Saturday, 14th November
I don’t want to make anyone jealous, but…..
Jeanie and I have just returned from a wonderful, magical Spanish evening at Baybrooks Restaurant. It has seemed to be a long day. I slept badly, went to sleep in the small hours and got up late. The rest of the working day, what was left of it, was spent topping and tailing my file for the submission of my first Open University assignment of the year. It is a fiddly business, because not only is there 2000 words of my own words, but there needs to be 500 words of commentary, explaining why I’ve written what I’ve written the way I’ve done it. I’ve had nightmares about that. Then, there is the bibliography, what I’ve read that has influenced what I’ve written. The detail of that takes a lot of time. Finally, I have to put the computer code in for two pieces on the student shared forum, one where I’ve contributed and one where I’ve commented on something another student has written. I finally saved the final version this evening and I hope to send it to my tutor tomorrow after having a final read through. I always have kittens about getting the detail right. Nearly always, after the event, I think, ‘I’ve forgotten to do that’, and this evening I’ve had just such a thought.
So, it has been good to go out tonight. It has been a splendid evening at Baybrooks. Here in Spain, you would think that we did Spanish all the time. Not so within the expatriate community. We could eat traditional German, Italian, French, Belgian, Swedish food every day. It is difficult to get past the bill boards advertising ‘Traditional English Full breakfast’, ‘Sunday roast with three veg,’ always served with Yorkshire pudding and stuffing whatever sort of meat it is, ‘Fish and Chips with mushy peas.’ So, tonight it has been a joy to be at Baybrooks. They have done a Spanish tasting menu and I am bloated as I come home.
At Baybrooks, we always choose a bottle of their house white wine. It comes from Jumilla near us up in the hills. We have visited vineyards there, a winery and we’ve had a wine tasting at a Jumilla bodega. Baybrook’s white is light but with a distinct flavour on the palate. It has been a perfect complement for what we have eaten tonight. Spain has been home to many wonderful artists: Picasso, Jean Miro, Dali, Velazquez. A collection of artists - of perhaps it was a coven of kitchen wizards - were in residence tonight at Baybrooks. Thank goodness it was a tasting menu with suitable mouthsful of food. I was well and truly stuck by the time we reached the fourth course, although I managed to devour the sweet.
I’ve never seen a restaurant table setting with so much cutlery. The table groaned under the weight. The appetiser was a delicately prepared salad, lots of contrasting ingredients with Rosquilletas (tiny, hard bread nibbles, grissini - but Spanish rather than Italian) with tomato puree and aioli. If you haven’t had aioli, you have not yet lived a full life. Alioli is mayonnaise Spanish style with garlic. Next we moved on to the pinchos, small slices of bread roll, with fillings: Spanish ham and peppers; goats cheese with caramelised red onion; a very clever sausage selection all accompanied by a tiny cocktail glass of Salmorejo soup.
The restaurant was a full as it could be under current regulations. The fish course came next. Spicy pil pil prawns in a tasty olive oil dressing, vinaigrette mussels with more delicately arranged salad, a small portion of cod with a slightly chillied tomato sauce to take the away the blandness and choritzo stuffed calamari. The Spanish do like their fish and they do like it in variety.
By the time the main course arrived, I was ready to call a halt. However, it was served, part of the total bill whether I ate it or not. It was again delicately and imaginatively presented, tender - and indeed, falling apart - Rioja Beef Cheek with perfectly cooked rice and roast Mediterranean vegetables. It was delicious but I was only able to eat part. The dog will enjoy my residue tomorrow. Strangely, having wilted at the main course, I was able to scoff the tiny portions of creme catala with its slightly crusty crust, the tarta de Santiago (Saint James Cake) and the turron (nougat) ice cream. To top it all, I was able to enjoy a small glass of local brandy, served Baybrook’s style, over a glass of hot water to warm the brandy.
Jeanie and I have a very boring topic of conversation. Most days, we look at each other and say, ‘Aren’t we lucky’. And we are. Eating out is only one of the features of our luck. Tomorrow, at 1.30, we have an appointment with a traditional English roast lunch. I hope my stomach can cope.
Don’t overeat! It is ever so easy. Stay safe. Stay careful.