Day 1 – Coastal Drive from Malaga to Estepona and onwards to Gaucin
Finally back from my wonderfully relaxing but maddeningly frustrating food week in Gaucin. I would love to be able to entertain you with stories of eating in local, out of the way places, frequented by Spaniards enjoying simple regional food. Alas this was not the case, instead I felt like I had stumbled onto the long lost set of Eldorado (a dreadful soap opera about a bunch of British expats in Spain)
Anywhere, within reasonable driving distance of the Costa Del Sol or Malaga, it pains me to say, is unashamedly overrun with Brits. On the coastal drive from the airport I took in one tragic sight after the other – high rise timeshares, fish and chippies, fast food outlets. It wasn’t until we’d reached Estepona, a small seaside resort, that I finally felt like we were in foreign country. Famished we parked the hire car and strolled along the seafront in search of somewhere to eat. Unfortunately our random restaurant choice was a bit of a shocker, frozen vegetables, gritty prawns and leathery pork didn’t endear us to the place and we made a hasty retreat to the Carrefour, the local supermarket, in order to stock up with same basic provisions for the week. Pictured below is the quite astounding selection of ham on offer.
The Spaniards must have a real love of pork because half the supermarket was devoted to it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many different types of chorizo or pork products.
Onwards to Gaucin the scenery dramatically changed and with it my spirits were lifted. Undulating green countryside, windy roads with steep drops were a welcome contrast to the tacky sights witnessed along the coast. Climbing further and further up steep hills I secretly prayed that the remoteness would deter only the most foolhardy tourists and as a consequence we might after all sample an authentic taste of Spanish life. Finally we reached our destination, Gaucin, a gleaming white village, with our cottage situated a couple of hundred metres down a dirt track.
This pictures, taken from our balcony, gives you some indication of how beautiful the surrounding countryside is. It provided the perfect spot for a week of relaxation.
Escape from London
Sorry everyone for my absence over the past week, however sometimes in life there are even more important matters than food, hard to imagine I know. With my mind preoccupied house-hunting, I have rarely felt like cooking and have satiated my appetite on a variety of take-outs and other joyless meals that I will refrain from boring you with.
On Saturday however I am jetting off to Southern Spain, to a little village called Gaucin, where I am bound to find inspiration once again. I visited northern Spain earlier in the year, indulging in a gastronomic frenzy around the coastal town of San Sebastian. Whilst Gaucin won’t be able to compete with San Sebastian in terms of haute cuisine, I am hoping that it will possess a unique charm and cuisine of it’s own.
Most of all however I am looking forward to escaping the miserable weather in London, lying in the sun, and sipping sangria. Adios.
Wham Bam Thank You Pham
I happened on Pham Sushi by chance. Walking down a desolate street, tucked behind the back of the Barbican, I spied a diminutive Japanese restaurant overflowing with diners. Fed up with the generic conveyor belt style sushi bars springing up across London I ventured inside and made a reservation for the following evening.
Again the place was full. The crowds weren’t there however for the opulent surroundings or odd celebrity sighting that have become synonomous with the more upscale sushi bars. Rather they sat huddled together around cramped tables in pursuit of, what I later learnt, some of the best sushi in town.
Whilst the establishment might be modest the menu is anything but. Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño peppers is a nod to the chef’s background and training at Nobu and the unusual yet sophisticated selection of dishes hint that this restaurant might be a cut above the rest. Hawaiian Roll (pictured above) a kind of inside out California roll, with a thick slab of salmon arranged artfully on top, was a sight to behold. Rock shrimps encased in a light,crisp,tempura batter went down well with my husband who tends to shy away from the more exotic options. The real jewel in the crown belonged however to the crunchy tuna roll, not actually listed on the menu, but something which was recommended by our amiable waiter.
Since my initial experience at Pham, almost a year ago, I have become a regular. Their delivery service which cargos their sushi within a one mile radius has become a godsend on evenings when I can’t be bothered to cook or eat out. As a result I’ve pretty much made my way through the entire menu and can honestly say that it is rare to have a dud dish. The sushi is of a consistently high quality, the fish always fresh and the rice always cooked well, something which is quite rare to find here in London without forking out loads of money. Whilst the hot dishes can’t really compete with the sushi offerings they are fine nonetheless.
I highly recommend.
155 Whitecross Street,