Saturday, January 29, 2011

Twisting on Ice

We took a daytrip to Benalmadena today, our neighbour town. Only 15mins drive from us.

The plan was the swimming pool, but then we realized this morning we are missing important accessories, swimhats! Here in Spain you need to wear a swimhat at swimminghalls.

So instead, we went Ice-Skating! and it was FUN! I have not personally skated for years, but as everyone who is Finnish, I do know how to.
Atleast a little bit:)
Skating is something everyone does in Scandinavia. So we feel its important our kids will learn too.

The only person in our family at the moment who has skates that fits is Oskar. Patrik had, but I could not find them and I do not remember what happened to his skates when we moved out of Finland. So we rented. This was also a special day, it was the First Time Ever Ines was standing on skates! and she loved it! hih.  She was just laughing and smiling, little princess on her pink skating gear.

Accessories was something we needed for skating too, and did not know about it. Gloves. In Benalmadena Ice-Rink, you cant skate without them. And, of course, we had none with us. Luckily they sold gloves at the reception so we bought new ones. ( 2 euros per pair ). We had kids bicycle helmuts with us. All kids had helmuts on there, was mandatory. I saw they rented them out if you didnt have your own with you.

and off we went.. We found a lovely Russian lady, who apparently spends loads of time there with her family. Ex- professional figure skater and she took our kids and was teaching them! just for fun! she said she does that because she likes it. There was also a "teacher" working there. Young Spanish girl who made sure everyone has the proper gear and behaves as rules say.  When she saw our kids are just learning, she went to get skating " helpers " for them.

We realized very soon, that it had been too long since Oskar had skated the last time.. and he had nearly forgot it all. Was difficult to stand and find the balance. So we need to go there more often.. this lovely Russian lady told me that just 5-10mins before we came, a Finnish girl was there as well. And that this Finnish girl goes there a lot and is at the moment starting some classes there in Finnish. So I must now start my Sherlock Holmes investigations to find out who she is and when and where..

Patrik skated really good.. and I was surprised I did ok as well! Did not fall down on my butt, not once! yeah, Hurray! They played music all the time, quite loud as well. It was a great moment when I heard one of my favorite songs and just skated on! I could! Coldplay- Viva La Vida. There I was, skating fast and singing "when I ruled the world" and laughed.  Just loved it!

they also had a nice little Cafeteria right next to Ice-Rink, you could pop in there while skating.

Some people had been there before as well.. obviously. I was trying to capture this man jumping piruettes but always missed him up in the air. bummer.

All in all, very nice place! We will definately go back someday again. We saw ads on the walls that they have 80s Disco on Saturday Evenings.. Would be fun to go check it sometime.

there was a gym upstairs 

The Price? I am not sure. It was bit of a chaos when we went inside. (As usually with this family) first we went to check it. We were not sure since they were closing in an hour for Siesta and we were thinking to come back at 4pm to have more time to skate. But then decided to stay anyway because kids wanted to. So I went to pay and first she took 20.50e and then she saw Oskar had his own skates and gave me back 8.40e ? and then we went back to rent skates for Patrik and buy gloves and at the end we had no idea what we paid for what. The lady at the reception did not speak any English.

Afterwords we walked to a nice kids playpark we remembered was nearby. I just love these Spanish playparks, there is always a cafe / bar at the playpark! Much nicer for parents and always a toilet when needed one! Also, most of the kids playparks here are built by a Finnish company called Lappset. I love these colorful parks, I think they are funky. Why is it that in Finland parks are not this colorful? I just dont get it.

facebook on the road

daddy daughter conversation. yes no yes no yes no yes?

Then it started raining and we tried to run to our car.. all except Ines. She had a party!

and just like all of us, after a great party, she was dead. Little Princess had a great day again!

Here is my favorite Coldplay for you! I think this is amazing video someone has secretly filmed on a concert in Barcelona... definitely worth of the camera smuggle, or is it phone? its great anyway!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pacos Food Corner - Tapas

I have been asked a lot to write something about Food here..

What is tradition, what is common and what is Andalucian Cuisine about.

Well, first of all. Spaniards love to eat. Always and a lot.
The world of eating is very colorful here. 
Spanish Cuisine is something that cannot be explained in just few sentences. 
It will probably take years and years from a foreign person to get the whole picture... 

Cooking traditions also vary a lot depending where you are in Spain. The climate, history, geography - it all plays a big part on the ingredients that are being used in particular areas and  parts of Spain. There are thousands of recipes and different flavors available. Also, one same dish can be cooked differently in different regions. 

I am only starting my journey to Spanish Cuisine and learning everyday new things.. And  I am definitely no expert and these are just my insights.

So I will start with Tapas-culture. Tapas is from Andalucia. 
In some ways you can say, Andalucia Is Tapas, as much as is Flamenco and Bullfighting.

Tapas Bars are in every corner and if the bar is not a Tapas Bar- they usually serve Tapas anyway!

Tapas Bar in Fuengirola

Tapas Bar in Old Town Marbella

More Tapas in Fuengirola

Tapas Bar in Estepona

Tapas Bar in San Pedro

Tapas is a name  that is used to a huge variety of different appertizers. 
So basically, it is a " snack" - but for me, it can be lunch dinner and snack- I like them so much! Normally, people gathers at Tapas bars after work to see friends before they go to proper dinner.

The history of Tapas dates back to 16th Century, making it a really old tradition.  I have read from somewhere that there was a King who was ill and recovered by eating small snacks "tapas" and then made it a law that every tavern must serve small snacks to keep people healthy. 

I have also read from somewhere that, since Spaniards love to drink wine so much, and it was not very productive to drink wine to empty stomach. King made it a law to serve snacks so that people could go back to work on fields. 

The third version I have read from somewhere is a story where The First Tapas ever was cheese, since cheap wine was smelling so bad that Tavern owners started to serve free cheese to cover the bad smell of the wine.

And somehow I have a feeling there is a 4th and 5th and.. version as well. 

So, pick your choice!  Tapas is here to stay and they are just great!

There are 2 kinds of Tapas- Bars what Ive noticed, some have their Tapas on display and some have a menu where to choose. I have even been to a Tapas bar with my friend where waiters came outside to terrace with plates in their hands to show and sell!

Tapas can be served cold or hot.
Usually, Ive noticed, bars have +/- 10 different tapas they serve, some less, some more.
Tapas can be something seafood or fish
(anchovis, tuna, salmon, calamaris, squid, shrimps, gambas, sardines .... ).

Also some part of the menu is always chicken. It can be chicken in skews or in herbs and spices or just plain hot wings, or chicken curry or anything..

Some Tapas are vegetables, often green peppers...or whatever is that "season". Olives and mushrooms are popular too.

Olives and salted peanuts are also something, in some bars, what you will get free of charge to accompany your drinks.

Then, of course, Serrano ham or other Spanish ham is everywhere!

Serrano Ham is often served with Melon.  Also pork can be find done in different ways. I have even seen Chili Con Carne in one Tapas Bar.

Tapas can be also little salads;
seafood salads, mayonnaise salads or just tomato salads on a little bowl.

russian salad

Tapas is also Cheese! Manchego cheese is Spanish and very popular.
Cheese can be ordered as it is, or melted.

Normally, I have noticed, people orders one Tapa at the time. They usually are all priced the same, so you keep the wooden stick that is often attached to the Tapa, and then when you leave you count the little sticks to see how many you ate. This is especially a common procedure with Pinchos (pintxos) ,
a Basque version of Tapas.  Pincho means "spike".  Pintxos are served on a slice of bread.

I thought these were great.. we ordered more! 

I have also noticed that the size of portions changes in different bars.
I went to a one tapas place with my girlfriend, and we were pretty hungry, so we ordered few things at the same time. And had no idea they were this big! 1euro each plate and we had several!

That was Lunch no Tapas! Much better than McDonalds 1euro cheeseburger:)

And last, but for sure, not least! Probably the most famous Tapas there is..
Albondigas and Tortilla de Patatas. Meatballs and Spanish Omelette.
What I have noticed, they are served in everyplace.

Tortilla in tapas bars has been a big fat piece of a omelette "cake"

Potatoes are also served as Patata Brava, not only as omelette. They are boiled and fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce and some aioli.
Meatballs are served also in a spicy tomato sauce, is it the same sauce? I don't know..

here is a funny video how you can make your own  Tortilla de Patatas, the spanish way!

So basically, Tapas can be anything! And easy to do home as well, for family and friends.

And I also think that its not so serious business, Tapas -idea can be easily "copy and pasted" to all cooking, not just Spanish! This is our Finnish lunch for kiddies on Finnish Independence day last December.

here in Spain supermarkets sell these ready-made-packs incase you feel lazy

Here you can see what Tapas looks like and what ingredients can be used :

Thats if Folks! Buen Provecho!