From a professional standpoint, I'm writing this in the middle of the London Film Festival. From a journalistic point of view, that means long days of movie-watching. That's not, admittedly, the toughest work out there, but there is a downside. The lack of eating opportunities.
That's not to say I'm starving of course. Nope, far from it. It's just that the timings of screenings, the geographical locations and, of course, the need to write about what you've seen (not to mention keeping on top of other work) can easily result in eating junk food on the run and then not getting enough sleep. That then results in caffeine-fuelled days which then disrupt the sleep patterns even further which mean caffeine-fuelled days which... well, you get the point.
After a week of dodgy food though, I'm back on song and, thanks to a weekend of cooking, I'm prepared for the remaining days of the Festival. There's a huge bowl of gazpacho in the fridge - basically a salad smoothie when you think about it - and, as I write this, the smells of slow roasting tomatoes, peppers and onions is making me a very hungry bunny indeed. Those will be used as the base of one of Gaucho's sauces (the aforementioned vegetables, roasted, blitzed with orange juice and then pepped up with as much Tabasco as you can take - simple but seriously good) and for some more day-saving (and money saving) LFF soups. Best bit? The cost. I was walking past one of those local stores that offered bowls of assorted fruit and vegetables for a quid per punnet when the idea struck, hence I staggered home with a bag of tomatoes, about five romano peppers, two cucumbers, two of the biggest mangos I've ever seen and a dozen onions for a fiver.
But I digress. With the eating sorted for the next few days - and oh so cheaply back onto the health kick - I can now think about some of the other edible delights that have slipped between blog posts.
For example, a fine devilled crab from The Coach & Horses
or, in particular, some more bits from the Spanish break. A few years ago, we discovered a superb venta just past Tarifa and we had long planned a return. The bad news? We were there on the wrong day for their fish soup. The good news? Their fare was just as hearty and delicious as before. There was a slight catch on the exchange rate - thank you RBS et al for fucking up the economy - so it wasn't as good value as before, but a Spanish take on egg and chips, a huge plate of chorizo and the ensalata mixta were all very good. And how can anyone dislike a country that seems to consider tuna a vegetable?
As for Estepona, even being forced to turn back due to a traffic jam had a positive result: a charming little tapas bar, the coldest beer I think I've ever drunk and two little plates of octopus and potato, and gently cooked tuna.
As for Darren's Thai cooking, that deserves a post of its own. Here's a wee appetiser though: a green fish curry of aromatic, spicy beauty.