Monday, 29 March 2010

A winey weekend

This weekend I worked, but I was also lucky enough to try some pretty nice wines and some yummy food. After near on 2 years of pretty much being teetotal (just because I felt like it) over the past 2 days I've probably tried out more (good) wine than I have in many many months.

Saturday, a friend introduced me to la cave du petit, a French wine shop specialising in 'natural wines', something which I'm sure my dining companion could explain much more eloquently than me :-) I have no idea what we drank, apart from the fact I liked it a lot (one was a sort of cloudy rose, which was just lovely and so spring like). Wine aside, the thing I liked about this place was the food - baked dorada (a member of the bream family I think), a totally juicy and flavoursome magret de pato (duck) with thyme-cented potatoes and a tatin (without the official, ahem, tart). All very good.

Sunday I was lucky enough to be introduced to Bodegas Rosell, a great little tiled bar behind Atocha station  and therefore a stone's throw from where I live. The sumiller (who was a really nice guy) brought out bottle after bottle of interesting Spanish wines, and again, was more knowledgable on the subject than I could ever hope to be. And with the wine, came food - foie with baby broad beans, wild mushrooms and other good stuff. Somewhere, between all this I managed to get some writing done.

So, are my teetotalling days over? I don't think so. This spring I'm in the mood for 'wellness', for spas, for reading, for early nights, for sorting stuff out (for just being a bit of a boring girl in general!) - though I'm sure the odd glass of wine can fit in there somehow :-)

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Doing the unthinkable

Ok, perhaps what I'm about to do isn't exactly unthinkable. It's more along the lines of new and unexpected. I'm going to go to Marrakech, alone. I say unthinkable because I'm a girl who's never so much as gone to the cinema alone, let alone on holiday, but I guess there's a first time for everything. Now in reality I have travelled alone - numerous work trips, a trip to Cadiz to learn Spanish, I even came to Spain alone on a train with half my belongings and no job or home to come to. But this feels different, as I've actually made a choice to travel for leisure alone. My reasons for doing so are manyfold; I have wanted to go to Morrocco for as long as I can remember, it's on my list of '100 things to do in this lifetime' (which I really ought to post here sometime), I've even recently found Morrocco guide books I bought about 10 years ago with the idea of going - isn't that embarrassing? Why did I never go?! Well, I guess sometimes life took over and I forgot about this little plan of mine, it was never the 'right time', other people didn't want to go, etc etc. Of course there never is a right time, and it seemed silly waiting to be romantically involved in order to go, so I thought 'just do it'. The natural thing to do would have been to go with friends, but I'm in such an unusually 'me' mood that I didn't want to wait for a time when it was convenient for friends and then have to co-decide what hotel, to spa or not to spa etc. I guess I just felt like being a bit selfish!

My workload only permits me to go for 3 days, which I think will be a suitably brief introduction to solo travel (not that I plan to make it a lifestyle!) I think the hardest thing will be eating alone - one of the main reasons I'm going is the food, and it would have been lovely to share that with someone. Other people have warned me about hassle from men, but I'm hoping with my Arabic (plus I have black hair and will forgo wearing micro mini skirts) I can avoid that. My terrible sense of direction in the Medina is also a concern ;-) Despite these minor worries, there are many things I'm looking forward to - staying in a traditional riad in the medina, eating pastilla (a kind of sweetened chicken/pigeon pie with ground almonds), visiting the Majorelle Gardens, not so much ticking sights off on a list, but instead taking time (and I'll have very little of it) to walk around, stopping off to drink mint tea accompanied by a good book and a notepad and pen every now and then. Also, after the stress of earlier this year, I'm in a kind of reflective mood, and I'm looking forward to doing a bit of thinking in such interesting and unknown surroundings.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Sevilla Sevilla

I've just got back from a work trip to Seville. The funny thing is, the last time I went to Seville, about 4 years ago, I came back wearing a diamond ring (long removed from my finger, that girl sure does seem like a stranger I met years ago :P). So despite this time being a flurry of author meetings and unglamourous school visits, for me Seville will always be pretty much the most romantic city in Spain :-) No precious stones this time, but plenty of amazing food and Sevillano warmth. Now, I know if anyone from elsewhere in Spain reads this they will be like 'Sevillano warmth??!!' Of course people accept that Sevillanos are friendly but also agree that said friendliness is Totally Fake. My answer to that would be I Don't Care!! (not sure I believe all those sweeping statements about people from different regions being true anyway) I'm not expecting them to let me in their caseta during the feria, it was just so nice to have people be helpful, smiling and take an interest and for taxi drivers, who are normally the bain of my life, to actually be nice. I can't claim to be an expert on where to eat there, but I can recommend one place I always go to for a plate of very good jamon and red wine: Casa Robles, right in the centre.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Cafe Alma

Ok, so first things first. Yes, I admit it, I am sort of 'back' :-) And as promised there will be restaurant reviews, lusting over design and lots of (positive, ahem) thinking out loud.

So to kick off, this is a tiny little review about the delightful cafe that opened at the top of my road about a year ago, Alma Cafe. Yes, the words delightful and my road in the same sentence. Alma cafe (c/Santa Isabel 42) is a bright white little cafe light years away from the typical Lavapiés bars (dark, moody and just one step too boho to be hygienic). It's somewhere you can go alone (and people frequently do) and read a book or catch up on the press that is provided there, hook up to the wifi, have a nice cup of coffee and a bite to eat. The perfect Sunday-morning-with-the-papers cafe. The decor is pretty, minimal but with a romantic touch and noone in there hassles you. The only thing I wish is that they'd have real loose tea, I might make that suggestion. Anyway, lovely. And a stone's throw from my house :-)

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Time out

The past weeks have been a rollercoaster, and as such my posts have reflected that. I've received some really nice messages of support, but at the end of the day I'm just not that comfortable with putting out such personal feelings somewhere like this and I think it gets to the stage where it's not really helpful for me to express these emotions (even though I tried to make my posts more optimistic than fatalistic). So, I've deleted the past few posts and I'm going to take some time out from the blog, to reflect, to gather my stuff and hopefully to return at some point feeling more positive and with posts about great films, new restaurants and exciting projects. xx
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