Valencian Vacation Exquisite Cuisine…


Edible Highlights of my Recent Trip to Oliva, Spain

As a rather grey gloom descends over my part of Hampshire recalling my recent trip to Spain brings back wonderful feelings but also a little sadness that it is over! The food was fabulous and we met so many wonderful restauranteurs and waiters. The people of Oliva are serenely calm folk and their way of life is incredibly enviable. It was so cheap too.

I could not believe it. A beer and a tapa of jamon and bread with olive oil for example was a crazy 1 euro 50….

IMG_4525 This jamon was actually from Aragon – I bought 100gm straight afterwards for just 3 euros…mmmmm….!!!

The fish was delectable and we ate a lot. Anyway, here is a montage of shots of food and life where we stayed.

IMG_4466 First day shopping at the local supermarket -Mercadona – I could live in this shop!! –  5 -yes, 5 ladies on the fish counter alone! Our local supermarket here struggles to provide one! And this is about 4 times the size of my local fish counter – and we are an island!!

And so much choice it took my breath away…

IMG_4463 IMG_4464


IMG_4524 Locally caught caracolas…


and squid a plenty…



IMG_4522  And this was the indoor market – air conditioned and packed with amazing meat, fish and veg stalls as well as 2 great tapas bars.


Click on the next picture to get the full panorama of this haven….


IMG_4490 A medley of fish for supper one evening including beautiful boquerones…

And then a little more! …swordfish with pan fried octopus…stunning…


IMG_4563  Sardines….

and succulent chipirones  IMG_4586

IMG_4460 Squid a la plancha….

A real favourite of mine was the exquisite empanadas in the tapas bars…one here is filled with morcilla and the other with spinach and tomato. IMG_4580

IMG_4531  I came across this too – never had it before – a mix of chorizo and morcilla – rich and succulent and a perfect accompaniment to a cold beer!

IMG_4533  My kids loved me making patatas braves for lunch by the pool…with a variety of meats cooked a la plancha….

IMG_4532.…and we all adore the pimentos padrón.


Refreshing desserts too….


All washed down with a variety of beverages from ice cold rosé…to cava…to one of my favourite beers…Estrella from Barcelona…as well as mojitos, martinis and dessert wines!


And as well as all the fabulous array of food…I will miss my pool!


And I bet you are thinking ..why has he not mentioned anything about the classic

Valencian paella??

Well, I had an amazing one at a truly wonderful restaurant called Ca Fran…but that meal and restaurant deserves a post of its own…so hang fire…it is on its way!

Hasta pronto!

Valencia bound


From Alfredo’s With Love On Summer Break!


The time is almost here – tomorrow I will be off to a villa just south of Valencia near Oliva, not far from the Costa Azahar…I cannot wait. Peace and quiet amongst the orange and lemon groves. Heaven! The weather here has been great this week in Hampshire with highs of 30 degrees and we have also been graced by a couple of seriously spectacular electrical storms the last two nights.

Weather in Valencia region looking v promising too…



Food this week has been barbecues and paellas and cold spreads, home made pestos and salads.





This morning I got in the desayuno mood with scrambled eggs topped with several slices of lightly pan fried jamon serrano. Working on my Spanish too with a fab app called…wait for it…Cat Spanish – it is very good and highly recommended!

I will, I assure you, be taking lots of food photos whilst away and will post on my return plus any new recipe ideas.

I hope you all have a peaceful and relaxing time wherever you are this summer, surrounded by friends, family, good food and wine!


Hasta luego!


A fire in my hand…


A fire in my hand...

I am excited today…excited at the prospect of a new venture and a new partnership…a partnership with a wonderful artist and illustrator called Bonnie Lalley from the States. I feel,just like the painting, that I have fire in my hands! We have both been inspired by each others work – so much so that Bonnie will send me a painting inspired by my recipes or I will write… inspired by a painting she has sent me. So here we go….

When I first set eyes on this piece of work by Bonnie I was suddenly transported to Spain. I am heading out to Valencia in the summer – land of the late harvesting princely Valencian Orange. Sweet, juicy and warm in every sense, This hand is holding on tight to this precious cargo and no wonder…it is one of the demi gods of the citrus world.

I was put in mind of a salad I had a few years ago out in Northern Spain….a simple yet satisfying and sensual salad centred around the Valencian Orange.

Valencian Orange and Walnut Salad with Olive Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:
10 finely chopped small black olives – kalamata or hojiblanca would be ideal
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 garlic clove – skinned and crushed
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A grind or two of sea salt
Chopped walnuts or almonds or both!
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 Valencian oranges – or any good juicy types
1 seriously large handful baby of rocket
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Right, for the vinaigrette pop all the ingredients into a small bowl. Whisk well and set to one side.
Peel the oranges. Cut each orange in half, remove the pith and cut crosswise into 8 segments. Set aside.
Divide the rocket onto four plates. Top with the orange slices. Add a few sprinklings of the chopped nuts-you could toast them too. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Oranges are a gift from God and a fruit we take for granted. We must not. We must hold them close and cherish them.

And I want to end with a truly beautiful poem…a favourite of mine..and one that goes so well with this painting.

By Gary Soto

The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore. We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted –
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickle in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickle from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all

A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

I hope you enjoy our collaboration…who knows where it will take us!

Thank you ,’s to a good year. Please, please visit her site…she is on my blogroll..(No 40 on those I follow.)