Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Good friends on Day Trip to Ronda

Ronda Ronda Ronda, a great place to have a day out if youre stuck up some hill somewhere in the darkest mountain range somewhere nearby, Ronda can seem like a positive metropolis.

What to buy? Well shoes of course what a silly question! Rondas shopping streets are absolutely jam packed with shoe shops, large and small, exclusive and not so exclusive some even- well one in particular actually proudly announces that you are actually in the cheapest shoe store in Spain, yes well I dont think that RondeƱan shoe store owners are particularly bothered about libel laws as long as the ever shoe hungry tourist or general shopper thinks theyre getting a bargain who cares. If you dont fancy shoes then underwear is the next glutted market. Several years ago it was pretty hard to find a decent bra or knickers in this rather conservative market town, but after one entrepreneurial shop owner decided to open an underwear store the rest of Rondas shop owners promptly thought the same- great now everyone can choose from over six underwear shops i did actually wonder whether maybe RondeƱans washing machines were swallowing loads of pairs of knickers and maybe this might explain why Rondas drainage problems are so severe when theres heavy rainfall but then realised this was actually a pretty stupid idea- it must just be all those knickerless tourists that keep them in business. If you can or rather arent bothered if you can fit into miniscule pairs of knickers although seeing the size of the average Spanish ladies bottom I have to wonder whose buying these hard to see items, there are quite a few icecream shops to indulge ones fancy after all what else does a person need when on holiday if its not knickers shoes or icecream - oh of course theres all that useless stuff they sell in the gift shops.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Tips for successfull planting of winter veg in Andalucia

So the weekend is over with a little rain to water the freshly planted baby lettuces, cabbage onions etc. After a long hot summer the autumn has finally arrived. The lower temperatures are perfect for planting out winter crops especially lettuce and cabbage- spinach and carrots should already have been seeded as they need that bit of extra warmth to get them growing soon enough before the colder temperatures set in, same for peas of any variety. Down here in Southern Andalucia weve been experiencing extremely mild October weather which for the moment seems to be continuing well into November. Luckily this inhibits the profileration of slugs and snails the bane of baby lettuce and cabbage plants. Make sure you prepare the ground well by first digging the plot over ( choose a plot that will get plenty of winter sun ie a south or east facing bit of the garden) and then once the soil has dried out abit you can then hoe it to a fine texture ready for planting. One of the most important parts of preparing vegetable beds is to make sure they have plenty of nutrients, so a good dose of manure is recommended. Its important to make sure you leave enough space between plants- they might be small now but in a few months youll be surprised at how much they can grow especially with the right care, and then they will definately appreciate the space and you will be able to work the soil easier. Make a small hole which you should then fill with extra manure mixed with the surrounding soil and then plant the seedlings so that theyre roots are well covered without sinking them. Follow this with a gentle watering at the root after which you can firm the soil again making sure that they are well anchored. If in the following days the weather is clear and sunny the plants will suffer from too much sun so its important to shade them using either loose straw left over from clearing or also spare roof tiles work really well (making a little triangular roof by leaning one against the other). Depending on the weather the new plants will need regular watering until their roots are established enough to benefit from deep down moisture. With the right care lettuces can be ready for harvest within 3 months and cabbages within 5 months. Happy eating!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

insider tips for great tapas in Ronda Malaga Spain

So its getting a bit chilly here in the mountain town of Ronda, the third most visited location in Spain, and although its not the best time of year for sitting out on the terraces of the bars and cafes it is a great time to get inside and cosy up with the effervescent locals- that way you can really experience what its like to "tapear" in this gastronomically varied and acclaimed town.

Having lived in the surrounding area for the last 17years and being based for the last year in this beautiful town I have discovered some really great tapas bars. I personally much prefer this method of eating as it means you get to try out lots of different tastes and flavours while managing to keep both the waistline and the purse in a healthy state. The use of the word tapa originates from being served something small on a small saucer to essentially cover your drink presumably from the threat of invading flies or wasps. It has since become synonymous with eating out in Spain although the free tapa has pretty much become extinct.

So onto my personal faves .

Definately one of the most authentic and for those on a budget the cheapest tapas bars is The Lechugita situated just off the Plaza Socorro - the speciality of the house has also lent its name to the bar and is just that a half roman lettuce marinated in a delicious lemony dressing; crunchy, refreshing and the perfect thing on a hot dry afternoon. The menu features various toasts with blue cheese and serrano ham, or quince jam with goats cheese. All the tapas are 70c although you can get a larger plate of various meat dishes for around 5e. The best thing about this bar is its authenticity although that inevitably means a pretty spit and sawdust approach- preferable in some cases to the over decorated rustic venues that seem to abound in the Serrania.

Onto one of the best fish tapas bars Los Caracoles located on a side street opposite the Bus Station, easy to spot by the big barrels that serve as tables outside on the street and the inevitable crowds. The speciality here is also the name of the restaurant so if you enjoy a nibble on our slippery freinds this is definately the bar for you. They also have a range of fish tapas and most notably large fresh prawns, and various shell fish. Its best to get here early on an evening as it becomes packed out pretty quick.

Bar Faustino just off the main shopping street is also a great place to get a decent bite to eat, specialising in gorgeous fried mushrooms and boquerones and purpeta which is basically a fillet of pork stuffed with a delicious filling and served in alittle caserole dish in a tasty sauce and the obligatory potatoes.

Well after all this talk of food I could well do with a top up myself so Im off maybe to discover a new favorite bar.........................