Happy Roast Day

August 5, 2018

Today is the fifth annual Selaks’ Roast Day.

You will find some delicious recipes for beef and lamb, roasted and cooked other ways at Beef + Lamb NZ.

The roast below comes not from my kitchen but that of El Jardin del Califa in Vejer de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain.

It was stuffed with figs, apricots and prunes and served with aubergine stuffed with almonds. It was delicious.

More sheep in Spain are farmed for milk rather than meat.

To preserve feed for the milk-producing ewes,  most lambs are sent to slaughter at weaning.

At that stage they weigh only about 10kgs and we’d call them beta lambs. They’re much younger and lighter than in New Zealand where they’re weaned onto grass until they reach a weight of 18 – 20 kgs.

Spain still sunny but clouds gathering

June 25, 2012

Spain has been in the media for all the wrong reasons because of its economic woes.

We read a Time article on Jerez de la Frontera, Spain’s most indebted city, on the plane on the way over.

It spoke of council employees who haven’t been paid for months, high unemployment and the social and economic problems which come with both of those.

But on the surface, Spain looked much as we remembered it from three previous visits.

We lived in Vejer de la Frontera in 2005 and returned for shorter stays in 2007 and 2008.

Vejer is one of Andalusia’s many pueblo blancos – white villages. It’s perched on top of a hill near the Cape of Trafalgar between Cadiz and Tarifa on the Costa de la Luz and has a population of about 13,000 people.

In 2005 it was booming. The EU was pouring money into highway construction and a big irrigation scheme. British people, put off by soaring prices on the Costa del Sol  further east, were making the most of their high pound and Europe’s low interest rates buying and renovating houses.

Now the construction has been finished, the pound has dropped in value, interest rates are higher. There are still tourists on the streets but the boom is over.

Given the dire state of the economy we were expecting obvious signs of problems. At first glance it looked at least as prosperous as we remembered it.

However, the increase in the number of shops, bars and cafes was not a sign of prosperity but of people who had lost jobs trying to run their own businesses.

That extra competition made business tougher but was good for consumers. We thought eating out was cheaper than it had been. That was helped by the difference in the exchange rate. It had cost us about $2.30 to buy a euro seven years ago, now it takes about $1.60; but even euro for euro we thought prices were lower.

The busy season for tourists is a bit later but the town was bustling at the weekend. Our landlady said bookings last year were high but this year Spaniards are taking shorter breaks and competition from the Olympics and European Football championships on top of Europe’s economic woes were resulting in less business this year.

A social security system, family support and a thriving black market are masking the dire situation the country faces but locals told us times are very tough, businesses are struggling and depression and suicide rates are high.

The sun was still shining but there are dark clouds gathering.


On the street where we lived

July 20, 2009

Calle La Fuente (Fountain Street) runs from the Plaza de Espana in the heart of the old part of Vejer de la Frontera.

la fuente

The house we rented is about 2/3 the way down the street. Its footprint isn’t much bigger than our living room at home, but it’s on three levels.

The door opens off the street to an entrance way and internal patio which is a typical feature of Andalucian houses.


 A bathroom and living room open on to that and there are a couple of bedrooms off the living room.

Up a flight of stairs is a kitchen and dining room, a landing, an office/living room another bedroom and bathroom.

Up another flight of stairs is the roof top terrace.

Rental details and photos of the house are here.

Google Map is here.

On the road again

July 19, 2009

We left Vejer de la Frontera yesterday (Friday) and stayed last night in a 14th century fortress (more on that later) in Caroma, near Seville.

The fast train took us from Seville at 8.45 this morning and we arrived in Montpellier in southern France just after 9 tonight.

Posting from now on will be somewhat haphazard, depending on time and internet access. In Spain free or low cost WiFi was widely available providing, as Inquiring Mind commented, a much better service than we get in much of New Zealand.

It’s  5 euro for one hour or 11 euro for 24 hours unlimited access at the Holiday Inn in Montpellier.

Spare ribs

July 19, 2009

Spare ribs on  New Zealand menu means a large, long rack of bones.

At La Brasa de Sancho in Vejer de Frontera, there’s less bone and more meat – and the meat is tender, tasty with the subtle flavour of the wood smoke from the fire over which it’s cooked.


They’re not eating our bread here

July 19, 2009

If I had to eat the same thing for lunch and dinner every day I’d complain but I’m quite happy to stick with the same breakfast for months on end.

Toast with cottage cheese and kiwi fruit in winter and topped with vegemite, cottage cheese and tomato in summer.

My bread of choice for the toast is either Vogels’ sunflower and barley or Burgen soy & linseed.

There is a lot to like about much of the food we’re eating in Spain, but we haven’t been able to find any bread which comes near Vogels or Burgen.

Still, early morning temperatures in the 20s and breakfasting on a roof top terrace with almost 360 degree views is pretty good compensation for that.


bread 2

bread 3

The bright green paddocks are growing rice.

El Jardin del Califa

July 17, 2009

La Casa del Califa  is one of Vejer de la Frontera’s gems.


The hotel is made up of a collection of houses dating from the 1oth century to 17th centuries.

califa 4

It also has a wonderful restaurant, El Jardin del Califa, which serves delicious Moroccan food.

califa 2

califa 3

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