Let’s talk about tapas, shall we?

Well stocked tapas bar in Spain

I’m going to be starting a new feature all about tapas soon, so let’s start by finding about what they are.

It’s thought that originally in the wine-making regions of Andalucia, a cover in the form of a small plate or lid was placed over glasses of wine to keep fruit flies away.  Titbits of food were later placed on the lid to be eaten with the wine.

The word “tapar” in Spanish means “to cover”, which is where we get the word “tapas” from.

How wonderful that Spaniards thought it unacceptable that a fly ends up in your drink, but it´s fine if it lands on the accompanying snack!

Other stories suggest that tapas were invented by a bar owner in Seville, who decided to put a cover (tapa) over his guests´ glasses of wine, using a slice of bread to keep out flies.  He later put a piece of ham or cheese on top, so that his customers could have a bite to eat with their drink.

Rioja and scrummy tapas!

Either way, the idea spread, so that nowadays the types of food served as tapas are limitless.  Most Spaniards don´t drink alcohol without a tapa and many bars, especially in southern Andalucia, provide them free of charge.

The original Spanish “fast food” is usually displayed in refrigerated glass cabinets on the bar and served in small terracotta glazed dishes. Some examples of the type of tapas normally available include gambas (whole cooked prawns in their shells), boquerones (fresh anchovies in olive oil, vinegar and garlic), chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage), albondigas (meatball…often in a creamy almond sauce), queso (cheese…often manchego), habas con jamon (broad beans with ham), ensalada rusa (Russian salad) or just a few olives.

Delicious tapas

Your choice of tapas is usually accompanied by a small piece of crusty bread which helps to counteract the adverse effects of the alcohol through drinking on an empty stomach.

What a sensible idea!

In many establishments, if you stand at the bar along with the locals you will be given one tapa free with each drink you buy.  

That’s right …. free food!

Tapas in Spain

Should you choose to sit away from the bar, you can pay for a tapas or two (usually about one euro in this part of Spain), or opt for a larger serving known as a ración (ration) or medio ración (half ration). This is a great way to eat a variety of dishes, and a pretty sociable activity as groups generally tend to share their dishes.

The food is generally very good, even in remote villages around the Axarquia.

Where is your favourite tapas bar?   Which tapa do you choose, time and time again?


You might also like to look at:

All at sea with the Virgen del Carmen

La Noche de San Juan: Families, fires and football!

Bus Services: East of Málaga

Food Glorious Food: Moroccan Chicken

Moroccan chicken marinating in citrus juice mixture

Following on from my rather sombre post yesterday, I thought I’d cheer everyone up again – by feeding you!

I’ve made this dish for just about everybody who has ever visited us in Spain, and it’s been a winner every time.  I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for some time, but for one reason or other I haven’t got round to it, but I’m not going to selfishly keep it to myself any longer.   This is for you, Cathy – as promised!

The beauty of this dish is that you can do the preparation in advance, so that when your guests arrive, you’ll have plenty of time to relax with them, (enjoying a glass of wine), before you knock their socks off with a delicious dinner!

I love cooking and make most of my meals from scratch.  For me, this dish is made all the sweeter by using lemons, oranges, almonds and mint growing in the garden.  I’m pretty confident that you’ll love it, too – even if you don’t have your own orange tree to hand!  🙂

Let’s get cooking!

To make this tangy, lip-smacking, taste-bud-tingling treat for two people, you’ll need:

2 medium chicken breasts (skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces)

I medium onion (peeled and chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (peeled and crushed)

2 large oranges (juiced – I also use any bits of crushed fruit)

1 large lemon  (juiced – I also use any bits of crushed fruit)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tablespoons of chopped dates (take out the stone and cut into thirds)

1 tablespoon of almond nuts (chopped in half, if you prefer)

1 level teaspoon of ground cinnamon spice

Up to ¼ teaspoon of hot chilli powder (according to taste)

Handful of fresh mint leaves (chopped)

A few whole black peppercorns (optional)

Here’s what you do:

Put the diced chicken pieces and the chopped onion into a shallow dish.

In a plastic measuring jug, juice the oranges and lemon, adding any bits of crushed fruit.  Stir in the crushed garlic, olive oil, cinnamon, chilli powder and half of the chopped mint, to combine the ingredients together.  You should end up with between 300-400 mls of liquid.

Now, pour the juice mixture over the chicken and onions, add the chopped dates, nuts and whole black peppercorns.

Cover the dish with cling-film, pop in the fridge and leave the chicken to marinate for anything from 10 minutes to a couple of hours.

When you’re ready to start cooking, pick out the individual pieces of chicken with a pair on tongs, and gently fry them on a medium heat in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  (Make sure you have picked out every last piece of chicken from the marinade).  Turn the chicken pieces and when they are just starting to brown slightly, add all the citrus liquid mixture to the frying pan.

Your dinner is now less than ten minutes from being ready!

Turn up the heat under the pan, and bring the mixture to the boil.  Allow to simmer and as it does so, the mixture will begin to thicken, making the most delicious tangy sauce.  If you need to thicken the sauce a little more, just turn up the heat.

Stir in the remainder of the fresh chopped mint and serve immediately.

I usually serve Moroccan chicken with brown rice, but it’s just as delicious if you team it up with cous-cous.  There will be enough for two people using this quantity of ingredients.  I tend to use one medium chicken breast per person and adjust the amount of ingredients to personal taste.  It’s always best to have a spare orange or lemon to add to the juice mix, just in case you need a bit more liquid.  If you love dates, put a few more in – they go wonderfully sticky.  If you don’t have dates you can use sultanas instead.  When cooking for more than two people, I’ve been known to use the juice of a couple of limes, as well.

The main thing is, have the confidence to alter this dish to suit yourself.

Que aproveche!

If you enjoy cooking (or eating), you might like to try these recipes:

Classic Spanish Omelette: Tortilla Española

Easy No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Cookies

Fresh Figs Stuffed with Goat´s Cheese and wrapped in Smoked Bacon

Home-made Hummamole Dip


hummamole 005

Now that the good weather’s here, I’m always on the lookout for delicious and nutritious recipes for the summer months.

I’ve never been a big fan of Hummus or Guacamole, finding both chickpeas and avocado rather bland in their own ways.   But combined, with a few extras thrown in – I’m loving my Hummamole, and I’m sure you will, too!

Here’s how to make it:

Home-made Hummamole Dip


1 large avocado   (approx150g after being peeled and pitted)

1 jar of chickpeas – drained and washed  (approx. 150g)

2 fat cloves of garlic – peeled and crushed

1 small red onion – peeled and chopped

½ cup fresh cilantro – chopped  (you could use fresh mint leaves instead, if you prefer)

2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 lemons – juiced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Pinch of hot chilli powder

A few twists of black pepper


Simply throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.  Add a little water to thin out the consistency if you prefer.

Fresh veg for the dip


hummamole and veg

I usually cut some batons of carrots, red and green peppers, celery and red onions for dipping in, and the Hummamole will keep in the fridge for a few days.

It’s as simple as that!


Other posts you might enjoy:

Easy No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Cookies

Cost of living in southern Spain

CBBH Photo Challenge – Multi-coloured


Venturing further afield: San Sebastián in the heart of Basque country

We love to travel not only locally, but throughout Spain, so I will also include information, from time to time, about where we have visited.  Usually these places can either be driven to within a few hours of our home, east of Málaga, or we will have flown there from Málaga (AGP) airport.

Overlooking La Concha Bay, San Sebastian, Spain

You might remember, a while ago, I told you about a trip we had taken to Santander, on the northern coast of Spain.  In that post, I promised to tell you more about the rest of our journey, so here it is!

After a great overnight stay at a little gem of a hotel (the Jardin Secreto in Santander), we hired a car and travelled along the northern coast of Spain to San Sebastián, only 20 kilometres from the French border.

On the way to San Sebastian, Spain

There is much more rainfall here than where we live on the south coast of Spain, making the landscape generally much greener.

San Sebastián, also known as Donostia, lies along a white, sandy bay in the heart of Basque Country.   It’s easy to fall in love with San Sebastián as the streets unfold to overlook La Concha Bay, with Monte Igeldo offering a wonderful vantage point for enjoying views over the city, as you can see in the first photograph.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

There is a lovely promenade with elegant railings and street lamps, as well as wonderful bridges crossing the Rio Urumea as it meanders along to the Bay of Biscay.

San Sebastián is a cosmopolitan city with a strong Basque character, which is as evident in cultural events as well as in cuisine.      The city is renowned for its Basque cuisine with a trio of 3-starred Michelin restaurants to be found nearby – compare that to only four be found in the whole of the UK!

Tapas in a San Sebastian bar, Spain

The city is the epicentre of Basque gastronomy, where food makes a major contribution to the social life of the Basque people.  To share and to enjoy it with them is a truly unique experience.  Just take a look at all the tapas set out on the counter in the photograph, and this was just a little bar down a side street!

Funicular railway, San Sebastian, Spain

We caught the funicular railway to the peak of Monte Igeldo for magnificent views across the city and the scallop-shaped bay complete with golden sand and sparkling turquoise water.

In June of last year, San Sebastián was chosen to be the European Capital of Culture in 2016, so maybe I will get another chance to continue my love affair with this beautiful city, which has more than a whiff of Monaco about it.

Do you know of an area renowned for it’s fabulous cuisine?  Why not share it below, so we can all come and visit!

You might also enjoy:

A weekend in Santiago de Compostela

The heart of Cómpeta: El Paseo de las Tradiciones


As some of you already know, I am not at home in Spain right now but gadding off around the world, as I often do during our winter months.   I was racking my brains to think of a photo challenge I haven’t seen anywhere else and, as I am always camera-ready-in-hand whenever I fly, I thought that VIEW FROM AN AIRCRAFT might produce some spectacular entries for this month’s CBBH PHOTO CHALLENGE.

I LOVE flying!

Whenever I fly, I always request a window seat.  I love the view through an aeroplane window – because it means I´m going somewhere!   These often spectacular views give a unique look at the world from a totally different perspective,  and which simply cannot be seen from the ground.  Sometimes I will see countries that I will never set foot in, and even if there is nothing spectacular to see, just looking at cloud patterns or sunrises can be fascinating.

With tight security rules and ever busier airports continuing to change air travel, rediscovering the romance of the window seat may be the most practical way to make flying more enjoyable.

So, Señores Pasajeros (Ladies and Gentlemen) please ensure your seat-belt is securely fastened, your tray table is stowed and your seat-back is in the upright position, and join me in enjoying a smooth approach into Abu Dhabi International Airport in the United Arab Emirates; Christchurch International Airport on the South Island of New Zealand and, of course, Malaga’s own Costa del Sol Airport on the south coast of Spain.

Approaching Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi International (AUH) is one of the fastest growing airports in the world in terms of passenger numbers.  I took this shot as we were coming in to land just after sunrise.  You can see the first light shining off the houses on the left of the photograph.  It’s quite amazing to see so many buildings in the middle of the desert!

Snowy mountains over central South Island, New Zealand

Christchurch International Airport (CHC) provides not only the gateway to the South Island of New Zealand but also, with the development of many scientific expeditions, to Antarctica itself.  The South Island  is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 metres (12,316 ft).  As you can see, there was still plenty of snow on the Southern Alps when this photo was taken earlier this month, even though it is now summer in the southern hemisphere.

Approaching Malaga

I couldn’t finish without a photograph taken on the approach to Malaga’s Costa del Sol airport (AGP).   This sight is always good to see, because no matter how much I love travelling, it means I will soon be home – and that’s always a good feeling too, isn’t it?

This month´s CBBH Featured Blogs:

** Jo Bryant at Chronicles of Illusions is an Australian freelance writer now living with a demented fox terrier, two cats and a cockatiel in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.   Jo always has plenty to say about life and I have particularly enjoyed reading her “Small StonesMindful Writing Challenge during the past month.  Why not pop over there right away and take a look at exactly what I mean?

Jo takes the most amazing photographs and has something new to post most days.  I don’t know how she finds the time, but I’m hoping to find out quite soon, as Jo and I are planning on meeting up when I get to the Bay of Plenty!

** If you want real, authentic, Italian home-cooking, then you should hop straight over to see what John has on offer From the Bartolini Kitchens.   His recipes are always easy to follow (often with step-by-step photographs) and I especially loved his recent post describing how to make his Mom’s broth – which is sure to see off even the most dastardly of flu viruses!

John is a passionate cook who shares not only family recipes handed down from generation to generation, but wonderful tales of his childhood and family.  How blessed he is to have been born into such a loving and close Italian family.   When you visit John’s pages, be sure to tell him that Marianne sent you 🙂

CBBH Blog Hop

So that´s the CBBH Photo Challenge for February, folks!

Remember, all you have to do is post your entry by the end of the month,  link back to this post and, most importantlydon´t forget to share links to any two blogs that you´ve commented on during the past month, so that we can all HOP OVER and have a look.  Make sure you FOLLOW THIS BLOG so you don´t miss next month´s exciting challenge!

For more information on how the CBBH Photo Challenge works click here.

I hope everyone taking part enjoys the exposure the CBBH Photo Challenge offers to featured blogs and, who knows, you may end up finding a new favourite!  I´m looking forward to seeing your interpretations.

[CBBH logo Image credit: (cc) Mostly Dans]