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Posts Tagged ‘fish’

The Clotxa

This is breakfast at the Olive Fair in Mora La Nova – the Clotxa.  Every year the fair is held to celebrate the olive oil harvest, we missed it last year first time since we have been here, but I went to the Ajuntament and bought our tickets and for 3euros this is what we have.  Half a cob loaf with the centre hollowed out a large sardine, tomatoes, garlic and onion plus wine, olives and of course olive oil.  So here’s the routine:-  you que up hand over your ticket and take your breakfast and bib (oh yes you need it), then wander along and find a table to stand at and eat.

This is a community thing and standing at the tables you meet other people. Families, friends and faces you see when out and about who’s names you get to know so you can place them when you wave to each other, really nice.  As you can see from the picture it is served in a plastic bowl.  This year it came in a covered foil container. When we arrived just after 10am it was in full swing and as you can see not many breakfasts were left.

We collected our and found a table. There were a few other people at the table so it was a pleasant morning not cold like some we have been to which makes a difference because believe me it takes a while to eat this and you really do need that bib.

                               

After breakfast we headed for the hall to see the olive oil stands and who had done well in the competition and a coffee.  As we were passing the tables I took these photos:-

People were still arriving and as you can see there was not a lot left, but is that a coffee stall I spy by the door?? It was but very busy so we decided to find another one.

Inside the hall the layout had changed.  Normally it is crowded with stands and the competition section (this photo) where people make moli d oli a sort of olive oil butter very tasty and good for you.  Next to this in the centre of the hall was an olive tree with the various things you need for picking. In the first photograph you can see the ladders which were used simple but practical. in the second jars for storing the oil and in the last one you will see an old-fashioned olive chute something which would help us enormously.

                    

It was by the tree that we found the coffee stand and coffee in hand wandered round the stands. This one has won first place before, the trophies are the FIO’s on top of the stand.  You could eat your way round the hall tasting all the different oils on toasted bread. There is believe it or not a different taste to each oil just like there is with wine, took me some time to work this out but once we began pressing our own oil it became clear.

Further round on the other side of the hall I found AiBar, a little Celler I found with some very nice wines. As usual the cellers also produce olive oil which is very good.

All in all it was a lovely morning and we totally enjoyed ourselves. But the strange thing was we did not see another English person – no one we knew by sight that is – who had been there before.  It is such a sad thing when people do not join in with the local festivities they miss so much.   If you would like to know more about AiBar’s wines then follow this link. https://wp.me/pVcwA-1i3

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc & Jason D’ebre – Authors

 

 

 

 

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It is that time of year again so last Sunday morning we were doing what has become a yearly event eating breakfast community style.  I have mentioned this before, but just incase this is the breakfast in question.

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First they light a large bonfire over which a grill is placed where the salted sardines are cooked before they are taken to be kept warm.

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Whilst this is going on ordinary BBQ’s are going with tomatoes, onions and garlic cooking, then kept warm in trays over more BBQ’s.

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In the meantime the bread is being prepared. Small loaves are cut in half then the center neatly cut out to make a pouch, these are then placed on tables ready to be put together as follows:  one sardine, two tomatoes, one large onion and finally a large clove of garlic.  These then go to the front table where you que, you get a bib – and you need it – and your plate of goodies.

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Now set out to one side are tables  with olive oil – this is an olive oil fiesta celebrating the harvest – red wine and of course olives.  So once you have your breakfast you pick your spot fill your loaf  then stand there munching and drinking (the dribbling goes without saying) not bad for 3Euros it it? We then wandered into the hall where the various villages have stands displaying their oil, with small baskets of bread so you can taste it. Yes, just like wine, there is a different flavour to each oil. Maybe not as different as wine but it is there.  Two years ago when we had our last olives pressed there was a distinct peppery taste to it, can’t say much about last year as we did not have any olives to press because of the drought.  But looking at the trees this year I am thinking we might be in luck this November.

Well that was our Sunday breakfast what was yours?

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Our daughter has been over for two weeks holiday so we eventually got to the seaside book and all.  Writing put away for a short while just relaxing eating out and generally enjoying ourselves.

The past week had been eventful, her birthday, a meal out with a friend and my wife getting stung.  In between this there was Petanca plus a club meal, then we had Sunday lunch at the beach, returned there for an afternoon and got rained on by a small cloud in full sunlight lol.

So on the last day of her visit  we went to the seaside again for lunch and a swim.  Now I know most parents show photos of their offspring or tell tales of ‘when she/he was small’….  Here’s a story.

Our daughter has always been an avid reader so it is no surprise to us that a book goes with her.  Whilst here she has been reading my books on the computer (including the ones in progress).  A long long time ago in a country far far away we took her sailing.  Unfortunately on our way out of the Medina on the Isle of Wight the propeller became dislodged.  ‘Over the side’ I said, she looked at me then her mother stood firm and said ‘I’ve read Jaws you go!’.  After some coaxing she went over and pushed the prop back, she has not let me forget it either lol.  So when we decided to go to the little seaside town my wife and I stayed at when we first arrived here, she donned her cossi grinned and said ‘don’t get any ideas this is for sun bathing, remember, I’ve read the book’.

We arrived at the coast on a sunny day found a good restaurant and sat down.  Muscels followed by paella, washed down with white wine, plus fresh bread green olives then ice cream and coffee. This was our choice of menu of the day eaten whilst looking out on the harbour. Well my wife and I were, you know who had her nose in a book.

From where we were sitting we had a good view of the harbour which is also a thriving fish port, Whilst we were lunching the Tuna trip boat arrived. This boat takes people out to the fish farms where red tuna is farmed and you can, if you so wish, swim with them.

On the beach I decided to brave the water it had turned a little chilly.  After a paddle I was joined by daughter, who stood looking left and right. ‘What you looking for?’ as if I did not know.  ‘Nothing just checking’ was the reply.

So we stood for a while letting the water surge round our feet.  It was then I noticed a swimmer coming along in front of us  ‘Jaws’ I said.  Well she decided retreat was the better part of valour then saw ‘Jaws’.  Well getting my own back now and then is quite fair. This was her last full day and we all enjoyed it very much.  Mum drove us home and to the airport the next morning.

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The 23rd of June is San Juan and heralds the beginning of summer here in Catalunia, so celebrations are in order.  The petanca club were no exception, so a meal and dancing plus of course games of petanca were the order of the night.  This system of summer beginning on the 23rd of June and ending in September just before the children go back to school, is really accurate, honestly, but how they have worked this out I have no idea. So a night-time party fitted the bill, no, I did not take the camera, a mistake as you will hear, this was our night of relaxation with our friends.

We arrived around 9pm to find tables and chairs set out on some of the courts, being next to the river, it made it very mediterranean, with lights  strung up and music playing.  The food provided was typical Catalan with plenty of wine, water and Cava on the table.  Set out whilst we waited for the starter were plates of black olives, crisps with jugs of red wine and bottles of water.

The starter was sliced tomatoes with bacalao (salted fish) rice and sliced olives, covered with a salsa of vinegar and oliver oil,  plus a salad, very tasty.  Then came a wait for the main meal, which was cooked by our Chef at his patisserie and brought to the courts.  Chicken cooked with thin slices of potatoes, green beans, peppers and tomatoes, served with bread, delicious, and yes I ate too much.  With this came the Cava, bottles placed on the tables, so along with the red wine there was plenty to wash it all down.

However, they had not finished.  When we had cleared away the plates and bones (paper plates no washing up) water melon was brought round. Then came the Coca de San Juan, this was a cake of light spunge cake on a pastry base filled with custard, made by our Chef in his shop,  washed down with coffee and whisky.  In between the courses we danced and enjoyed ourselves, one of our friends let off fireworks then after the meal I played petanca whilst my wife joined the other wives and got some lessons in Spanish, wonderful people.

But it was on the way home around 2am that we had one of our special treats.  Driving along the river road, we came round a curve and there in front of us were 3 badgers, a mother and two young,  just leaving the river.  Now they are not bothered by much,  but car lights do make them bimble along looking for somewhere to leave it and escape the lights. These were no exception, the mother and one young left the road first but the other youngster kept going, so we followed slowly watching these lovely animals.  As I said the one time we did not have the camera….

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It is a fact of nature that water reflects the sky.  A sunny day and the river has put on a shimmering blue dress as she runs towards the Mediterranean.  If it’s a cloudy day she will wear either a greenish grey dress with a mirror coat reflecting the trees along her banks, or she will try to cheer us up by wearing a shimmering dress of a silvery grey colour which now and again gapes to give a glimpse of a blue petticoat as she rushes on her way.   

Sometimes if it has been raining very hard she will drag fallen trees along, sending them bobbing and turning as they round stones and other hidden obstacles in the water.  But on a sunny day she will flow gently with the occasional ripple as she runs over large rocks and sandbanks on her way to the Mediterranean.

Passing under bridges of history from the Civil War, which were destroyed then re-built gently washing them as though remembering the pain when the bombs dropped laying waste the arches and tipping rails and masonry into her waiting arms.   

 

Last Templars stronghold at Miravet

Then on she flows towards the delta past Templer strongholds, castles of history who’s down fall is played out each year as part of the local history.

On through gorges with fields of vines on the banks, past orange groves, and relics of bygone factories harking back to the days when there was trade on the river. 

 

Then after a while she reaches the weir, which she slips over quietly, then on she glides towards Tortosa slipping through the town at peace with her surroundings. Past rice fields irrigated by her waters, past small towns, ever onwards to her destination, the Delta. 

There you will find majestic beaches of golden sand, the occasional palm tree their tops gently moving in the sea breeze. There is always something of  interest to be seen, especially when they are fruiting, grouped on the beach surrounded by the golden sand against a back drop of a blue sea and sky. You would be forgiven for thinking you were some where exotic and expect to see a camel appear with sheik to carry you off.

                                                                                        

Here the river fills the delta pools with her water where the Flamingoes forage for shrimps, and bulls roam the marsh fields while Marsh Harriers fly over head hunting for their dinner.

The irrigation is helped by small pumping water mills compact and picturesque, leaving you with images of times gone by, a hard but seemingly peaceful life. It is here more rice is grown along with a variety vegetables, watered the generous river.  

So, after she arrives and joins the sea all that is left is to turn north to the mountains where she first breathed life as a small stream then gradually grew up into the lady we now know, La Rio Ebro.

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Since I have not been doing the driving into town I have been able to sit in the passenger seat and watch the river while my wife drove. It was during one such trip that I noticed a heron standing in the same spot at the end of an island several days running, still as a rock looking for his dinner. He looked fit and healthy standing tall and still, until that is Monday, when I noticed he was out in the river up to his bum in water, why I remarked  did he have to move from what looked a perfect fishing site. My wife who when we were home in the UK chased several Herons from our fish pond, remarked that probably being true to form he’d been a right erbert and eaten all the fish in the shallows.   She hoped he could swim as there are some rather large cat-fish in the Ebro he’d make a nice snack for someone…

It has been some days now since I have been down the river road but the other day I saw Erbert sitting on some weed head tucked into his shoulders looking very sad. I did wonder if he had eaten all the fish in that small area of eddies, but later that afternoon things became clear. The petanca courts are by the river and I noticed a large flock of cormorants being buzzed by a fish eagle, who obviously  did not appreciate their greedy ways. So hopefully Erbert has an ally in him even albeit a strange one.

For several days now we have not seen Erbert at his usuall spot and were wondering if he had eaten all the fish there, however, we noticed the river has risen and his ‘perch’ was underwater.  So imagine my surprise when at the petanca courts I glanced across the river and there on the other bank with some Egrets was Erbert, like a swan in a duck pond.

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