The world’s most expensive soup?

For two people who don’t have a bulging bank account, we’ve done rather well recently as far as eating Michelin-starred cuisine goes:  The Boss and I were invited to the 3rd Safari Culinario at the St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort.

The latter was foodie heaven: of the eight talented chefs (six of whom had flown in from Germany) who prepared the evening’s spectacular dishes, five are recognized for their Michelin-starred food. It was an amazing event that should be on the bucket list of any serious gourmet.

Eight chefs, one exceptional dinner, no power cut.  L-R: Martin Fauster, Otto Koch, Christian Juergens, Thomas Kammeier, Thomas Kahl (Es Fum, Mallorca), Marc Fosh (Simply Fosh, Palma de Mallorca), Eckart Witzigmann, and Iker Gonzalez

Eight chefs, one exceptional dinner, no power cut.
L-R: Martin Fauster, Otto Koch, Christian Juergens, Thomas Kammeier, Thomas Kahl (Es Fum, Mallorca), Marc Fosh (Simply Fosh, Palma de Mallorca), Eckart Witzigmann, and Iker Gonzalez

But none of these culinary superstars offered what could have been the world’s most expensive soup. I’d already made that, back in the spring . . .

A chilly May

Every May my father and his brother (my Uncle Ray) come to stay at our finca for the first of the two holidays a year that they have with us in rural Mallorca. But this year’s spring holiday was rather different to ones they’ve previously had: it was the coldest May here (and in other parts of Spain) since 1985.

Usually, they’d spend quite a bit of time relaxing in the steamer chairs on the terrace, soaking up some vitamin D (well they do live in England, where sunshine has become a bit of a rare commodity). Ray – who tans easily – would normally remove as many clothes as he could (within the bounds of decency) to build up that enviable just-back-from-holiday golden glow. But not this year. Over the eight days they were here, only one day was warm enough to relax outdoors. Sweaters and long trousers were pressed into service, and much time was spent indoors reading, listening to music, and chatting.

One day was particularly bad. A howling north wind, rain lashing down the windows and a top temperature of 13 degrees Celsius (we’ve had it warmer in January!) confined us to the house. When the ever-optimistic Ray (“It looks like the sun’s trying to get through”) gave up dreaming of a tan that holiday, I knew desperate measures were called for.

In the soup 

I would make carrot and cumin soup for lunch – soup being a wonderful comfort food. A delicious aroma was soon wafting through the house. At the appropriate moment, I poured the hot soup into our Kitchen Aid blender (recently back from Palma where it had been in for repair) and pressed the button to set the blitzing in motion. Or not. The instant I switched the thing on, the entire electricity system died.

Long story short, our dependable electrician came out on an emergency visit and returned later that afternoon when he’d been able to find the required new part for the fuse box. A rather complicated and expensive part that cost more than 300 euros.

Now that’s what I call an expensive lunch.

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One year . . . one lemon . . . four G&Ts

One year has passed since I started writing posts on Living in Rural Mallorca. I know this because WordPress just told me. And yet it seems just a few months ago that I started my new blog, after we’d finally had an Internet service connected to our finca on the island. This also means that we’ve had our Broadband Wi-Fi connection for a year, so thanks very much Wi-Fi Baleares – who achieved what we were convinced no company ever would, and stopped me pulling all of my hair out in frustration at a local Internet café.

Yes, time seems to pass quickly on Mallorca . . . except when you’re waiting for your tree’s first lemon to ripen. I wrote about our young lemon tree in June 2012 – The Boss having planted it in the spring of that year. We were looking forward to plucking a plump yellow lemon and slicing it into a celebratory G&T. Christmas seemed a likely date for this epic moment, but Christmas came and the first of our crop still looked more like a lime than a lemon. Easter perhaps? Naah.

But last week the moment to pick the first lemon from our garden arrived. And we were lucky enough to have our great friends from Oxfordshire with us to share in our minor triumph (a suitable distraction from the slow progress of the blackthorn shrubs they’d brought us on their previous visit).

Our luscious and deliciously fragrant lemon was sliced into four glasses of The Boss’s famous G&Ts, made with Mallorcan Can Vidalet gin. Delicious. By my reckoning, the next lemon should be ready in about seven months’ time . . .

Patience eventually rewarded

Patience eventually rewarded

Sloe growth

You might have read an earlier post on Living in Rural Mallorca about our blackthorn bushes, kindly brought over for us from the UK by our best friends, who wanted to surprise us this unusual gift. And they did.

Not only had they remembered The Boss mentioning that he couldn’t make any more sloe gin, because we couldn’t find sloes anywhere, they’d also sourced 20 young  blackthorn shrubs from a good plant nursery and packed them carefully into a suitcase, to bring over on one of their visits to us on Mallorca.

In the manner of Mallorcan country folk, The Boss pondered for some time over where he would plant what he hoped would turn into a bountiful hedge. Spot chosen, he planted the individual shrubs, a suitable distance apart, and gave them a good pep talk to encourage some rapid growth.

The full Monty

Tending plants in the garden is largely my domain (although I couldn’t do it without The Boss to take a pickaxe to the ground whenever I want to put a new plant in). But he’s become a regular Monty Don (a BBC TV gardening expert, if you live outside the UK and haven’t a clue who he is), and is often to be found down the field, fertilizer and watering can to hand, scrutinizing the progress of the blackthorns’ growth. Apparently, it’s slow at best, and non-existent if he’s in a less positive frame of mind.

From my perspective, I think there has been some growth – perhaps because I’m not down there a couple of times a day looking at them, so the difference is more obvious. But the acid test will be in a few days, when our friends return for a week’s visit. Will they see a difference in size in the plants they had nurtured in their apartment for some time? Let’s hope so . . .

Not so sloe progress?

Not so sloe progress?

Fancy a flavour of the finca life?

In a week’s time my blog ‘Living in Rural Mallorca’ will be on year old, and this is my 91st post. However, I have no grounds to boast, because it’s been a few weeks since I last posted anything, and a few followers have even been in touch with me to see if I still reside on Planet Earth – let alone in our finca.

Here are excuses I could have used:

  • We won the Euromillions lottery and are now living on our own private island.
  • The dog ate my computer (well, that one has been known to be used where missing homework is concerned, but fails here because we don’t have a dog – and they may eat paper, but probably not plastic and metal).
  • The BBC decided to make a documentary about our life as expats in rural Mallorca and we’ve been up to our ears in Pan Stick, clapper boards, and Angela Rippon.

However, none of these is true, so here’s the reality: we’ve been busy.

Springing into action

May is the month when we prepare our outdoor spaces for summer: dragging the outdoor furniture from its winter storage, doing any necessary repairs, cleaning the terracotta-tiled terraces, and that most time-consuming of tasks . . . weeding. Into the mix this year we also added some external wall-painting and interior ceiling-painting. And, in case we weren’t quite busy enough, I found myself writing a large amount of copy for the magazine for which I work as a freelance writer.

May is also the month when my father and his younger brother (my Uncle Ray) always come to stay for their spring holiday. This year we had an added treat: my brother, his wife, my three nieces and two boyfriends (my nieces’, not my brother’s!) decided to holiday here at the same time. Our little finca certainly couldn’t accommodate everyone, so brother rented a nearby finca for his family and we all got together, here and there, to enjoy ourselves over the course of a ten-day period. Blog? At midnight, I was just too tired to fire up the computer.

A romantic taste of rural Mallorcan life

A finca life can involve a lot of work – as you’ve probably gathered if you’ve read some of my previous 90 posts – but it also offers the chance to escape the stresses of daily urban living. If you’d like a taste of this Mallorcan rural life – without the maintenance and financial upkeep – check out the lovely place my brother and his wife rented for their holiday, by Googling ‘Ses Pedres, Manacor’ (or check it out on TripAdvisor).

Ses Pedres

Ses Pedres

Apart from being in a lovely rural location (yet still very convenient for Manacor and the beaches of the east coast), the owners were charming – supplying fresh eggs from their chickens, citrus fruits from the land, and even a home-made sobrasada (the Mallorcan cured pork delicacy – presumably made from a previous finca resident). And to add to the enjoyment, the extensive land around the finca was home to chickens, a young Mallorcan black pig and a Menorcan breed of horse.

Could be tempted to book a holiday there ourselves – if only we had the time . . .