There is something wonderfully liberating about looking at the blank pages in your diary. No meetings with journalist, no proofs to read, no work to do in for the antique dealer and no schools to talk in. Just clear empty pages with nothing but days of the week, Bank Holidays and numbers. Which means for the first time in a long time, I can get away on my bicycle and take on some real pedal powered culinary exploring.
The last time the beast was loaded with panniers, in 2008, it was to take to the desert roads of Israel and Egypt in search of the perfect meal, but this time I am taking the slow boat to Santander. Booking a birth on a ferry from Portsmouth this afternoon, after 17 hours of pumping the bilges and rolling on the open ocean, I will arrive on the Atlantic coast of Northern Spain, home to some of the best Spanish food you can through your Euros at.
The turbulent waters around Cantabria provide goose barnacles, crab, clams, lobsters, crayfish and king prawns, not to mention squid of the highest quality! There is also sea bream, scorpion fish, anchovies and sardines served roasted on a simple wooden dish and washed down with red wine.
Leaving Cantabria I will cycle for the state of Asturias the farming state where shepherds and fishermen provide some of the best rural cuisine in Europe. Even today many shepherds allow the flocks of sheep to roam the hillsides and to my delight there are over two dozen varieties of cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses produced in Asturias. As well as cheese Cider or ‘sidra’ will be on the menu insuring that I wobble through the snow covered peaks of the Picos de Europa and along the wild coastline in good spirits. My camera and paints are packed so do keep an eye on the blog for updates, recipes and pictures from my ten day ride.
Click here to see some Spanish recipes and click on the thumbnails below to enjoy my photographs from this trip.