Wednesday, 31 August 2011


by Charlotte

A while back I went to Barcelona and ate some amazing food. Around the same time I started hearing about Barrafina, and how it was London's Cal Pep (the best tapas place in Barcelona). Finally, about a month ago I went to Barrafina, and yes, I will be going back.

Barrafina is tiny and popular so one should abide by these rules:
If you are dining there for lunch arrive at 12.15 ideally, 12.30pm latest
At dinner you should aim to arrive by 6.30, no later

The best thing about it is you sit at the counter, not a table in sight. You watch the chefs pour you a glass of insanely good Spanish sherry and cook your food. Everyone is friendly and there's a real Spanish vibe amongst the packed in, hungry, excitable crowd. I was lucky enough to be advised by a regular diner (he chose everything) and our menu consisted of:
Summer Sherry 'En Rama'
Pimientos de Padron
Jamón de Jabugo
Chipirones - deep fired tiny squid!
Chips with Brava Sauce
Tortilla - it was a special that day and the name escapes me, however, it was quite possibly the best tortilla that has ever touched my lips
Beer to finish

A second trip is imminent...

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Barbeque the Italian way

by Charlotte

I recently gave these two recipes to our local magazine, Living South. Having spent some time thinking about a particular bbq in the hills of Bologna 7 years ago. On this occasion we got scooted into the hillside on the backs of mopeds vaguely knowing to keep an eye out for a patch of sunlight woodland. We found it and all the guys started to make the barbeque, lay a table, cook the meat and make all the salads – pretty impressive to us girls. It was all about the food, everything had to be perfectly chopped, dressed, marinated and presented. It was a delicious feast that I’ll never forget. Here are two Italian recipes that are good for sharing with friends.

Spiedini di miale (pork kebabs) - this makes six seriously meaty, authentic Italian kebabs.

12 x 1 inch cubes of pork (I use pork fillet)

6 Italian sausages – Cumberland are a perfect substitute

6 slices streaky bacon, cut in half

18 sage leaves

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 lemon, zested and halved

Extra virgin olive oil

6 skewers, soaked if wooden

Firstly marinate the meat. Twist the sausages into three so they balloon, cut them and put them in a bowl with the pork and the halved bacon. Add 12 of the sage leaves to the bowl. Using a pestle and mortar crush the garlic, remaining sage leaves and lemon zest to a pulp and then add four tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of half the lemon. Pour over the meat, mix and leave to marinade for 1-3hours.

Skewer the kebabs; I roll the bacon (two rolls per skewer), fold the sage leaves in half and alternate with three pieces of sausage and two pieces of pork per kebab. Put on the barbeque. If you fancy, throw some rosemary sprigs onto the coals before you put the meat on so that the leaves flavour the kebabs while cooking. When the meat is golden and cooked through serve the kebabs with the remaining lemon juiced squeezed over them.

Radicchio - the round purple lettuce from the Veneto with a bitter taste.

1 large radicchio, halved lengthways

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Season the halved radicchio on the cut side with salt and pepper, and rub with olive oil. Barbeque cut side down for a few minutes until hot through – the closed leaves will actually keep in the steam and help the lettuce cook. Turn it over and grill for 3-4 minutes more. Splash with balsamic vinegar and serve as a super side dish.