Thursday, October 29, 2009

Splendour and Squalor

Marcus Scriven is here, recovering from the final polishing of his brilliantly narrated book, Splendour and Squalor, which is to be launched in late November, early December.

We're all a bit worried about Mrs. Slocumbe on the cover, who seems to be disporting herself with the village butcher....but then tits do sell.

Marcus needs a new image. (We've had frayed shirts, sole-flapping shoes and starved author wardrobe for 7 years now - Come on Marcus! It's time to invest in a lightweight Prince of Wales check for your visits to the sun!)

Please click on the link above to order the book from Amazon and subsidise a new wardrobe.

A visit from Pri and Rhea

This is Jeannie and I with Pri, scrubbed-up for the city, and rid of the mud from potato-lifting!

It already feels like a different world to the one in which, in lashing rain, we waded across the street to meet the bus in Aracena, to collect our two delightful volunteers from India; Priyanka Shewakramani and Rhea Batliboi.

The girls have made a radical change from office life in New York and did a fantastic job for us in the orchards, gathering the last of the tomatoes, the peppers and the aubergines, and digging up the last rows of potatoes in thick mud on the first few mornings after the rain. Now they've left us to continue their travels through Spain and South America, and we sorely miss them and evening laughter over the mosto bottle.

We've put the sheep in to finish clearing the ground and in a couple of weeks we hope to sow our winter crops; broad beans, brassica and leaks. Then winter salads in the greenhouse.

I got into a serious veggie session, making hot green tomato and chilli chutney, imam bayeldi, roasted pepper salads, and tomatoes roasted in yoghourt and crême fraiche. Yum, no wonder we eat too much here.

A Never Ending Summer!

Joanna Saville joined us
for a week of cooking,
swimming walking,
sightseeing....and eating.

Kirsty Pilcher came with Jean Arnot and Janie to join the first day's hands-on session.

Autumn has been extraordinary this year. After a long blazing summer we have started to benefit from the soft warm golden days which come after the first rainfall. It's just heaven for walking now, with the leaves changing colour, chestnuts falling to the ground, and the smell of quinces ripening in the orchards.

There have been fewer mushrooms than usual, since it has not rained much, but we have found Caesar's mushrooms (Oronge fr. Ovoli it. Kaiserpilz ger.) and Penny Buns (Ceps fr. Porcini it. Tentullo local.) and some delicious shaggy ink-caps/lawer's wigs which went into a risotto.

We escaped for a couple of nights to Ronda, then back for a cookery week with Jo Brown in which Jeannie taught breadmaking, salmorejo, romesco, rabbit with cream and mustard, mussels in saffron cream with spinach, zarzuela de pescado, solomillo of Iberian pork with peppers, and of course rosemary and chocolate cream with fino sherry, and lavender panna cotta.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Polly and Jesus's Wedding

In mid July we had 80 guests for the Anglo-Spanish wedding of Polly Wibberley and Jesus Revaliente.

Jago and Trent built a gazebo of poplar poles and then lined it with ruched voile supplied by the bride. Their stints at Greenfield Marquees stood them in good stead, and it looked rustic but professional!

The bride wanted a country look, and tables were decorated with small zinc buckets and cans of lavender and herbs and white roses. As it was a nighttime wedding feast, the tables were lit with old fashioned paraffin lamps.

The marriage took place at sundown on the lower field (I shan't say lawn; there are too many moleholes and summers are too hot for perfection!)

Afterwards, guests came up for Cava, rebujitos or manzanilla, and miniature hamburgers of iberian pork, home cured jamón, fried quail's eggs, hot feta and pastry puffs, sea bream pancakes, quail drumsticks, and foie gras mousse.

Dinner was served well after 11 pm and we sat down to purple figs and jamón with a honey vinaigrette and fresh mint, roast lamb with gratiné potatoes and green haricots. The puddings were ginger roulade, chocolate profiteroles, berry fruits in syrup, and there was a selection of cheese both British and Spanish. We served a soft and fruity mencia varietal red, from the Bierzo, from the Agribergidum Bodega, and our white was a magnificent sauvignon blance from Victoria Pariente's bodega which is named for her father Jose Pariente.

After dinner, coffee and petits fours, the soul band struck up with a very small singer belting out Aretha Franklin numbers and keeping us going until 8 in the morning!!

Carin King's Cookery Club

We had a fun weekend with Carin King's group, who came to cook and sunbathe by the pool! We did get some cooking done, including this delicious shellfish paella; but we also made breads, learned how to carve jamón, and how to make panna cotta infused with cardamom.

Tim Clinch's visit

In the last week of June, photographer Tim Clinch came to take pictures of the house and the pool at dawn. He also photographed the redecorated bedrooms, and took some images of the countryside, orchards and self-catering cottages. To view the whole thing go to, and then click on Finca Buenvino.

Emily Fortune was our intrepid early morning model. Thanks Ems!

Martin Randall Travel walking group.

It's rather late to be catching up with the year, but now that autumn is here, there is a chance to sit down and struggle with the internet, which in these remote parts is very slow at times, and drives me to distraction!

Gaby McPhedran and Adam Hopkins brought a group of walkers and seekers of Spanish knowledge to the finca for lunch on Easter day. They had been visiting the processions of Holy Week in Carmona, a more intimate affair than that in Seville, and they were on their way to the Extremadura, to stay in Zafra for a couple of nights.

Finca Buenvino is almost midway between the two, and proved a perfect place to explore villages, walk the trails, attend Easter Mass, or visit the caves of Aracena.

We gave them tapas; Our home-cured jamón, fried quails' eggs, pimientos del padrón, blanched almonds fried in olive oil, and olives, then everyone sat down to a lunch of grilled goat's cheese, with salads from our greenhouse, and roast Sierra de Aracena lamb, followed by lavender panna cotta and fruit coulis.