Brexiteers, be careful for what you wish!

A few days ago I read an article from the New York Times ( Dec.28/2018, entitled “What foods are banned in Europe but not banned in the US” )which stated that after Brexit ( assuming that it goes ahead) the UK will probably have to accept food imports from the USA. Currently many of these food stuffs are banned under EU rules because of the additives that are allowed in the USA, but not in the EU.

Nutella, uses Palm Oil, which can be a NO No because of Endangered Orangutan

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog on this subject, and in fact it is quiet scary, what is allowed in the USA and not in many other countries.

BHA and BHT are substances which are banned in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and the EU, however are still used in the USA particularly in snack foods such as crisps.

Azodicarbonamide, is used for the texture in cheap white bread, is used in the USA by MacDonalds and Burger king in their Burger Buns., it is banned in the countries above, AND if a company uses it in Singapore, they can get a large fine and 15 years in gaol! Its shortened name is simply AZODI and is often called the Yoga Mat additive as it is also found in Yoga Mats, as it is light and strong! Fancy eating your Yoga Mat, No, I don’t think so ! But can be found in over 500 products or restaurants in the USA!

Bovine growth hormone, banned in the EU, in 1981: but was approved by the FDA in the USA, in 1993.

Potassium Bromate, used in the USA in flour, but again banned in the EU.

Food colourings , especially Blue dye #1, Yellow dye numbers 5 and 6 and Red 40. The yellow dyes are used in ready meals, colourings for some cereals and the bright yellow of American Cheese., and also American M and M’s are more colourful than those which are sold in EU? Why because the colourants are banned in the EU. I remember many many years ago checking the food dye numbers on the packets of sweets that I bought my kids as a special treat !

Looking at Maille, the crème de la crème of mustard manufacturers, the mustard does not have any real additives, but the Mayo has a colourant E224. However it is approved in the EU and is also found in frozen shell fish, frozen vegetables, fruit juice, and WINE !

(Many soft drinks in the USA contain BVO, but again this is banned in EU and Japan.

Apart from sugar contains E150 which is caramel, approved.

Poultry feed in the USA is likely to contain traces of Arsenic! And of course totally banned in the EU!

Many, many foods in the USA and the EU contain natural flavourings, but how natural is natural? This has not been banned in the EU, but to my mind it should be, as it is a total CON. Never buy olive oil that states Truffles. Unless it actually has a truffle floating around inside, it has never been near a truffle but more likely closer to a chemists bench! The flavouring is in fact, 2,4-dithiapentane, which is as cheap as chips, but, the Fake Truffle Oil certainly is not !

Other dubious additives include, BHA ( can interrupt endocrine functions); BHT, has caused cancer in Rats, Propyl Gallate and Propyl Paraben along with Theobromine. All allowed in the USA, due in part as the FDA allows the industry to self regulate !, But all are banned in the EU!

However my favourite, a really bad one is OLESTRA . I remember this being hailed, when we lived in the USA, as the big new thing for the food industry. What could be better? Zero calories, Zero grams of cholesterol and Zero grams of fat? Eat as many potato Chips as you like and never put on an ounce. In January 1996, the FDA approved OLESTRA as a food additive. Cut out the unhealthy cooking oil. Dump the shortening. Trash the butter. Frito-Lay was among the first companies to jump on board, introducing its WOW! division of potato chips in 1998 to claim fat-free stomach satisfaction. However  Olestra was of course too good to be true. It  removed the fat from food but also stopped the body from absorbing vital vitamins . Side effects included cramps, gas and chronic diarrhoea! And so “Another diet myth bites the dust:” Products containing the calorie-less fake fat Olean, ( trade name, ) of fat-free potato chips fame, may make you gain weight, not lose it.still  legal food additive in the USA despite  the obvious side effects.

Someone once said, if your Grandmother wouldn’t give it to you, then don’t buy it or eat it !

I think the bottom line is, avoid processed food, as far as possible and read the food labels. It will be interesting to see what happens after Brexit and more food stuffs from the USA enter the UK, I guess we will have to be more vigilant, GOOD LUCK!

Le Bonheur est Simple

Here in the mountains there is a simple motto, Le Bonheur est Simple! This means a lot in parts of France, most of the shops take a two to three hour lunch break, they often don’t open until 10 am and shut at 12, when there is a mass exodus up or down the mountains, because of La Grande Bouffe, ( Lunch). Lunchtime is sacrosanct!

But it also means a very relaxed approach to life, taking the cows in the spring to the Alpage ( summer meadows) where the owners often stay with their herds in little Mazots ( small wooden sheds) without electricity nor running water. It also means sitting and having a cup of coffee with friends or un petit verre ( a glass of wine or genepi).

On Saturday, we decamped down the Mountain to Chamonix, the very pretty Mountain town, the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924. It was the Brits who developed Chamonix as a resort in the late 1800’s as part of La Grand Tour! And of course it does help to have the highest mountain in Europe, namely Mont Blanc!

It is possible to go up the Aiguille du Midi Cable car both winter and summer, but is expensive, €61 for adults and €52 for children, or you can go halfway ( half the price) to Le Plan du Aiguille, where in summer it is possible to travers the mountain to the upper station of the Montenvers train. There is another train The Tramway, which also provides the climbing route for Mont Blanc itself. There are other cable cars in Chamonix ,which are also cheaper and go up the other side of the town, which then gives the visitors a wonderful view of Mont Blanc.

Walking across to the Montenvers train.

But I digress, we went to Chamonix to go to the market, yes, Saturday is market day. We have never been to this market in winter before and so it was interesting to see how innovative the traders were in an effort to keep warm. The fruit and vegetable sellers had plastic tents surrounding them, along with heaters inside, as did the flower seller. Others worked outside with portable heaters or just thermal clothes, boots and gloves.Always at these markets are the fruit and veg sellers, the cheese people, the sausage and cold meat sellers, the fish man and two sellers that I can not get my head around. The Pain d’Epices, which is basically gingerbread but drier and the Nougat seller! I did ask the Monsieur “The what and the why? The answer, quiet simply , ” They have a sweet tooth and eat it like chocolate !The other almost permanent residents of the markets, are the cooked chicken seller and the Choucroute seller, the chicken people always have a large queue for their chickens and not such a big queue for the Choucroute, but nonetheless a queue.

We also visited a Fruitiere, ( have not worked out where this name came from, but is a cheese maker, or farm products, cheese butter, eggs etc.) This was the Coopérative Fruitière en Val d’Arly Savoie Mont Blanc, the selection of local products was impressive and we ended up buying a cheese, similar to Mont D’Or but made in the Val d’arly and with raw milk.

I had planned Peking Duck for dinner, but this had to wait and so Le Bonheur était Simple, Dinner became cheese and potatoes and salad!

Also whilst in Chamonix we visited a museum, which gave a potted history of the town and a tearoom, which was awash with Macaroons! I must remember to bring #1 grandson here in the summer as not only did they have Macaroons but Meringues as well, both of which he loves ( as do the others).On our return journey, down the mountain road which I really dislike , we came across in Cluses, a dreary town halfway between Chamonix and ourselves, the only protestors of Les Gilets Jaunes, I have to say they were not very impressive!

So far on this visit, I have learnt three new French words, Spaghetteria, Omeletterie, and Boulonerie! The first two are obvious but the third ? Bolt Department! The French government often tries to prohibit the anglicisation of French words, but maybe they have better things to worry about at the moment.

Le Bonheur est Simple

The Law of Unintended Consequences!

We arrived in our Mountain Retreat as 2018 was drawing to a close, but we still had time to drive down 7 hairpin bends, get to the grocery store before the French finished their lunch break and descended upon the store to fill up for Reveillon ( French New Years Eve).

My Swiss neighbours pulled a face saying ” il y aura du Monde! ( very busy) but we know better, nothing will deter our French from taking their 2-3 hour lunch break and as a consequence, the store was almost half empty. Even the shelf fillers were no where to be seen. At 13.55 they appeared lugging or pushing the shelf filler equivalent of a Pantechnicon , just the right size to block the aisles, but Hey they have a job to do, forget the shoppers, it is Reveillon!

We arrived at the fish counter, it was looking a bit sad, not a lot to choose from, but we did not want fish, we wanted Oysters, as Himself declared that he would do Oysters Rockefeller on New Year’s Day . Perfect, only a small problem, not an oyster in sight. Oysters on New Years Eve are de rigour, so where were they? Stuck in Calais or in Normandy or in Brittany. There was hand written note, saying, Maybe at 2 pm, which then became 3.30! So we decided to go further down the mountain to the next grocery store, I was dropped off to go in search of the fast becoming Forbidden Fruit. NO Oysters to be seen ! ( a large box of really large Shrimp ) I timidly asked the fish man ” il y a des Huitres? S’il vous plâit? He looked at me and scurried out the back door and returned bearing a small wooden crate ( an oyster box)! Normally the shops are stacked with oyster boxes and it is perfectly normal to buy the box, no self respecting Oyster lover would buy just a few. But he said” it’s the last one, how many do you want? The box held 36 so not wishing to be greedy I took 24; only, without asking even the price!

So what is my point here? Les Gilets Jaunes is the point! What started out as a protest about fuel prices has morphed into a protest agains all and sundry ( the French Love to protest). Consequently the Oyster men on the West Coast have had their Christmas and New Year ruined by these actions and probably have stocks which they now have to destroy!

Quell Domage, is all I can say !

New Years Eve was spent across the road at our lovely neighbours, occasional Expats like us, and other friends who live here permanently. Carolyn cooked a really interesting starter. A whole baked celeriac, courtesy of Ottolenghi. I love celeriac but always serve it as a purée, so this was like a giant baked potato served with sour cream and lemon juice, Yummy! Something I need to try for myself. Have already reported on this new found delight to #1 son ! So watch this space for more.

So onto New Year’s Day, no shops open, no parade to go and watch, but a walk was in order.

A drive to the top of the mountain, donned snow shoes and set off! The sun was shining, the ski tourers were coming down from the top of another mountain, children were sledging and Mont Blanc glistened in the distance.

Back, at Chez Nous, Himself set to with the oysters. If you like oysters but find the idea of shucking them too daunting, then explore a fish shop and you might find a device which’ makes shucking a ‘Piece of Cake”!

Traditional oyster knife in front and the easy version.

so whilst Himself was busy with oysters I made a seafood sauce for the shrimp. I very much winged it by what I had in the cupboard.

I sautéed a chopped onion and 3 cloves of garlic until soft, then I added a can of tomatoes a small can of tomato sauce, half a tube of tomato purée and a small can of Chipotle chillies, let them amalgamate and then using a stick blende gave it a quick wiz to really blend and then added half a jar of horseradish sauce and a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce. ( no ketchup, no Mayo, no sour cream) A final tasting, done covered and put outside to chill ( it was below freezing outside)

Meanwhile he was making the filling for the oysters. It is also a bit of This and That. He chopped 2 shallots and sautéed them in some oil along with several cloves of garlic and some chopped rashers of bacon, ( bacon, pancetta or lardons will suffice, but make sure they are crisp) then he added a whole bag ( about 500 grams) of frozen creamed spinach along with about 4 Oz butter and a cup of breadcrumbs AND a good swing of Pernod a quick taste, added some chilli flakes and fennel seeds, and done ! Filled the shells with the oysters and spinach mixture topped with grated Parmesan and baked at 450/230/8 for about 10 minutes until the tops are golden and crisp.

Also on this topic, I have found some alternative recipes for oysters. Oysters, crawfish and shrimp abound in Louisiana ( could be one reason to live there, or maybe not). Oysters Bienville, an egg rich shrimp topping, Oysters Rousseau similar to Rockefeller but slightly different , no spinach. Oyster Loaf, Oysters en brochettes Cajun Oyster Pie, oyster and Artichoke Bisque, Creole Oyster Stuffing and Oyster Patties ( Vol au Vent), this one I have made, using canned oysters and easy nibble to have at a drinks party. And not forgetting one of my favourites, Oyster PO Boys ( pronounced Poor Boys) Freida oysters in a French bread sandwich!

On a final note, once again I am amazed at the choice of cereals in the supermarket, all very sweet and almost all with chocolate. Himself occasionally has cereal, muesli , but I make the mix myself, so even that does not have added sugar let alone chocolate!

A Pre Christmas Dinner.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a Pre Christmas Dinner chez Nous. Amazingly all were available and so to plan our meal. We decided to visit Smithfield, the London Meat market. but one has to go early, so off we trotted and were there at about 5.30 in the morning, but even so some of the traders had already left for the day. But what fun, oodles to choose from and the traders that were still there, all to a man ( and woman) were jolly.

A couple of these photos were taken in Mexico City, but meat markets seem to be the same world wide.

We thought that we would have a fillet of beef, something of a luxury, not usually cooked just for 2, and maybe not something that the kids could afford to serve. We also bought a 6 Kilo boned Turkey crown, for son who was doing his wonderful Turkey breast for Christmas day. A 6 Kilo Turkey breast is a tad on the large side, and so it was cut into 2 and frozen.

What else to have ? Well, I love Scallops and know that some of the others do as well. Right that takes care of starters, sautéed scallops with crisp pancetta and some Panko covered shrimp on a bed of leaves! Ah stop! Son in Law, allergic to shell fish, right, plan b) for him it is baked goats cheese on sourdough toast with the yummy deep pink ice cream that is Beetroot ice cream.
Onto the main event. Well roast beef, with a rich sauce, made with onions, port, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce and blackcurrant jelly, UMM! along with baked potato skins filled with cheese mash, braised red cabbage, French beans. Ah Ah, maybe not every wants beef, so another plan b came into force, a Salmon Coulibiac ( a kind of Salmon Wellington) was also made, along with a beurre blanc sauce, and maybe something else should be an alternative, YES! Biriyani Rice, chop an assortment of vegetables, cook the rice, sauté it in wok along along with curry spices, add the vegetables, umm umm the smell is Devine.


Right, so now we can move onto dessert.
What to make? Well, Miss Tess, her dad and himself all love crumble, actually Miss Tess makes a pretty mean crumble herself ( she is 8) . So crumble it is, apple and raspberry in individual ramekins. Next Master Alfie Just loves Meringues, and so it is going to be a raspberry Pavlova with him in mind. And the rest, well Molton Chocolate Pots with stem ginger ice cream. And that should do it!


Whilst I busied myself in the kitchen, himself set the table ( it is his job and knows exactly what to do and how to do it, it might seem pretty easy but I can be kind of OCD when it comes to table settings) and after that being at a loose end he wrapped the presents. We were being conservative this year and a mere 7 hours later he had finished. We always put cryptic clues on our gifts and this was exacerbated by himself deciding to  to write them languages other than English, so constant trips to computer and bablefish !
All duly arrived, dinner was served. I am pretty sure everyone knows how to make a crumble mix, BUT although I am not a crumble eater, I choose to make my crumble topping separately from the actual filling and put the filling on wen itself is ready. This way I can make multiples of the mix as it freezes well, and is ready for future use.
My Crumble Mix
12 oz ( 340 grams) plain flour
4oz (113 grams) brown sugar you can use more if you have a sweet tooth
8oz ( 225 grams)unsalted butter
very simply if you have a food processor, put the flour and sugar into the processor and then add the COLD butter which has been cut into chunks. Switch on the machine and when the clonking stops ( in just a few seconds) it is ready!! How easy is that. You can add then if you like some ground almonds or chopped nuts to the mix.
Spread out onto a baking tray and bake 180C/350F/Gas 4.for about 20 mins or so, occasionally giving it a stir so that it all cooks evenly. Leave to cool and then can be used straight away or frozen. To assemble the crumble, either use fresh or frozen fruit, cook the fruit first and then top with the crumble mix and bake until hot. Can be made for a more formal occasion in ramekins rather than one big crumble. When I make it for himself, I usually make one large one and then when cold cut it into portions, and freeze, so that it is there ready for his late night snack !!

Still in Iceland

The Blue Lagoon

It seems that Iceland is the ” Must Go To” place this year, has always been on my list but we somehow never got there, until now. Recently himself declared” I know what our Christmas present will be, a trip to Iceland,” and so we went.

On our second night there we wandered over the frozen lake ( not actually on the lake, but on the road which crossed it) to DILL. On Trip Advisor, it is rated as the best restaurant in Iceland and is the only one with a Michelin star.( Did the inspectors really go all that way to review just one restaurant?) Again on Trip Advisor, it is rated as being expensive, of course this is very subjective, but a 7 course tasting menu, came at a cost of £92, which at Londons prices, is fairly reasonable. The cost of the wine pairings however cost another £79, which obviously pushes up the price of a night out. Then again, it is not obligatory to take the wine pairings and also one has to remember that in Iceland alcohol is very heavily taxed. With a population of only 330,00, money for social services, education etc, has to come from somewhere.

Dill is a small restaurant, with maybe sixteen or eighteen covers. reservations are for either 6.30, or 9.30. For us 6.30 is a tad too early, whereas 9.30 too late, but we took the 9.30 and then were able to push it forward a little.

It is housed in an old Barn and is connected to a bar and a Pizza restaurant as well. Apparently it is possible to order some of the dishes that are served in Dill, in the Pizza restaurant. (# 1 Daughter, the willowy Blond, was there recently with her three little ones and this is what they did)

Dill prides itself on fresh local ingredients, simplicity and taste. But I have to say we were a bit underwhelmed. Simplicity, it was not and taste was on the bland side. Simplicity? when we were told that the rhubarb, on one of the dishes, had ben cooked for 45 days, not 44 and not 46, BUT 45 ! I would surmise that, it is not simplicity.

These were the various Amuse Bouche, all of which are very attractive, set upon leaves they found and pine needles and crispy chicken skin. The most disappointing was the local bread, which was actually hanging from the rafters and the SKYR butter.

Skyr is Icelands answer to Yoghurt, and is very similar to the German Quark a cross between yoghurt and sour cream is the closest I can think of.

The second picture is Turnips, which have been dried, whilst the third is Reindeer, which had been shot by the chef. The fifth is Artic Char on Cabbage, the char having been dried was in fact quite salty ( and I am someone who like salt!) The lamb dish was very nice and it came with heart and liver ( which I passed along to himself). The best part of the meal however was the bottom right, it says, brown butter, celeriac and pine oil. The crumb, which I assume was the browned butter, reminded me very much of Speculoos, a Belgian biscuit. The other dessert, the purple one above was made with dill oil, blueberries and whey that had been marinated for 5 months.

The next night I insisted that we try one of the many Fish and Chip shops that abound in Reykjavik, and went to the Icelandic Fish and Chip shop. Unfortunately, again I would not recommend it. I am a self confessed connoisseur of Fish and Chips, an absolute fan and if this were to be my last meal request, then it would have to be Fish and Chips. The fish has to be in Batter, crisp and dry and the chips have to be also CRSIP, not a soggy mess. The RAC club on Pall Mall do a very good rendition of Fish and Chips. Himself is not so keen, but there has to be alternatives but sadly it was also not great.

So, obviously I had fish and chips, the choice of fish was Cod, Tusk ( is cod like and of the Ling family) or Ling ( Ling is a deep water fish a cross between Cod and Conger Eel) I chose the Cod.Himself chose the mussels, we are big fans of mussels, having lived in Belgium for 13 years where they are almost the national dish.

The mussels were small both in size and quantity ( a kilo per person is the norm) and they were small. This time of year they should be of a reasonable size. My fish, the batter and fish were fine, but chips??? where were the chips? Only sautéed potatoes and not chips.

We only saw such a tiny part of the Island, just around Reykjavik the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon we saw several very interesting museums but we would like to go back to see the Fjords and the Glaciers and try some more of their interesting and definitely different foods.

We are in Iceland ( the country and not the store)

We are in Iceland ( the country and not the store)

This week saw us visiting Iceland. The scenery alone is worth the visit, think Game of Thrones, the Wall in Winter and you have it right there.

We arrived to be met by the first snowfall of winter, but were also told that we were lucky that it was not windy. However the wind decided to greet us the next morning, just as we were heading out to “DO” the Golden circle. Fortunately , we had a car, so we were not restrained by tours and Tour busses. We set out at about 9 am and it was still pitch dark and remained so until almost 11am ! But by then we had reached out first port of call Pingvellir National Park. I really liked the look of the little church, but could get not closer than a quick look. I was amused by a sign that was by a stream, but even more amused by seeing the Scuba divers getting ready to dive! However, the church is Alþing (Althing), the site of Iceland’s parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries. And as for the scuba divers, this area is one of the best spots for diving in Iceland and as Iceland sits on the Atlantic ridge ( it is actually splitting in two by an inch a year) it is internationally famous. Apparently the water is very clear ( and cold). The rift is in the lake itself and becomes deep.

The park sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, with rocky cliffs and fissures like the huge Almannagjá fault.

 

 

We continued on to the Geysir area, where there is a very obliging Geysir,  (Strokkur) which blows every couple of minutes. We retired to the Cafe/tourist shop for a coffee and a pit stop, where I saw another sign which amused me.

11.16 in the morning !

Moving on, quickly as it not only gets light very late, it gets dark very early, so daylight time is very precious. We went to the waterfalls on the Golden Circle, which at this time were only partially frozen but no doubt they would be completely frozen in a few days time.

So onto Food. We ate in three very different restaurants. One with a Michelin star, ( the only one in Iceland I am led to believe ), one more Home Style and reputedly A.A.Gills favourite restaurant, and finally an Icelandic Fish and Chip shop.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. Bacon, I am sure we all know what bacon is and in some countries there is an alternative, which is Turkey bacon. It is a bit of a contradiction as Bacon comes from pigs and has a certain amount of fat, which adds to the flavour, which of course is missing with Turkey. However, and this was a first for me, Lamb Bacon, breast of lamb makes excellent bacon, the rashers are a bit on the skinny side but delicious. I have just googled this and it is available in the UK, if you are looking for something different, for your Full English !

Our first restaurant was called 3 Frakkar, ( the three overcoats) where we ate good food, albeit not terribly exciting. I had no idea what to expect from Icelandic cuisine. Fish, Fish and more Fish, is what sprang to mind. I was therefore really surprised to find that the Icelanders have over the centuries been really creative with their food. Needs must I suppose. When you consider that Iceland, which is part of Europe is 1,368 miles away, and from Canada it is 2,800 miles, so certainly during the winter months in years gone by, Iceland probably didn’t get much in the way of imported goods !

Our waitress Kristin from France was delightful, spoke excellent English( as did all of the Icelandic people we met) and she talked us through the menu. They certainly had  several options of local fare, including Whale, Puffin, Guillemot, Horse, Lamb, Cod, Halibut, Shark, Herrings and Artic Char. Himself chose the  Roast Whale,  which came with apples and Balsamic, he could also have chosen the Raw Whale which came as Sashimi. I had the plate of herrings , three ways, and the version I preferred was the one in a mustard sauce. 

For our mains, he chose the Halibut, which was good but we both felt that it would have been better without the sauce , and I had the Lamb which was delicious.

I had not thought that there would be a good source of Lamb in Iceland, but given that Lamb from Lundy ( an Island in the Bristol Channel) is good, the sheep just graze on grass and herbs, and I assume likewise in Iceland.

The roast Whale looked and tasted like roast beef, but apparently the raw Whale dish is a bit more fishy. For centuries Whales have played an important part in Icelandic life, and eaten Fresh, Salted or Smoked. The whale Fat or Blubber was an important source for lights. They no longer export Whale products and it is only for domestic use. They also eat Seals and Seal fat can be used as a substitute for butter. One could be excused for thinking “oh, they don’t eat Puffins /Guillemots do they? But why not? Here we eat all sorts of birds, Pheasants, grouse, Ducks of various shapes and sizes, so why not!

As I said previously, Icelanders were and still are very creative with what is available to them naturally. I am sure that every bit of a Lamb, a Cow, a Whale is used. None would have been wasted. Lamb Liver sausage was considered an Aphrodisiac, whilst Dung smoked Lamb is a National dish. Fermented Skate, or often called Smelly Skate is a traditional Christmas dish, as is roasted Lambs Head. I often buy a cookery book when I am in a land that is new to me, but I declined this one on the grounds of” Where on earth would I be able to get a Lambs Head?” Well the answer is SmithfieldMeat Market in the City of London! Who would have believed it?

To be continued, there is plenty more to say about Iceland, and I cant wait to go back, but maybe next time in the summer.

A Hidden Gem in Gran Canaria

We are on the Canaries, Gran Canaria, to be precise. We have come to play golf and actually I had no great expectations as to dining. My visit to the Super Mercado, was very much less than inspiring. Remind me very much of Willowy Blonds, local in Mexico City, Superrama, ( known locally to #1 daughter at least as Pooperrama.) It was pretty bad I have to say, but here in the Canaries, it certainly is not much better. A large space, but with very little in it.

We are staying with friends, in a Villa on a golf course. It might as well be in Central London, as whoever designed these villas, decided that a view of the course and surrounding mountains was not important! However, we put money into a kitty and decided to eat in at least for breakfast, hence the visit to the supermarket. My fears about dining, were therefore enforced by the distinct lack of choice in Mercadona, though Alcampo was larger ( still not my idea of a good shopping experience) but it seemed to have a little more choice. The fish counter though was not inspiring  and most of the meat was pre-packed !

We ventured out to our local grill, (El Tauro) where we ate steak or shoulders of lamb, all of which were fine ( forget the canary potatoes though…………boiled potatoes with a reddish-yellow sauce on them).

I subsequently scoured and googled, restaurants, to find somewhere, which would come up to scratch. Guantanamo, by the beach most certainly did not fit the bill and many others, when checking them on Trip Advisor, the remarks were along the lines of ” Best Pizza” “Best Spag Bol” or even ” Best Place to go with our 6 kids”! None was what we were looking for. Then I came across Los Guayres! Screenshot 2018-11-22 at 09.00.09And what a find this turned out to be!

This restaurant is to be found in the Hotel Cordial in the fishing port of Morgán, and why it has not got a Michelin Star beats me. The food was Devine and the service impeccable. Our table was booked for 7.30 and we finally staggered out at 11.30 having gorged ourselves on what can only be described as wonderful food.

The chef Alexis Álvarez is a Gran Canarian cook, who trained on mainland Spain with the likes of Ferran Adrià of El Bulli fame. And he says “My culinary style is both Canarian regional cuisine and cutting edge Spanish cuisine, where we treat the basic ingredients with the utmost care, as they are the core of our dishes.”

Screenshot 2018-11-22 at 08.42.11
We had a choice, a menu at €60, another at € 68 and a third at € 75. Fortunately our
group all chose the middle one ( just as well as all had to choose  the same one) we opted not to have the wine pairings but chose ourselves and for the white wine at least it came from the island which has vineyards near the Caldera in Bandama. Excellent choice!

The menu said 6/8 courses but in reality there were several more, as we had several amuse bouches as well as a small soup in the middle of the other courses.

To start with we were given a glass of cava and then followed several Amuse Bouche. One of which was a cone filled with leeks and one which I would call a soup. It was deep pink in colour, ( like beetroot) but in fact was made from Prickly pear.

 

Our starter was an oyster with corn juice, followed by a roasted shrimp with carrot vinaigrette and roasted apple. We were then served what looked like a bisque ( this was an extra course) and then marinated  red tuna, with avocado and coriander. The Avocado and coriander formed the base for a green chip.

Then in order we had Iberian Pork in a beetroot reduction and pine nut cream, grouper filet in a sauce, and as explained, grouper was the perfect fish, as a sauce would cling to it well. We also ate Lamb with sweet potato.

Desserts were cheese ice cream, chocolate and mango crisp with milk ice cream and of course Petit fours.

I loved it all and forgive me for a myriad of photos. Now back in the UK, where it is cold and damp, not an incentive to start a diet, but needs must I’m afraid!

For those who are interested you will be able to find at least one of his recipes on the following link

http://www.grancanaria.com/turismo/en/gastronomy/recipes-from-the-islandmix/recipes-from-an-islandmix-chef-alexis-alvarez-gran-canaria/

Leg of goat in salmorejo sauce, red onion and potato purée

Maybe not so eays to find a goats leg, unless you have an  local ethnic butchers near by or maybe an exoctic market, but I am sure that pork or lamb would make a good substitute. I might give it a try over the New Year.