Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Best Barbecue Sauces


Three Different Sauces To Try This Summer


If the definition of barbecue, is grilling meat slowly, allowing it to cook in its own juices, then it of course, has been around since cave men discovered fire. Barbecues are much more than cooking food. They are a social gathering of multi-generations of family, friends and neighbours, eating al fresco.
Most countries have their own versions of barbecue, and here in Valencia Spain cooking outdoors is done most of the year round with Paellas and salted Sardines.

But, what is a barbeque in any country without barbecue sauces?

Here are three great sauces to accompany barbecued meats and a barbecue sardine dish from Spain.

Disfruta de la barbacoa!

Spanish Sauce Recipe


Spanish Sauce A rich sauce to accompany barbecue meat dishes

INGREDIENTS:

500 ml meat stock
30 grams of butter
1 teaspoon of olive oil
45 grams of flour
1 onion chopped
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped leek
1/2 cup red wine
Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan.
2. Add all the chopped vegetables and sauté until golden brown.
3. Add the red wine and flour stir and leave 2 to 3 minutes over low heat.
4. Gradually pour in the stock, salt and let simmer for 40 minutes over low heat.
5. Once it has been cooked blend in a mixer and strain for a smooth finish.

Preparation – 10 Minutes
Cooking time – 60 minutes
Serves 4


Argentine Chimichurri


Argentine Chimichurri A spicy sauce for barbecue meats

INGREDIENTS:

Cup of olive oil.
Cup of white wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves
1/2 medium chopped onion
3 dried chillies crumbled
1 ripe tomato.
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of thyme.
3 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 bunch chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon of paprika
Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Put all ingredients into a blender and puree until a smooth sauce.

Passion fruit sauce recipe


Passion fruit sauce recipe Sweet and sour sauce to accompany barbecued meats

INGREDIENTS:

5 passion fruits
5 tablespoons of sugar.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup water
Chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Bring the balsamic vinegar, water, sugar, parsley, salt and pepper to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes, let cool. Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop out the pulp. Puree the passion fruit in a blender with half the sugar syrup. Adjust the taste by adding more sugar syrup until a pleasant balance of sweetness and tartness is reached — you do not want it to thicken like jam.

Strain and discard the seeds.

Refrigerate.

Barbecue Sardines


Sardines Sardinas a la barbacoa

Ingredients:

Sardines
4 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Vinegar
Salt
Parsley

Directions:

Peel the garlic cloves, cut them and place them in a mortar and pestle to a pulp. Pour a splash of oil in the mortar and mix well.

Season the sardines generously (without removing the heads and guts) with sea salt crystals, transfer them to the bowl of olive oil and garlic or coat with a brush and place on the grill or into a fish grill basket and place directly onto the heat.

Cook 3 minutes on each side. Serve on a platter and garnish with a sprig of parsley.

Note: The sardines are kept in a large bowl of sea salted water. This helps provide a fresh seaside taste to the fish.

The fish is fully cooked when the eyes turn a glossy white.

Serve with a splash of lemon juice.

Discard the bone, head, and guts.

A Hot Curry Recipe to Cook for Dad on Father’s Day 

 


A Celebrity Favourite - Whole Chicken Curry


I first made this dish, after trying it several times in a restaurant called the Sopna in Blackheath Village, London. Unfortunately it is no longer there.

I would visit often with an Irish friend, and he thought it amusing to challenge the chief to prepare him a red hot curry, suggesting he was incapable of making one he couldn't eat - bad alcohol-induced mistake.

The waiter, smirking, brought out a curry dish with a little flag stuck in the middle reading: "God bless you". I think he was too polite to say God help you, but the metaphor wasn't lost, especially on my friend, who went home with the hiccups.

I, on the other hand, would order a dish made in honour of another regular diner, called a Terry Waite Special/favourite.

Terry Waite CBE is an English author and humanitarian. He was the assistant for Anglican communion affairs for the Archbishop of Canterbury in 80s, and an envoy for the Church of England.

He try to secure the release of four hostages held in Lebanon, including the journalist John McCarthy, and ended up being held captive himself between 1987 and 1991.

He also likes Awesome Curries!

Chicken Tandoori - Murgh Musallam

First the Stuffing


INGREDIENTS:

Keema Stuffing

600 grams – 1 lb 5.16 oz of Minced Lamb or Minced Ground Beef
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 Green Pepper (finely chopped)
3 Green Chillies (finely chopped)
1 tsp. of Ginger Root (freshly grated)
3 cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
1 tin of Tomatoes
1 tsp. of Turmeric Powder
2 tblsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp. of Ground Cumin
5 tbsp. of Medium Balti Paste
600 ml of Beef Stock
2 tbsp. of Olive Oil

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and Sauté the onion until golden brown and soft.

Add in the minced lamb or minced beef and fry for 10 minutes or until brown.

Add in the chilli, green pepper and garlic and fry for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, turmeric, coriander and cumin, continuing to fry for another 2 minutes.

Stair in the balti paste and fry for an additional 2 minutes. Mix in the tinned tomatoes and add the beef stock. Bring to the boil and simmer without a lid for one hour ladling off excess fat.

Drain of the stuffing into a bowl and set aside for later.

INGREDIENTS:

MARINADE

1 (3-pound) whole chicken skinless

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup tomato pureed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon peeled and grated or crushed ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 tbsp curry paste
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Olive oil, for brushing

Three boiled eggs

Preparation:
Cut slashes in the flesh to allow the marinade to penetrate. Place the chicken on a platter or large, shallow dish.

Mix the yogurt, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, cardamom, black pepper and salt. Stir and mixed well, pour the mixture over the chicken and rub it into the flesh, turning the chicken until fully coated. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Set aside the excess marinade.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Spoon in the pre-prepared keema stuffing compacting and stitch up the opening with skewers to hold in place.

Preheat the oven to moderately hot temperature – gas mark 6 – 400 Fahrenheit or 200 Celsius.

Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, brush the pan with oil, and cook, turning once for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to moderate gas mark 4 – 350 Fahrenheit – 180 Celsius further cook for 60/70 minutes.

Add the excess marinade with the left over sauce from the keema stuffing previously set a side stir together and heat allowing to simmer.

Remove the chicken from the oven pierce the thigh if the juices run clear it is cooked, Pour away the fatty juices from the pan.

Place on a platter or large dish arrange the boiled eggs around the chicken and pour the sauce over the chicken and cover the eggs.

Grate on some cheese and serve.

Being a garlic lover, I eat it with garlic Naan but you can serve this Murgh Musallam-esque stuffed Chicken with any kind of Indian bread, like plain naan or tandoori roti.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Streaking For Mother

 
 How far would you go to help the people you love?

A cynical, famous underwear model, and infamous international sports personality, despondent and guilt ridden because of a terrible mistake, finds redemption from helping the Streakers who ruined his chances of a world record.

After moving in with this bunch of dysfunctional guerrilla marketeers he discovers all isn't what it seemed and finds out his life is being controlled by his estranged mother from beyond the grave.
His mother is also the patron of a large pawn brokers and the Streakers Matriarch who believe her absence is temporary. It soon becomes apparent to Ashley she has left him with no choice but to help them move on with their lives and come to terms with her untimely death.

Ashley has made enemies too. He is viciously attacked, sent a threatening message, and attempts are made to destroy him in the media - both professionally and personally. With his new house mates by his side, they must discover and deal with his pursuer Streaker style. 


Monday, September 15, 2014

My life as a Steeplejack


Steeple-jacking a Beginning


When I left School, the British band UB40 was singing about being one in ten, three million unemployed and rising.

I remember things being that bad there were queues outside bread shops, like some depressed eastern block country, yet they were not queuing for bread, but work - one position - fifty applied.

After leaving basford hall college Nottingham, I went against my father's wishes, and applied for a job at the firm he worked, which just happened to be advertising for three Steeplejack mates.

As a teenager, the experience was exiting, walking into the company's yard on a Monday with your suitcase in hand, not knowing where you would be going, and which part of the country, and how high you would be working. This was kept a secrete and chalked on a large blackboard along with who you would be working with, another important factor I later learned.




Whittington Hospital Islington London


Image Shearart Two of us ‘Sprogs’ as we were called, were sent down the inside of the chimney in bosun’s chairs, armed with sweeping brushes, and told to sweep the sulpha/soot off the full length of the barrel, so it could be inspected for potential repairs.

The joke was that, we were told that the chimney had only just been turned off, and was still hot inside, so take all our clothes off and wear only boiler suits (refusal would have been met with hostility).

After hours of choking, sweat and burns, we emerged at the bottom, black as soot. The showers removed most of it except around our: necks, arm pits, nipples, lower region cracks. They were burned black and took months to fade, at that point I realised I didn’t know everything as a teenager.

Steeple-jacking seemed natural to me as my grandfather was a steeplejack, my uncles and my father too, but he wanted me to be a chef. I think he was a little anxious that I would embarrass him, which made me all the more determined to succeed. I just had to overcome the fear of falling to my death and landing on some ornate wrought iron railings.

To add an extra flavour to the difficulty level, My father was a senior Foreman, and those steeplejacks who he had trained and traditionally worked hard, ridiculed, and I’m going to use Steeplejack parlance of the day – Slagged off. I was assigned to them, payback was tough, quitting wasn’t an option, they tried, and eventually I earned their respect and they became friends.




Day To Day


Image Shearart Working on power stations, mills, concrete and steel chimneys, cooling towers, and installing lightning conductor systems. To restoring Churches in the middle of a verdant country side on the edge of a small village, were all, week to week stuff and sometimes we would be given some unusual work.

The miners’ strike was on and next to a lot of pits in Yorkshire, loomed Coalite sites, churning out smokeless fuel, piles of it, some striking miners (allegedly) would appropriate some smokeless coal for their home fires.

The boss being an entrepreneur volunteered our services; the job was to enclose the whole place with 10ft steel roofing sheets, which seemed miles. Now and again an angry mob would stand there attempting to intimidate us, and things got worse when they found out we were from Nottingham, adding insult to injury, as Nottingham was considered scab pit country.

Our foreman had a word with them, and we were surprisingly left alone after that. I found out years later that a couple of the sheets weren’t fixed as well as they should have been — fancy that.

Meanwhile, every time we exited the motorway to enter Nottingham, the police pulled us over and
 asked us if we were flying-pickets, we nodded our black soot covered faces no — this was cutting into our pub time — the police didn’t believe us.








Don't look now



Don't look now




India Mills Ornate Chimney


http://www.flickr.com/photos/tpreece01/3713869 One of my fondest memories, and again, still a teenager, was working on a famous chimney in Darwin Lancashire, the rumours were that it had a huge stone overhang that forced the weight onto your arms as you climbed over, and some firms had backed out and ran scared, but this is an industry full of untruths, generated in the pub, at least in those days.

Nevertheless, it does put weight on your arms, and it is the moment of truth climbing over the top, especially when the top of the ladder hasn’t been tied yet. For me, the excitement factor was driving from Bolton coming down the hill and seeing it for the first time.

The boiler man was a tablet of touristic information, and apparently the chimney was designed on the tower in St Marks Square Venice; mill owners would compete by building the most ornate chimneys, this one costing 14,000 pounds.

We worked on the chimney for a few months, scaffolding the top and rigged cradles on it. I was impressed so much with Lancashire and the friendliness of the people, I moved there.

The mill and chimney are steeped in history and can be found by clicking the link arrow below.

Image Source




Looking west from India Mills Chimney


http://www.flickr.com/photos/21913923@N03/5883996278/in/set-72157626944226537 One day whilst working on the chimney a fella dressed in a suit approached and asked if we would take some aerial shots of his auto sales garage and surrounding area, at the end of the shift we did. His wife had a shock when she went to collect the photos as we had including three naked backsides. Luckily they had a sense of humour.

Image Source




Steeplejack's names carved into the stone below one of the urns including mine.






Don't look down



Don't look down




Climbing over the overhang


Climbing onto the slippy stone plinth usually covered in Pigeon excrement






Fifteen Minutes of Fame


Image Shearart Bob-a-job week was the week cub-scouts would knock on your door and sell you a ticket that would entitle you to have some work down: Wash the car, sweep the yard and my personal favourite, weed the garden.

My uncle was in the paper for giving a cub- scout a sweeping job at the top of a high tower on bob-a-job week, in the late 70′s. Steeplejacks were often in the paper, on this occasion we were invited to sit in front of the film camera.

Several of us, from different firms, were filmed by the college working on various chimneys, and invited to a lunch at a county pub to help produce a recruitment video – OMG how embarrassing.

Don’t give a steeplejack your camera or interview him after a couple of pints.

Gaz top ‘a children’s TV presenter’ was interviewing us all and the brief was simple, relax and be honest.

Some anecdotes from the older steeplejacks, started out pleasant until ‘cut we can’t print that’ and then asking us questions about wages and working conditions, whilst drinking pints of beer down, before the wasps landed in them, in the mid-day sun – what did they think they were going to get?

Not all of us gave a bad account of ourselves, but if they had briefed us on what they wanted, and said keep the language down, and don’t mention lodging away stories, they might have had a chance, on a personal note I had an extra cringe as the sound man was my neighbour.

To be fair, they were honest and relaxed.




STEEPLEJILL










Considering a career in the Steeplejack industry?


Years later, I entered the world of building site management, contract management and construction project management, and in the earlier years was faced with employing site managers to supervise safety critical works in the rail sector, the majority of labour had rail experience, not construction.

I pulled in some steeplejack foreman, and they aced it, yes they were trained and did the subsequent courses, but hands on they had a natural risk assessment ability built in and that is the essence of leaders. If you as a youngster are looking to enter the steeplejack industry, I have put together some links below from the UK, United States and Australia.

Considering a career in the Steeplejack industry?
  • http://www.atlas.org.uk/

    http://www.rtbot.net/steeplejack

    http://www.americansteeplejacks.com/

    http://www.allchimneys.co.uk/industrial-chimneys-steeplejacks.html

    http://www.startlocal.com.au/industrial/steeplejacks/

Modern Day Steeplejacks

Back in my day we worked without fall arrest systems or safety harnesses 'free climbing' things have moved on, placing safety as number one using structure, risk assessment and clear communication.




High Rise Maintenance


Refurbishing Victoria centre flats in Nottingham, considered an eyesore for years, we used cradles and bosun’s chairs to completely clad and stone dash the outside, including installation of window sills, concrete repairs and sealant works.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Goose Fair Nottingham


Robin Hood Country

Christmas as a child was always the biggest holiday to look forward to closely followed by birthdays. Easter meant chocolate eggs and when we were really young a decorated boiled egg for breakfast. Living in Nottingham had the added treat of goose fair every third Thursday in October.

October came with fog and a giant Goose erected on a roundabout adjacent to a large recreation ground we called the forest. Kids at school started to become excited at the prospect of going to the fair. The main question on children's lips in the playground, 'are you going on the Thursday night, Friday or Saturday'.



Goose Fair


 
I can remember the excitement and the fear of being amongst so many people, flashing lights, the mixture of whirling noises and music. The strange food smells, watching where you stepped through a muddy ground, and trying to remember the place where my mother said to meet if I got lost. For me so young winning a bow and arrow set on the hook a duck stand and eating my favourite food was the biggest buzz of the year.

I’m not talking about candy floss, Brandy snaps, toffee apples or the smell of the onions on the hot dog stalls, but hot mushy peas with mint sauce. Synonymous with Nottingham as pie mash and liquor is in the east end of London.

Image Source

Goose Fair Boxing


http://www.nfa.dept.shef.ac.uk/history/miscellaneous_articles/article10.html My grandmother was Irish and she had eleven brothers all who were Boxes and one boxed at Goose fair in the 70's and 80's.

Image Source
 

Image Shearart

Mushy Peas


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • A bunch of spring onions
  • finely chopped
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves finely chopped
  • 500 grams (1 pound) frozen marrow fat peas
  • 2 large knobs of butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

Instructions

Pour the olive oil in a pan and heat adding the mint, chopped onions and peas. Leave covered for a few minutes to steam. Add the vinegar and mash smooth with a potato masher. Season to taste and add the butter.



Goose Fair History


Nottingham Goose Fair, Panoramic View 1890s.


Goose fair today runs from Wednesday to Sunday over 700 years old it is still held at the forest recreation ground and it still has a hook a duck, the waltzer and over 500 hundred other attractions to marvel at. I recently spoke to a friend that takes her children to the Goose fair and the cuisine has changed. Chinese food, Spanish churros, Indian Curries, everything you can find in a shopping centre food court is on offer. The side shows are gone and the main emphasis is on the biggest and baldest rides. For me I’ll have hot peas and the dodgem cars every time, but the helter skelter “tornado slide” was a childhood favourite.

Image Source
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Monday, September 8, 2014

How To Use A Fire Pot – Hot Pot


Create great communal dishes for a picnic this summer


The Asian fire pot is a leisurely and interactive way to eat. Made from metal or ceramic, circular in shape and supported by a base. On the outside is a trough, a chimney raises up in the middle and hot coals are placed inside the chimney base area.
The trough holds a stock and it is kept simmering by the hot coals. Thinly sliced ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table.

Some people place the meat and vegetables into the stock and cook it to taste, others slap the meat on the chimney first, watching it sizzle and peel off dropping into the trough to further cook.

Surprise and delight


hot pot This type of cuisine is also referred to as “steamboat”.

Plates of prepared vegetables, fish and meats thinly sliced into strips to cut down on the cooking time.

The solid ingredient is up to individual tastes and this could be a vegetarian dish, fish dish or a mixture including meat.

Cooking fish, meats or vegetables in stock enriches the flavour creating a tasty broth/soup so once the solid ingredients are cooked add noodles or rice ladling into bowls, the meats and vegetables once cooked can also be dipped into hot mustard, sweat and sour, curry, peanut, chilli and barbeque sauces.

Some food examples to be thinly sliced and arranged on platters 

 

examples 

Now for the Stock


Stock The stock is prepared before adding to the fire pot. Heat a chicken, vegetable or fish stock adding the selected herbs and spices.

SUGGESTION:

1/2 cup rice wine
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 knob ginger root, finely shredded
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup black bean sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 Szechuan peppers, finely diced
One spring union finely diced

Bring to a simmer and pour into the fire pot trough. If taking on a picnic allow to cool and place it in a plastic container for transporting.

Fire Pot Recipe


table
  • Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Stock (chicken beef or pork) as above
  • 1 Lbs. - 0.45kgs - boneless skinless chicken breast thinly sliced
  • 8 thin sliced pork steaks
  • 1 Lbs. - 0.45kgs - beef tenderloin thinly sliced
  • 1 Lbs. - 0.45kgs - shrimp peeled deveined thickly sliced
  • 10 mushrooms thickly sliced
  • 2 Chinese cabbage thinly shredded
  • 2 spring onions thinly sliced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 4 portions of noodles (see packet directions)

Instructions

  1. Place the ingredients onto individual serving plates or a large platter so that the diners can ladle, skewer or fork their chosen food into the simmering stock or pressing against the chimney and then into the stock, once cooked they can coat with a choice of dipping sauce.
  2. Finally add bean sprouts, cabbage, spring onions, mushrooms, and noodles to the stock tenderising as it simmers and serve into bowls.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My First Car


Car or Motorbike?


At eighteen years of age, the last car I would expect to, 'quietly' fall in love with would be a VW Beetle. Not exactly a cool motor to drive amongst my piers, especially an orange box standard 1200cc.

My old man had bought a VW Beetle, dismantled it down to the chassis and refurbished it. He put a flash kit car body on it called an Eagle SS, with gullwing doors and body lines as sleek as a Lamborghini. Give him a Haynes Manuel and a few tools and he was on his way. This was one of many hobbies, his philosophy, if it can be learned then he was going to do it.

My father said that if I didn't get a motorbike, be patient, and wait until I had past my driving test, the kit car would be mine.

Patient, I was a teenager!


Trading Standards


www.shearart.blogspot.com After going against my father’s wishes and buying a motor bike to get to college, I past my driving test and was ready for a car. The thousand pounds I received for the sale of the bike in hand, I went to see a car locally.

A gleaming Fiat X19 sports car, advertised for 800 pounds, leaving some cash to pay for the insurance. It looked great, drove fine and I did the deal for 720 pounds, which was just as well, as the cheapest insurance quote was 450 pounds for six months.

The car lasted four months before the clutch went, and I had to call the AA from the hard shoulder of the M1 motorway.

My old man freed up the clutch, and insisted that we drive it down to the nearest car sales to do a deal with a more sensible car that he had seen, if there were any problems he could fix it without any costly garage bills.

When we pulled up at the garage, I knew straight away which car he had his eyes on and no amount of begging was going to work. Tough love I think they call it.

The salesman couldn’t get in the Fiat fast enough, and drove it around the block. He climbed out, declared his wife would like it, and we did a straight swap deal. The bright orange VW was on at 900 pounds so away we went.

After a verbal battering on the way home from my father, at how bad my driving was, something he would still suggest to this day. I got the hang of driving the antiquated controls, loose gear stick, the noisy windscreen wipers and the screen wash working off the air pressure from the spare tyre in the front boot. At that moment it didn’t seem quaint, cute or funny, even my mother struggled to hide her smirk from me when first seeing it.

Two weeks’ later, a man from the trading standards knocked at the door to get a statement off of me. Apparently, the car salesman sold the Fiat to a couple that had spent their life savings on the car and it had broken down a day later. On further inspection, there were 36 un-roadworthy things wrong with it, and you would be hard pressed to stick a magnet to most of the body work. All that because I didn’t listen to the old man – talk about the butterfly effect.

My mother plied the official with tea and digestives and made sure I was blameless. The couple sued the car sales, which closed down, and I drove the beetle through four seasons without a problem.

I eventually sold it for twelve hundred pounds, and put the cash to another awesome vehicle, a Toyota Hilux Pick up truck.

I missed the Beetle and over there years bought four. I think only people who have owned one and refurbished them can understand where I’m coming from, as I write this I’m adding a Beetle to my amazon wish list that’s the 1302 s, preferably not in Orange.

My father did give me his kit car to drive, and it was awesome, people looking at you, being so young I lapped it up on a weekend away to Lancashire. One the way back, I got a lift from the AA and I’m sure it was the same place on the motorway as a year before. The oil pump went but my father suggested I didn’t put any oil in the car. He was fuming and sold it–yet another one of those things to add to his list of disappointments. My mother took his mind off of it, she had her eye on a hotel that needed refurbishing, and there were plenty of books out there on that subject to get his teeth into.

VW-Splitty

VW-Splitty
VW-Splitty

36 in. x 24 in.
Buy This at Allposters.com

Fiat X19




VW Beetle Pick Up


Toyota Hi Lux

Dog Waiting on Back of Ute
Dog Waiting on…
Andrew Bain
24 in. x 18 in.
Buy This at Allposters.com

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Beach Life Spain


Days out with Family and Friends.


I think it's safe to say that beach life is similar the world over: sunbathing, swimming, sandcastles, picnics and beach games at the top of the list. Certain people focus on one of these more than others. Some Spanish people for example, haul enough equipment and food to make you think they are in fact a Hollywood film production company: tables, chairs, umbrellas, portable hammocks and golf trollies, stacked with cool boxes.

These large family groups settle in for the day, where as some do it in shifts, late morning till 1 o'clock, and 4 o'clock to late evening. If the beach has a Chiringuito (beach bar), then it can turn into a late night.

Playing on the Playa


Every other week we hit the beach, and when we go with our Spanish friends, it’s normally in the afternoon.

Of course, the beach isn’t for everyone. I can’t seem to find a phobia for the fear of beaches, the nearest I have gotten is:

Hydrophobia: fear of water, to drink or to swim in.

Thalassophobia is fear of the sea and Eremikophobia is fear of sand.

Galeophobia: fear of sharks, on a boat, visiting an aquarium, on a beach, or watching shark movies.

(PLAYA) BON NOU beach is south of Villajoyosa, and is my favourite beach in Alicante. A small cove with clear water, remains shallow feathering out for a few meters, which is great for the kids to paddle in. The beach has foot washes, toilets, lifeguards and has been awarded the blue flag.

A train station is nearby and in walking distance, access from the N332 by car, with plenty of parking spaces.

The beach a mixture of small pebbles and sand, stretches between two rocks for 220 meters with a width of 30 meters so Nomophobiacs may have a problem here, (fear of being out of mobile phone contact).

Bon Nou, sometimes known as Bol Nou, also has an amazing Xiringuito (beach bar), this is the only one where you can enjoy authentic Argentinian barbecue.

Gymnophobics will enjoy this beach as it is predominantly families all day, in the evening the beach bar has couples and mixed crowds.
Great food to take to the beach

Tortilla de patatas y pimientos rojos asados

Spanish omelet with roasted red peppers


Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 kilo of potatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • Salt
  • pepper and parsley

Instructions

  1. 1. Scrape the potatoes or leave the skins on, if you prefer. Cut them into thick slices. Chop the onion.
  2. 2. Roast the peppers in the oven, peel, de-seed and chop.
  3. 3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the potatoes, peppers and onion and cook gently, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are softened. Strain the potatoes, peppers and onions through a colander into a large bowl (set the strained oil aside).
  4. 4. Beat the eggs separately and stir into the potatoes with the parsley and plenty of salt and pepper. Heat a little of the strained oil in a smaller pan. Tip everything into the pan and cook on a moderate heat, using a spatula to shape the omelette into a circle.
  5. 5. When almost set, flip onto a plate and slide back into the pan and cook a few more minutes. Flip twice more, cooking the omelette briefly each time and pressing the edges to keep the circle shape. Slide on to a plate and cool before putting in containers for the beach.

Perishable Art


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Strange Fiestas Spain


La Fiesta de los Nanos en Cocentaina Spain


Cocentaina is a Valencian town inland towards Alcoy at the foot of the Sierra Mariola. This area has strong agricultural roots and celebrates this with a fiesta held on All Saints day(Todos los Santos) on and around the 1st of November.

In the Pueblo looms the Clarrisen monastery, the Palace of the count and the church of El salvador. These are stand alone in their magnificence but the real attractions of Cocentaina are the warm, welcoming and open minded people.

The Nanos first appeared in Cocentaina hanging from the corners of streets in the late eighteenth century with posters, the words and dolls were there to ridicule its political and prominent figures.

A risky act even though anonymous and surprisingly no retaliations were made to this day.


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Imagination and Criticism Combined


Venture into the old town in the middle of Lent (21 days after Ash Wednesday) and there you will see some strange satirical celebrations, life size rag dolls (Nanos) have appeared miraculously overnight and take up communal areas, corners of streets and along most of the houses. Some stand and some sit alone at a table with a bottle of wine, others huddle in groups and several hang from trees.

All share in common Valencian scribed tags, some large boards and others pinned to their clothes, the majority of the messages are pointing at famous celebrities and local politicians using imagination and criticism combined.

Now days the tradition is an event covered by the media and children are encouraged to take part yet this semi commercialisation doesn’t distort the true purpose of the Nanos to get across the common man’s feelings toward certain prominent figures. Some messages poke fun and some criticise individuals with caricatures included on the particular Nanos, from as simple as a mustache to a recognisable effigy and as from the beginning no reprisals are sort after, all are taking in fun.
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Dolls are placed everywhere

 
 

La Fiesta de los Nanos en Cocentaina


Having a chat



The press comes to town



Crazy Festival Spain 

 Haro Wine Festival - Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine)



Haro in Northern Spain, is in the middle of the wine growing region of La Rioja, and home to the annual Haro Wine Festival and the Batalla del Vino. Where the locals all arm themselves with water pistols, and splash each other with tens of thousands of litres of wine, turning everything purple.

Spain is not short of crazy festivals, but what seems silly to some, is part of the culture and traditional to others.

Of course, there are those that staunchly support this festival just for the wine - owe but for the wine.

 



La Rioja Wine


I remember first hearing about Rioja in a Chinese restaurant in Nottingham England. A friend at the time was having a surprise anniversary bash for his wife, and I had drove up from London and sat at a large round table, set for five couples, three of which were already there.

We had something in common, all trying to avoid sounding pretentious, admitting that we all liked French wine, and decided to order a couple of bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The absent seats were filled by a couple who made an entrance, fresh in from Tenerife, suntans and blinged out.

A forty-something fella, accompanied by a rather younger provocatively dressed twenty-something blond – we tried to ignore the cliché, but the first thing they did was spin the centerpiece, grab one of the bottles (we had opened to breath), and splash it into their glasses, without a breath downed the wine and declared, to the rest of the table “it aint quite a Rioja but it will have to do”

Now there is Rioja and there’s Rioja – I later discovered.

HARO, SPAIN - WINE FESTIVAL 27-29 JUNE



Haro Wine Festival


Researching for this Lens, I asked my significant other if she had heard of any crazy weird or strange holidays festivals that was going down in June, she replied “yes euro 2012 football/Soccer” – So no then.

My neighbour on the other hand, couldn’t wait to tell me about his home town of Haro in the Rioja wine region. He jumps up, and goes next door, and reappears, grinning shinny eyed, clutching two bottles of wine he had made himself, declaring this is the wine he used to throw about in the Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine) I remember most of what he said..

Fiesta del Vino de Haro the 29th of June is penned in on all the calendars of this town, celebrating San Pedro and as usual in a Spanish fiesta it has parades and a battle.

The village parades up to the small chapel with the statue of San Felices led by the mayor on horseback, after placing the city’s flag at the top of the rock, the battle commences all the way back to the Town’s Bullring.

There are windmills, but no Don Quixote, as arms spin around throwing buckets of vino on each other, and some stories are best left unmentioned. When the levels of testosterone and home brew splash about, especially when a quaff of suppressed rivalry rears its head.

This all sounds a bit silly, but watching my neighbour tell his stories with passion and a nostalgic tear, coupled with the fact that I have been to a lot of Spanish fiestas, I would suggest it’s worth a visit.

Cheers!



 Colour Me Purple



 

The wine's not just for throwing!


Photo with permission from http://www.wine-fight.com/the-history/

Wine Battle






River of Wine




Time to dry off


This is a file from Wikimedia Commons