Friday, March 31, 2017

What A Stinker

We were back in Estepona Wednesday to visit the Orchidarium. I've been monitoring the place online. The first time we were there, in November (click here), we had just missed most of the blooming season, but it's begun again. What is thought to be the largest flower in the world, Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum), reached its peak March 13. It was the first time it had ever bloomed in Spain. I saw it online but we missed an up close and personal visit.

TOWER OF THE 18TH-CENTURY CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF LOS REMEDIOS IN BACKGROUND.

Rather than miss anything else of significance, I suggested we take our neighbors with us and pay the orchid house a visit. I was pleased that the titan arum was still on display. You might know it by one of its more common names, Corpse Flower — because that's what it smells like. The first two photos are the remains (corpse?) of the Corpse Flower with a section cut out to give access to the seeds. Check out our friend's reaction to the powerful floral "bouquet." It really does reek.



WHAT WE MISSED. MARCH 14, ONE DAY AFTER IT PEAKED.

The plant that can make it all real...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Hurricane In All Kinds Of Weather

Starting my walk Tuesday (with my iPod), I set the pace with Harry Belafonte's "Jump In The Line," a song about a girl named Senora who was said to be "a hurricane in all kinds of weather."

My 7.8 km (4.8 miles) were done in 55 minutes. As Harry said (I'm paraphrasing slightly): When me wind up me bottom, me go like a rocket.

Listen to the music and check out what some areas of the beach looked like more than a week ago as a result of our winter storms (no hurricanes).




SEASIDE DINING A BIT CLOSE TO THE SEA.

Shake it all de time...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Two For One?

You know how I like to poke fun at couples that dress alike? Maybe you don't know, but I do. Before I get dressed, I always check with San Geraldo to make sure we don't walk out the door in the same colors or identical styles – i.e., twin polo shirts, twin khakis, similar jackets, hooded sweatshirts, even V-neck T-shirts... Hmmm, maybe I make too much of it. San Geraldo thinks so. Anyway, it's one of those things that bugs me.

However, I keep noticing twosomes and groupsomes out in public who clearly haven't given a thought to their joint combinations. I find myself harumphing to myself that they should coordinate before they go out. I then appreciate the irony of that.

I guess I should just mind my own business.

And take pictures (for you to click and enlarge).

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Everything But

While sitting at his desk Sunday morning, San Geraldo glanced out the window and noticed something really strange.

"Mitchell?" He called out. "Can you come look at this? And bring your camera."

I headed over and looked where he was pointing. "Do you see that?!?"

I looked across the street to an apartment across the way — an apartment that had never before allowed us a glimpse inside. I gasped.

There in clear view was a hooded or masked head with a glowing eye. It seemed to be leaning forward toward a computer screen. It was extremely creepy.

San Geraldo asked, "Do you see a head with two glowing eyes?"

I looked back in his direction and said, "Put on your glasses."

Then we both saw a head with one large glowing eye.

I snapped a series of photos of the alien and quickly downloaded them. I needed proof before we reported it.

I said, "Maybe it's Freddy Kruger. Did he wear a yellow mask?"

What I saw once I zoomed in was even more shocking.

WE HAD IMAGINED EVERYTHING. WELL, EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK.
DISH RAGS DRAPED OVER FAUCETS CAN BE FRIGHTENING. ANOTHER REASON FOR ME TO AVOID KITCHENS.


Hey, Mr. Spaceman!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Macho Man Monastrell

When we went to Geir Henning and Carl Johann's house for lunch recently (Sunday's post), we brought a bottle of wine for our hosts. Although I took a geography course in my junior year called Wine and World, I know next to nothing about wine (having taken the course solely for the wine tastings).

We had told the guys during our lunch at Meson Salvador that we tend to choose wines by their labels (or, inanely, by how expensive they are). I pointed out a label I especially liked in one of the wine cabinets at Meson Salvador. They liked it, too. So, before our lunch two days later, we picked up a bottle for them. It's called Macho Man Monastrell.


The other day, San Geraldo and I were back at Meson Salvador for lunch. When we arrived, we were told they had a gift for us.

A FULL-BODIED MACHO MAN.
TOO BAD IT'S NOT FILLED WITH WINE.
I'VE GOT TO BE A MUCHO MUCHO MACHO MACHO MAN!

For those of you who care about more than labels (like my friend Lidia, whose motto is "Fruit Forward!"), Macho Man Monastrell is a Spanish wine from the region of Jumilla  about 50 miles inland from the eastern Mediterranean port of Alicante (about 500km from where we live).
"Here, the vineyards are planted on light, sandy soils over a limestone bedrock, at altitudes up to about 800 metres above sea level; Monastrell is the main grape of the region. Hand-harvested grapes from very old vines provide the raw material for this big, boisterous, fruit-packed wine; four months in oak barrels provides a touch of softness and spice. The 2013 vintage was named in the top 100 wines in the Wines from Spain Awards 2015."
The bottle we gave the guys is filled with the 2013 vintage. What the team at Meson Salvador gave us is filled with air (or nothing).


Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey! You had to know this was coming...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Vikings, Kake, And Other Good Things

Jerry's cousin (second-cousin) Inger was recently in Southern Spain from Norway with two good friends, Geir Henning and Carl Johann, who have a new place less than an hour from us. They drove over for lunch one day (we went to Meson Salvador) and then invited us to their home a couple of days later (they and Inger cooked). We adore Inger and now I understand why she adores Geir Henning and Carl Johann.

BAKED FOR US BY INGER. I CAN'T REMEMBER WHAT IT'S CALLED. IT'S SOME KIND OF KAKE.
(NOW, BEHAVE YOURSELF! THAT MEANS CAKE!!!) ALL I KNOW IS IT'S NOT KRUMKAKE, WHICH IT SOMEWHAT RESEMBLES.
NOTE: INGER LET ME KNOW SHE CALLS THEM KRUMMER.
HOT PADS AND DISH CLOTH HAND-MADE BY INGER.
AT THE GUYS' HOME: SAN GERALDO'S VIKING-SIZE FEET IN A BORROWED PAIR OF INDOOR SANDALS.
A DELICIOUS LUNCH.
CARL JOHANN'S NYDELIG (WHICH I SURE HOPE MEANS DELICIOUS IN NORWEGIAN) FLAN.
(HE HAD NEVER USED CANNED WHIPPED CREAM BEFORE!)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My Views

My social and political views are pretty obvious, I think, to my regular visitors. I have strong opinions, I believe in spreading the wealth, I try to keep an open mind, I respect differences, and I have no tolerance for hate of any kind (unless you tell me you hate baked beans or beetroot).

I hope my views are as clear as those from our freshly washed windows or from my walks on the beach. 

(Click the images to see things much more clearly.)

A MID-MORNING FROM MY BEDROOM.
LOOKING SOUTH FROM THE TERRACE.
A WALK ON THE BEACH FRIDAY.
STILL WALKING ON THE BEACH.
AND THIS MORNING FROM BED AROUND 6:45.
(I THOUGHT IT WAS SUNDAY AND AN HOUR LATER DUE TO EUROPEAN SUMMER TIME!)

"Love is the sound that makes me sing..."

Friday, March 24, 2017

What Could Possibly Be More Interesting?

Thursday afternoon I roamed the house and terrace trying to get pictures of the new and old plants The plants on the terrace are thriving and filling the space with color. Even the amaryllis is blooming again. But those pictures will have to wait.

Moose and Dudo assumed I was looking for them. Moose jumped to the top of their indoor tree, curled coyly on his back for a cuddle, and then gave me his best profile.

After paying the appropriate homage, I headed to the terrace. Dudo saw the camera and assumed I was there for him. So he jumped on their outdoor tree for HIS close-up. I gave up completely when Moose followed seconds later. It IS all about them, anyway.

MOOSE: "I'M IRRESISTIBLE, HUH?"
DUDO: "HOW'S THIS ANGLE?
IGNORE THE CROWN OF THORNS IN THE BACKGROUND."
BOTH: "WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY BE OF INTEREST OUT HERE?!?"
(IT COULDN'T BE THE FLAME VINE BEGINNING TO CLIMB THE TRELLIS?)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chocolate And Barrel Cactus

San Geraldo and I were back Wednesday at Viveros Guzman (the unbelievable garden center in Alhaurín de la Torre, about 30 minutes away). We bought more plants and pots for inside and on the terrace. Some things need to be transplanted, so for now I'll show you what we brought home. I'll share photos again once they're planted and positioned.

(Click the images. You won't believe how big some things get.)

FICUS MICROCARPA, BONSAI. ALSO KNOWN AS:
CHINESE, MALAYAN, OR TAIWAN BANYAN; INDIAN LAUREL; CURTAIN FIG; OR GAJUMARU.
FOR THE DRACAENA BEHIND IT,
WHICH MAY NEVER MOVE AGAIN!
A QUIRKY CENTERPIECE FOR THE TABLE ON THE TERRACE.
IT ATTACKED SAN GERALDO AT THE GARDEN CENTER.
OF COURSE WE HAD LUNCH AT PAPAS FRITAS Y HUEVOS.
DESSERT WAS NATILLAS DE CHOCOLATE!
NOTICE SAN GERALDO PULLING AWAY
BEFORE I COULD GET THIS OLIVE TREE IN THE CAR?!?
I WANTED IT FOR THE TERRACE [IN MY DREAMS].

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Oh My Sweet Torrijas!

I went for a 7.25km (4.5-mile) walk Wednesday to one end of the Paseo and back (it's become my short walk). A healthy walk is part of my daily routine. But yesterday it was especially needed to burn off the lemon merengue pie Chef Robbie insisted we try with our morning coffee.

San Geraldo arrived home a few minutes after I did. "I bought us a treat!" he said.

I saw bakery wrapping and thought, "Oh, crap. So much for my walk."

But then he unwrapped the paper. And I thought, "SO glad I took that walk."

TORRIJAS!!! AN EASTER TRADITION.

The first time I had torrijas was during Semana Santa 2012 (Holy Week) in Sevilla. I bought them in a local bakery. They were good, but nothing to write home about — so I didn't, and quickly forgot about them.

Last year, Elena made us some that were, as San Geraldo said, "to die for." (Click here for Elena's torrijas and a glimpse of the Easter Moose.)

This year's bakery torrijas, smothered in honey, were sweet and delicious but nothing like Elena's. And we still have Elena's to look forward to (hint, hint).

Recipes
If you're interested in making torrijas, just search "torrijas recipes" or "recetas torrijas" and you'll find plenty of versions (and opinions). Last year, I explained:
Elena's version consists of a thick slice of bread soaked in warm milk for an hour, and then dipped in egg batter and fried with olive oil before being sprinkled with cinnamon. The bread gets crusty on the outside and custard-like on the inside. Elena's torrijas are out of this world.
The bread is often soaked overnight and wine can be used instead of milk. Traditional recipes call for the addition of honey, which The Goddess Elena doesn't like. But we're not complaining. (She doesn't like raisins either, and calls them flies.)
In my opinion, if you only dip the bread in the batter, as some recipes suggest, instead of soaking it for an hour or more, the result is pretty much like American "French Toast." The extended soaking changes the consistency of the bread to custard. So much better (again, in my opinion).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Tad Plaid

I have some fascinating clothing combinations to share with you from the streets of Fuengirola. But there are three in particular that are so perfectly uncoordinatedly coordinated that I wouldn't do them justice if I distracted you with any of the others. (Especially since I find them each distracting enough.) 

When it came to flash (or maybe I mean "clash"), my grandfather (click here) had nothing on these guys.

(Click the image and go mad for plaid.)

TARTANS FROM SOME SCOTTISH CLANS, PERHAPS?


Speaking of [The] Clash...

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Cuttle" Up A Little Closer, Lovie

While running errands Sunday, I passed a chiringuito (beach bar) that had something cooking on a skewer other than the usual sardines. Of course, there were the usual sardines at every other chiringuito, but this particular spot was preparing cuttlefish.

(Click the images and consider yourselves cuddled.)

FRESH-CAUGHT CUTTLEFISH ON THE COSTA DEL SOL.
CUTTLEFISH (FROM WIKIPEDIA).
PHOTO CREDIT: © HANS HILLEWAERT.

A while back, San Geraldo and I found a large cuttlefish bone (cuttlebone) on the beach while walking one day; there were a variety of smaller bones, as well. We recognized them from our years raising canaries. Cuttlebone is what we've all seen in bird cages; it's used to help keep the birds' beaks trim. I never gave a thought to where the bone came from and why it was called "cuttle."


THE LARGE BONE WE FOUND...


THE USUAL SARDINES — IN ABUNDANCE.


Cuddle up and be my little clinging vine...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

¡Ay Caramba!

This is what San Geraldo said when he saw a beautiful crepe (mine) drizzled with dark-chocolate fudge sauce at Restaurante Primavera.

"Oy Cabana!!!"

Obviously what he meant was "Ay Caramba!!!" When Mai, our charming waitress, seemed perplexed, he looked at me and said, "That's not right, IS it?"

INDESCRIBABLY DELICIOUS. OY CABANA!!!
MY COFFEE THAT NIGHT.
LEFT: WHAT I WAS SERVED. RIGHT: WHAT I IMAGINED.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

But It's Free!

While I tell today's story, enjoy a couple of photos from Viveros Guzman (the garden center in Alhaurín de la Torre). We took another drive there last month. The story will circle round. (Click the images to enlarge.)

VERTICAL GARDEN. PERFECT FOR OUR TERRACE — IN MY DREAMS.
(EXCEPT FOR THE BLUE BUNNIES AND OTHER ASSORTED DOODADS.)

But it Comes with the Meal
When San Geraldo and I were living in Palm Springs, California in the first couple of years of this century, I flew to New York for a brief visit. I took My Mother The Dowager Duchess to visit her sister Sylvie. Some of the extended family met us there and we walked to a nearby restaurant for lunch. A glass of wine was included in the menu price. Everyone before me asked for a glass of white.

I said, "None for me, thanks."

The Duchess said, "Order white," to which I replied, "But I don't drink." (I didn't at the time).

MORE VERTICAL GARDEN.

"But it's free!," snapped the Duchess.

"But I won't drink it." I insisted.

"But, it comes with the meal!"

"It doesn't matter. It will just go to waste."

"He'll have a glass of white," she commanded the waiter.

That day, we left behind eight glasses of white wine.... because they came with the meal.


Mamma Said
After the garden center last month, we went to our usual lunch spot, Papas Fritas y Huevos (Chips and Eggs). They offer daily menus, which are so cheap and so generous that I usually say "yes" and usually regret it.

We started with paella, which would have been enough on its own. That was followed by lemon chicken and chips (French fries) — gigantic servings.

I was stuffed and only ate half the chicken and hardly any chips.

Since I was stuffed, I said to San Geraldo, "I'm stuffed!" (I'm clever like that.)

San Geraldo said, "So you're not having dessert?"

"I have to," I replied. "It comes with the meal."

PAELLA.
CHICKEN AND CHIPS... WHAT I LEFT BEHIND!
NATILLAS (A SPANISH CUSTARD DIFFERENT FROM FLAN).
I LICKED THE TIN CLEAN (NOT REALLY; THAT WOULD BE DISGUSTING).

Next time there's free wine, I'm drinking all eight glasses...

Friday, March 17, 2017

My Grandfather's Style

Oh, I'm having so much fun going through the old photos we shipped back from my mother's apartment last summer. It turns out my grandfather (Sam) had already developed his eye-popping style several years before his (and my grandmother's) 66th wedding anniversary (click here if you managed to block that image from your mind or if you're simply late to the party).

Todays photo was taken more than seven years earlier, in November 1974, when my sister, Dale, and her family were in New York from Germany for a visit. My Mother The Dowager Duchess hosted a party (she loved to host parties).

At the age of 85, Grandpa Sam was something else. I wish I had that shirt — and his nerve.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE STYLE WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT.

Hey hobo man, hey dapper Sam...