And another month sails by with too few blog posts. Not good. Anyone would think I had to try and make a living as well or something.
Nah, that's just excuses. Besides, one of the reasons I've not posted is because I've been eating lots (for future blog posts), exercising hard (to balance out the eating and in preparation for the OTHER blog) and, also, going away for a week.
While there's been a lot of travel this year, it was great to get a proper holiday in. As fun as Turkey, Dubai, Vegas, Copenhagen, Champagne etc., have been - and they were a LOT of fun - there's a big difference between press trip and holiday. So, Mrs L and I went off to Spain for a week, to see Sheila, her favourite aunt, and to celebrate her cousin Matthew's 50th.
It was a pretty perfect week, frankly. Lots of sunshine, walks on the beach, trashy murder mysteries consumed at the rate of one a day and, as you'd expect in Spain, great eating. I have, frankly, eaten my bodyweight in ham
It's not that we can't get good ham over here. Our local butcher's ham off the bone is awesome. Places like Brindisa will sell you all sorts of piggy gorgeousness. But our supermarket stuff? Bloody awful reconstitued ham "product". Contrast that with even the cheapest fare in a Spanish supermarket. Seriously, we bought a "snack pack" of chorizo for a Euro and it was better than anything we've ever found in Waitrose. And how can you resist any country where your average supermarket has a display like this?
The foodie highlight of my week though? Watching Sheila's charming landlord Elio make a paella, from scratch, over a wood fire. It was a thing of edible beauty. The fresh air and the smell of wood smoke would have been enough to work up an appetite anyway: throw in the smell of the frying chicken, the vegetables, the garlic, the clams and you're talking two hours plus of incredible anticipation.
Pictures, as they say, are worth a thousand words. So I'm going to shut up for a while and let the camera do most of the talking...
The fire gets built
The oil gets added
The first bit of chicken...
Elio browns the chicken
Tomatoes and peppers go in...
And simmer down slowly, releasing their juices
The rice gets added
As the rice soaks up the juices, a handful of peas goes in
Saffron and paprika give colour
Which cook gently and open
Elio's wife, Olga, adds prawns and red peppers
The mussels are the finishing touch, and it's all done. And absolutely delicious.
A much deserved Sangria toast for - and from - the chef
A post-lunch nap