Thursday, March 25, 2010


Last post deserves a pork recipe, don't you think?
This one comes not from here in the Alpujarra, or even Andalucia, but today I 'm taking you further north to the Asturias region of Spain. Wetter and greener than here in the south, the customs are of course the same and the annual pig slaughter, is followed by a large family meal at which this dish is cooked the idea being to find out the quality of the meat before the sausages and morcilla (blood sausage) are made.

So on to ....Asturian Marinated Pork

1 Mash together lots of garlic and salt together in a mortar.Add oregano and paprika and pound, pound, pound. No bingo wings here!

2. Add enough olive oil to the mixture to make a cream.

3. Lay down pork slices on a flat surface, and spread both sides with your mixture.  Leave it all there for a few hours.

4. Heat more oil in the biggest frying pan you have and fry pork gently on both sides, turning once, for about 15 mins, depends on how thick you sliced them really.

5. Serve with sweet roasted peppers, fried potatoes, loads of wine, a gathering of family and neighbours and enjoy!

So, another quick, easy and tasty recipe from here in Sunny Spain, so when am I coming round?!  You could always do these on the BBQ too....outside food always tastes better!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Question: Is it true the Spanish eat all of the pig except the squeak? Answer: No, the squeak is lightly grilled as Tapas

Here where we have chosen to make our home, which the brochures like to
describe as Real Spain, high in the Alpujarras mountains, we enjoy getting to know the locals, their customs and especially the language.
The dialect of this particular village  has it's own indigenous
qualities, whereby the ending of each word is dropped, ditto the letter
's', and occasionally we ruminate on the point of learning Spanish here
at all, as one would never be understood anywhere below 1000m above sea

Still, we persevere, and truly have got to know our neighbours, handily all
named Juan or Maria, (Names changed of course!) no linguistic difficulties there then. Occasionally, we are invited to sit with them in their Bodegas and partake of  the home made wine and Tapas, the latter it is considered to be polite to bring along and share. Usually we bring along a tortilla, which is generally the cause of much ridicule to the womenfolk.

With such an evening looming we went shopping to the local Butcher,
Maria of course, and enquired as to what meat she had on offer.
Pollo Entero, (whole chicken) she proclaimed loudly. Er, anything else?
Oh yes, Pechuga (breast of chicken) or........ Mulo...Mulo??? Mule???
We thought fleetingly of the proud beast that cantered past our little
house daily on the way to water, come to think of it, hadn't seen much
of him this week...
No thanks, Maria, just the potatoes today, and erm, this bottle of
bleach looks nice, we backed out and went home to make the tortilla,
again, which would of course turn out to be flat and rubbery, again.

Later, gathered with the assembled Juans and Marias, having imbibed generous quantities of the local costa wine, and eating everyones food except ours, which remained like a little flat shrine on the alter of good
food, and with our tongues twisting fluently with all the right lisping
quality, we dared to enquire as to how they could possibly enjoy eating
their loyal hardworking mules.
A Wicker Man style uni-stare was deployed. We countered with the 'in
for a penny' approach that only foreigners get away with.
That particular penny dropped slowly on our hosts' as one by one they
started to titter, laugh, howl, point and roll around.
Our glasses were refilled, and it was explained to us slowly, and
loudly, as everyone knows foreigners are quite deaf, that our dear
butchering Maria had in fact offered us chicken THIGH or muscles,
musclos'of course pronounced locally as moo-low.....
Anyway, went on our host, please ignore that tortilla, it would give a
mule bellyache, have a nice cold forkful of these delicious snails
Another drink anyone??

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Well, yesterday saw our swallow return to the terrace after his overwinter in Africa, but he must be checking the workings of his GPS as he has arrived to freezing temperatures and a day of hailstones and east wind. 
He's a lovely little fellow always chattering and for the four years we have been here, and I suspect before that, he has installed his wife on our terrace and they have nested and had their family, to the delight of our cats (who have fortunately only had one).  It's worth the mess, except when you forget and pull your chair for lunch right underneath them, more sauce anyone?
Last year the chicks were getting so fat, no sign of them leaving home, (typical teenagers) that they broke the nest.  Stan climbed on a chair to install a piece of cardboard as a temporary fix, but frightened them so much that they took the plunge and went for their first flight!
Recently we have been lucky to see the Hoopoe, also back for his Summer holiday, and we stopped the car last week to watch a Golden Eagle soar overhead with his eye on some lunch, what a majestic bird. So I guess that Spring is there somewhere, we shall  have to be patient this year, but I do love the hot evenings of late Spring when it's  possible to sit on the terrace 'til late listening to the cicadas and watching the bats swoop around our heads and out again.  

I suppose by then we'll be complaining of the heat and flies!
Bring it on! 

Stan took this nice photo near the village, in so Spring is evident. 

Friday, March 12, 2010


A  while back, we owned a giftshop in the nearest larger village, 23kms away, and commuted daily. The journey brought many interesting things, I guess there is a huge difference between a tube or metro and a winding steep road high in Andalucia.  Sometimes the weather stopped us altogether, snow, landslides et al.  Sometimes we would have to stop to observe a Golden Eagle, or for a wild boar, or because we spotted the first Spring orchids.
Mostly though it was the lesser spotted Andreas, holding his lunchbag tied to the end of his walking stick that halted our journey.  This is a local of some eighty odd years young who still farms his land and Cortijo daily.  In spite of his ever debilitating Parkinsons, and ever increasing years, we would drop him about 12km up the road, where he would then walk a steep track another 4km down, and spend the day with his Mule, goats and land. He usually walks the entire way home again at night.
The lifts progressed to taking his wife shopping, and cab fare was always offered, always refused.  In the lovely tradition of  'You scratch my back.....', he offered us some wood for our fire, so one day OH and daughter drove down.  He made good use of the extra hands, for feeding the goats and then threw Isobel on top of the Mules back and she rode it to it's stable too. He filled the car to the gunnels with old vine cuttings and precious Almond wood, the best to burn but normally too expensive for us to buy in.
We continued to take him daily, and continued to feel sorry for the guy, in comparison to the cosseted pensioners we are used to in North Europe.
One day, at the twice monthly market day in the next village, we ran into him laden with shopping bags, leaning for a breath against a car, looking tired out.  "Andreas, let us help you", we started to collect his bags and bundle him away.
"Hey, Hombres! Porque? Sure I have my car here........."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Spanish Spud!

Well, come on, what do you expect an Irishwoman in Spain to cook for Tapas! Here in Spain, and in particular Granada, it' s free tapa with every alcoholic drink, which means if you' re hungry you drink a lot more than you planned to! Our local bar will give you a different one every time, ranging from Longaniza (chewy spicy cooked sausage) to Calamari, and a particularly good stew with chick peas. I'll ask Antonio for the recipe for that and put it on here at a later date.

So on with the humble potato, I said a couple of posts ago we would delve into a tapas recipe or two, this is a favourite, so easy and suits any visiting vegetarians......

New Potatoes With Spicy Sauce

You'll need the following:

So easy! cook the spuds til tender, put aside.
Bash together the chillis paprika and garlic, add salt to taste, add the vinegar slowly, finally drizzle in the olive oil.
Put the potatoes in warm serving dishes, little individual terracotta ones look best, either pour the sauce over, warmed or cold, and give everyone a litle toothpick to eat with, less washing up!

How easy was that?!

More tapas recipes regularly, I think so, don' t you?

Breaking news!! Coming to a blog near you!.....

Well, with this site having taken off with such spectacular force, (just have a look at the sitemap) Stan has decided to tag a blog on to this one entitled Alpujarras Villages (see the link at the top of this page) so that you can all discover the wonderful villages where we have made our home.
He intends to devote a post at a time to an individual village, together with some of his lovely photographs. Descriptions will cover the folklore, fiestas and traditions, and you may also get to meet an individual or two along the way.
So a big Gracias to all of you who are enjoying this blog so far, I hope that the new addition will make it even more interesting for you and that you continue to follow with gusto!

Monday, March 8, 2010


O, okay, shameless hussy I am, but that got the traffic to here, eh?
So, why not? Up for grabs - 5 days in our beautifully renovated Moroccan styled 2 bedroomed holiday retreat, all yours FREE NO CATCH if you can help me by suggesting the best marketing strategy for bookings.
Go on then all you marketing ideas people, send by email or comment and the best one wins, simple as.
Your free stay is in a traditional white pueblo, south of Granada, close to ski and sun. Very quiet, totally authentic village, house sleeps four in spacious, tranquil house, even a secret courtyard! Barack Obama could stay here and not be recognised!!
So what are you waiting for?

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I love to find the traditional music indigenous to whatever place I visit, being Irish we're steeped in it, personally we like to collect anything with the REALWORLD label and have Songlines delivered here to catch up on new artists
Thinking of Spain, you automatically think Flamenco, and so you should. But, the village we moved to here in the Alpujarras is actually the home of a type of trad music called Trovo, mostly fiddles and sometimes guitars, always with a couple of lines sung by the main Trovador, which are meant to ridicule his target. Said target has to quickly make up a response, equally funny. One song can be as long as half an hour and the old Trovodores, sadly dying out, are immensely respected. A fellow neighbour, and anthropologist, Alberto del Campo Tejedor, has written a beautiful book about the musicians, entitled Trovadores de Repente.
Last summer, one balmy July night, he invited musicians from all over Andalucia to have a 'ceilidh" in his Bodega, and we were lucky enough to be asked along. The night was one to remember, and the crowd soon spilled onto the street around his house, we tapped our feet and drank wine until the wee hours, it really reminds me so much here of being in Ireland. I'll upload a photo after I finish this, but apologies in advance for the fuzziness, the fiddles were so fast you can almost see the smoke! Anyway, have a great weekend, meet me back here during the week, I'm thinking Tapas recipes!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Bear, Where? Over There!

A strong point of contention in deciding our move here was the lifestyle, not so much the usually touted laid back, weather type of lifestyle but a real childhood for our kids, then aged 7 and 10.
Well it really has worked out just like that, teething problems of course with schools and language, but overall we have bought them a childhood in the old fashioned sense, with lots of playing out for hours and exploring for miles on their own, not something they could ever do in the UK. They also seem to be more inventive, and certainly imaginative.
Our daughter, now 11, particularly likes to hike with one or other of the dogs, and her camera is always at the ready to shoot wild orchids, insects and the like.
On Sunday she headed out as the rain had abated, and was back earlier than usual, out of breath, and excited. "I saw a bear, huge, down at the era, but didn't get a picture"
Of course we all fell about laughing, but an hour or so later she went out anyway and told the local kids who were finishing a game of hide and seek. Whipping out her camera she showed them a picture of a very large brown bear, munching his way through a lush green forest, (bear in mind -no pun intended- there are no trees here except for Almond and Fig. So she rounded up a team of assorted children, aged 3 to 15, armed her merry men with assorted weaponry, and headed off.
Alas for the kids, the bear appeared to have bolted.......quite possibly back to North America where the picture was scanned from.....
Back to school today after the short break for Dia de Andalucia, and she's enjoying basking in the glory.....