Summer is technically, officially over. Sob. Indeed, here in Paderborn, on the 31st August, we enjoyed 32 degree heat and wall to wall sunshine. In stark contrast, on the 1st September, it rained. All day. By the bucket load. Bearing this in mind, and seeing the majority of children start the new Autumn term this week, I got to thinking about what this new season has in store for This Is Carrt, but also made me reminisce on my recent summer holiday to Spain. Due to said holiday, I have not produced any limited edition prints this week, but have included snapshots and images of some of my favourite holiday moments that I captured simply with the aim of recording a wonderful memory.
Whilst I love to discover new places, new cultures and, most importantly, new food, I am also a big believer in returning to favoured destinations when relaxation is the name of the game. The husband and I wanted to play this game, so we flew to the South of Spain where my family have a house. Having been to this spot at least once a year since I was 8, I know the area inside out and as such switch off completely upon arrival. That's not to say that there is never anything new to do in the enclave of Nueva Andalucia my family frequents. In fact this holiday I went to loads of new restaurants, as well as 'checking' that old ones were as reliable as they always have been.
As a rule of thumb, in the area surrounding Puerto Banus, if restaurants survive more than two seasons, they tend to be an ok establishment. Case in point, the fabulous Tuk Tuk restaurant around the fountains at Aloha Gardens. It serves tasty Asian fusion food that is making me salivate at the memories of my two visits there. (Two summers apart). Last year, I went with Miss H and had a fab meal that, for the area, was very good value. My memory escapes me now as to what exactly we both ate, which thankfully I can now blame on the passage of time, and not the goblets of gin and tonic they serve by the liquid tonne load. (Though I am sure that didn't help). This summer, my meal there was equally pleasant despite a slight confusion with our table booking. As a starter, I had amazing sushi to share with Mr G and Mrs McG and I can only hope that I was polite enough to share with them properly. I know in reality I could have eaten the whole sharing plate on my own - it was that yummy. For main, I had Pad Thai, which, though a dull choice, I chose mainly because I am mildly obsessed with this noodle dish. There were definitely more distinctive options on the very varied menu, however. The table of 8 around me were much more adventurous and all their plates looked excellent. That being said I didn't suffer from any form of food envy. Mine was delicious.
Also that week, I discovered Terra Sana, a cafe near the Casino in Puerto Banus. It markets itself as a health food restaurant, though the health conscious, gym going Marbella bunnies around us were drinking black coffee laced with a tonne of sweetener whilst chain smoking their Malboro lights. I guess they don't follow either Lifestyle Jeanie's blog or Deliciously Ella's Instagram account that advocate an eating clean policy. Back on our table, however, my girlfriends, Baby C and I were much more on board with the restaurant's ethos and we did have an almost guilt free (and very tasty!) breakfast at a very reasonable price. They were also very welcoming to Baby C, though given her two tooth smile, I would defy anyone not to be. They gave her some hot water so she could enjoy her banana porridge, given her mum time to eat homemade granola with berries, yoghurt and honey. Mrs G and I both had the spinach omelet to aid with our weight training later in the day. They make wine glasses very heavy out in Spain and I have come to realise, over the last twenty plus years, it is best to be prepped for a strenuous resistance workout.
Talking of my favourite food group, I had some delicious wine whilst on holiday. I have often found that buying Spanish wine in Spain is a double edged sword. It makes one realise how much mark up Sainsburys add to their typical bottle of Rioja, but, yet, one also gets the opportunity to enjoy them in a timely fashion that a holiday abroad allows. Having turned the husband into an overt white wine social drinker of late, it was when we celebrated our 2nd anniversary, that he indulged his love of red wine and bought a very moreish bottle of Ribeiro Del Duero wine at the restaurant El Gran Gatsby. I've reviewed this restaurant before on this blog, so I won't again, past saying that the food is excellent, the view simply stunning - another example of a restaurant making it past two seasons for a reason. It is a venue suitable for a treat. One piece of advice, however, don't wear stillettos if you book a table on the terrace (you should for the view.) You will find your heel stuck on numerous occasions down the middle of slats. I, unfortunately, speak from experience.
One of my new discoveries of this holiday was courtesy of my good friend, Mr C. His family live part of the year just down the road from us. They go to the beach at Elviria and, more importantly, eat daily at Miguel y Maria - a wonderful, relaxed family run eatery. The husband and I, now with the mothership in tow, met up with Mr C and his family before we caught our early evening flight from Malaga. I, therefore, gorged myself on seafood, unsure of the next time I will be by the sea. My mother had the absurdly cheap menu del dia, which started with a traditional gazpacho, middled with the daily fried fish, and finished with a coffee or dessert. Given the amount of white wine I consumed to numb my nerves for my impending flight (I am a terrible flyer), I am unsure now as to other choices on the table, but I do remember thinking 'the next time I come here, I am going to have that'. The beach here is also fantastic and I would argue that it is one of the prettiest along the Costa Del Sol. It has a wide sandy bank, and the sand is soft and a beautiful cream colour. This is unlike beaches towards Marbella, which are also a lot more built up. In my old age, I prefer this quieter, more rustic type venue!
Lastly, I can't finish my summer holiday write up without mention of Aloha Golf Club. Though another place I have mentioned before, I had a simply idyllic lunch there one afternoon last week. My husband had played a round of golf there with, Mrs S, Mr McG and Mr G, but it took Mrs G to suggest that we meet up with the golfers for a post round drink. The club house is only down the road from where we were staying, so this sounded like an excellent idea. As with most 'one drink' meet ups including this group, it soon turned into two drinks, and then said idyllic lunch. All for a ridiculous price of 17euros each. Granted, we all only had one course each, but we certainly didn't have one drink each and one can't dismiss the view that is thrown in for free on a beautiful terrace overlooking golf valley.
All in all, Mr L and I had a great time on holiday, catching up not only on our sleep, but also with our London based friends that we do not get to see as much now. We ate cheese, we drank wine, we read, we played cards and scrabble, and of course, we had Serrano Ham.
Happy Autumn term everyone!