31. Best Resolution you wish you'd stuck with ‘09

Resolution you wish you'd stuck with. (You know, there's always next year...)

I didn’t make any resolutions last year and I won’t this year.  I like a more day-to-day approach to life. 

But the thing that I’d like to change about me in general is that I would like to be better at getting things done in a timely fashion.  I procrastinate / ignore /avoid / resist things that I don’t like, are unpleasant, or are “difficult” to do.  Sometimes it’s about important stuff that has monetary consequences … the waste, for example, of not paying a bill on time (or a traffic fine) – even though you have the money.  It’s foolish, unnecessary and just plain dumb.  I want to get better at attacking things when they need to be, should be, done – and no later.

Thanks to Gwen Bell for initiating this Best of ‘09 project.

30. Best Ad ‘09

Ad. What advertisement made you think this year?

I don’t pay much attention to ads or, at least, this year no commercial add stood out.  One sort-of commercial winner that I loved was more of an advertisement for happiness than any particular product.

It’s from VolksWagen – they set up a site called The Fun Theory.

29. Best Laugh ‘09

Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

None that I remember. Lots of smiles; loads pleasure in life; in the day to day. There are several things that I still smile broadly about when looking back on them. But I cannot recall a notable huge laugh during 2009 when I laughed ‘til I cried. Not that it didn’t happen - - I just failed to properly keep track of it. In fact, I know that it happened – I simply don’t remember when.

I recall that this video had me laughing a lot:

28. Best Stationery ‘09

Stationery. When you touch the paper, your heart melts. The ink flows from the pen. What was your stationery find of the year?

That’s a really off the wall prompt. I guess that either Gwen Bell (who made up the original list) was running out of ideas or she really likes stationery.

As an aside, my mom had a deluxe stationery store in Vancouver back in the 70’s, maybe early 80s, called Connoisseur Cards -  to this day I can’t spell that word – on 10th avenue in West Point Grey.  She imported fine cards, stationery and wrapping paper – it was a great little place. I really loved the super duper quality European wrapping paper; maybe that’s why I moved here (to Europe).  I recall writing a custom inventory program for the store – inventory at a card store can be pretty hairy - - lots of distinct items.

Second aside, stationEry is spelled almost the same as stationAry -- -- spellcheckers might not help if you happen to write the wrong one (or right the wrong won).

No more asides – and no more about stationery since in 2009 I didn’t get into stationery at all; I don’t think I saw any the whole year long.

27. Best Social Web moment ‘09

Social web moment. Did you meet someone you used to only know from her blog? Did you discover Twitter?

This year there has been a lot of meeting people online.  The Facebooks, the Twitters, Reddit & Tinychat,  Blogspot/Blogger and blogs in general that also have participation and comments and interchange of ideas. I’ve been involved with all of them since forever but this year it really took off. Less engaging sites than that first bunch that I mentioned but still participating are Classmates; hi5; myspace; Vox; Multiply; Ghetto Gourmet; and then there’s the dating sites!  Not mentioned yet are the not Social but Professional Web 2.0 sites – a whole other ball a of wax (will save that topic for another post).

The best part for me, the techie, is getting some of these different sites to work together, a bit.  As in… using this blog post as an example: I write it on my machine with Windows Live Writer; send to to Blogger where it appears in my blog; it tells Twitter and makes a tweet about the blog post; then Twitter tells Facebook who updates my status there as well; myspace somehow notices the activity and posts a mention there.  Not comprehensive end-to-end integration but a start.  Now, if only the number of different sign-ons, userids and passwords was manageable – but it’s not.

Another Best Social Web moment was moving from socially webbing with someone to communicating by regular email and instant messenging; changing a social web contact from an acquaintance to a friend.

26. Best Insight ‘09

Insight or aha! moment. What was your epiphany of the year?

Me? Epiphanies? Not bloody likely. Except for January 6th of course.

A sudden realization of … not the foggiest. Nope, this one’s not giving me any inspiration at all.

To give it a twist; playing with the words – – the best sight in 2009… was the sight of a friend I hadn’t seen for many years.

What did You have for xmas dinner?

Carpaccio of beef with parmesan and drizzled with olive oil


Then some rolled stuffed chicken (stuffed with fruits and walnuts) with potato cups filled with mashed potatoes with cheese and chives.


No turkey – that would be way too big although would have been great to do a turkey if only to make my mom’s delicious stuffing recipe (a celery-onion bread stuffing. Which reminds me - I must reacquire that recipe).

25. Best Gift ‘09

Gift. What's a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving?

This had me thinking back to the best xmas gift I ever-ever got; a bike.  It was used, 10 speed, drop handlebars, racer seat, toe-clips – the whole “real bicycling” ball o’ wax; with a Roger Rivière decal on the frame (who famously crashed on the Tour de France in 1960 – breaking his spine). 

It got me outside, riding, a little bit of road racing, touring around the nearby university grounds.  No doubt contributing to my generally good health.  It also gave me “nice legs” (or so I’ve been told).

This year? 2009?  I shall avoid the temptation to go with the sappy types of “gifts” like the gift-of “friendship”,  “a kiss”, “peace”, “love”, “contentment”, “great sex”, “happiness”, “sunshine” or “kindness” or other conceptual, ephemeral, things of that sort which I received this year .  In real physical terms, something that someone gave me as a gift was… a cookbook.  The classic Spanish at-home cook book; 1080 Recipes by Simone Ortega - in a new. illustrated, edition.  It’s always at hand around here.


24. Best Learning experience ‘09

Learning experience. What was a lesson you learned this year that changed you?

Spending a month with 3 niñas [children] aged three to nine.  I wrote about this before – but it really was such an outstanding, unique, experience for me that absolutely nothing else comes to mind.

I learned that most of life is practicing for later on; and some little bit is remembering the past - - but the best payoff is to look forwards.

Bocadillo de Morcilla : Blood Sausage baguette

Vegans & vegetarians… turn the page.

Simple enough – fried up a little blood sausage (Burgos style – with rice) and slapped it on a bun. Ingredients of this sort of morcilla

  • rice (a key ingredient)
  • pig fat (just because)
  • onion (flavor)
  • pig blood (it’s “black” sausage)
  • spices (cumin, cinnamon?)
  • pig intestine (for the tubing)

Slice into 2cm [1”] pieces and fry in oil until crispy. Drain on a paper towel or two. Smoosh onto bread.

23. Best Web tool ‘09

Web tool. It came into your work flow this year and now you couldn't live without it. It has simplified or improved your online experience.

That would be Notepad++, say it “plus plus”.  It is a double-plus good text editor – use it instead of NotePad or WordPad. It colorizes and indents things so that they make sense visually and handles ‘most every format.

This, you might say, is a desktop-tool and not a “web” tool.  I don’t care… it’s still the best computer-oriented-tool since sliced bread that I’ve come across (actually, sliced-bread is not a great computer-tool now that I come to think of it). I use Notepad++ to edit programs I write for the web and to edit things I get off of the web so in that way it may constitute a “web tool” if you define it generously.

22. Best Startup ‘09

Startup. What's a business that you found this year that you love? Who thought it up? What makes it special?

New businesses are hard to come by in these tough economic times.  Managing-to-survive is the main goal of businesses around here in the south of Spain.  I’ll have to come up with a unique twist on this question…

Best Thing Started 2009

Golf  - I started golfing again after more than 12 years.  The clubs have been in storage all this time so some maintenance is needed; I really ought to get new grips on the clubs; the existing ones are dry and pretty hard.

It’s the only exercise I get and I need it – this desk work is sneaking on the extra kilos - - I don’t take as many long walks on the beach as I did back before this job started.

Around here they play a lot of Stableford scored rounds (instead of Match play).  It is the predominant scoring for groups, teams and non-professional tournaments.  In Stableford once you’re at about a double bogey on any hole you might as well pick up the ball because it won’t affect your score any; in fact you should pick up your ball - - it makes for faster play. Fun fact: with Stableford the higher score is the winner.  It goes something like – - points scored for double bogey=0, bogey=1, par=2, birdie=3, eagle=4, albatross=5 and that should about cover it since 4 under par on a single hole is unlikely, verging on impossible (might as well mention that the next terms are, sequentially, Condor and  Ostrich).  Unhandicapped an all-par round would get 36 points.  Me, I dream of bogey level rounds.

21. Best Project ‘09

Project. What did you start this year that you're proud of?

Quitting smoking – again.    Stopped last year for 6 months, stopped this April for a month, stopped in August (or it might have been July) & have been managing since then.

Now, reading back what I wrote, I see that this is something I stopped, not something I started this year.  I' will look at it as me starting to stop smoking – that will take care of the conundrum.

I’m not a fanatic about not smoking – this time I gave it up so I could afford to play golf.

20. Best New Person ‘09

New person. She came into your life and turned it upside down. He went out of his way to provide incredible customer service. Who is your unsung hero of 2009?

That would be a whole lot of people; collectively the best new people I met this year, starting hanging out with, getting to know a little, was the gang down at Frankie’s Bar on Hotel Street at Vera Playa.  It’s an “English” bar inasmuch as the clientele is 95% English-speaking - - not a good way to integrate into Spanish society given that I live in Spain full-time but, hey, I need a bit of something familiar in my life too.  Mostly they’re local, ex-pats, from the UK; although loads of tourists drop in during their holidays; and it has a very fine bar-staff and kindly owners.

Popping over for a glass of wine gets me out of the house, away from behind this computer, gives me a nice walk, and when I’m there I’m in conversation with people; real-life, in person, not on-line, conversation. Besides chatting there’s lots of fun to be had - - what with the golf team, darts night, quiz night, music or karaoke on occasion, poker night… I don’t participate in all of those, often preferring to sit back and watch – it’s more entertaining than TV. The food’s good too.

Click on the logo to jump to Google Maps Streetview.

19 Best Ride ‘09

Car ride What did you see? How did it smell? Did you eat anything as you drove there? Who were you with?

I’ll put my own little twist on this because I don’t have a car and my Dutch driver’s license has expired so I don’t drive anyway. I’ll do “best travelling at ground level in some sort of vehicle”.


That the view out the window of the bus.  Me doing my part for the environment – using public transportation.  In fact, I wrote about the bus just a while ago.  I go back and forth to Madrid frequently, maybe ten times this year.  In fact, I’m going tomorrow again; which makes it twice just this month.
In answer to the prompt’s questions: I saw the countryside, it smelled fine most of the time, we stopped for tapas and refreshments three times along the way, and I was with 20-50 strangers (depending on which trip).

That, above, is my favorite trip this year.  The most interesting, the best, trip follows below.

To Boston, from Philadelphia, with a stop along the way in the Bronx, driving a 25 foot box van (a big old former U-Haul truck).

View Phl > Bos in a larger map

Went on this trip with my best friend from when I worked in New York. Saw Harvard University, ate at a diner (a midnight waffle), the most memorable smell was of diesel. 

What makes it the best?  Spending time with a friend, helping out pick up a stove and some antiques. Seeing Harvard was interesting; I’ll only ever see it as a tourist – being a student there was not in the cards.  Driving a giant truck was sometimes exceedingly interesting as well (always thinking about how tall it is and how much space is needed to turn corners). A word of advice – don’t go to Harvard in a 25foot truck – parking is hell. 

I could do a Google Earth/Maps mashup of everywhere I’ve been this year.  That might be interesting and in the process I’d learn about something about the gEarth API.  I didn’t yet manage to figure out how to do a driving route on this personalized Google Map.

18. Best Shop ‘09

Online or offline, where did you spend most of your mad money this year?

I’m a terrible consumer compared to most people.  I don’t acquire a lot of things. Not nearly enough to stimulate the economy.
Last year I started to learn to live a frugal lifestyle and it has its attractions; simplicity, for one.  Perhaps next year I will look into improving my frugalness.  That frugality contributes to my non-consumerism; as does being sort of poor.

My one big weak point is electronics; computer stuff.  I’m prone to buying computers and peripherals.
Wait… my other big weak point is eating out – I do that too often, and in very nice places, to be considered really frugal.

The one shop that I’m always going to, even if it’s just to browse around, is Media Markt.  Home and electronics products – big big stores.  Stoves, TVs, cameras, telephones, computers, music, videos … you get the idea.  They’re all over mainland Europe but not in one single English-speaking country.

I didn’t take this picture – but it gives you a bit of the idea – so you’ll recognize the logo when next you see it.  Media_Markt_de_Granada-Carlos Martín
Foto: Carlos Martín

Hardware stores are another great place to pass the time as well – but this year I didn’t encounter any spectacular ones.

17. Best Word ‘09

Word or phrase. A word that encapsulates your year. "2009 was _____."

Two thousand nine, 2009, was … mine.

That is, it belonged to me, to do with whatever I liked.  2009 depended only upon myself. 

It has been the first full calendar year since my teen years that I have not been caught up in “a relationship with” someone (or, occasionally, several someones) .  Since the age of 12 or so I have always had a person that I was “going out with” (or “seeing” or “married to” or “partner of”, “living with”) in a way that amounted to more than just “dating”.  Always, I was part of a combined entity. There were brief periods when I was not in “a couple” but never adding up to a whole year.
2009, for me, lacked any semi-permanent type of romantic relationship at all. (Consequently, and sadly, there has been way too little sex).

That pattern of behavior clearly means that I’m a relationship-junkie; always ready to fall into the next one.  That habit has been broken this year; I’ve had to go cold turkey; perhaps not a bad thing.
Not that I’m entirely cured; I am undoubtedly ready to fall into the next relationship – but have not found any cooperative partners.

Or, perhaps I am cured.  I’m entirely happy with myself, confident, feeling good, in a way that is unfamiliar.  Quite pleasant in fact.  And I pretty certain that this happiness, this new state of mind, will infuse my next relationship in new and interesting ways.
So, when that next relationship happens, it happens; I’m not anxious about it – I’m going to be careful to not dive in without looking – and it will be great.

16. Best Tea ‘09

I can taste my favorite tea right now. What's yours?

I have a friend who’s a master herbalist, holistic healer and mixes custom organic herbal teas .   My tea is called Vitalitea. I have no idea what’s in it but it’s good. Something of chamomile I would guess; I think I detect licorice – lots of other things.  It’s even delicious - & smells wonderful too.


You might expect a plug here for her website and tea business but she’s not taking new customers now.  I’m one of the lucky ones who still has a supply.


Vegetable Flower Bouquet

My little sister made this !   Click on it for the up close effect.  It’s super cool – and it’s all real.


15. Best Packaging ‘09

Did your headphones come in a sweet case? See a bottle of tea in another country that stood off the shelves?

This is an easy one.   Best packaging… it was the little black dress that she wore.  
Oh, you meant consumer-product packaging; my  mistake; I misunderstood. Hey, I’m not the one making up these questions;  Gwen Bell is. I’m just making up the answers.

It wasn’t a year where I did of lot of consuming. Gwen’s right, good packaging is wonderful to encounter.  I especially like paper/cardboard packaging - - it’s amazing how they can cut it in odd but efficient ways to make things fit together.  
Yes, this is just me typing away random thoughts while I try to think of some good packaging I came across this year.



As things stand now… the dress still wins. 




It wasn’t this exact dress.





Pic by




While I was idly thinking about this post I came across  at least two blogs that are all about packaging:

They are great fun to browse through.

14. Best Exciting thing of ‘09

(was “Best Rush” in the original question) When did you get your best rush of the year?

Edit: When I first published this it was titled "Most Exciting" but that didn't flow with all the other titles starting with "Best" - so I changed it.

An answer to “Best Rush” would be- - - “when I with . I’m not one of those super-transparent bloggers who writes about all the nitty gritty details of his life – if only because my mother reads this blog. Mom, you should read between the lines as something like “ when I went golfing with Henry “. Everyone else, you may fill in the blanks yourself (what you put in the blanks reflects on you more than it does on me . . . it’s a psychological experiment).

The above, being uninformative, is cause for me to modify today’s theme to “Most Exciting (something or other) of 2009”, and wanting it to be about something not mentioned previously the new answer is…
the most exciting was A Job.

Down here at the playa [beach] there aren’t any hospitality-industry jobs available; certainly not as a cook. The economic downturn has hit the south of Spain very hard. So, instead of cheffing I returned to my old habits, the I.T. industry, and started freelancing as a webmaster and web-site designer; something more than a year ago it was. That got me back into the tech industry and my skills somewhat up to speed.

Recently a small business up in Madrid was looking at expansion, needed a programmer, and asked me – unsolicited – if I would like a job - - permanent, full-time. Even though having a job interferes with my free time I decided to take the gig - - since having a little more money wouldn’t hurt. One key thing is that it’s a telework job so I can stay here at the beach and don’t have to go into an office.

I take it as an indication that the economy is starting to turn around. It’s a good sign when small businesses think about growth. Notably, and a further indicator of an improving situation, I was offered another job (unsolicited) about a month ago running a newly setup pizzería; then last week yet another unsolicited offer (as a program manager) came along from someone expanding their technology business into the americas. All in all, I’d say that things are looking up; there might yet be some hope for the economy.

13. Best Change at home ‘09

What's the best change you made to the place you live?

Two things. One: I got my golf clubs out of storage - - getting back into the game after a 10 year hiatus. These Andalusian courses are generally quite well designed. Consequently I’m well into the double bogey arena. If I could fix up this slice and stay out of trouble that way I’d be doing pretty well.

Second: A gas heater for the beach place. In winter (December through mid-March) it’s generally around 10 degrees C [50 F] at night and only 15 C [60 F] during the day (although the full-up sunmakes it very nice anyway) - - a bit of something in the way of supplementary heat is called for. Last year I ran little electric heaters; and electric can be a wee bit pricey in Spain – gas is much more economical. The heater was only €99 so it will pay for itself in no time at all – as in, about a month.

12. Best New Food ‘09

Q: You're now in love with Lebanese food and you didn't even know what it was in January of this year.

This year was not one for huge food adventures. There was good food, and interesting food but nothing new. I would like to write about mushy peas but that was last year.

The one outstanding food was not new but a rediscovery. A friend came back from the U.K. with Marmite ! Whereupon I spent the next several weeks eating Marmite (yeast extract) and cheese on toast - with tea.

I used to eat this in the Netherlands and probably had not had it for 10 years. They say it’s an acquired taste but I liked it from day one.

Foto source: Wikipedia

11. Best Place ‘09

A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?

My place at the beach.  After moving there two years ago, recently it started to feel like “mine”.   Now, 2 years on – it’s the place I mean when I say “home”.  More specifically, my favorite spot is the large patio upstairs – from which this is the view.  Except in the winter (Dec to mid-March); it’s on the north side and gets no sun in the winter - - but come spring it’s great - - sun enough, shade enough.


10. Best Album ‘09

What's rocking your world?

This is an easy one. Nena Daconte, Retales de Carnival. Yes it is from 2008 but I encountered it this year. Yes it’s in Spanish but give it a listen anyway.

Best Song: Tenía Tanto Que Darte : I Would Have So Much to Tell You

There’s a video; from youtube thus could get pulled at any minute.
Two versions because one of them, of this Spanish singer ¡¡ is not available in my region !!

Left: Spain Right: Not Spain

Tenía Tanto Que Darte

Prometo guardarte en el fondo de mi corazón
Prometo acordarme siempre de aquel raro diciembre
Prometo encender en tu día especial una vela
y soplarla por ti…
Prometo no olvidarlo nunca

Tenia tanto que darte
Tantas cosas que contarte
Tenia tanto amor,
guardado para ti…

Camino despacio pensando volver hacia atrás,
No puedo en la vida las cosas suceden no más...
Aún pregunto que parte de tu destino se quedó conmigo,
Pregunto que parte se quedo por el camino

Tenia tanto que darte
Tantas cosas que contarte
Tenia tanto amor,
guardado para ti…

Tenia tanto que a veces maldigo mi suerte..
A veces la maldigo...
Por no seguir contigo…

Tenia tanto que darte
Tantas cosas que contarte
Tenia tanto amor,
guardado para ti…

I Would Have So Much To Give You

I promise to protect you in the core of my heart
I promise to always remember that rare December
I promise to light a candle on your special day
And blow it out for you
I promise never to forget it

I would have so much to give you
So many things to tell you
I would have so much love
Saved just for you

I walk slowly thinking to go back
I can't; in life things happen no more
Even though I ask that part of your fate stays with me,
I ask that part of you stays on the road.

I would have so much to give you
So many things to tell you
I would have so much love
Saved just for you

I would have so much that at times I curse my luck
Sometimes I curse
Because I cannot be with you

I would have so much to give you
So many things to tell you
I would have so much love
Saved just for you

From: http://lyricstranslate.com

Yo Nena, I'm really happy for you and I'mma let you finish, but Taylor Swift is pretty damn entertaining.

9. Best Growth/Challenge '09

What’s something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

This is a tough one. I’m as new-agey as the next guy but this “growth” thing is a little bit vague, subjective; a soft concept one might say.

But I’ll tell you about something that I learned a lot from. A growing experience, a life-challenge.

I went to visit an friend to help remodel a house and hang out after not seeing each other for 5 years plus. The thing is she’s got 3 little daughters; three to nine years old. I was essentially a new toy for them. Not having had any kids myself, that I know of, I was highly susceptible to the wiles of three beautiful little girls (hell, fact is that I’m susceptible to beautiful big girls too) . I was there for a month and got to see them in good and on less than good behaviour (although they were all almost always extraordinarily well behaved). That was something of “growth”, a challenge, to deal with every day. And it was great.

What was the learning experience? It’s that kids love to pretend. Just to pretend and play. We don’t do that much as adults – if at all. For the kids, what I came away with, was that it was a way of practicing for life, later.

This wasn’t pretending the be princesses or kings or queens or superpowers or Disney-like fantasies. Most of the pretend-play centered around day to day things: once I was a store clerk and the girls were shopping, they were waitresses and customers and I was the chef, they were students and I was the teacher, they were patients and I was the doctor or vice versa (not “playing doctor” kind of weirdness – don’t go jumping to horrible pedo scenarios; the pretending seemed to mostly revolve around giving shots), they were driving cars around on the back patio – making traffic. All real-life situations.

Part of pretending is children trying to figure out the way the need to interact with the world. I’d not realized that before.
The “growth” bit? That we, as adults, can use pretending to practice for real life; preparing for what really happens – what could happen. It works for children so it will probably work for me; for us.

I learned that it was extraordinarily satisfying to sit and listen to a kid read, very very slowly, aloud, a book; and help with the tough words – and have them come out at the end and, even though that child “doesn’t like to read”, she finished the book and wanted to read another one to me. I can pretend, in turn, that my listening and helping made a difference.

I learned that finger-painting is fun.

Nice place it was that I was visiting; this is part of the back yard. Can you see the deer by the wood pile?


Signing off with besos to the three princesas.

8. Best Moment of Peace 09

An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?

A:  2009 feels like it was a pretty good year for moments of peace.  Specifically memorable ones… that’s harder.  Let’s see, re-took-up, again, the Dahn yoga practice; on my own, on the patio, in the mornings, in the sun, in later-spring/summer.   Dahn style yoga is a mix of yoga and breathing and meditation and chi – does me a lot of good.  Alas I do not maintain the practice well.   But the weeks, before fall set in and I had to bring the practice indoors, that I was doing it felt good and healthy and mentally in decent shape.  Used it as a device to again quit smoking (again) - that was a useful side effect.


7. Best Blog Find ‘09

Q: What is that gem of a blog you can't believe you didn't know about until this year.

A: To figure this out I just have to go to my bookmarks lists and RSS feeds.

My instinct was to say The Orwell Diaries but it turned out that I started with that one way back in August 2008; notably, I still read it daily.

It’s bound to be a food blog of course - - Retro Food which is, obviously, about old fashioned food and causes me to often think about the why and when of food we enjoy and how things evolve, or don’t, and what endures.  Good stuff to think about while preparing some of these modern kitchen creations; which might not be around 40 years from now – or might become “new classics”.

I’ll throw in a second one that I like which is - - Changing Minds whose articles/postings are consistently things that I find interesting, think about, and learn from.

These best of 09 posts lack pictures so I will introduce a little random retro content.

Stem Diner Toronto - Queen St

6. Best Gathering `09

Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?

I attended nary a workshop or conference. I don’t do much of that type of thing any more; I used to when I worked in corporate I.T. but, now, as a chef, freelance webmaster and small time programmer it’s not in the cards.

I did attend one large gathering that was interesting and useful. It was the Wacky Races held in Villaricos in southern Spain (Almeria province). Wacky Races is/was a TV series, just in the UK I suspect - because I don’t remember it. Anyway, people push someone around the streets of Villaricos in unpowered carts (or, rather, human-powered) and sweat and cheer for their team (sponsored by local small businesses) and raise money for a good cause. This year my local bar/café (Frankie's Bar) took first prize.

A load of money was raised for the Vera (another local village) center for the learning disabled.

Just a bunch of people getting together to do some good and have a little fun on a sunny November day.

Some links are to Facebook so you might or might not be able to connect.


Picture from The Reader.es used spontaneously and without specific permission.

5. Best Night out ‘09

Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night?

For the first time in ever so long (years) I went to a club in the evening with someone; just to hang out and have a good time (‘twas this spring in Philly).  Coincidentally it was with the same person with whom I went out to “a club” the most recent time before this… about 9 years ago.  Correct, I don’t get out much.

There was a couple of drinks, a band, a general ambience of having a night out. What I notice that distinguishes this from any other times I “went out” was the general expectation that there would be danced.

I did dance; and had a good time.

There were other excellent/superiour nights or evenings out but this one was unusual due to the infrequency.

The Monkfish Beach Bar

When I went for that great fish and chips a few days ago I walked a long long way to get there; healthily walking off the calories I was shortly to consume.  Along the way I came across this Chiringuito (Beach Bar) name for a particular popular type of fish (Monkfish/Angelfish = Rape [pronounced rap-ay]).


Such a sign might be looked at askance, true enough, by English speakers; but it’s a legitimate Spanish word.  Let’s not even think of political correctness for the English language generating the idea of changing a Spanish beach bar’s name.   This is a great opportunity to impress in your mind that different countries have severely different words for things.

Let is be noted that the Spanish, law, courts and population take the subject of sexual violence very seriously.

4. Best Book ‘09

What book - fiction or non - touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?

Didn't buy a lot of books this year, don’t recall buying any really; and there’s no public library where I live.  We have a book sharing space with shelves and shelves of books in the game-room next to the pool.  Loads of generally popular books; lots of beach reading - - it is, after all, a beach.  French, Spanish, Dutch, German, and English to choose from.

Two books that I read this year and have recommended and talked about - in no particular order:

  • The Garden of Eden, Ernest Hemingway – takes place largely in Spain; I enjoy books where I know the geography.  Every time I read Hemmingway I remember again how much I like his style of writing.  When reading him I tend to slow down and try to capture the feel of what he was saying.
  • The Age of Reason, Jean Paul Sartre – takes place in Paris, which I also know well, and has some Spain in it too. Bonus is that the author was on the list of writers banned by the Catholic church (that banned-book list was made non-official in 1966).

I read again and loved Mansfield Park by Jane Austin; it was particular fun noticing the geography (England in this case but a part that I am a liitle familiar with) and how long people took to get from place to place; how they thought of time and distance.  All the locations are inside of a days drive for us today.

3. Best Article ‘09

What's an article that you read that blew you away? That you shared with all your friends. That you Delicious'd and reference throughout the year.

It’s in Spanish so not much use to most of you: Sin tetas no hay matrimonio [Without tits there is no marriage]. The machine translated version is a bit tough to read but you can get the gist of it.

Written by Elvira Lindo it talks of the wonders of breasts – in a very sweet way. The article was published in the Sunday supplement of the big national paper. What especially struck me is that this nice, intelligent, article was received with no indignation, no uproar, no protest; just accepted for what it was. I think that the same would not happen in certain other (North American) countries. I enjoy, and treasure, the open and tolerant style of society here in Spain.

It was written in 2008 but I think I came across it earlier this year and in any case this is exactly the article that came to mind when I saw the theme of today’s blog entry. I does indicate maybe I need to read more; or remember more. That is, to read things more thoughtfully instead of just consuming words for the sake of something to do.

Fish and Chips

I discovered this place almost two years ago when taking a walk along the Mojacar playa with a friend. There’s loads of places to eat at on the beach strip and this one was picked quite at random just because we were tired and because they served Guinness on tap (also because the Argentinean steak place we stopped at first was at the end of their lunch-opening and weren’t taking any more tables since it was quite late in the afternoon – so having a still-open kitchen was undoubtedly an important factor).


We ordered the fish and chips because it’s a Anglo-owned cafe and figured they might have a decent product and the menu promised a nice piece of cod. A wonderful surprise was that it came with mushy peas. I’m sure that I had never had mushy peas before and was trying to figure out why I got guacamole with my fish. They’re marrowfat-peas and very very good; as was the fish, with a crispy beer batter. In the back of the picture you can see a brown dish of pickled onions (in malt vinegar). They went all out on presenting a complete, traditional, English-style fish and chips lunch; plus a bit of a salad so it was slightly healthy one could say.

I hardly ever get into Mojacar, although it’s a very nice place, close by, with a beach, lots to see and lots of stores and restaurants - but last weekend I found myself in the vicinity doing some xmas shopping. Those fish and chips made enough of an impression on me that since I was “only” a kilometer and a half [mile] away I decided to walk down the road and have it again. Just a delicious as last time; eating on the patio, a view of the sea, in the sun, at the end of November. Life doesn’t suck.

The place is called The Irish Rover. It’s quite good.

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2. Best Restaurant moment ’09

Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night?

A pizza at Ristorante Venezia in Garrucha.  Great company, goot food, nice atmosphere, Italian themed.  They have meat and pasta and all that sort of thing but I was there for the pizza.  And it was phenomenal. Really good prices, classy service, white tablecloths and good food.  An all around great experience.  We had the Four Seasons (Cuatro Estaciones)  pizza; they used top quality ingredients – delicious.

They have no web site!   You will find them at:

Paseo Malecón, 78 ; Garrucha – Tel: 950 46 06 96

This is the very pizza that was enjoyed that evening; well, one slice of it.


Maybe they’ll see this and comp me a pizza next time I’m in.

Maybe you were wondering about these off topic posts.  It’s part of a blogger’s meme that’s going around. One topic a day for a month.

Boquerones : Marinated Anchovies

This is a tapa.  I was travelling up to Madrid a few weeks ago and while waiting at the bus station had a nice glass of red wine.  They set out a small plate of homemade garlic and oil marinated anchovies.


No additional charge for the tapa.

These are raw, although slightly pickled, anchovies. 

You clean and split the little fishies (fillets – remove the head and tail), debone (don’t worry about any tiny residual bonettes), let them sit in vinegar overnight, then rinse a bit (or don’t rinse, just shake – they’ll be tangier), cover in good olive oil, throw in some sliced garlic.  Maybe sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley.
You’re done.

The cautious will put the fillets in a glass dish or between parchment and freeze them for a few hours before doing the vinegar (to –20c, -4f) .  There a big panic about raw-fish-borne parasites going around and freezing apparently solves the problem.  It must be a recent problem because they’ve been doing boquerones here for the last 1900 years of so without massive parasite issues.

That amounts to a recipe.   Try it at home.   Start with a kilo of little anchovies.  You can maybe do the splitting, cleaning and deboning with your fingers and nail; don’t always need a knife.  It will be messy but fun.

1. Best Trip of ‘09

What was your best trip in 2009?

To Philadelphia, in mid April, for a month, to visit a dear friend, help remodel a house, and play with children.

The best time I’ve had in years.  All sorts of things were done, seen, eaten, drunk, experienced…

Hamburger, microwaved

Sometimes you really, really, don’t feel like cooking.  But perhaps a microwaved hamburger is going too far?  I did eat one of these; plasti-cheese, mysterious-meat, deadly-bun.


Pretending to spruce it up with the addition of ketchup (Heinz), onions, tomato and lettuce does not make it any less shameful a snack.

I’ve been trying out a lot of different burgers recently and my excuse here is that I needed to try the bottom of the scale to appreciate the wide range of alternatives out there.

The Bus

I travel around mostly by bus; as in… going back and forth to Madrid from the beach.  It’s a good 550 kilometers [350 miles]. Luckily medium and long-distance buses in Spain can be very comfortable.


They usually have TVs (see picture, above) and show movies on longer trips, there is a washroom of course, several music stations to choose from, individual air controls, and reading lights.  It’s somewhat like air travel.  There is no galley and that is not a stewardess1 you see in the photo. Since there’s no food service (or smoking) they stop every 2 or 3 hours for a break at a bus station or highway rest area; it’s also to give the driver a rest.

All in all not a bad way to travel and it’s ecologically responsible too.

1 I live in Europe, on the continent, and I knowingly and happily use “politically incorrect” terminology.   Note: the term flight attendant would hardly be appropriate here, would it? 


Was in the next village over a couple of weeks back (a lovely November day).


They planted lime trees in the streets.    This one looks ripe.

I wonder what the protocol is about plucking one.   I know the rules for oranges are that you may take one (or several) for immediate personal consumption.   You are supposed to leave the rinds on the ground where you picked it to show that the orange was consumed. 

That’s less likely with limes.

Uitsmijter : Fried egg on toast

That’s Dutch, not Spanish. It means “to throw out”.


The name is traditionally said to come from the other meaning of uitsmijter which is “bouncer” (as in nightclubs). This being eaten/served as a late-night/early-morning snack at a cafe or club just before everyone gets kicked out at closing.

  • Toasted white bread
  • A slice of cheese
  • 1 egg; sunny side up (fried in 1 T of good olive oil)
  • ham under the egg (optional)
  • tomato slices under the cheese(opt)
  • salt & pepper
  • mustard (opt) (not horrid yellow mustard though)

This has been my favorite quick snack these days. Use fresh eggs (the yolks are more shapely) and keep the yolk runny.

There has been no actual “cooking” going on around here for months. This is the closest I’ve come recently so I’m tagging it as a “recipe”.

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Palms and the Rain

A few weeks back we had a day where a 6-months quota of rain fell in a day (a night and a day really). It was a mess around here. The whole lower zone below the highway was closed off due to the flooding; I couldn’t get out of the house for all the water in the streets. We’ve recovered now and the damage was not completely out of hand.

What happen though was that some spots got good solid pools of water on them for hours at a time and the ground sucked it all up. Consequently there was mud everywhere, up to 10-15 cm in some spots [4-6”]. What surprised me was that some supposedly dead and blasted, worthless, palm trunks suddenly started sprouting new tops. These two had been looking dry and dead for years. Now there is hope. Goes to show how important water is.

palmeras2-04102009660 palmeras1-04102009661

Then 5 days later the smaller one already looked like this (night time shot):

Creamed Carrots: Crema de Zanahoria


Another easy one; to make with stuff from the veggie bin in the fridge.

I like mine on the thick side. You may make it more soupy.

Crema de Zanahoria : Creamed Carrots

Serves: 5


  • 700 gr carrots, peeled & chopped [1 1/2 #]
  • 1 onion, diced (maybe a shallot or 2 if you’ve got some)
  • 2 leeks, white part, chopped fine (or 1, or 3, or none)
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 C dry white wine (I used cava)
  • 1 C cream
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1/2 C carrot water


  1. Oil into a sauté pan
  2. Sauté the onions and leeks slowly, not browning
  3. Meanwhile, boil the carrots in water just barely not covering
    • Until they’re 1/2 cooked, just getting softer
    • Reserve the carrot-water when draining the carrots
  4. Carrots go into the pan with the onions and sauté lightly until tender
    • Add a tablespoon of carrot-water if things threaten to get burnt/toasty
  5. Set carrots and onion etc aside
  6. Deglaze the sauté pan with white wine, reduce by 1/2 or 2/3rds
  7. Put carrots, onions, leeks, & pan juices into a container and run the whole mess through a vegetable mill, or use a stick blender or a mixer of some sort
    • Get it as fine as can be. Add some carrot-water if it’s too thick to process properly.
  8. Put this goop into a pot on the stove and add the cream
  9. Heat and stir – do not boil
  10. Add 3 T olive oil, stir
  11. Season with the cumin, add salt and pepper
    • Taste it before continuing
  12. Add the milk – watch out for the thickness
  13. As required, add carrot-water to obtain a syrupy consistency
  14. Heat and stir – and taste
  15. When you feel it’s about right that means that you’re done

Smoked Salmon Salad


It doesn’t get much easier than this.

Sure, it’s best if you smoke your own salmon and pick the greens fresh from your garden but I just popped down to the local grocer’s instead.

The only thing “made” here is the tartare sauce [tartar in the U.S.] which in this case is a continental version so we can be snobby and call it a remoulade. With either name it amounts to mayonnaise plus pickles and other stuff.

I used an off-the-shelf olive-oil mayonnaise since my mayonnaise-making fails at least half the time and I didn’t want the hassle.

It’s simple really; take a cup of the good-quality mayo, finely chop 2 Tablespoons each (when chopped) of

  • shallots (really really fine)
  • gherkin pickles (the tiny ones)

1 T of chopped

  • capers (not at all fine because they turn to mush; just so they’re not whole)

and stir it into the mayo. Add a squeeze of lime juice (1/4 lime or there about).

Taste, add more of whichever thing it needs. Add some pickle juice or caper juice if it’s a real thick sauce; it ought to flow somewhat (see the picture with a puddle of sauce).

The salad is just some greens, a thin layer of the sauce, more greens, then the smoked salmon on top. This was done in one of those little circular forms to give it some structure. And extra sauce on the side.

If this was a real remoulade you’d add some fresh chopped tarragon, chervil and parley; chervil’s the key ingredient there.

Anyway… that’s it. Simple, fast, pleasing. What more could one ask?

Tortilla Española, Estilo Nuevo : Spanish Tortilla, New Style : Deconstructed

A deconstructed Tortilla Española (Spanish Tortilla).


Quite different than this normal looking tortilla:

See also a post at Tortilla de Cebolla

Taking a page from Ferran Adrià (chef & sort of mad scientist) and his recipe for a modern tortilla; having three components: caramelized onions, a simple sabayon (egg) and potato foam (yes, that’s foamed potatoes.

Instead of mixing all the ingredients together they are separated and layered over each other. Taste them individually or dig through to the bottom and have all three together.

The following is what I actually did – with slight variance from his original recipe. It’s quite a bit easier than it might look at first glance.

Deconstructed Tortilla Española

Serves: 2


Caramelized Onions
  • 1/2 medium onion – julienned, finely sliced
  • 4 shallots – julienned, finely sliced (equal in amount to the onion)
  • 60 ml olive oil [1/4 C]
  • 1 T butter (or a little less)
  • 100 ml water [1/2 C]
  • salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 T boiling water
  • salt
Potato Foam
  • 150 gr potatoes [1/3 #] (that’s about 1 potato)
  • 75 ml cream (heavy/whipping cream) [1/2 C]
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt


Caramelized Onions
  1. Oil into a sauté pan, then the butter
  2. Sauté the onions and shallots slowly, until browning
    • takes about 20 minutes
    • stirring regularly or, if you have the patience, continuously
  3. Drain off any excess oil
  4. Add 1 T of water, stir, and continue until the water evaporates
    • repeat: water, stirring, cooking until the water’s gone (this could go for another 20 minutes)
    • You’re going for a jam consistency and golden brown color
  5. Salt to taste
  1. In a pan, whisk the egg yolks until creamy and consistent
    • getting air in the mix is just fine
  2. Add the boiling water in a drizzle and keep on whisking
  3. Whisk with enthusiasm over medium heat, maybe use a double boiler, until it’s emulsified
    • Don’t stop whisking or you might end up with scrambled eggs
    • When it’s ready it will just barely drip from the whisk and be really full of small bubbles
    • If you have an instant thermometer it would be 80 C [180F]
  4. Salt to taste (do not omit this step)
Potato Foam
  1. Peel, chunk and cook the potatoes until soft
    • Start the potatoes in cold, lightly salted water, just enough to cover
    • They’re ready when a knife goes in easily and slips out equally so
  2. Drain over a bowl, saving the cooking water
  3. Puree/blend the potatoes, with 3 T of the potato-water, and drizzle in the cream
  4. Then drizzle in the oil, pureeing the whole while
    • Until it’s smooth
  5. Salt to taste (don’t leave out this salt either)

You can stop now and resume later (see notes) or carry on right away.

Now comes the sort of complicated bit; you need a stainless steel whipped cream maker (1/2 liter [quart] size) (or see notes for a possible alternative)

  1. Strain the creamed potato into the whipper
  2. Charge (2 cartridges) the whipper
  3. Set in a pan of hot water, you can put the sabayon there too
  1. 1 T (heaping) caramelized onions in the bottom of a tapered glass
  2. Spoon in sabayon to cover
  3. Shake thrice and invert the whipper with the potato foam and spurt in a goodly quantity of potato. At least as deep as the other two layers
  4. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top



  1. I made everything well in advance and stashed it in the fridge
  2. The sabayon firmed up quite a bit from the liquidy form it had when I finished making it. That didn’t matter since it was going between two other layers
  3. Warming the caramelized onions up in a sauté pan
  4. Warming the sabayon in a bain marie of hot water (just a biggish pot really)
  5. Warming the creamed potato in a pot, adding a touch (2 T?) of potato-water to make up for absorbed or evaporated liquid
  6. And then straining and charging the whipper with it and stashing it the bain maire
  7. The caramelized onions are quite thick and jammy. Don’t put too much in the glass. I probably overdid it.
  8. In the event that you don’t have a whipper/foamer I imagine you could whip up the creamed potatoes really well and end up with something sort of conceptually similar. Whip in large bowl with and electric whip and whip at the edge of the mixture to incorporate a lot of air. Cover half the top of the bowl with plastic film to avoid a huge mess.

Crème Brûlée without an oven

I wanted to make this classic, simple, dessert so I could use my kitchen blowtorch again. The challenge in this case is that at my current place I don’t have a regular oven (only a microwave) and this dish is normally cooked in the oven.


The solution: create a Bain Marie on the stovetop with a frying pan. The capacity of this setup is rather limited, two at a time in this big frying pan, but it did work quite nicely.


Crème Brûlée

Serves: 2


  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 T sugar


  1. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the inside goop
  2. Heat the cream in a pan with the bean and its scrapings
    • just to when it starts to bubble
    • set aside for an hour or two to infuse the flavour of the vanilla
  3. In a bowl mix the egg yolks and sugar
    • Until it forms something like a ribbon when dripping off the whisk
    • Avoid getting it all foamy
  4. Reheat the cream to just bubbling
    • Remove the bean pod
  5. Add cream to the egg mixture
    • very slowly (to avoid cooking the egg with the hot cream)
  6. Strain the mixture (in case of any little lumps of cooked egg)
  7. Pour into some little dishes
  8. Place a few layers of kitchen paper in the frying pan
    • Splash in a bit of water to make things less slippy
  9. Put the molds in the pan
  10. Fill with hot water most of the way up the molds
  11. Keep the water just on the simmer
    • Add more hot water if the level drops much below 1/2 way on the molds (keep an eye on it – check every 15 minutes or so)
  12. Cook for an hour
    • Until the entire top of the custards are cooked over (it will be wiggly)
    • Most of the contents of the mold will still be liquid (not to worry)
  13. Chill a good 4 hours (or a day)
    • Cover once they’re cool
  14. Just before serving sprinkle sugar on the tops and toast with your blowtorch



  1. Or cook in a medium oven and a pan of hot water for 35-45 minutes
  2. Mess with the sugar amount if you like it more or less sweet (I doubt honey would work in this recipe but it’s worth a shot)
  3. The recipe is halved in this case but you can easily halve, double or quintuple it.  It works well at almost any volume
  4. If they’re still liquidy after cooling you can redo the “cooking in a bain marie” process until you’re sure they’re done.  Give it two hours if you have to (but it won’t be)

Short version

  1. Infuse flavor into cream by cooking the cream and the flavour component (in this case, vanilla)
  2. Mix eggs and sugar together
  3. Add reheated cream to egg mixture, slowly, and strain to remove lumps (if any)
  4. Cook in a bain marie until the top is set; then chill (the custards)
  5. Decorate with toasted sugar

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Platanos : Banana Tree

One of the neighbours has a couple of banana trees in their front yard; one of which has branches hanging over the wall.  The end of the stalk has a weird  man eating looking flower which drips (blood?) onto the sidewalk.

The bananas looked almost ripe the other day.


Alas, they’re too high off the ground to check them out. 

Chipirones en su tinta : Cuttlefish in ink sauce

You might not have ever eaten black food.  This is a good place to start.  It’s a very typical dish; a very small squid, the body stuffed with tentacles and the sauce made using the squid ink. Usually served with white rice - - for the contrast I guess.  I had it a while ago in a restaurant in town.


Chipirones en su tinta : Cuttlefish in ink sauce

Serves: 4


  • 12 or so chipirones (little squid, cuttlefish) cleaned; 1kg [2#]
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped fine
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 C parsely, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 1/4 C tomato sauce
  • 1 package squid ink


  1. Clean the chipirones; see notes
    • chop
  2. Oil in a pan
  3. Onion in the pan, soften
  4. Add 1 of the garlic cloves
  5. Add the tentacles
  6. Sauté 5 minutes; just to color
  7. Add the parsely, stir
  8. Stuff into the bodies of the squid; seal the open ends (toothpicks?)
  9. In that same pan, more oil, fry the squid for color – set aside
  10. In that same pan, put the other onion - soften
  11. Add the other garlic clove
  12. Add the green pepper
  13. And the wine and tomato sauce
  14. Dilute the ink in a bit of wine and add that
  15. Add the rest of the wine
  16. Cook a good while (15 min)
  17. Puree the sauce; maybe with a stick mixer
  18. Add the squid to the sauce; bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes
  19. Remove the toothpicks



  1. Clean chipirones by removing the tentacles, eyes, beak and bone.  Keep the tentacles and the pouch
  2. If there’s not enough sauce when you add the squid to at least 1/2 cover then then use more wine or some fish stock

Had a bit of a fire the other day

The fire in the hills to the south-west eventually burned 14,000 acres.


made for some picturesque sunsets


and resulted in a lot of ash on the patios.

Il Pomodoro: Pizza Mexicano

The Pomodoro chiringuito (beach bar) and pizzería at Vera-Playa, Andalucía, Spain; at the right (south) end of the naturist zone (El Playazo beach).

A very nice pizza – I enjoyed it. 12 €. Tomato sauce, mozzarella, minced beef, onion, and hot sauce on a thin artisanal crust; nice and picante.pomodoro-pizza-mexicano-29072009533

Good char too from their wood burning oven.


It had a little too much salt and I’m sure there could be a better quality mozzarella cheese. For those trying this at home remember that spicy foods require less salt than usual to bring out the flavor; the spiciness perks it up instead.

I’ll be back - to try the margherita pizza so that I can check out the tomato and cheese quality without the distraction of all the extra stuff.

After lunch you can take a walk on the beach to burn those extra calories; or have a siesta on a lounge under one of the sun umbrellas in front of the bar.

View from the Pomodoro

Click for panorama shot

The view from the pizzería on the beach a couple of hundred yards from my place. More about that later.

Albondigas de Iberica : Iberian Meatballs


With rice. These meatballs are made from the meat of Iberian pigs; the ones they use to make Iberian Ham (much better than Italian Prosciutto).

I hope I find the other phone-cam soon or I’m going to have to invest in some new equipment; the pictures with this substitute phone-cam suck.

Albondigas de Iberica : Iberian Meatballs

Serves: 4


  • 2 T lard (real lard)
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup ham/beef broth
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 500 gr [1#] Iberian meatballs (oh my! they were bought ready made)
  • 1/4 C dry white wine
  • 2 T tomato sauce
  • 1/2 C ham/beef broth


  1. Melt lard in a pan
  2. Chop the veggies and garlic and toss into the hot lard
    • Medium heat, to soften the onions and until just picking up some color
  3. Add the wine (deglaze if needed and add the up of broth
    • Until the carrots are really soft
  4. Meanwhile, brown the meatballs in the olive oil
  5. Remove the browned meatballs and deglaze with the 1/4 C white wine
  6. Puree the carrot/onion mix with a stick blender
  7. Put the sauce into the meatball pan, season with pepper
  8. Add the tomato sauce, meatballs and the bayleaf
    • If needed add some ham/beef broth to make sure they’re 3/4 covered and that the sauce isn’t too thick
  9. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes (to cook the meatballs and blend flavours)



  1. Use lard. It really does add something to the flavour
  2. I used artisanal, handmade, Iberian pork meatballs; faster than making them myself.
  3. Stick-blend the sauce until it’s really fine. This could take a minute or two.
  4. Served with rice: 2 parts rice to 2 parts ham/beef broth, 1 part wine and 1 part water
  5. This kind of sauce can be used with all sorts of dishes (substitute fish broth for fish dishes or veggie broth for vegetarian dishes). The basic idea of a carrot/onion/tomato sauce is very versatile and it makes a great base to braise things in.