Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Cultural Challenges of Jellied Fruit Salad

One thing I always find curious is how folks who live in North America think that the culture in England is pretty much the same as it is there. Certainly, when I immigrated to England in the late 1980's I did not anticipate there would be any culture shock at all, particularly in terms of food and eating. How wrong I was.

Even the way in which we all eat is different. As a child in Canada, I was taught to cut with my fork in my left hand and my knife in my right hand, sitting down the knife before transferring my fork to my right hand and using it to bring the food to my mouth. I can remember being admonished to "put your knife down April!". However, here in England, we hold our forks in our left hands and our knives in the right, and use the knife to help push the food on to the fork. The fork always stays in the left hand and the knife is rarely laid down. In fact, mothers here admonish their children to "use your knife and fork together". It was quite a shock when I heard myself telling my son to do that when he was little. That was when I knew I had truly been assimilated. (Apparently resistance really is futile!)

The foods we eat and they way we eat them are different too. And I'm not talking about stereotypical foods here either. It always amuses me how folks think all British people have kippers for breakfast. The truth is, I don't know many people who like kippers here and I have never, ever seen them served except once in a very posh bed and breakfast. I'm talking about things like how in England folks often pour cream on to a piece of cake, particularly if it is chocolate. This perplexed me endlessly when I first arrived here - why put cream on a cake with icing? My British husband was equally perplexed by my insistance on serving ice cream with cake. He found it very strange indeed. Eventually I managed to integrate that custom with great success amongst my family and friends but only after being on the receiving end of many puzzled looks. There are many more examples of culinary related cultural differences, not the least of which will lead me to my next recipe.

Now one of the things I love about entertaining in Canada is that buffets are often chosen as an easy, relaxed way of feeding friends and family. Here in England, they are less popular. Entertaining leans heavily towards the formal. This meant that when I arrived in England, my first experiences of entertaining were extremely stressful. "Entertaining" seemed to usually mean "dinner party". Suddenly I needed to produce three and four course meals involving last minute preparation, something I had never done before. I didn't want anyone to know how adrift I felt, nor did I want to appear foreign, so I learned to cook more and more elaborate dishes. Now I really enjoy having dinner parties, unlike the scared twenty-something I was all those years ago. The number of times I nearly had a nervous breakdown in the kitchen back then doesn't bear thinking about.

The few buffets you will attend in England contain radically different things than their counterparts in North America. Whereas in Canada and the US, you will find cold meats, cheeses, breads, devilled eggs and salads of all kinds including jellied fruit salads and marshmallow salads like ambrosia, in England you are more likely to find a lot of hot dishes, things like chicken drumsticks, pizza slices, quiche, meat pies etc. The jellied salads I love to see on a buffet caused much confusion amongst my British guests (and my husband) when I did finally serve a buffet some years ago in London. Had I placed a dessert on the main course buffet by mistake? No, I assured everyone, the jellied salad was supposed to be there. British people can be very outspoken, particularly when tradition is being messed with, and I was told by a large number of my guests that serving something jellied and sweet with the main course was extremely odd. I was very hurt, and until recently, never did a jellied salad grace a buffet of mine again.

But last Saturday I was thrilled to welcome several Canadian family members to my house for a visit and decided to serve a traditional Canadian buffet - including jellied fruit salad. This created a few minor complications. I had to get in touch with a cousin for the recipe as my recipe seems to have disappeared. When I received it, I realised that the ingredient were going to pose a bit of a challenge. Jello, the powdered gelatin dessert mix so popular in North America, has never made it across the pond. Instead we have Hartley's Jelly Cubes. I find these little rubbery cubes a bit strange and really miss the lovely technicolour Jello powders. I was worried about quantities as well. But I persevered and managed to tweak the recipe for the British market. I hope to encourage folks over here to start making it too. Perhaps it will be like the cake and ice cream tradition I've managed to bring in! Anyway, here are both recipes. If you live in England (or anywhere else this dish is not common), I urge you to give this a try, even if you do decide to serve it for dessert. It's delicious and very easy. And if you live in North America, do make this old favourite again soon - it's a yummy blast from the past.

(Just to preclude anything getting lost in translation, when I refer to fruit cocktail I mean canned chunks of fruit in syrup in a tin NOT a fruit drink.)

Jellied Salad
Makes 1 fairly large bowlful
which serves about 10 as part of a buffet
(North American version)

2 x 85 g (2 x 4 serving) pkgs jello (strawberry, raspberry and lime flavours work well)
1 large can fruit cocktail in syrup
1 cup boiling water
1 (370 ml) can evaporated milk

Dissolve the jello in the boiling water. Pour into a large bowl. Add the fruit cocktail (do not drain). Now stir in the evaporated milk. Cover and chill several hours until set.

The 21st Century Housewife’s
British Version of Jellied Salad
Serves about 10 as above

2 packages of flavoured jelly cubes (I use Hartley’s jelly)
Cold water as per package directions
2 tins of fruit salad in syrup
1 (410 ml) can evaporated milk

Place the gelatine cubes in a microwave safe bowl and add cold water as per package directions. Heat in the microwave as directed and then stir to dissolve the jelly cubes. Pour into a large bowl. Stir in one tin of fruit cocktail with its juice, but drain the second tin before you add it to the mixture. Now stir in the evaporated milk. Cover and chill several hours until set.

Spoon into individual bowls to serve or place on a buffet with a spoon and allow guests to serve themselves.
And next time someone serves something differently than you expect it or in a way that seems strange, just go with it and try it. Otherwise, you'll never know what you are missing. I even caught myself pouring cream on a piece of cake I was served the other day - I may have thought it was strange all those years ago, but today I freely admit how delicious it is!

Monday, 29 September 2008

Easy, Yummy Vegetable and Rice Casserole

We have all been really busy lately so I’ve needed what I call “flexible dinners”. They are very easy to put together, and they “hold” fairly well in the oven if someone is late. This is one of my favourites that I’ve been making for years. It’s another variation on an old Campbell’s soup recipe, but I’ve made some pretty big changes. To start with, it is pretty much vegetarian! I also use more liquid as I like a bit of a softer “bite” to my rice. On the whole, my version is pretty much foolproof, just make sure you use long grain rice. And be flexible with the milk – you may need to add more. Oh, and obviously you can play around with the vegetables, these are just ones I like to use.

(In the UK, Campbell’s soup has been re-branded and is produced under license by Bachelor’s – for more details, click here. It does taste the same, but I miss the iconic can, and the Campbell’s brand. It may say “Bachelor’s” on the tin over here, but I still call it Campbell’s and I always will!)

The 21st Century Housewife’s
Easy Vegetable and Rice Casserole
Serves 4

1½ cups long grain rice
2 – 2 ½ cups milk (you may need a little more than this)
1 can of condensed soup – I like Campbell’s Cream of Asparagus or Cream of Mushroom
1 small head of broccoli, cut in tiny florets
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 courgette (zucchini), sliced in half moon shapes
(cut the courgette in half longways, and then cut the two halves in slices)
½ cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 bunch spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
1 handful of grated parmesan cheese

In a large covered casserole, combine the uncooked rice, soup, 2 cups milk, all of the vegetables (except the spring onions), the herbs and the pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly, then cover and place in the oven at 350ºF or about 160ºC. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven carefully and place on a heat proof surface.

Add the cheese and spring onions, and if the rice has absorbed all the liquid, add about another half cup of milk (be flexible on this, you can always add more, you can’t take it away!). Stir again and return to the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. (Remember, if you need to, you can add more milk and return the casserole to the oven for a few minutes so it can absorb.)

Serve with a green salad and/or crusty bread.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Some new recipes, a lovely dinner out and something different for lunch

I've come across some super recipes recently and wanted to point you in their direction as they are well worth trying. The first one is a fantastic Pork Chop recipe using all the bounty of the season - Cider and Bramley Chops. It's by those clever people at Ocado. Click here to give it a try. And for dessert, try BBC Good Food's fantastic Greengage and Vanilla Tart. It's absolutely scrumptuous. I made it using a graham cracker crust, instead of the dessert pastry they recommend, but I'm sure either is equally delicious. This pie is really easy and quick to make and we all loved it. To give it a try, click here.

On Saturday night, after a wonderful day out in London, we went to Piccolino in Heddon Street again. We are becoming virtually regulars there, as every time we go the food is consistently delicious and the service is wonderful. This time I had their Veal alla Milanese. A super piece of veal, it was lightly breaded and beautifully cooked. Served over spaghetti alla pomodoro, it was quite scrumptuous. The 21st Century Husband had a Seafood Risotto, and The 21st Century Teenager had their amazing Spaghetti Carbonara, as always. It is served with a poached egg on top, and when the yolk is cracked, it's gorgeous yellowness oozes quite voluptuously over the pasta. It makes my mouth water just watching it. I keep almost ordering it, but the what must be astronomical calorie count keeps scaring me away.

For dessert I had a beautiful Pear and Fig Tart served with Amaretto Ice Cream. It was indescribably delicious and was worth every single calorie. Thankfully my husband had ordered his own portion of this delicious dessert as although we normally share desserts, I think that it would have been unfair of me to ask him to share this! My son had the delicous Chocolate Torte, which could almost have been named "Death by Chocolate" it was so decadent and rich (I was allowed to taste it!). We were offered some beautiful homemade truffles on the house and, with out coffee, they were a wonderful finish to a simply beautiful meal.

And to follow through on my blog title for today, I made something different for my lunch for a change. It's something that really stretched my comfort zone but it was an entirely successful experiment. Give it a try - it's yummy, and good for you!

The 21st Century Housewife's
Healthy Pitta Lunch

2 wholemeal pittas per person, grilled or toasted
2 small tomatoes per person and 2 spring onions (scallions) per person, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Mix the chopped tomatoes and onions together and add salt and pepper to taste. Cut each toasted pitta in half and fill with a dollop of hummus, and a spoonful of the tomato mixture. A delicious lunch that is good for you and for the planet.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Two Great Successes

It's been a bit of potluck this week really, playing around with recipes and enjoying myself. There were two really good successes - the first on Wednesday night with Alex.

We made stir fry with noodles using carrots, courgettes (zucchini) and spring onions (scallions). I used a ready prepared sauce, Sharwood's Black Bean sauce. So basically, I just sliced matchsticks of the carrots and courgettes and kind of shredded the spring onions. I cooked some dried chinese noodles, and then rinsed them in cold water and added them at the end of the stir frying process. Then I poured in the sauce, and threw in a handful of roasted, salted cashews. A quick, easy and very delicous vegetarian meal in a very short time indeed!

Last night I made a delicious oven dinner. It was such a success it deserves to be written as a proper recipe.

The 21st Century Housewife's
One Pan Roast Sausage Dinner
Serves 3 - 4
9 good quality sausages
(I used delicious sausages made with pork, onions and wholegrain mustard)
about 16 shallots, peeled and left whole
one small bulb of garlic (or half a large one), cloves peeled and left whole
2 - 3 red apples (preferably cooking apples), quartered, skins left on
1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Place the sausages, shallots and garlic cloves in the pan. Toss with the olive oil and place in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 - 375 F or 180 C. After 30 minutes, add the apple quarters and stir the mixture. Return to the oven and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sausages are done.
I served this with a selection of condiments, onion gravy, ketchup and mustard. I also sauteed some potatoes to serve alongside it which were delicious.
Have a fantastic weekend, and enjoy cooking with all of Autumn's bounty. (With apologies to those who live in the Southern Hemisphere - you enjoy the Spring bounty!)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Musings on the Importance of Lunch

Everyone goes on about the importance of breakfast, but as a housewife and writer, the meal I am most likely to miss is actually lunch. I get caught up in appointments, writing or doing something at home and in all the rushing round I simply forget. I may feel the odd hunger pang, but I dismiss it. But my personal trainer says this is very dangerous and that I won't burn calories as effectively if I miss lunch even once a week. That scared me. I don't just want to burn calories, I want to torch them, and have even debated trying an ayuvedic tea (ginger root, cayenne and lime juice) to help do this.

I have not had the nerve to try the tea yet (although I've watched the video of how to make it twice and I have all the ingredients!), but I have made a concerted effort to eat a delicious, nutritious lunch every day this week. I have to say, I have really enjoyed making this effort and it has been well worth it. I've even invented two new lunch recipes which I will happily share with you. I've got a bit of a thing for marinated roasted artichoke hearts at the moment and I've included them in both these recipes. My favourites are available at Waitrose, or through Ocado, but any marinated artichoke hearts will do.

Ham and Artichoke Panini
Serves 1
1 panini bread, split
1 slice ham
4 artichoke hearts in olive oil, sliced
1 handful grated cheese (I used Monterey Jack)

Place the ham slice on the panini and top with the artichokes and the cheese. Pop the lid on and place in a hot panini press until the cheese is melted. That's it - lunch is ready!

You can also make these on slices of toast under the grill. Just toast the bread and place it on a baking tray. Lay a slice of ham on top of each slice of toast and then top with the artichokes and the cheese. Then place the pan under the broiler or grill until the cheese bubbles. Experiment with the breads you use too. One time I tried using a bread with soy and linseed to make the toast and it was just scrumptuous.
And for my second lunch, try these delicious
Artichoke and Cheese Omelette Wraps
Makes 1
1 wrap (soft tortilla), warmed
2 - 3 eggs (depending on the size)
drop of milk
3 - 4 sliced marinated artichoke hearts
three Queen olives (with pimento), thinly sliced
handful of grated cheese (again I used Monterey Jack, but please yourself)

Beat the eggs with the milk and pour into a small hot non-stick frying pan. Gently move the egg mixture away from the sides of the pan so that everything starts to cook. As the mixture begins to firm up, preheat the grill or broiler.

Now sprinkle the artichoke hearts, olives and cheese on top of your omelette. You are not going to fold this one (at least not yet), so you can put the filling all over the egg. Add a little ground pepper if you like, but skip the salt. The olives will make this taste salty enough. Allow to heat through for a few minutes. Now slide a spatula carefully under the edge of the omelette. If it is starting to brown, then transfer the pan from the stove top to the grill. (Remember to turn off the hob.) Cook under the grill until the cheese is bubbling and the egg is set. Remove from under the grill.

Lay the warm tortilla on a plate and top with the omelette. Now starting from one side, roll the tortilla into a wrap shape. Cut in half, and enjoy!

I tried a little instant salsa on this the other day. I just chopped up a small tomato and a spring onion (scallion) and then putting this (room temperature) mixture on the omelette as it lay on top of the tortilla before rolling. It was an entirely successful experiment!

Friday, 12 September 2008

My New Breadmaker

I bought a new breadmaker last week. There was nothing actually wrong with my old Panasonic, but I was wandering through Costco and was seduced by this wonderful new Panasonic, with several new cycles, loads of lovely buttons, and a raisin dispenser. I felt very disloayal as I've had my old breadmaker for at least seven years now and it has done fantastic service. It did drive me mad having to listen for the "raisin beep" though, and it really only had four cycles. This new one is amazing.

Don't get me wrong, I've made bread from scratch and I love doing that, but in the real world, most of us don't really have time for that except on special occasions - like rainy Sunday afternoons when you suddenly realise you don't actually have anything you have to do. (Which for me is almost never.) The breadmaker means that even on busy days, we can have fresh bread. It also makes me very popular.

When I bought my first bread machine I really did struggle, despite following instructions to the letter. Loaves would be a bit tough on top or the crust would look like it had celullite. Despite reassurances these loaves did taste good, I was unconvinced. And I nearly gave up on the breadmaker altogether, until a late night surf on Amazon several years ago revealed a book for "people who were ready to give up on their breadmakers". It's by Sonia Allison and is called (rather appropriately!) The Complete Bread Machine Cookbook. It's stained pages are a testament to the number of times I have used it, and her Olive Oil and Polenta Loaf is a firm favourite with everyone in this house. It is well worth getting hold of a copy, but you'd better hurry as there are only six copies left on Amazon.co.uk and they are all "used"! I would not part with my copy under any circumstances either so don't ask!

So, this last week, the pages of that book have been getting even more stained, and I've also had the nerve to actually try some new recipes of my own. So watch this space for my new inventions in the near future (they are all still in the prototype phase at the moment!). In the meantime, I'm just going to go cut myself another slice of raisin loaf. These bread machines are dangerous!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Tea at The Ritz - Sunday 7th September

Today, we did one of the things on my “list”. I’ve always dreamed of going to The Ritz in London for Afternoon Tea. We booked our table for today back in June as they do book up well in advance. (You can book online if this is a dream of yours as well.) Located in Piccadilly, just across from Green Park tube station, the Ritz has been a London institution for over one hundred years. Afternoon Tea is held in the Palm Court restaurant. It seemed relatively bereft of palms to me, but was very beautiful nonetheless, with decorations in white and gold, and a huge floral arrangement of lilies and other exotic flowers in a massive urn in the centre. It’s a magical place, not least of all because it is one of the few places in London to still enforce a dress code. Men must wear jackets and ties, and ladies must dress nicely too. Jeans, trainers etc., are totally forbidden. And the one man who did remove his jacket during tea (and to be fair it was terribly warm) was very politely asked to put it back on. The air conditioning was immediately turned on at that point.

And that is the thing about The Ritz. The service is impeccable. It’s totally discreet and yet you never want for anything that it does not appear within seconds. The cutlery and tea services are all silver, and you eat and drink from a china tea service. A three tier tea tray is brought to your table, with beautiful finger sandwiches on the bottom tier, an empty tier for warm scones which appear later in the middle, and the most beautiful miniature cakes on the top tier.

There are over ten different types of tea to choose from, all of which are served as leaf tea. You no sooner get close to finishing the contents of one tier that you are offered more of the contents to refill it.

We chose from beautiful tea sandwiches filled with cucumber, thin slices of poached chicken and mayonnaise, smoked salmon, ham and thinly sliced cheese and baby rolls filled with egg mayonnaise. The cheese sandwiches were presented on a sundried tomato bread. There was not a crust in sight.

The scones were brought warm to the table part way through. Some were fruited and some were plain. They were served with large pots of jam and cream, and were so flaky and delicious they virtually melted in the mouth.

And to finish there was the top tier of amazing miniature cakes and pastries. These ranged from tiny, decadent pieces of intensely chocolatey chocolate layer cake to flaky baby fruit pastries and macaroons to delicate mille feuille. They were exquisite.

Although they have three sittings each day for tea, you never feel rushed and at £37 each, I think it was a fairly affordable indulgence. It certainly is very good value for money. We all left the restaurant totally replete! I could not have eaten another bite. It was a super experience, one I heartily recommend, and dearly hope to repeat!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

An Old Faithful - Revamped

I've made a beer stew for years. Called carbonnade of boeuf when I'm being posh, it's a family favourite. I usually serve it with mounds of buttery rice or creamy mashed potatoes, but last night I wanted a one pot meal. So I decided to add macaroni. It was a very rewarding experiment.

The 21st Century Housewife's
Beef and Macaroni Stew
Serves 4

2 - 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
500 grams braising steak, cubed
1/2 cup flour
5 carrots, peeled and chopped in chunks
2 beef stock cubes
boiling water
1 bottle (approximately 330 ml) lager beer (I used Coor's Light)
1 cup of dried macaroni

You need a large casserole that can be used both on the stove top and in the oven. I use a Le Creuset casserole that my Mother in Law gave me several years ago. It's one of my favourite pans.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the casserole on the stove top over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook until translucent.

Place the flour in a bowl, and coat each piece of braising steak in the flour individually before adding it to the pan with the onions. This takes time, but it's worth it for the flavour. If there is any flour left over afterwards, sprinkle it over the top of the meat and onions. Stir the mixture over medium heat to brown the beef. You may need to add some more of the oil to keep the mixture from sticking.

Place the carrot chunks in the casserole and crumble the stock cubes over. Now pour in boiling water half way up the mixture in the pan. Pour in the beer. Stir gently. Cover the casserole and put it in the oven at 150 C (325 F).

Cook for at least an hour and a half, stirring once or twice. You want the meat to be really soft and tender. At this point, remove the casserole from the oven and place it on a heat proof surface. Give it a stir and top it up with some more boiling water - just to bring the liquid slightly over the meat and vegetables. Don't add too much, you can always add more later.
Now stir in the macaroni , cover and return the casserole to the oven. Check it again after about ten minutes. You want the macaroni to take up most of the liquid so that you have a sauce, but not soup! If the macaroni has done that but is still too al dente for your taste, add a little more water and cook some more.

The stew is done when the macaroni is al dente. I serve this is big bowls with crusty bread. It is amazing comfort food and totally delicious.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Home Sweet Home

We are back at home now, and I’m back in the kitchen making up for lost time! I have to say the first few days have been rather chaotic, so I’ve fallen back on an old favourite. You will have seen recipes for versions of this before, particularly in advertisements in glossy magazines, but this is my version and I do think it is better than any of the others. Try it and let me know!!

The 21st Century Housewife’s Version of
Campbell’s Soup Pasta
Serves 4

1 tin Campbell’s condensed cream of chicken soup
¼ cup milk
4 chicken breasts, marinated in 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large head of broccoli
1 small tin of corn or about 1 cup frozen corn
250 grams of pasta shapes (I use penne)
1 generous handful of grated cheddar style cheese (my favourite is Cerne Abbas from Grey's Cheese Shop in Pangbourne)
1 package of chips (crisps) either plain (Ready Salted) or my favourite, Sun Bites, a wholegrain crisp, crushed

Put the chicken breasts in a roasting pan in the oven and cook, turning once, until done (about 30 minutes at 350F or about 170C). They should be thoroughly cooked, with no pink inside. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions. When cooked, drain, return to the pan and set aside. Also, wash and cut the broccoli into florets and place in a steamer. Steam the broccoli with the corn for about five to six minutes until tender. (If using tinned corn, wait to add it to the broccoli until about 2 minutes before the end of cooking time). Drain, return to the pan, cover and set aside.

Stir the tin of soup and the milk through the cooked, drained pasta in the pan. Pop the lid on to keep warm. Slice the cooked chicken into fairly thin slices and add to the pan, along with the cooked broccoli and corn. Stir to mix through. If it seems at all dry, just add a bit of milk so that there is a light sauce coating everything. (Ironically, you don’t want it soupy!) Pour the contents of the pan into a large casserole.

Mix together the grated cheese and the crushed crisps (chips). Sprinkle over top of the casserole so that the whole surface is covered with the cheesy, crunchy coating. Place in the oven at 350 F or 170 C for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese melts. (If you turn the heat down, this will hold in the oven for a short time if someone is late for dinner.).

Serve with crusty bread and/or a green salad.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Yummy Florida!

We thoroughly enjoyed the food in Florida on our return. The Olive Garden was a perennial favourite, with consistent quality and value for money every time. Their wine list is wonderful as well. We also frequented the two branches of TGI Fridays that were near to us.

On the Friday night we went to Al Capone's Dinner and Show in Kissimmee. The meal is included in the price of your ticket along with unlimited drinks. The show, and the drinks, were lovely. The food, a buffet, was less than brilliant. Having said that, it did not spoil our enjoyment of the evening. It was a real laugh and I'd recommend it. Just don't have high expectations of the food. It was okay, but nothing to write home about.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was a trip to Friendly's Ice Cream on International Drive. We all ordered sundaes and they were wonderful. The service was fantastic too. That's me, enjoying my Butterfinger Sundae in the photograph above. As you can see by my very nearly empty dish, it was lovely!

We also had a very interesting meal at Bongos Cafe in Downtown Disney. Co-founded by Emilio and Gloria Estevan, Bongos atmosphere and decor brought back to mind the films of the 1930's and 40's, when Havana was a happening place. We enjoyed a drink before dinner (they make a great mojito), and were then shown to our table. We were a bit at a loss as the menu featured a lot of dishes we were unfamiliar with, but our waiter was knowledgeable and friendly, and helped us to choose things we really enjoyed. Alex and I had Ropa Vieja, a dish made with flank steak and delicious spices. It was so tender it literally fell apart when we tried to cut it, and melted in our mouths. Guy had Zarzuela de Mariscos - Sauteed lobster, shrimp, scallops, calamari, fish, baby clams and mussels in a homemade creole sauce served with white rice and green plantains. He loved it. Our table looked out on to the lake, and as we watched a storm brewed in the distance with fantastic lightening displays. It was a brilliant evening.

So our holiday was wonderful, both in terms of what we saw and did, and in terms of what we ate. We are now looking forward to our next break - in Cyprus in October. Watch this space!