pages where the images upload to..."this is what people are watching right now on their computers. " "Wow!!" She was mesmerised. As I write these notes (actually on the Tuesday after) there have already been hits on the cameras since from Russia because (I presume) she has phoned home with the web address. Another entertaining aside - she announced that I remind her of 'Mr Bean.' Oh perlease, I ask you? Naturally David thought that the funniest thing ever and has promised to spread the news throughout Torre. When he told her that that was what he was going to do she put her hand to her mouth and giggled herself almost to tears. Gee, thanks folks.
Chapter 3 - The Evening Surprise
5-45pm and Larisa suddenly brings the party to a close by telling me that they want me to go out with them. "Oh, where?" "Benalmádena. But quickly, there isn't much time". So I collect a pair of trousers from the bedroom only to be told "No, not those, these", after a rummage in my wardrobe, "and this shirt" passing me a white one from somewhere. Then I start to iron them only to be told "I'll do that, it'll be quicker" So then I asked if there was time for a shower. "Yes but be quick." Shortly after we were on our way up the steps having said goodbye to David etc with me having no idea of what was actually happening. We waited by the kerb in the Town Centre for some minutes and then a car pulled up and we all bundled into the back seat. "Derek? Please meet Jesus" (pronounced Haysoos). His wife was beside him in the front. Now I understood. She has made a quick phonecall in Russian (that's why I missed it) and arranged for him to pick us up in town on his way through and he has given her an early ETA, hence the panic. Larisa is always talking about Jesus. She worships him as a friend and no doubt has often spoken to him about me and we are now being presented to each other. He is a Spaniard, speaks perfect Russian and good English, lives in Madrid and is here on holiday after chauffeuring Katy here from Madrid Airport. Very much a family friend. His first words to me were "You have to study Russian Derek, it's difficult but you have to do it". My reply was that for the time-being Spanish was enough to cope with which made him laugh "yes, I understand". We were going to get on like a house on fire. After a stop-off at a supermarket we made our way to his apartment where his wife, Larisa and Katy prepared food. "We are not eating again are we?" was my desperate question to Katy. "No, this is for Jesus, his wife prepares his meal now". "Ah, vale, bueno". Back in the living room Jesus cracked a bottle of Faustino VII red and we two started to get to know each other better. Eventually the food appeared on the table. Pork, salad, fruit, bread and olives. "Bon provecho" beckoned his wife. Courteously I took some. Actually pork with a slice of banana is quite nice but apart from some orange and a few grapes I didn't eat much more, after all I was only an hour or so away from my last spoonful of paella. A 2nd bottle of wine was opened whereupon I decided to take a photo while I could still stand! It actually shows all of us, you can see me in the mirror!
As darkness fell Lary asked if I fancied a dip in the pool down in the garden. "I don't have my shorts here". That niggle was soon solved but the pool turned out to be closed. "What about the beach then?" she suggested. Which meant that we all had to pile into the car again for a short drive. The Security Gate was shut. Jammed. Eventually the Janitor arrived and then disappeared again for tools and then returned. Give him his due, he did coax the gate open but by then it was too late for the beach because folk have to work in the morning. I said to Jesus that I could catch a bus back. "Not a word of it, I am taxi tonight and you are being taken back to your apartment". I asked them to drop me at the top of Calle San Miguel from where I could walk, which was done. Back indoors and straight to bed. In the morning I happened to check my mobile as I awoke only to find a txt, received at 0107...."Hello Derek, how are you, we are at home now. Thanks for everything, we will see each other soon. In Málaga there is a fair, one day we go, Besos", or, in other words, (I suspect that) next weekend is already being planned.
Bags I keep my bed.
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Saturday, 11 August 2007
Friday, 10 August 2007
"bomba rice is the crème de la crème, the pinnacle of paella making...hard to find even in spain, it'll improve any of your spanish rice dishes the first time you use it
Although it's been around for centuries, Bomba rice is almost unknown outside of Spain. Nearly everyone in Spain has switched to the now-standard Balilla because Bomba is so hard to grow. Even under ideal conditions, Bomba yields are far lower; the plants grow too tall making them much more susceptible to wind and weather-related damage. I'm sure its struggle to survive each summer adds to Bomba's inherently high flavor. Inside Spain, Bomba is far from being a household word; even those who've heard of it aren't likely to use it often and you'll almost never find it in use in commercial kitchens. Even those who grow Bomba rice usually dedicate only a small section of their land to it, reserving the rest for sturdier, better yielding varieties. But bomba is definitely better—you really can taste the difference. Why? Because Bomba can soak up very large quantities of liquid while remaining very firm-grained during cooking. It could take up two to three times the level of liquid you'd use for standard Spanish rice. In case you don't have your calculator handy, that could be about as much as five to six parts liquid to dry rice. But again, each batch of rice is different and cooking conditions can vary considerably so it's better to start with less liquid and add more as you go than to overcook the rice. Still this means that all else being equal, Bomba rice will be two or three times more flavorful when it's finished cooking than standard Spanish fare would be. It's also a high-integrity grain—even after it's absorbed all that liquid, Bomba is still firmer and more distinct than any other Spanish variety out there. La Bomba may be many times as expensive as other paella rices you'll find. But, if you're looking to prepare an amazing paella, splurge and get the good stuff. If you do nothing but buy Bomba rice (and then bump the input of broth up to the appropriate level), you will immediately improve the flavor of the finished dish."
I'm a great believer in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and my paella recipe works perfectly well already but I just can't give up an opportunity to improve it, if improved it can be and it seems that from the above it can. Again, it's a bad time (a dinner party) to risk changes in the Kitchen but Larisa really appreciates a good paella and if I can make it better I certainly want to for her. I'll have to get more stock to hand as that seems to be the big difference with this rice - the amount required. Now I'm really getting excited.
Thursday, 9 August 2007
Here in Spain it seems to me that a meal often comprises of a series of light "platos" eaten either simultaneously or separately. For my menu on Sunday I have opted for the separate option. But, in my case, I intend to serve separate, different, starter courses, informally, slowly, over a few hours (and drinks) before a Main is formally presented. I realize that I am not sticking strictly to the convention, if there is one and that the starters will actually be more in the style of Tapas but whether this perception of mine regarding Spanish cuisine is right or wrong I don't care. Time is always limited but we can stretch it out to best advantage!! The more courses....the longer the party continues. So, with that in mind and with Tina's help in the planning, the following is what will be on offer:
Sangria blanca (Cava based white Sangria)
(Score - Me 1)
Bombas con Tuna (Deep Fried Mashed Potato Balls stuffed with Tuna).
Huevos Rellenos con Mostaza y Mayonesa (Eggs stuffed with mustard & mayonaise)
Espinacas a la crema con queso de fundir (Creamed Spinach finished with melting cheese)
Ajo blanco (cold garlic and almond soup)
Albóndigas con Salsa de tomate (Meatballs in Tomato sauce)
(Score - Tina 2, Me 3)
(Score - me 1)
(Score Tina 1)
(I win!! 5 to 3)
I have opted for this (slow) method of presentation because:
A) Tummies will not fill up before the Piéce de Resistance
B) The party will go no faster than my speed in the kitchen and I can manage that element to my advantage! Selfish? You bet!
But I can see another 4am rising in the offing.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Saturday, 4 August 2007
Last night found me (as did everyone else) in Ana's Bar, doing what I've been bid; making my presence felt (another story), complete with above mentioned shopping. A Dutch Lady by the name of Helda (I think) came in. She and I both like to sit in the same seat and, if she gets there first, she keeps it, but if I do, I give it up to her. Luckily we are not always in the bar at the same time so the arrangement (if it is one) works quite well. Anyway, that's what I did, moving my bags with me at the same time. Time crept on until eventually she said across the bar because I'd moved to the other side "Derek? I have to know what's in the bags!" (I can't do her accent here but it is very sweet). "Clothes, a new Party Frock Helda", "Party? You are going to a party?" "Not exactly. I have been promised Dinner one evening soon and I want to dress for it." "Anything to do with that young lady you were dancing with in here the other night?" "Dancing? I wasn't dancing!" "Oh yes you were!" "Beryl?" (She is the barmaid) "Was I dancing the other night?" " 'Fraid so! Having a whale of a time the pair of you and very nice too. Don't worry!" "Yes Helda, everything to do with her" "Let me see what you have then" So I showed her what I had bought while telling her that it was not quite what I had wanted. And with her expert help in the ways of High Fashion I have now plumped for a Salmon shirt under the black waistcoat with white trousers and shoes. "You have to let me see it all on you" "OK, I promise I'll parade here soon just for you. What colour dicky bow or Tie?" "DON'T WEAR A TIE!! keep it open-necked and casual - ties are not 'in' these days!" "Sorry Helda, I was just asking, no tie then." "NO! I won't like you in a tie." Which made me wonder for an instant just exactly who I am supposed to be dressing up for.
Friday, 3 August 2007
Wednesday, 1 August 2007
Let's see what happens.
There are 2 ways to do this...cut, fill and cover or roll. I'm (again) going to try the rolling method.
1. Bash a breast out to about 1/4in or so thick between sheets of clingfilm or greaseproof. (I trimmed the fillet off and bagged it into the freezer for stir frying another day).
2. Spread a couple of teaspoons of cream cheese into a thin sausage along the length of one side of the breast but don't go right to the ends. Top this with some crumbs of Blue cheese and a little finely grated onion and garlic. Roll up, using toothpicks if necessary to seal edges and ends.
3. Place into a suitable dish, cover loosely with Ali foil and bake for 25mins or so in a hot oven at 180C.
While I'm waiting for the chicken to cook I can introduce you to Katrina again. Probably the most beautiful young lady on this planet. Studying in Russia to become a Lawyer. One of the qwerks of student life is the long summer holiday while at University so hence, no doubt, that is why she is able to spend a month here in Spain visiting her Aunt.
What makes a Kiev a "Kiev" is of course the Deepfried Breadcrumb coating and that is the bit I was unable to do on Sunday (due to problems with my choice of filling etc that day.) But right now things are looking good, the bake is nearly done and the Fine cut chips are ready. Peas are the other classic side to a Kiev and tonight, just for myself, I'm going to do it properly...Chicken, Chips Juilienne and peas.
4. When done in the oven, remove toothpicks if used and let rest. (Mine has come out perfectly, none of the filling has leaked!)
5. Dust with seasoned flour, roll in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs (which I bought). Then refrigerate for 1/2 hour or so
6. Deepfry chips until done (but not fully browned) and remove to cool. KEEP OIL HOT.
TIP ....I was taught some while ago that, in a deepfat fryer, when it floats, it's done! Clever ruse, it's true.
7. Prepare some frozen peas according to packet instructions.
8. When chips are cool carefully add the Kiev to the fry basket and replace in hot oil until chips and Kiev are attractively browned. Eh? Yes, I know it's all floating, this is about presentation, otherwise known as 'The Feast of the Eyes'!!!!
Plate up and VOILA!! Awesome even if I say so myself.
I was told off on Sunday. I buy a Rosé Wine that is bottled and corked in a similar fashion to Champagne or Cava, because like those it is very bubbly. It only costs 1.29euros and I commented that I had this cheap bottle of plonk handy. I soon found out that it's not the price it's the thought etc!!! Actually I'm always buying it because it is very, very drinkable. As she found out. Look for "Champolion" and try it. Comes as a white as well as rosé. I'm halfway through the bottle I just happen to have here right now.