Too Much Of A Good Thing!

Over the past seven years I think I have managed to sustain a positive, upbeat outlook in my posts to this blog, and that's a good thing because you don't come on here to read of doom and gloom, which is just as well; doom and gloom has not been a feature of living in Frigiliana. Sometimes though the circumstances, to borrow one of my mother's phrases, would try the patience of a saint.
Since the end of June we have been beset by constant heatwave temperatures, and on the threshold of August we know that we can anticipate at least another five weeks of this heat or hotter. To give you an idea, I have just read that at half past two this morning, Frigiliana was recorded as having the tenth highest temperature in Spain - 32.6 degrees. I do my best not to use the cooker more than absolutely necessary, and the oven not at all. It's not just that you don't feel like eating much, but the temperature in my kitchen varies between 30 and 32 degrees. My heart goes out to all the professional cooks who have to endure temperatures much higher than that to keep customers fed.
On that subject, i am baffled bythe dietary practices of my fellow-countrymen over here on holiday. How can anyone sit down at lunchtime and demolish a plate of beefburger and chips in this weather - and then head out for another cooked meal in the early evening? We will probably settle for a bowl of chilled soup for lunch, and then we've decided to venture out this evening towards nine o'clock and risk a pizza on the plaza.
I know you shouldn't wish your life away, particularly at my age, but roll on September!


The Big Siesta

The afternoon break when workers take off two or more usually three hours off during the hottest part of the day, and then return to work for another three hour period from around five o'clock, is not as universally observed as it once was, but it is still basically the norm. For those of us who no longer work, the two months of July and August are passed as, in effect, a mega-siesta. Most days, most of the daylight hours are just too hot to do anything except the stricty necessary. I've mentioned this more than once before, possibly even every year, but it helps to explain why a particular problem arises with regard to this blog. What can I write about, when I don't do anything to write about?
Well, I don't actually do nothing at all, of course; one thing my wife and I do is go out in the evening to eat. last Saturday we were at The Garden Restaurant in the village, and last night we ate at El Mirador, also in the village. Next Saturday we still haven't decided. It could Oshun or it could be El Adarve, both also in the village.
It's a constant source of amazement to me that, even with the number of visitors to the village, with a population of less than three and a half thousand, Frigiliana manages to support four top-end restaurants. One would be pretty impressive, but four!
El Mirador, where we ate last night has evolved over recent years from a venue specialising in distinctive but authentically Spanish dishes, to a truly international cuisine that would hold its own anywhere in Spain, and probably in Europe. I started with a carpaccio of venison dressed with a cheese that perfectly complemented it, 'miel de caña', the local version of molasses which is still produced here in the village; like molasses, but much lighter, and topped by crisp raw vegetables. I followed with fillets of sea bass gently fried, served on a bed of Thai style stir fried vegetables and accompanied by a spicy mango salsa. My wife chose a salad of warm goats' cheese with caramelised onion and a leafy salad with miel de caña and the mango salsa at the side. Her salmon steak was cooked perfectly and served with the stir fried vegetables and pureed potato. A lovely surprise was the wine. Rafa, the co-owner refused to bring the wine list, but said that he wished to surprise me with a special bottle of red wine, on the house. Rafa is from Uruguay and I've had a dig at him in the past that he has no wines from his own country on his extensive and very carefully chosen list. Last night he presented us with a bottle of Urugayan red wine from the Tannat grape, a grape native to the French Basque region which has very successfully made the transition to Uruguay, where it produces wines with fine, balanced tannins and a lovely blackberry flavour. It now has a place on his updated wine list!
Make a note of the links below if ever you are coming to stay - or better still, live - in Frigiliana.

El Mirador: Info@mirador-frigiliana.com
The GardenRestaurant: www.garden-restaurant-frigiliana.com
Oshun: oshungastronomy@gmail.com
El Adarve: www.restauranteeladarve.com

You won't be disappointed by any of them.


The Heat Comes Early

It's been interesting to read about the heatwave in the UK, which has come sweeping up the Channel from the Bay of Biscay, but of course it didn't originate there; it has come up from North Africa. And to get to northern parts of Europe it has had to cross the Iberian Peninsula. So we too are in the grip of a heatwave. The big difference is that whilst the UK was lashed by thunderstorms which took some of the sting out of the heat, the earliest that we can expect to see any serious rain is late September/early October.
On the Mediterranean coast we have some moderating effects from the sea, so we have been having maximum temperatures of 32 to 34 degrees, although 36/37 is forecast for the start of next week. Inland, it has been much more oppressive (and still is). Madrid has regularly seen 40 degrees and both Sevilla and Córdoba have been as high as 42 degrees. This is nothing new. It happens every year; but not as early as this! Usually we associate this degree of heat with late July and August, so the question on people's minds is, is this a spike or must we endure it - and possibly higher temperatures still - until early September? And if it is indeed an early start to the hot weather, why should we assume that it will subside on time?
Fortunately, when we renovated our property after buying it we drew on our experience of visiting family in Northern Queensland during their summer. As a result, we installed air conditioning units in the living room and all three bedrooms, as well as ceiling fans, so we are able to combat the heat in a way which most of our Spanish neighbours can't. Our winter heating allowance actually gets spent as a summer cooling allowance.