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Posts Tagged ‘cava’

Picking wild freesias for the house this morning reminded me that it’s just a week since I was doing the same thing for Jo’s birthday party in Los Aceviños on La Gomera – which is where the freesia’s came from several years ago.
Like today, it was a beautiful spring morning and the sun was blazing down on the terrace as preparations got underway for the party.

Deliberating over summer pudding prep' the night before the party - notice the use of red wine to help with decision making

We’d already made the summer puddings the night before and they were sitting in the fridge with weights pressing down on them, ready to be turned out. We’d de-frosted the fish and prawns for the Caribbean curry; and the home made lemon ice cream was in the freezer for first freeze stage. We’d filled large platters with slivers of jamon Serrano and slices of smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade; we’d taken the brie out of the fridge to warm and we’d whipped up a big bowl of hummus. The neighbours were bringing homemade breads, goat’s cheese and salads.
Now it was time to get the garden and terrace ready.

A casual approach to party seating - notice the early 'guest' trying out the cushion.

Jo wanted the party to mainly congregate around her ‘new’ garden; the widest part of the terrace. So we carried the table and chairs out from the kitchen and placed them on the terrace, scattering cushions onto the flat stones and a small rug onto the ledge of the mountain for extra seating.
Then we cleared and swept the main terrace and Jo sprinkled glitter that she’d bought from the Chinese supermarket.
In what used to be the old ‘shed’, Jo had cleared the floor space and placed a fat log beneath the arbour where the jasmine and vine were just establishing themselves around the new fairy lights.

With everything ready, we cracked a beer and sat in the new garden, liberally applying factor 30 to our already-pink arms and faces and breathing in the amazing view over the valley.
At 4pm the first of the guests arrived and the cava corks began to pop. As we chatted, we felt a drop of rain and looked up to see bruma (low cloud) beginning to wisp its way across the valley. Ignoring the spits of rain in the firm belief that, if we didn’t acknowledge them they didn’t exist, we carried on chatting until we could no longer ignore the fact that it was in fact raining.

As more guests arrived, we grabbed the table and chairs and made a hasty retreat to the terrace just in time for the heavens to open. The valley entirely disappeared from view in dense bruma and the temperature slowly fell, sending factor 30-coated arms into fleeces.

There was nothing else for it; it was time to break out Steve’s home brewed cider – central heating for adults.
More guests arrived, laden with food goodies and the cava and wine flowed freely alongside the cider. As darkness fell and the smallest members of the party were whisked away to bed, the terrace fairy lights were switched on, Jack and I whipped up the Caribbean curry with rice; and the summer puddings were turned out and served with big dollops of lemon ice cream and whipped cream.

The summer pudding turned out pretty well.

By 11.30pm the clouds had cleared to be replaced by the twinkling lights of the valley and, suitable fuelled by Steve’s cider, the guests began to wend their way into the forest and the darkness, leaving just five of us to try our best to defeat the cider and polish off the summer pudding and ice cream.

No DJ spinning sounds of the seventies that we all thought were crap at the time; no streamers with big, glittery ‘50 Today’ signs on them and most of all; no anonymous room in a pub with egg butties and shop bought quiche. Just the mountains, the rain forest, friends and neighbours and good, home cooked food.

Happy Birthday, Jo!

If you’ve never been to La Gomera, take a look at this but take my advice – watch it with the volume off, voice-over man is just awful!

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I need someone to stand on my thigh for me,” said Jésus.

It’s not a request you hear that often.

Jack, Jo and I looked at each other. No-one said anything.

It was approaching midnight on the dying embers of my birthday and the three of us were sitting on the back terrace after a very pleasant evening of food, cava and rosé wine. We had the patio doors open wide and Massive Attack was supplying the sounds from the living room stereo.

Then Jésus arrived, made his strange request and sat on the terrace steps while Jack poured him a wine.
Twenty minutes or so had passed in pleasant conversation when I made my decision.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll do it.”
I’d had a few glasses by then and I thought it might make an interesting and amusing end to my birthday.

Jésus unrolled the exercise mat on the terrace, lay face down on it and placed the heel of my left foot precisely at the point where buttock meets thigh.
“Can you feel the muscle?” he asked.
I jiggled my heel slightly, my weight entirely resting on the other foot and felt the softer tissue of muscle.
“Yep.”
“Okay then, slowly put your weight onto your heel holding it right on that muscle.”
Holding the terrace rail for balance I carefully and gingerly transferred my weight to my left heel, concentrating hard so that the wobble stopped and I could feel the sinewy muscle.
“That’s great,” said Jésus. “Now press harder.”

I did as he asked, suddenly aware that this was going to involve a lot more work on my part than a) I had bargained for and b) I was probably capable of at this stage in the proceedings.

“Now follow the line of the muscle a little bit farther down,” said Jésus, directing my heel fractionally away from his buttock.
“Aaargh” he said “that’s it”.
I could sense his pain as I placed more pressure on my heel.
“Harder” he grimaced through the pain.
I was torn. I wanted to lift my foot and reduce his pain levels but clearly this was precisely what he was looking for.
“Harder,” he said.

Things to do on your birthday, Number 142

Things to do on your birthday, Number 142

By this time Jack and Jo had got bored with the proceedings and had gone back to drinking and chatting leaving me with my foot on the agony-ridden Jésus and a minor cramp spreading through my left buttock.
“How much do you weigh?” asked Jésus.

I felt this was a bit akin to ‘how old are you’ in the personal questioning department and would normally try for some witty retort but under the circumstances…
“Ten stone.” I said
“How much is that in kilos?”
There was a lengthy and rather pathetic discussion between Jack, Jo and me that involved a great deal of attempted and failed mental arithmetic before Jésus said;
“You feel about 65 kilos to me,” and I settled for that.

Our strange dance continued for twenty minutes or so while I inched my heel further along the muscle and Jésus grimaced and gritted his teeth. Eventually he said he was done and I was able to take my numb buttock and return to the serious business of catching up with Jack and Jo.

Earlier in the day Jésus had offered to give me a massage for my birthday and I had rather cruelly retorted;
“You’re supposed to get nice things on your birthday.”
I’d regretted saying that as it looked as if I’d hurt his feelings. But as I hobbled back to my chair and left Jésus contorted in a vaguely slip knot position on the mat while he re-aligned the muscle, I think my earlier comment may have been guilty of no more than understatement.

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We’ve had a bottle of cava ‘chilling’ for months now and we still haven’t popped it to celebrate our book deal. Anyone would think it was a bottle of Krug Clos du Mesnil 1995 Champagne ($750 per bottle) which might go some way to explaining the dithering. But no, this is a bottle of Valle de Juy Cava; €2.30 a bottle at Al Campo.
So why the delay?

Well, to begin with, back in July when we were first offered the deal is probably when we should have opened it but then we thought; “let’s wait until we get the contract just in case anything goes wrong; many a slip twixt cup and all that.” So we waited.

The contract arrived and we thought; “we’ll sign it and send their copy back and when they receive it, that’s when we’ll crack the cava.” So we waited.

For some reason the contract got mislaid in the postal system and it was several weeks before the publisher acknowledged receipt of it, by which time we’d already started drafting the book. So we thought; “OK, we’ll open it when we finish writing the book.” And we waited.

We submitted our first draft at the end of October and waited with bated breath to hear if it would be accepted or if it needed more work. Word came quickly that the book was considered “really excellent” by the publisher. Unfortunately, along with the acceptance was a long list of additional things that we needed to produce; a biography, author photos, testimonials etc. so there wasn’t a clear cut ‘finished’ point.
We dutifully provided everything on the publisher’s list and then said; ”That’s it. The moment this baby gets to print, the cork’s coming out of that cava before it turns to vinegar.” But then the typeset text arrived for proof-reading, and then the cover, and then finally, we were told it was at the printers.

By this time, we’d decided the cava was getting opened on Saturday night and hang the consequences. Unfortunately, we had a ‘difference of opinion’ on the way to watch the match and then, as we only managed a draw, we decided we weren’t really in the mood to drink the stuff.

So, as I sit here writing, four and a half months later, the cava is still in its virgin state in the fridge, chilled enough to burn your fingertips at the touch.

Going Native in Tenerife is now on sale at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and in e book form at Book Shaker.com and as long as nothing untoward happens in the next 5 hours, that damn cava is getting opened tonight.

I don’t know what it is about us that drives us to work so hard and yet prevents us from celebrating our successes, something which we both know from our former lives as executives is absolutely paramount to maintaining morale and recognizing good work.

It’s time to re-learn some of our management wisdom; from here on in corks are going to pop on cava bottles at the least excuse.

Then again, perhaps we should wait until we get our first sale…

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The Cava’s chilling in the fridge; the grapes have been de-seeded and wrapped in small foil bundles; the picnic cool bag has been rescued from the garden shed and its plastic wine glasses rinsed and, most importantly of all, I’m wearing my new red knickers.

New Year’s Eve is a complicated business in this part of the world and care must be taken lest one upsets the omens of good fortune for the coming year and risk the shadow of Bad Luck dogging your every endeavour.

First, there’s the whole grape thing…you have to eat 12 grapes, one for each stroke of midnight.

Our first year in Tenerife we didn’t think to de-seed the grapes and, having nearly choked, the final stroke of midnight found us floundering around grape number 8. The following year we weren’t entirely sure when the actual strokes of midnight had begun, several ‘hoax’ fireworks having been launched in the immediate run-up to the real thing. Consequently, amidst the confusion some grapes were prematurely consumed.

Last year we sussed the start and confidently popped the de-seeded 12 with every pyrotechnic chime despite a fit of the giggles which resulted in several snorts and teary eyes. When the last stroke finished, so did the grapes.

Now, I wouldn’t exactly say that if it wasn’t for bad luck in 2007 we wouldn’t have had any luck at all, on the other hand, neither would I say that things couldn’t possibly have gone better for us and a large dose of good luck was most decidedly conspicuous by its absence.

So what went wrong?

Well apparently, as I’ve since learned, in order to ensure Good Luck for the forthcoming twelve months, one should wear new red underwear, preferably purchased by someone else as a gift.

So, this afternoon we scoured La Villa shopping complex for a suitable addition to my undies drawer and after a few dodgy moments when it looked like all that was left was a couple of G-strings with Minnie Mouse in a glittery frock on the crotch or granny-sized bloomers, we finally settled on a pair of Brazilian fit, plain red knickers in Women’s Secret and Jack parted with the cash.

New Year's Eve in Puerto de la Cruz5! 4! 3! 2! 1! And off we go! Grapes successfully consumed in perfectly synchronised chomp to chime! Cava cork is popped and sails over the heads of the crowds, plopping into the harbour water where it bobs happily amongst legions of its mates.

The sky fills with colour and my ear drums vibrate to the cracks and bangs of the gunpowder explosions which bounce around the windows of the apartments that front the harbour. When the pyrotechnics subside, we finish the Cava and head to Calle Perdomo. The bass beat sends electric currents through our bodies and we dance until 4.15 am when, with all the booze consumed and our legs and feet aching, we begin the 40 minute walk home.

So welcome, 2008, and any time you’re ready to bestow a little good fortune this way, I’m ready and waiting…

¡Feliz Año Nuevo”!

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