Food Bloggers Unplugged

Well, who´da thunk it?! The lovely Betsy from Bits & Breadcrumbs passed this fabulous award on to me. In true Blogging style I have to answer a few questions and pass the baton on. Thanks Betsy, I´d be honoured!

1.   What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
It was two things.  First of all my lovely crafty friend Florence over at Florence and Freddie started blogging on WordPress and encouraged me to go for it.  Secondly, I had just finished writing City Slicka to Spanish Chica and wanted to try it out on a wider audience.  Still unpublished, but oh what fun to write.  And now I can say I have written a book, so I´m quite proud of that even though it needs a good edit.  Anyone know any editors….?

2.   Who is your foodie inspiration?
Lots of people, but I guess it started at home.  My beloved grandmother was the queen of cakes and taught me how to bake.  My mum was a 19 year old English girl who married an Italian and had to learn pretty damn quick.  My parents still laugh that the first meal she made him when he visited his future in laws was severely over cooked Spaghetti with tomato ketchup on it.  Fortunately she´s an amazing cook now and even ran her own catering company for many years.  Chef wise I love Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and finally I am now inspired daily by my fellow food bloggers.

My beautiful grandmother aged 26

3.   Your greasiest, batter – splattered food/drink book is?
It´s not a book, it´s a folder filled with recipes torn out of magazines, scribbled notes, print outs of recipes. I love it, but maybe I should get myself a new folder (ideally wipe clean) as it´s falling apart.

4.   Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
Oh, that´s hard, I´ve travelled a lot and eaten some amazing (and some revolting) meals. Freshly grilled fish on the beach in Bali, a papaya for breakfast in the Cook Islands, an amazing Seafood Feast in Watson´s Bay Australia, my auntie´s pasta in Calabria, an incredible Japanese meal at Nobu in Paris, fresh bread out of the village oven in Morocco….sorry, can´t make my mind up on that one.

Beautiful Bali

5.   Another food bloggers table you’d like to eat at is?
Can I go to a few please? How about something amazing and vegetarian with Natalie over at Cook Eat Live Vegetarian, of course, cocktails with Greg & Katherine at Rufus Food & Spirits Guide, a long night of pasta and cards with Chgo John From the Bartolini Kitchens, tea, scones and a walk round the Farmy with Celi from the Kitchens Garden, a visit to pick supper from Claire´s allotment over at Promenade Plantings and shopping at Mad Dog´s butcher followed by dinner.  Oh dear, I seem to have taken myself off round the world again!

6.   What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
Well, Christmas is long gone but ready for December 2012  I´d like to ask for something quite simple….an immersion blender. I have a knack of breaking things and this is probably one of the gadgets I use most in my kitchen. I´ve been in Spain 6 years and I think this is blender number 7 or 8 and is held together with Big Man´s electrical tape.  Mind you, we now don´t have a handle on the fridge door and the oven doesn´t work well and I´ve always fancied a wine fridge….

7.   Who taught you how to cook?
I´d love to say my mum and grandmother, and I suppose they did teach me the basics, but I am very much self taught. As soon as I left home I was off and experimenting (my poor friends) but I had great fun and built up my confidence to a point that I even taught a cookery class for a while.

My mum teaching Big Man how to cook a suckling pig...

8.   I’m coming to you for dinner what’s your signature dish?
Oh, that´s tough too. I guess it would depend on what time of year you came as I´d try to use as much of our own produce from the vegetable garden, our own eggs, perhaps our own chickens. Ok, as we´re in Spain I´ll do a lovely seafood platter to start, a chicken paella cooked outdoors, you can digest, take a walk or a dip then we´ll have whatever fresh fruit is in season with honey and almond ice cream, little cups of coffee and some of my cantuccini biscuits.

9.   What is your guilty food pleasure?
Now that one is easy.  Walkers Cheese & Onion Crisps.  And no, if you buy me some, I won´t share!

10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
I´m a trained and practising Psychometric Profiler as well as a (sort of ex) Human Resources Consultant. I think I used to scare people off (especially potential suitors) as they thought I was analyzing their every word or gesture.  And I probably was a lot of the time!
Finally…tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions…like a hot baked potato…pass it on.
I think many of the people I have already mentioned have already been tagged, but I´d like to mention a few new (to me) discoveries, the lovely blogs over at Ang Sarap, IamSimplyTia, FrugalFeeding, PeasePudding and SimpleSpeedySnacks.  They should all feel free to join in or not….but I do enjoy reading their blogs and hopefully you will too.

Many Reasons to Give Thanks

Well, what an end to the year we´ve had here Up The Mountain.

First of all, young Master Alfi, shaggy pup extraordinaire, runs under the wheels of Fish Man´s Van, but you´ve heard all about that already.

This was followed by a wonderful couple of days over Christmas with my parents, Big Man´s family, and way too much food and drink.

Then the first little disaster struck in the form of a terrible stomach virus which we are all still struggling to recover from today.  Hey ho, at least we didn´t put on weight and I still have a larder full of goodies to see us through a few weeks.

The most dramatic turn came on New Year´s Eve when my dad got taken into hospital suffering from a lung infection.  It was all rather scary for everyone, but after an entire day on drips and antibiotics he brightened up immensely and was allowed out, but only under condition that he took things quietly.  Supper was boiled rice and broth for him, and we officially declared 2012 at about 10pm when we ate our grapes, banged a saucepan with a wooden spoon and tucked him and my exhausted mum up in bed. Am giving huge thanks that it was quickly sorted and he is now on the mend.

 

At midnight, Big Man and I quietly celebrated again, so hopefully we´re due a double dose of good luck this year as we each ate 24 grapes that night!

Master Alfi then took a little turn for the worse, but now seems to have perked up.  Phew…not a few days I am likely to forget in a hurry.

All the drama-ramas aside, we did have a lovely time together and had plenty of fun too.

And awards….well, I was stunned and grateful to be given so many lovely awards over the Christmas period.  Time now to “say thank you nicely” as my mum taught me to do.

First off The Versatile Blogger Award.  Sandra and Kathy, two friends separated by many miles awarded me this, thanks ladies! Do check out their blog – I know you´ll love it.  The lovely Antoinette, otherwise known as Spree also awarded me the VBA – what an honour!  I´m still a fairly new reader of her blog, so join me in discovering all her wonderful posts. And this where I now have to make an embarrassing confession.  I was also given this award by 2 or 3 other blogging pals.  Sensibly I wrote the names of my kind awarders down on a piece of paper.  You know where I am going with this don´t you?  In a fit of Christmas helpfulness, lots of wrapping paper got thrown on the fire.  I can only think that this was the destiny of my list.  I am very ashamed that I can´t say a personal thank you to the very kind folk who nominated me…but to each and every one of you, I am humbled and grateful.  Thank you.

As I think I am already dumping a load of information on you, check out my previous answers here.

Now we come to the Reader Appreciation Award, passed on to me by ChgoJohn, surely a long lost Italian cousin.  Thank you John…you know I love your blog and am dying to pop on over one day and sit down with you and Zia and tuck into a plate of pasta and have a game of cards over a bottle of wine!

The “rules” of this award are posted here, but I am going to break them! I can´t pick out 6 people – far too few!  But I have updated my Blogroll finally and say that each and every one of you on there is deserving of this award in my (not so) humble opinion.  Yay – let´s party and celebrate!

I wanted to end with a chuckle, so as we haven´t yet got to the Christmas celebration of the 3 Kings on 6th January, have a little read of this story which relates the adventures of my very first Christmas out here with Big Man.  Thankfully, it was a little less full of drama…

My love and good wishes to you all, because without my readers and commenters I´d just be talking to myself… and that´s not always a good thing!