Barcelona

The deafening roar of motorbikes, the bumble bee buzz of scooter type Vespa bikes, buses, cars and the frequent high pitched wail of emergency sirens were my lullaby for the requisite Spanish afternoon siesta.

Balcony doors flung wide open, provided a view of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral and the loud hum of traffic noise merged with the sound of children playing at the large school across the road. I was lulled to the blurred place that exists in the space between awareness and sleep.

Barcelona is a vast old city set out on a before its time grid structure, chock full of mind boggling modernist architecture, older style apartment buildings that speak of another era, attractive Spaniards with exquisite taste in bags and shoes, millions of tourists with varying degrees of taste in bags and shoes and of course, a motza of food and drink. Tapas, churros, patisserie, Catalan cuisine, Italian, Vietnamese, Portugese. Wine, beer, cava, sangria. All of varying quality.

We used Trip Advisor and a bit of nouse and managed to (mostly) enjoy good edibles at reasonable prices. The Yak did devour more than his fair share of patatas bravas (a potato tapas dish) and being in a bit of a ‘tourist area’, we probably would have done better going further afield more often. (Kid 2 ended up with a tummy bug/food poisoning case on our two last days, putting a bit of a kybosh on going further afield as we had planned.)

People really do eat late here, it’s no myth. We got into the rhythm of a slightly later start to the day. Heading out for coffee accompanied by delicate little creme patisserie stuffed pastries, followed by some serious sightseeing. Lunch consisted of fresh baguettes and jamon or tapas, then off we trotted back to the apartment for that siesta. We would devour a late afternoon snack then head out the door once more after eight. No self-respecting restaurant opens their doors before eight-thirty, although tapas and pinchos are served earlier. Unfortunately for the Yak, much of the pinchos (small snacks) are served on bread. The Spanish way of life would particularly suit our hot Australian summers although I fear that most of us would fail to return to work after the siesta, as the seductive lure of the pool or beach would prove far too tempting.

The man at the nearby jamon specialist shop was patient with our very poor Spanish skills (I use that word loosely) but we managed to order a few slices of Iberian jamon to go with our crunchy baguettes, tomatoes and Manchego cheese. Wine is plentiful and very reasonable if you visit a good, big supermarket and the tiny and interesting speciality wine shops are also worth a visit or two.

The La Boqueria market was overloaded by tourists, yet still a foodie fantasy land and worth a visit. Rows of perfect chocolates, piles of nuts, vibrant fruits and vegetables and hanging strands of every chilli you could imagine. A lovely local kindly tapped me on the shoulder and told me to beware pickpockets, I had stupidly placed my iPhone in my back pocket whilst buying some plump scarlet plums.

The Sagrada Familia, the iconic Gaudi cathedral was almost a religious experience. God or something akin to God talked to me via Gaudi’s visionary use of space, organic shapes and multi-hued incandescent light.

As I wrote this, it was 10.30 at night, and the Yak and lads were having a different kind of religious experience. They were perched, bums on edge of seat at a tapas bar around the corner watching a Barcelona soccer game with a bunch of passionate Barca fans. They had toured the football stadium Camp Nou earlier that day whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my lone Gaudi ‘La Pederra’ tour. Our little boys heads were full of soccer glory. Messi, Neymar Jr and Suarez. I instead chose to go back to the apartment and enjoy an extra sneaky tumbler of very good Spanish wine and a modicum of peace and quiet.

We made special memories, yet for the Yak and myself, it wasn’t all fun and games. The loss of our Jo bore down heavily upon us at times. However, what we do know is that she would have wanted our boys to experience this big wide world we live in. To laugh, love and shout at the soccer. To eat good food, to learn how to say hola, adios, bueno and bonita. And that is what we will continue to do, wherever and whatever we do, in the best way that we can.


Yes, I really am a Superhero

Collecting old stuff isn’t an illness, it really isn’t. Collecting, finding, procuring, nay – rescuing old vintage stuff, is a bit like being a superhero.

Think about it folks, you walk into an antique shop/opportunity shop/charity shop/secondhand shop/market stall/trash ‘n’ treasure/skip/kerbside collection. Whilst at any one of these fine locations, you may happen upon a beautiful ‘something.’ (A piece of china, kitchenware, jewellery, furniture, old teatowel, clothing, a pair of 1920’s men’s underwear…ummm…maybe not).

This item has history, it was once owned by someone, possibly even loved (or loathed) by someone. This object/knickknack/doo dah has a story to tell. It may be rare, odd, tickle your fancy, or perhaps you simply love the colour. It is difficult to define and pin down what makes an object desirable. (I have a particular penchant for secondhand china and kitchenware. Followed by abandoned furniture and op shop clothing finds).

If you don’t buy it (or pick it up from the side of the road and put it in your car) then that special thing that caught your eye, may just end up in the desolate pit that is landfill. (Or worse, someone else will get it and you will miss out.) You are saving something from a Fate Worse Than Death. Just as Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, Harry Potter and Frodo have done, time and time again.

You are committing an act of social service by saving this piece of crap vintage stuff from merely being trashed. Or left lonely and forlorn on that shelf. Don’t worry about space and storage, as I have confidently informed The Yak. These delicious finds can always be stored in The Tardis that one keeps in the garage.

My vast rather small collection also includes wondrous objects that have been handed down to me and in some cases, passed on by friends who know how much it will be appreciated in my household. (Well, by one person at least.)

Don’t only buy new, find old stuff as well. It’s really cool and you too can be a Superhero just like me.

Here are a few pictures of some of my old vintage stuff, don’t worry, it’s only a few things. I promise to share more of my lovelies with you every now and again.

Bet you can’t wait.


Market love

We are lucky enough to have a thriving local Growers/Food Market round these here parts. Look at all the beautiful goodies I scooped up today!

What floats my boat the most about these kind of markets? Methinks it’s the endless possibilities, the excitement of seeing vibrant fresh fruit and vegetables in season. The ‘what can I cook for dinner tonight?’ Perusing beautiful sourdough artisan breads (including gluten free), handmade cheeses and raw organic honey. A pear is no longer just a pear. It could become a caramelised pear cake or sliced, doused with lemon juice and thrown into a walnut and goats cheese salad. Pear, honey and pecan muffins anyone?

As a regular market goer for a number of years, I was asked to participate in a wee interview the other day by the Hornsby Market peeps. The lovely Jane sent me a few questions which I happily answered. If you would like to take a squiz, click on the link are the end of this post that will take you to the Organic Food Market blog.

I don’t feel entirely comfortable with throwing questions out into the blogosphere (the possibility of not being answered seems a tad, ummm, sad). However, I got my ‘market on’ today and I would love to hear from you about your fave growers/farmers market experiences. Do you have one near you, what do you like to buy and what is one of your fave recipes using a market ingredient?

If no-one answers, it’s cool. I will be at the Hornsby Market filling my belly with the scrumptious pancakes made by the cute French guys.

http://hornsby-markets.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/sharing-some-hornsby-market-love-with.html?spref=fb


The danger of eating chimichurri

The modern woman faces many challenges and hidden dangers. Point in case, a friend recently rushed home from work to get ready for a girls night out. She had 15 minutes to do so. Hair, done. Makeup applied, she was ready for the final touches of a finishing translucent powder to her face. As us ladies know, there is nothing worse than a shiny fizzog (face.)

She took her makeup brush, hurriedly swiped it across the product and diligently applied it vigorously to her forehead, chin, nose and cheeks. She put down her brush. Time to go, she thought and did a final check in the mirror. Staring back at her, other than the usual visage of loveliness, she now resembled a two year old who had gotten into her mothers makeup. Her entire face glowed like a red emergency beacon bobbing up and down in the ocean. It appears she had mistakenly applied her blush/rouge instead of the powder. Must wash face and start again, she sighed.

We were at a girly dinner the evening our friend recounted this story to us. That same night, another friend turned to me and said ‘you have something stuck between your teeth.’ Ahh, yes, I was encountering yet another hidden danger. The old ‘herb wedged in the dentures drama.’ Nothing quite completes a well put together look like a huge chunk of parsley stuck between your choppers. It says ‘class’. It says ‘look at me’. It says ‘you know I got it going on ‘. At this point, we rely on family, friends and sometimes embarrassingly, the kindness of strangers to point out our herbivorous shortcomings.

If you are willing to accept all the adventure and danger that freshly chopped herbs can bring you, I can’t think of a more exciting way to spark up grilled vegetables, meats, haloumi or eggs than chimichurri. I am currently addicted to this zingy, herbaceous South American condiment. Used as a sauce or a marinade, there are many variances between recipes. Some contain oregano, some use no vinegar. The beauty is that you can tinker around until you discover how you like it best.

But I beg you. Please let me know if there is something lodged between my pearly whites.

Chimichurri
This makes a large squodge of sauce and keeps well for 3 days in a well sealed container in the fridge. I found this on a website (see link below) and have made it over and over again.

YOU NEED
1/2 small red onion
3 cloves of garlic (if you like it really garlicky, add an extra clove or 2)
2 cups of well packed parsley and coriander. (I use a half/half mix. If you hate coriander, use parsely and a bit of fresh oregano.)
1/2 cup extra Virgin olive oil
2 tbl red wine vinegar
1 tbl lime juice
Sea salt and pepper

HOW YOU DO IT
In a food processor, pulse the onion and garlic together until finely chopped.
Add the herbs and pulse briefly until finely chopped.
Put the herb and onion mixture into another bowl and stir in the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
It can also be used as a marinade.

Go here for the original recipe:
http://southamericanfood.about.com/od/saladssidedishes/r/chimichurri.htm