2016 Spring Trip To Spain – Day 11

Yaaaaaaaaaawn, what a busy day, it is 21.50 now, my feet are aching and I am only just starting my blog. Sorry Carol!

We were both up pretty early, Garrath was up by 07.15 because today was the day for freezer diving and jam making. I wanted to make chilli jam so we retrieved the chillies from the freezer plus the lemons necessary for sourness and pectin. It is best to take the green tops off chillies while they are still frozen (many years of experience here) so I set about that task immediately. The fact that I had sliced my thumb open the other day made the wearing of rubber gloves a necessity.

When I weighed the chillies I realised that I didn’t have enough for a big batch of jam and would need to acquire more somehow. I remembered that I had purchased some really good dried, whole chillies at the Cooperativa next to one of our favourite restaurants, El Riu, in the mountains.

Garrath was having another really bad, flat battery day so I proposed that we leave the lemons (4.7 kilos in total) to thaw in their own time, I would drive us to the Cooperativa to buy chillies and we would lunch at the restaurant. That got a very positive reaction from Garrath so we prepared accordingly. The prospect of Tarta De Nueces (Walnut Tart) enlivened Garrath so much that I am thinking of asking them to ship it to the UK to keep his spirits up.

The drive to El Riu is another hairpin bend ride, not quite so challenging as yesterday’s mountain run, but interesting nonetheless. I think I shall label this holiday (well holiday in part) The Hairpin Trip.

I purchased the necessary jars of chillies from the Cooperativa before we had lunch for fear of them selling out. Like everything sold there, they are extremely high quality.

Lunch was, as ever, a real delight. And for me a really messy delight. More of that later. We had the usual appetisers, aioli and a salsa with bread for Garrath and boiled potatoes for me, then Garrath chose Croquetas (a gluten fest) for starters while I had Embutidos (mountain sausages). We also ordered a salad to share. Garrath had Presa de Cerdo Iberico while I had Conejo Con Tomate (Rabbit in tomato and garlic sauce.) For dessert Garrath had his beloved Tarta De Nueces while I had Lemon Sorbet.

Back to the messy delight thing. I know me. I always and up wearing a significant portion of my food so this time I put the napkin across my chest and tucked the ends under my bra straps. That was a very good idea because once I had dressed the salad with oil and orange vinegar, and started on the oily, squirty sausages, nobody within three feet of me was safe from a clothes spoiling spraying. The Conejo Con Tomate was even more messy. Honestly, the only way to eat rabbit is with your fingers, and with the delicious, oil rich, garlicky, blood coloured tomato sauce, by the end of the main course I looked like a particularly greedy but clumsy vampire. Thank goodness for the precaution of the chest covering napkin!

We drove back from the restaurant and called into the Altea garden centre in search of a magical fertiliser that Marijke alerted us to some years ago but the local garden centre no longer sells. A charming man with that delicious, gravelly Spanish voice helped us and we got what we wanted.

After that it was a stop at the Chinese supermarket for jam jars and lids. They had just 24 of the size I wanted on the shelf so we bought all 24. Mrs Grumpy on the checkout (I have never ever seen her smile) organised a box for us and we proceeded on to Mercadona for sugar for the jam and other essentials like the whisky cream liqueur that we refer to as ‘pudding’ and the disposable rubber gloves to protect my recently sliced thumb.

When we got back to the house I set about doing the incredibly time consuming and laborious task of de-pipping and slicing the thawed lemons, rehydrating and chopping the dried chillies. That would have been agony without the rubber gloves. Thank you Mercadona for saving me pain.

Once the lemons and rehydrated chillies were done I pressure cooked them until they were very soft, then whizzed them with the stick blender. (Releasing the pressure on the pressure cooker perfumed the house deliciously.) I then softened the fresh chillies by steaming them in the microwave, whizzed them, added then to the lemon and rehydrated chilli mix and whizzed again. Then I added 5 kilos of sugar and stirred until it was dissolved, covered the mix in preparation for tomorrow’s boiling and bottling.

After doing the washing up I was then free to sit down, enjoy resting my weary feet and writing my blog – oh yes, and of course a whisky cream liqueur or two (sooooooo good for sore feet!)