16 April 2014

A Date with a Boy

You know that moment in a film when characters meet and a spark ignites?

They stay awake all night talking as if they've known each other for years.

Before they know it, it's morning. Time is running out and one of them has a flight to catch, but for some reason they would both rather stay here in this moment, forget about the outside world, and carry on talking to each other.

They will probably never see each other again.

Except, one of them plucks up the courage and says: "Hey, why can't we see each other again?"

"Yes", says the other. And both breathe a sigh of relief.

So there I was, about to catch a flight to England for a date with a boy I'd met once.

Some might call me crazy, stupid or a fool, but all I needed was Mummy to say "just go" as a sign of approval.

Excitement filled the air as I landed at the airport, but I was a bag full of nerves and had butterflies in my stomach. My nerves calmed down when I finally saw him in arrivals, but I was still a little sceptical of what to expect this weekend!

I thought those Prince Charming-types we read about in books only existed in movies in the form of Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen or Eddie Redmayne, but I was wrong.

Once in a while, someone amazing comes along...

I was utterly spoilt this weekend and got treated like a princess from start to finish. I kept expecting the clock to strike midnight. It was so refreshing and re-instated my faith in gentlemen. Romance is still alive ladies!

We made the yummiest, naughtiest and unhealthiest chocolate milkshakes with these ingredients whilst I was there:
He cooked for me (and I do like a guy who knows his way around the kitchen!):

Homemade deliciously cooked salmon with improvised (my invention!) sweet chilli sauce
Asian stir fry pork on a bed of rice and salad.
And they both tasted as good as they look!

On Saturday, though, I got really really spoilt. He knows that steak is one of my favourite foods so took me to one of the finest steakhouses in Winchester.

The Porterhouse is a chic modern restaurant in the heart of the historic town.

He ordered for us both.

White wine for me. A Corona for him.

Grilled calamari marinated in rosemary to start.
 Then the porterhouse steak to share: 32 oz (900 gr - almost 1 kg!!!) of pure unadulterated meat.
It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, just as steak should be, and cooked to perfection. You couldn't help eat it without mouthfuls of 'uuuhhhs' and 'aaahhhs' and 'hhmmms'.

When it arrived I thought there is no way we are finishing it! But not a scrap of meat was left on our plates....

He might be a gentleman and I might look like a lady, but I certainly didn't eat like a lady tonight! 
Before I could blink, the bill was swiped from under my nose and he completely ignored my objections at paying!!

Damn these modern women trying to interfere with the gentlemen way!

I just really couldn't keep a smile off my face, the evening was perfect. 
My weekend was fun, exciting and new, but it was also a very scary, ridiculous and utterly crazy thing for me to do! I don't regret going for a second.

The only advice I can give you is face your fears. Be a little crazy and impulsive sometimes. You don't know where it will take you. If something scares you and you don't do it, you will only regret it later. If it doesn't kill you, then why not? You never know what might happen!

12 April 2014

Chocolate Strawberry Brunch

The 3rd of April is a very special date in our family.

Firstly (and most importantly), it's my Nanna's birthday.

Secondly, it's the date my parents first moved to Spain 24 years ago.

Thirdly, it's the opening anniversary of their restaurant 'Bogarts', a whopping 22 years ago!

It's also the day I made these bad boys for the first time!
Okay, Okay. I'm getting ahead of myself. I got too excited!

Anyways, today is all about Nanna.

Most of my childhood memories are filled with images of hot summers spent round by her pool with my brother and my cousins. Playing in and out of the water with the rest of the "Calypso crew", wrecking havoc and marrying off the younger children to one another (sorry JoBro!).

I am so grateful for growing up living only 5 minutes away from my grandparents who were like 2nd parents to me, who loved me, fussed me and would do anything for me. I am so fortunate to have experienced that kind of love and kindness which has made me the way I am today.

It's also part of the reason why I am a Welsh rugby fanatic, feel proud to say I am half Welsh and feel more at home in Wales than any other part of the UK.

I had a date in the British countryside this weekend (I will tell you more about that later!) and was flying to England tonight, so I'd decided to organize a little birthday brunch for Nanna before my departure.
We started with Cava bellinis. 
Then Nanna cried over the beautiful messages in her birthday cards
And opened her presents
Her favourite shop: Punto Roma, because they share the same initials: P.R.
Candy wanted to join in the celebrations too, but nobody would play with her.
"Uh yeah, right behind the ears there love"

Then it was brunch time and Nanna couldn't wait to tuck in!
My family always seems to be on a constant health kick, so I thought a healthy brunch would be perfect. 

A little bit of tomato and olive oil, fresh fruit salad, yoghurt etc...

Except the parents cooked naughty bacon and eggs, so naturally the poor fruit got shunned!

Until my healthy flour-less banana pancakes came out and wowed everyone! Then they were craving the fruit!

I had mine with crispy bacon, syrup and a good helping of fruity goodness. 
You could even have it with a good dollop of fresh yoghurt and honey. Yummm
Then these indulgent beauties made an appearance
Aren't they just beautiful?

Spanish strawberries are in season right now so they tasted AMAZIIING! 
I can't explain to you how good the combination of chocolate with the deliciously sweet-tasting strawberry was. 
My only regret is that I didn't have enough time for the chocolate strawberries to cool off so I could then double dip them in to the white or milk chocolate for a double chocolate effect.

I will just have to make them again.

I was a dutiful daughter/grandaughter and did most of the washing up whilst the adults chatted and reminisced about the olden days in Spain. 
I think Nanna enjoyed!

A little birdie told me she ended up at Bogarts with a a couple of certain little sidekicks (ehem, Mags and Mick) in the evening... Who turned Nanna's birthday into a whole weekend celebration!

Well I guess you can party all day when you are retired!

It's time for me to go now! Wish me luck in England!

10 April 2014

Platos Mineros

Jonathan, Ana and I decided to leave the Gran Vía and head back North to where he lives to have some dinner on my last night in Madrid.

It had been such a great weekend, I was actually quite sad to leave.

La Mina is a cute little bar just up the road from JoBro's flat, near Francos Rodríguez.

We rushed in from the rain and the cold, brushed the raindrops off our jeans and warmed up with some cañas, which came with a tapa de patatas alioli.

I'm not a big fan of cold potatoes, but not to worry, Jonathan soon demolished the entire plateful!
We ordered a couple of raciones of food (like big portions of tapas) and a couple of platos mineros, which are miner's dishes.

We couldn't quite work out why they were called "platos mineros" then realized we were sitting in "La Mina", 'The Mine'. The entire restaurant was themed around miners and mines, which was pretty cool considering all of our Welsh ancestors worked in the mines.

So I felt we were paying homage to them!
The food was classically Spanish and homemade; effortlessly simple and delicious.

Homemade croquetas straight from the frier
 They were rich and creamy and filled with jamón
 And shamelessly eaten with our hands
 Definitely some of the best croquetas I have ever had!
 There were so many patatas bravas!
 Which we dunked in alioli and salsa brava.

The alioli, 'garlic mayonnaise', soothes down the spicy salsa brava.
Albóndigas, 'meatballs', with more patatas. 
 And huevo, chorizo and, you guessed it, patatas.
I was so full after eating so many patatas, but they were so delicious we just couldn't stop!
Us girls might be smiling, but we were hiding our food babies under the table!
The weather outside was still appalling so it was home time for us. 

All three of us cosied up on the bed with Cola Cao (hot chocolate) and watched el peliculón de las 10 on Antena 3 which was Evan Almighty. 
I had no shame in third wheeling the couple. Eventually they went out with friends for some Saturday night fun, which meant I got the double bed and the TV all to myself! Muahahaha. I soon drifted off into dreamland and managed to get some shut eye before my early train back home to Málaga in the morning. 

I had such a great time in Madrid! Thank you JoBro for looking after me!