Monthly Archives: October 2015

rainbow’s end…

…the end of the rainbow has been located and it’s in a roundabout about half an hours drive from Santiago de Compostela…neither Fred Astaire nor Petula Clarke were anywhere to be seen…

Points for whoever gets that reference without looking it up!!!

P1280496 P1280495

sobrado dos monxes…

Been wanting to post about this place for years. In the small village of Sobrado dos Monxes, in rural Galicia resides the magnificent, decaying yet stoic stone pile of MAGNIFICENCE known as St Mary’s of Sobrado, a still functioning Cistercian monastery.


It’s always freezing cold inside no matter the season or temperature outside, and invasive plants and moss cover the farther reaches of the internal buildings. The few remaining monks look after it the best they can but there is neither the money nor the manpower to maintain the building against the elements and the inevitable reclaiming encroachment of nature. Really, it’s exquisite, full of intricate stone detail. It costs almost nothing to enter and you can even stay the night in their hostel. My photos can’t do justice to the scale and atmosphere of the place but if you are ever in Galicia, you should go there!


dodgy watercolours from a distant era…

On another (random) note:

Ha, this made me laugh…came across an ancient sketchbook of mine. These “majestic” watercolours were done when i was around 16…that’s my excuse. My musical obsessions of the time (thanks to John Peel) were Orange Juice, hence Edwin Collins and the Birthday Party…and we should all be thankful that there are no Nick Cave watercolours waiting to be unearthed… Love the way i signed them…for posterity i guess???

…and Annabella Lwin? I quite liked Bow Wow Wow and i thought she looked cool!

IMG_9244 IMG_9246

fabada con almejas/beans and clams…

We need to talk about food so it’s time for another recipe from my mum…for those who don’t know she was a professional chef for 50 plus years, now in retirement she still lives to cook and i for one am not complaining! Here is how she makes Fabada con Almejas or Beans with Clams, it’s rich deep and unctuous in flavour and always has to be eaten with really good crusty bread.


Into a large pot put:

1 large onion cut in half, 1 large leek cut into 2 or 3 big chunks, 2 big carrots cut into 2 or 3 chunks each, 3 large peeled but whole cloves of garlic, a good glug of virgin olive oil, some salt and pepper and 750g (or thereabout) of dried white beans (soaked overnight) *

Add plain cold water, enough to just cover the contents in the pan, add some saffron and put to boil,  (adjust seasoning to taste) and cook until the beans are almost tender**. When the big chunks of vegetables and garlic are soft, fish them out and liquidise them in a blender with a little of the bean liquid and/or cooked clams liquor (see below). Put the thick veg puree back in the pan with the beans to thicken the sauce. Meanwhile fry some sliced garlic in a frying pan with lots of olive oil, when the garlic begins to be golden, take off the heat and allow to cool a little, add a teaspoon of Spanish sweet paprika, stir it in and deposit the oily mixture into the pan with the beans. Add a little chilli at this point (flakes or powder).

While the beans are cooking:

In another pan pour in a little cold water and add some salt, a bay leaf and washed clams (anything from a half kilo to a kilo) NO wine necessary. Put on the hob and bring to the boil, cook till the shells are open and remove from the heat. Drain and reserve the (sieved) liquor from the clams. Add the clams to the cooked bean stew and add as much of the clam liquor as you need to loosen up the sauce. Cook altogether for a couple of minutes to amalgamate nicely and make sure the beans are fully cooked. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. Sounds a bit more fiddly than it is and it’s really REALLY work the bother (and it’s not that much bother!)


*about those beans…well it’s easy if you are in Spain, you just use Asturian fabas/beans i think you can find them in the UK  if you look hard! Don’t use Judion beans, ‘cos the skins can be a bit tough. Basically you need a big fat white dried bean that has been soaked overnight… but don’t use butter beans…they are not robust enough and they will beak up in the cooking process. The quest is yours!


** how long to cook the beans? in the photos above mum used her own beans fresh from the garden so it took less than half an hour till they were tender, but if you are using pre soaked dried beans it can be anything from 45 mins to over an hour, you just have to keep checking them.

other foody posts on this blog:

preserving wild garlic tortilla de maiz y chicharrones fabada asturiana lemons mrs beeton and colombia merluza-a-la-cazuela lebre con castañas callos a la gallega ossobuco vs xerrete in praise of colombian food restaurant still lives few flowered recipes first forage of the season nose to tail and farajullas flloeira cocido gallego albariño wine genius chorizos returning to the matanza chocolate con churros pani puri sunday cicchetti tea-break baracca empanada revelations in a milanese restaurant further adventures in foraging cooking the haul foraging2 foraging nose to tail (s)light relief pulpo a la gallega the matanza morcilla and dying arts jamòn serrano

ego ego ego…

Forgive the rampant egoism of this post, but a lot of my students made portraits of me last year…not ever an assignment i can assure you, but i loved them and all the little details they picked out, here are some:

IMG_1293May have posted this one before, but it deserves a re-post, Anusha got my hair, the flower and the bag down to a T…


IMG_2486Me and my omnipresent camera…and factually correct earrings.


IMG_2768Thomas did this one, he got my hair, flower, bag and bindi, and the red lipstick! Genius!


IMG_5157Narasingh is not officially my student but drops by from time to time…it’s me working on my laptop! and he even caught how i always hook my bag on my chair. Bloody brilliant!!


P1250235Longtime student Angel drew this one.


P1260215Hemanth, giving me fabulous jewellery!!!