Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'm taking the Hypocritic Oath (sic). Free expression is great, as long as I can control it!

a little bit of sepratism methinks.....
a litle bit of da-da ism methinks

"silence is the loudest shout"

A few pics of Graffiti/street decoration which I like. I still cannot find an answer to the question of whether graffiti is a good or bad thing. I love creativity but there are obviously more aspects to this argument. Until such a time as a definitive answer appears I will continue to enjoy what I find long as it's not on my property...unless it's a BANKSY! arrrrggghh ....what a hypocrite I am!!!

isn't this a bit Chagal-ish?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tarragona...what's not to like?


yes, this is a Miró commissioned tapestry

Many people have said to me (including my employer) why Tarragona? Are you sure? Wouldn't you rather be in a bigger city?
My answer from the day I stumbled across this jewel has been ...WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE?
- Beautiful, unspoilt coastal location.
- Few tourists.....(haven't heard a single british voice in town)
- Amazing historic Old Town
- Fascinating 'tension' between Spain and Catalunia. (some people really uncomfortable speaking Castillian)
- Wonderful traditional fiestas. The week-long Santa Tecla is a blast for anyone looking to gain insight into another culture.
- Small enough so I can afford to live centrally.
- Barcelona is only a 6 euro train-ride away.
- I can run through the medieval Old Town, down to the beautiful, deserted beach, along to the Port, up through the seedy Port town and home, on a daily basis. It's like a trip through the centuries on foot!
- I can stroll down the elegant Ramblas (there are two) to the Balcon del Mediterraneo, which must be up there with any seaside town promenade in Europe.
- The Food Market...see previous posts. They speak for themselves.
- The art. Yes there is art. A couple-or-three museums....see pics above.
- Finally what I call 'the allure of restricted entry' . This City hides it's best secrets. It hasn't prostituted itself. You can't access them without inside introduction. Many things go on by word of mouth. I am still very much an outsider, but I can smell the secrets,,,they are there....waiting for me to win my rite of passage. Then the true rewards will reveal themselves. (double click to enlarge all pics).

Saturday, February 13, 2010


The Calçotada has held mythical status for me since reading Paul Richardsons' book 'A Late Dinner'. It only exists in Cataluña and is a curious ritual-like feast featuring the most primeval of forces, fire, and the simplest of ingredients, the onion. Of course it holds great sway with me as it embodies the essence of what I call subsistence-alchemy. I have experienced it now first hand and have to say it is something that should be on EVERY gastronome's must-do list. I officially declare the Calçotada one of the gastronomic wonders of the world!
The story goes that from January to March, onion farmers used to dig their fields and would find that the onions missed in the autumn harvest had sprouted, The particular varitey used produced a sprout very simmilar in appearance to a leek. The subsistence survival instincts kicked in and the workers would build a wood fire and roast the onions over the flames. This rustic workers onion barbecue became a local tradition known as the Calçotada.

It is still rustic. Very rustic. Often a stand-up affair it must be done outside with a pine or vine wood fire. It has a party atmosphere derived from the need for all hands on deck; fire building and tending, onion trimming, vegetable peeling etc.
The onions are cooked over a fierce fire to a scarily blackened state. They are then wrapped in newspaper to allow them to steam and relax. The blackened onions are held in the hand and the charred outer leaves are stripped with the fingers to access the simple but exquisite sweet caramelized onion flesh beneath. This is then dipped in the classic romesco sauce of pounded nuts, dried peppers, fried bread, garlic and tomato and conveyed to the mouth by hand. No cutlery allowed! The taaste is exquisite. Smoky, sweet, earthy, and rich. This is real country cooking and a great way to spend a Sunday.

In order not to waste the fire, and to give the meal extra dimension, sausages and meat are also grilled as well as peppers, artickokes and anything else you might care to add to your feast. Click on the videos below to see it in action.

getting a rack on onions on

taking some off and turning the rack

Wrapping them in paper so they steam and stay warm too.

how to eat a calçot