Saturday, 23 November 2013

Dining spanish style....and longing for salads!

Spain isn't the best holiday destination for vegetarians....there is a decided lack of salad or vegetable offerings However, as Jerry's favourite things are meat, cheese and potatoes he was in heaven - although after two weeks of green-free eating even he was feeling nostalgic for some vegetables or salad. Here's a sample of some of our holiday meals.

Apple stuffed with beef and lamb mince - I must try this now we are home as it was delicious. I followed it with cheese and quince paste at Origens in Gracia. We ate here twice and really enjoyed the food, wine and service.
 Tapas for lunch in Barcelona ...again :-)
Tapas Madrid style - croquetas, meats and ceviche, followed by mojitos. But not just any mojito, I ordered the regular one, but we also tried the watermelon and (award winning) banana version. The banana one was the hands down winner. Amazing
 The best chocolate pastry of the whole trip (and I tried a LOT in at least 4 countries!) in Madrid
 Meat and potatoes, Madrid style
Relaxing at Alhambra in Granada with tapas: eggplant and honey, and more croquetas

More Granada tapas, and finally churros and chocolate...not the healthiest breakfast :-)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Yes, I still have a garden!

But it is going to be a lot smaller this year, as we were away until October so missed the main tomato/chilli/eggplant/capsicum seedling raising months. I did buy some plants at a local charity market, but not as many as I would normally grow from seed. It feels really weird to only have one bed of tomato plants!

I will probably only have about half of the beds in production this year for several reasons
  • work plus study means I have to scale back my garden ambitions
  • it will take a few more months to weed and rejuvenate some of the other beds
  • we are planning to move a few things around in the autumn, and redo the fruit cage so I'm deliberately not doing anything with some of the beds
To fill in the gap we're getting a weekly organic veg box again this year from a local CSA (community supported agriculture) family farm about 10k away. Can't argue with those food miles!

This overgrown mess is what almost all the beds looked like when we came back from holidays...although the garlic beds were looking in better shape!

New plantings - eggplant, chilli and capsicum, and lettuce and basil, with a few sugar snap pea seeds that hopefully will germinate soon.
The tomato cages are back in use again. This year I have planted tommy toe, black russian, mortgage lifter, another beefsteak variety, and two paste type tomatoes whose exotic names I can't remember!
Cucumber, herbs and a zucchini. On the right is the red table grape - this is the best it has ever looked in 5 years, and it has loads of fruit on it.
In spite of some curly leaf (I wasn't around to spray in time), the veg patch yellow peach tree is laden with fruit. Lovely! The other white peach in the mini-orchard is far less impressive. To the right are the raspberries and brambleberries - both promise to give us a good few months of berry delights.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Train food

While in Europe we took trains everywhere - far more relaxing and scenic (thanks to the man in seat 61 website for excellent train travel advice). The train from Paris to Barcelona was particularly enjoyable. We left Paris on a Sunday afternoon, so in the morning we went to the local market and bought a fabulous rotisserie free range chicken done with some magic herb mix, baguette (of course), tomatoes and lettuce.  A couple of bottles of wine and there's a perfect late lunch / early dinner while watching the scenery whiz by.
The next train trip long enough for a meal was from Madrid to Granada, a 4 hour trip arriving after 9.30pm so it made sense to pay the extra 20 euro to go first class and get a meal. Menu card and drinks card below. Dinner included an apperitif (cava for me) and a 250ml bottle of wine and three courses plus gazpacho. I wasn't hungry when I finished, and I've certainly had worse meals on airlines. The the little bottles of oil and vinegar for the salad that came around separately was a nice touch.

The most amazing thing about this train trip is that about half way to Granada the train goes from the main high speed line to a regional line - which has a different gauge. No mucking about changing trains though - the train goes through a shed where the undercarriage is adjusted, pop on a new engine and off you go, at an albeit more sedate pace!

I also travelled form Paris to Munich and back on theTGV to see friends - The smoked salmon blini was a bit much to stomach at 9am, but no complaints about the rest of brekkie (croissant, yoghurt and muesli, bread). Dinner on the way back was washed down with a light rose - menu below. This meal was particularly good, again consumed at 300+kph.
I really wish our trains were half...or even a quarter this good!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Brunch of champions

Literally...well, my german isn't fabulous but it translated into something like super healthy and yummy :-)

If you happen to be in F├╝rstenfeldbruck (near Munich) then I recommend the restaurant, Vierwasser (water view, I'm guessing!)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Aaaah Mr Slater, you make exceptionally fine cakes

Well, technically I made the cake, but it was Nigel's recipe...Nigel bills it as a 'pudding cake' of honey, cinnamon and plums. Jerry and I aren't big fans of cinnamon, but I thought ginger would work so I used that instead and it was perfect. Gave it a rich gingerbreadlike taste that really complimented the plums. The recipe calls for fresh fruit but I used home grown canned plums from last year.

I served it cool with some extra thick cream, but custard would also be very good on a cold evening (or, if you're Jerry, on any evening!).

The recipe is from Tender Vol 2,  and because I'm lazy you can find it here or here. I think the muscovado sugar really adds to the rich spicyness of the cake, so I encourage you to use if it you can get your hands on some.
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