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Christmas in Almeria

7 Jan

It has been some time since I have written anything –shame on me!  I know you will understand as there were a crowd of us for 12 days and I literally did not manage to find the extra time.

At one point, I thought Mick and I were going to have to eat a 12 kg Turkey, a gammon and a whole leg of Jamon to ourselves with flights that my family were supposed to be on being cancelled, but luckily as they were leaving the airport after being turned away, I got on the trusty old internet and re-booked all their flights before anyone else could!  This, however, meant one lot coming to Malaga, and another to Alicante – at the same time!   The other was arriving just after Christmas and so I didn’t have to worry that day.

The worst moment was when my sister and her husband were airborne and my parents were on the runway – in a blizzard!  I just couldn’t bear to think about them not getting away after all that and two lots of getting up at 3 in the morning, but the travel gods were with us and they managed to get off a few hours later – Mick had already set off to Malaga (four hours away from here by car) and so had pulled of at Almeria city so I got a few more unexpected Christmas presents!

Anyhow, that evening (and three days and three hours late), they arrived and in retrospect it made it very exciting and very special – the house looked very Christmassy with all the logs fires and wood burners going, and the Cava on ice – I was so happy to see them all after really believing it was not going to happen.  Then a few days later, my brother arrived with his partner and Oliver, my nephew, who lives in Devon.  It was a miracle that they all made it here after day after day of hideous snow reports.  It was the best Christmas present I could have had.

Los Pastores Restaurant and bar, Sierra Cabrera

30 Nov

On Sundays, quite often we will arrange a lunch here or meet up with friends and go off for a lovely relaxing afternoon.  This Sunday was a beautiful day – that wonderful blue sky and lots of sunshine that you get here and also in the UK (except that here if the sun is out it is usually T shirt weather, sorry).  Anyhow, we met our friends at the bottom of our track and went off together to Sierra Cabrera, around 25 minutes away.  There are several lovely restaurants there, but the one I like in the winter is the one at the top – Los Pastores, or The Shepherds.  The restaurant occupies part of a Mosque/ church building and there is an adjoining Torreon (tower) which is believed to one of only two examples in Spain (the other tower is in Malaga) and dates back to the11th century.

Los Pastores entrance

The view is exceptional and in winter time you get that kind of alpine air feeling (it is several degrees cooler up here than at our house!).  Today we are wearing jumpers and so can enjoy a drink on the terrace with the spectacular view.  I have booked a table inside, but there are lots of visitors (you can tell as they are all sleeveless!!) who are happily lunching outside in the sunshine.

Beautiful views

The menu here is pretty extensive, delicious and good value.  My friend Gill and I share a starter of tempura aubergine and courgette with a chilli jam dipping sauce.  Mick has his favourite of salt cod fritters (they are fantastic – I make them at home) and Mike has smoked salmon.  Then two of us have roasted shoulder of lamb which falls off the bone, Gill has chicken in white wine, and Mick has a wood oven pizza which looks fantastic!  I am trying to diet so have a bite of Gill’s apple pie which is delicious.  The boys have coffee and cognac and I have an espresso as I am driving us down the mountain!

The bill comes to a reasonable 32 euros including a tip with a bottle of wine, pre lunch drinks beforehand and a glass of white wine for me.

Los Pastores restaurant interior

We are coming here for our Christmas day lunch – just for a change and I must say it will be lovely to have breakfast on Christmas morning, presents and then have Mick drive my parents, Kim and Stuart (my sis and her husband to lunch in our friend Cannon Bennett’s people carrier (he has gone to New Zealand!)  – and then just leave!!!  I will still be cooking a turkey on Christmas Eve of course to have over the rest of the holidays – it wouldn’t be Christmas would it?

Los Pastores Resaurant and bar telephone no : 950 982 585







Riad Cabrera/Fatima’s Restaurant – Sierra Cabrera

13 Sep

If you are happy to go for an ever so slightly hairy drive into the hills that are Sierra Cabrera, you couldn’t find a more charming gem than this fantastic restaurant.  It nestles in a dip high up in the Cabrera’s, near the town of Turre.  The influence of course, is Moroccan and is where Fatima herself hails from.  The restaurant is absolutely beautiful – a fabulous terrace to dine or have drinks on in the warm summer and early autumn nights and an intimate bar inside with stunning Moorish tiling for when the evenings are no longer warm enough to be outside.  The huge inside dining rooms are immaculate and stylish and would make a magnificent venue for any party, whether it is a formal wedding reception or a special birthday or anniversary do.  So all of that without even mentioning the food!

The view onto the terrace from the restaurant

Well, you need a good twenty minutes and a large gin and tonic (served in a wonderful goblet) to study the extensive and inventive menu.  It is a joy to read and very hard to decide what to choose and in fact, when deciding,  you are in your mind already planning your next visit!

To start you have to select one of about twenty six – no mean feat!  Duck foie with blackberry sauce and sweet wine jelly does it for me (but among other things you could have Spanish ham and melon, anchovies, fresh marinated tuna tartare with wasabi sauce, ostrich pate, various delicious sounding salads, prawns, risottos, fresh pasta with pear and cheese….. I could go on.

The beautiful terrace

The house specialities consist of various delicious tagines (lamb, chicken, venison and vegetable), several different types of cous cous, fish pie with Moroccan herbs and spices, confit of duck cooked in onion oil, cinnamon, lemon and honey to name a few.

Then there are the most delicious meat and fish dishes, including suckling pig with mashed apple, lots of beef choices and roast leg of young goat with cous cous.  There is fish for every taste, red tuna rolled in sesame with teriyaki sauce, grilled hake, cod, or tuna and prawn kebab.

There is separate dessert menu, if you manage to get that far.  I am sure you have gathered that this is a high end restaurant but still offers fantastic value for money.

The service is warm and welcoming and I guarantee you will want to go back again.

Go for lunch if you are scared of driving in the dark, but do go – you won’t be disappointed.

Riad Cabrera telephone number: 950 092 042