Christmas festivities – 27/12/15

As December is typically the month of over-indulgence we appear to be doing pretty well even though we aren’t in the UK. Staying in the same place for a longer period of time has some benefits as it means that we have had the chance to meet more people and build on friendships – something we missed last year.

Apologies if it is a bit dull, but yet again most of the last couple of weeks has been focussed around food……not a huge surprise I know, but even I am getting to the point of saturation 😦 …roll on January and perhaps it will calm down a little.

As we don’t have much entertaining space inside the Motorhome we are making the most of the unusually warm, dry winter, cooking bar b q’s and what has become known as ‘English rice’ for a mixture of Spanish, French and Lithuanian friends. The Anderson household is becoming increasingly well known for its desserts – not a Spanish forte – and I am sure that my mum will be pleased to know that I have now introduced Chocolate Fridge Cake to Europe….. A worthy addition to the Spanish culture 🙂

The ‘English rice’ – just in case you wanted to know – is Keith’s version of a Paella, containing salmon, prawns, artichoke hearts, green beans, red pepper and chorizo …. oddly, it is the chorizo that the Spanish have a bit of an issue with – but so far, once tried, no-one appears to turn it down….. We may have started a trend 🙂

However, we can’t knock the traditional Spanish Paella and were invited to eat at Jorge and Yolanda’s last weekend where Jorge cooked up a delicious Arroz a Banda which contained tuna, prawns, calamari and artichokes….. Believe it or not but this was for 7 adults – after having eating a huge array of croquettes, ham, herring and Octopus caught by their oldest son…. It was never ending 🙂

 

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Naturally we have continued to work our way through the Tapas competition in El Campello taking in another four bars and their respective tapas – cockles in a delicious pepper sauce, Russian salad and anchovies, mini burger (not so great) and the grand finale for the evening which was a succulent beef ball with caramelised onions ….. Definitely a step above the rest…

Thankfully we have continued with the exercise, swimming in the sea – I forgot to mention that Keith has now christened his wet suit – as well as managing to get Santi (one of our Spanish friends) out on his bike and up to Buzot 🙂

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And somehow it is Christmas again….. Not sure how that crept up on us. Although the Spanish celebrate on the 24th like most of Europe (just us Brits that are a little odd), we kept the British tradition going and were 6 for lunch on Christmas Day…… Just in case you think I can’t count…..we picked up another three for dessert 🙂

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Foie Gras, Smoked Salmon, Steak on the Bar B Q, Baileys Chocolate Cheesecake for desert and home made truffles to round it all off….. Not a turkey or Christmas pud in sight, but our vision may have been slightly blurred by the alcohol that accompanied each course.

We hope you all had a lovely Christmas and bring in the New Year in style.

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Mince Pies and Christmas Cake….13/12/15

We couldn’t have hoped for an easier trip home and to be honest we were a little spoilt with everyone running us around – Yolanda took us to Alicante airport on Thursday, Liz picked us up and dropped us off at the airport in the UK and Santi picked us up from Alicante on the way back….. we need to be careful as we have started to forget what public transport looks like 🙂

The families are all well and despite the weather forecast predicting a lot of rain, it was actually mostly dry for the four days during daylight hours…. not that there was much daylight – it was a bit of a shock to the system when it got dark before 4pm as we have been used to an additional couple of hours of daylight each day.

To make the most out of the four days back home we alternated between the Anderson and Becker residences…. a food plan executed with military precision.

Thursday afternoon consisted of Ginger muffins with a buttercream top for tea, followed by Short ribs with the meat falling off of the bone and a rhubarb crumble for dinner. Friday started with a traditional Becker family picnic lunch which incorporated pickled herring, smoked salmon and fish balls along with all the other meats, cheeses and breads you could hope for and was followed up with viennas (a kosher version of frankfurter) and a rhubarb and apple crumble for dinner…..something we never mind repeating 🙂
Saturday was Christmas day with the Andersons which consisted of all things that should belong in Christmas dinner (turkey, brussel sprouts…. although Liz had bought the flowering variety which although very tasty, they were more purple sprouting broccoli like, roast potatoes, parsnips) and no less than the usual three deserts …. Christmas pud, lemon flan and a ridiculously large chocolate ice cream dessert…

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The size (and weight) of a bowling ball, the dessert was chocolate truffle in the centre surrounded by vanilla ice cream, encapsulated in a thick layer of cookie dough which was then smothered in a thick layer of chocolate fudge cake, all held together by a coating of cadburys milk chocolate…. And if that wasn’t enough, topped off with some chocolate truffles – a chocoholics dream, definately to be repeated, but perhaps it could be a little smaller next time 🙂

Hats off to Paul and Carly as following some plotting between Steve and Carly, they created a monster…..

Sunday was slightly more civilised on the food front with a lovely roast dinner in the local pub followed by a nice slice of home made Almond tart.

It is fair to say that although we didn’t get our expected fill of mince pies and christmas cake, we ate very well. I am not sure who told the rest of Europe that the Brits can’t cook, but I can assure you that in our families case, they were wrong!

The four days back home passed far too quickly and before we knew it, it was 5am on Monday morning and we were getting ready to drive back to Gatwick….. Back to Alicante to enjoy some tapas and Canas 🙂

The town closest to us along the coast is holding their ‘Duel of the Tapas’ competition throughout December so as Monday and Tuesday were holidays locally, we went to investigate with Santi, Miguel and Manolo.

We only managed to make it through three places on Monday as the second was very slow, but two out of the three were impressive…..

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not bad for 2euro 50 with a glass of wine or a beer. There are 17 bars/restaurants competing in total so the challenge is on and we will try and get through them all by the end of the month 🙂

Canas and Tapas….. 3/12/15

The temperature has dropped a few degrees and we are now holding a steady 18-19 degrees during the day, dropping to 6-7 degrees over night…. the mornings are fresh to say the least when we have been used to the sunshine warming the van before we get out of bed! None the less it has remained dry and mostly clear skies.

After a couple of swims in the sea I managed to catch a bit of a cold – my first since we have been travelling which is a bit of a shock to the system. Apparently something to do with the fact I was wearing a wetsuit, Pilar (the lady who runs the campsite) assures me that I wouldn’t have caught it if I were swimming as nature intended 🙂 … It has gone now thankfully, but I think for the benefit of others I will risk getting a cold for now and keep the wetsuit/swimsuit close by!

I am embarrassed to say that the last couple of weeks have been even more focussed on food and drink than usual. The Aire we are staying on celebrated its first birthday just over a week ago and the owners (Yolanda and Jorge) put on an incredible spread to celebrate, rounding off with a ‘Paella a Banda’ which had Tuna fish, Calamari and Artichokes as well as the usual …. cooking a Paella for 50 people on the surface of it appears easy…. expensive, but easy – although I am sure that is just because Yolanda and Jorge were well prepared and have done it several times. It was a lovely afternoon and not only did I learn a bit more about the art of making Paella, we also met some really lovely people.

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Miguel (senior) had planned to go to Madrid last weekend to see his parents as it was his mum’s birthday and asked a few of us if we wanted to go as well. In the end five of us (Santi, Manolo, Veronica, Keith and me) rented an apartment through Airbnb for Friday and Saturday night and took in a tour of the Canas and Tapas of Madrid.

Madrid is famous for its small beers with (generally) free tapa and we managed to take in a handful of excellent examples over the weekend

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The weather was perfect, cold (going down to about 0 overnight) but with clear blue skies, so armed with layers we were fine.

We did a fair amount of walking, managing to see several of the key sites in between our Tapas (well you had to build up an appetite) and then on Sunday we took a long walk through El Retiro, which is the main park through Madrid…..if you didn’t know it, we could have been in Hyde Park.

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…. and I almost forgot, wait for the drum roll…….we had our door fixed. We had to travel down to Murcia, but they had the parts and fitted them in about an hour – it seems very odd to be able to get into and out of the motorhome through the door….almost a bit too normal 🙂

So, we are now on our trip back to the UK for four days to see family…. the question is how many mince pies and Christmas cake can we eat in four days – the pressure is on 🙂