White Mice for Breakfast

"O mischief, thou art swift to enter in the thoughts of desperate men!"

Iberian Indulgence! July 1, 2010

This week, scallops, I will be describing the delectation of:

That’s right, TAPAS. Or to be more precise, certain delicious southern Spanish foodstuffs, the ciruelas of Córdoba, the mariscos of Murcia, the limón of the Levante, the ajo of Andalucia, all steeped in the aceite of Olivar del Desierto in the Tabernas desert.

Yes, crumpeteers! Your favourite intrepid literary food writer has been gadding away from the green shores in search of new and noteworthy dishes! And I am delighted to announce that my success has been as resounding as a ladle in a le cruset! Not only does your devoted Esther have news of sumptuous SPANISH sustenance, I have also located a new ‘Cheese of the Week’; so flip to a free page on your E.C. memo pads and watch out for another post hurtling into the stratosphere!

FIRSTLY, langostinos, we shall discuss the initial repast of the day, and although the beginning is a very odd place to start in my opinion (Leavis is also of a mind about this; why not simply plunge in mid-way, crumps, avoiding preliminary dilly dally? That singing nun has misled a whole generation, I’m sad to say) we shall begin with BREAKFAST.

Indeed, the daily desayuno. No metropolitan, Madrileño chocolades con churros to be found here, beets! Rather, the fascinating tradition of TOSTADA. A cheap, nom-licious dish, made from toasted baguette halves ‘barra’, pricked with a fork and drizzled with olive oil, before being rubbed with crushed, de-skinned tomatos and light flourish of salt. (In my case, I should also request a cafe SOLO, a coffee as strong and dark as a power-lifted covered in tar. But do not let me sway you, I’m sure cafe con leche is acceptable).

But Esther! I hear you cry. Surely this provides the perfect canvas, the base, for tasty additions? If, dear eaters, you have visions of serrano HAM, CHEESE, other ethereal savouries wafting o’er your palates, do not be alarmed. For indeed, this was also explored most thoroughly! Myself, being a traditionalist, sampled a simple tostada con tomato, ajo y manchego:

My dear friend Miss Pamela Vartue, on the other hand, braving the Andalucian sun and risking her fair complexion with only a jaunty continental hat for protection, was most inquisitive and sampled a fascinating TOSTADA of tomate y ajo con jamón serrano y huevos de codorniz: (tomato, garlic, serrano ham and quail egg… these sound infinitely nicer in Spanish, no?)

My other dear travelling companions also performed admirably in the food-discovery objective; I do believe Miss Vartue and Geraldine discovered some delectable mejillones, whilst Ms North fed my ever-increasing love affair with manchego and queso curado (and semi-curado for that matter…) and we all four  lit upon a wondr’ous dish of patatas alioli, a garlicky romance to the cuisine of Córdoba.

Although Leavis preferred to stay behind and read up on salmon, Barthes did attempt to tag along. Luckily we gave him the slip at the aerodrome, by shouting ‘By God, is that Empson by the luggage carousel?’ and running away while he was distracted.

Keep a watch for that cheese, dumplings!

Más mantequilla!

Esther. xxx


More Popular than Cheeses? Esther’s Cheese of the Week March 30, 2010

Filed under: Savoury Delicacies — theotherhand @ 2:34 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

This week, tartiflettes:

That’s right, perceptive readers! No thin-as-prosciutto word games, no mildly unrelated photographs, just DRUNK CHEESE.Or in actuality, UBRIACO.

Or in its gloriously precise wine-sodden reality, FORMAIO EMBRIAGO.

Yes, my over-excited reblochons! An exciting cheese indeed, un fromage ivre, un queso borracho; un formaggio ubriaco! Do try to contain yourselves, I intend to elaborate and find it most difficult when I know that my readers are pawing at the screen like cannibals at a tanning salon. DECORUM, dear frites, is the key to gastronomy success.

AnyWHO, formaggio ubriaco is a cheese which has been wined and dined, enveloped and enrobed by the fruity must of cabernet and merlot grapes, après the wine pressing has concluded. The cheese is then left in beautiful union with the must, for several days, a week, a delirious honeymoon of cheese and wine, two substances meeting, growing intimately familiar, reading Dr. Zhivago to each other, listening to classical love arias and watching the bella notte section from Lady and the Tramp, before being cruelly separated from each other, compelled by the force of fate to live alone; purple rind the only memory of the ill-fated, but magical love affair… Tragic, mon oeufs, but beautiful nonetheless.

Lumi’s hand encroaching on my embriago

HOW Esther, I hear you ask, how did you discover this fromagian romance? I shall tell you; this morning, myself and a long-term confidante, Lumi Salmonchee, paid a visit to a wonderful delicatessen, taking with us dear Ricky, who has been moping rather of late after all the fumé in the press about his personal life. (Poor man, I don’t see why coming out as a vegetarian would be of such interest to the press…)

During our long perusal of the cheese counter, I espied the purple-washed elegance of the Embriago, resting amongst the other, happier cheeses, wearing its pathos bravely with its subtle hint of tragic grape. Ricky immediately identified with it, and demanded tearfully that we purchase some for lunch. Lumi seemed less eager, engrossed as she was in gnawing at a block of Applewood.

CAN you imagine my surprise, butterbeans, when I was handed a slice costing FIVE GUINEAS AND FIVE SHILLINGS?! Lumi, of course, threatened to tell my acquaintances of the extravagant purchase. She will not, however, since have a good quantity of blackmail material on her. (Always good practice, crumpets) You’ll be pleased to know that Ricky had a delightful lunch, and is currently napping in the hammock on the verandah. This afternoon, we intend to get the crossbows out, and play ‘Shoot the bagels hung from the butler’s coat’, before baking some cookies and watching re-runs of Doogie Howser, M.D.

Delightful. Until elevenses, sweet Eccles,

Esther. xxx


More Popular Than Cheeses? Esther’s Cheese of the Week February 18, 2010

Filed under: Savoury Delicacies — theotherhand @ 7:29 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

This week:

... such thing as too much Brie... ... nom


That’s right, dear crumpeteers, BAKED CAMEMBERT. Not fried; not like those frozen-synthetic-greasy-cheeze-tubes-with-low-grade-redcurrant-gloop-with-incomprehensible-labels-from-Lidl… Hoooo, no, no. Jamais de la vie. But baked. Baked in an oven, profoundly aloof in its own wooden box, singular, empyreal… transcendental. Cheese in motion, quite literally.

Step back from the keyboard now. I have a picture.

Drool likelihood: HIGH.

Yes, I can read your cheese-tainted thoughts, my dear rollmops. Why adulterate such quintessence of flavour with an importunate sprig of rosemary? Is NOT the poetry of the cheese found in its subtle lightly peppered delicacy?

To this, I reply: let us not discriminate in the world of CAMEMBERT. Let us instead rejoice in its diversity, it’s potentiality. I myself recently enjoyed, nay REVELLED in a camembert of most elegant simplicity, with my acquaintance of many years, Dr. Hnoss. With reverent anticipation, we merely removed said cheese from its wrappings, sliced off the top, sprinkled it with salt and pepper and indulged, dear eaters, with some handy baguette and a bottle of nearby Cabernet.

But do not think the CAMEMBERT adventure ends here, rather to the contrary. The celebration continues, and I, your food maestro, intend to tread new paths into the baked cheese world, sampling it sprinkled with white wine, endowed with garlic cloves, crowned with cracked peppercorns…

To idiazabal and beyond!

Esther. xxx


Apéritif January 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — theotherhand @ 12:34 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

After developing a nasty habit of becoming addicted to several food blogs, I have decided to start my own; more to relieve the tension of looking at so many pictures of food, than to compete in any way with the genius of sites such as Foodporndaily, Pinch My Salt and Ezra Pound Cake. (I find this last name endlessly funny… please, bear with me)

To clarify, I love food. Perhaps a bit too much, hence the ‘desperate thoughts’ courtesy of Shakey: in my imagination, I eat the illegal foods. Like guilty online shopping, putting items in the basket with no intention of buying them, I linger wistfully in the cheese section, I have graphic fantasies about indulging in almond croissants, berry cheesecakes, chocolate berliners; I spread vivid mental feasts – goats cheese, tapenade, baguette, ciabatta, salted Normandy butter, oven roasted tomatoes and risottos full of cream and Gruyère – on imaginary Sicilian terraces…

…and get a bit overexcited.

In reality, unless I want to look like sea lion, I have to curb the deliciousness.

Welcome to the land of nom. Try not to drool on the keyboard.

Esther xxx