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Friday, 28 July 2017

Exploring Porto in Portugal with German friends Lena and Sascha.

Well, how can I put this? I am not actually in Portugal right now, but through the joys of the internet I have been doing some armchair travelling with my two friends from Karlsruhe as they take a short break in Porto in Portugal. Like myself, Sascha likes to take photos and we have a similar taste in the things we photograph.

Lena tells me that, as well as enjoying a few beers and exploring the city and harbour by foot they have been to Sandeman's Port distillery and really liked the delicately flavoured Port.

Yesterday Lena ate Bolinas de Bacalau (salt cod) which she described as 'fried cod fish mixed with smashed potatoes'. I laughed at that and think now that every time I have mashed potatoes I am gonna call them 'smashed'. The Bacalau is the national favourite in Portugal. Lena enjoyed some delicious grilled sea bream with potatoes. Sticking to the fish they also had some sea bass filet again with potatoes and kale.

According to Lena, Sascha doesn't like fish so he had a pork tenderloin steak with salad, chips and mushrooms.

Happy Lena and Sascha in Porto.

They have explored down by the Riberia Rio Douro (Douro River) and Vila Nova de Gaia staying at the Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira. Previously they have enjoyed a holiday in Lisbon but this time wanted to try somewhere new. Looks like they are having a great time.

Photos by Sascha.

Updates! More food pictures sent to me this evening. This is Sascha's steak with a port wine sauce and Lena's grilled octopus.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Setting fire to the chicken on a bbq!

It was a lovely sunny day yesterday so I decided to get the BBQ out and cook some sardines that I had defrosted and de-scaled and gutted yesterday. I knew to place them on silver foil when on the BBQ otherwise the fish skin will burn and you get bits of fish stuck to the grill bars.

Once I had got the coals lit through piling up dried lavender cuttings and equally dried bits of pine tree gathered from the woods last year I got BBQ crazy and went and bought some chicken from my local butcher in the village. It didn't matter that there was only me. I wanted to cook meat and it was my fire! Out came the inner caveman or at least a Boy Scout memory or two. Ug me man! Ug my fire burning! The sardines would have to wait until last and I spatchcocked the chicken by taking out the back bone with some kitchen scissors.

Here are some pictures of the BBQ preparation. Previous to the flames there was lots of billowing grey smoke and a lot of fanning from me to get the flames going and the wood burnt down and the coals nice and hot.

Look at those embers! Just ready to cook some chicken. On with the grill rack and let's go get the chicken. I place the chicken on the bars and almost immediately the flames started and eventually, fearing my chicken to get incinerated, I remove the meat and added some silver foil before placing the chicken back on the BBQ.

The leg and thigh joints I'd bought separate from the whole chicken did get a bit burnt but were edible. The whole chicken was charred underneath on the bony bit but otherwise cooked well. I put the lid on the BBQ and left it to its own devices whilst I had a few beers.

The sardines proved a bit less food magazine perfect after cooking than I'd hoped for. Basically they fell to bits and I ended up picking the fish flesh off the bones and putting it into a bowl. Still undecided what to do with it. A few fishcakes maybe?


Monday, 3 July 2017

Cooking trout and singing a bit of Sondheim for fun.

Sometimes I do crave a bit of fish even I work with them all day long. The other day I cooked myself a nice whole trout in the oven and had it with some new potatoes. Really simple and enjoyable. I stuffed some sliced fresh lemon into the cleaned gut cavity and it gave the fish a delicate citrus note. The rosemary came from a big bush in my garden. I cooked it in olive oil. The trout was in the oven on gas mark 6 for around forty-five minutes. The mushrooms were pan fried in butter for a few minutes prior to me plating the meal up.

Soufie the neighbour's cat was most interested in the fish bones but I didn't let her touch them. I didn't want her choking.

On the same day as I cooked the fish I filmed myself having a go at singing 'Being Alive' from Stephen Sondheim's show Company. I did this because I like the show and when I was in Leiden recently my friend Emma and I were trying to remember the lyrics as we wandered back home through the virtually empty Dutch streets.