Bodega E. Marin

bodega e. marin

While I was walking round Gràcia looking for markets and restaurants, I came across Bodega E. Marin, a fantastic old bodega. In Spain these are wine shops/cellars, which may also sell groceries, but the focus is on wine.


Through the front door of this bodega there are a couple of counters on either side and small stools for customers to sit and sip a glass of wine.

holy spirit

On the left hand side, just past the counter there are shelves crammed full of every spirit ever distilled. I counted 12 types of tequila on one section of shelf alone. Botas (wine skins) and Torres Artesanal Potato Chips hang from the shelves, hiding the precious liquors.

coffee cup

Below the drink there’s a fan siting on top of a cigarette machine. To the right sits a glass fronted refrigerator containing bar snacks (tapas) – patates braves, croquetes, anxoves, músculs, etc. On the front door to the bodegas, among many hand written signs for drinks, I noticed entrepans (between bread) – sandwiches (in a baguette) of llom, truita de patates, fuet, formatge, etc. – all priced between €3 – €4. Beyond the fridge there’s a full size espresso machine and almost to the roof you will see huge wine barrels.


No space is left unused – there are even bottles hanging from the ceiling!

counter and wine taps

Directly above the counter there are more wine barrels – these are not for display – there are taps (right) connected to the barrels to dispense wine. Not so many years ago these bodegas contained more barrels than bottles. You can go in and order a glass of wine, port or sherry straight from the cask. Not many tourists realise that people bring in their own bottles and jugs to be filled up. In the days before mass production this was normal.


I had a carajillo de cognac to keep me going for the rest of the afternoon – it cost me €1.65. Expect to pay between €1 – €2 for a glass of local wine from the barrel. No doubt they sell a great vermut de la cassa. Bottles of wine, cava and spirits will be cheaper here than most supermarkets.

Bodega E. Marin is at: Milà i Fontanals 72, 08012, Gracia, Barcelona.

carrer de milans

I noticed a review of Bodega E. Marin where someone suggested keeping it quiet and not telling anyone, so that it would remain unspoiled. Years ago, I lived on Carrer de Milans and we had a fantastic bodega on the corner – it was twice as big as E. Marin and also served as a corner shop selling ham, cheese, potatoes, etc. Back then one could buy water in recycled 10 litre glass bottles and the bodegas stocked them. Once you’d paid a deposit the water cost peanuts. I occasionally bought a litre of port from the barrel – I think it cost 125 pesetas (about €0.75). Sadly that bodega is long gone and they are disappearing fast, so do frequent the old bodegas and do tell all your friends!

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La Cerveseria

la cerveseria

I cycled up to Gràcia (once a village in it’s own right, but now a suburb of Barcelona) today, in search of Mercat de l’Abaceria, the oldest market in the barrio, but sadly it was closed. It’s possible that it’s closed for August (as are many businesses in Barcelona), but it is also due to be refurbished soon. Looking to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse and as I was up in Gracia, I thought I ought to look for a suitable place for lunch.


I found La Cerveseria in Plaça de la Revolució, which reminded me somewhat of a German bierkeller by name and on the inside.


I had been looking for a shaded table outside, however, the menú del día looked good and was served indoors only. It’s also worth noting that there were 20 or so locals, eating good food downstairs – I took that to be a good sign.


It was a hot day and as I’d cycled up hill and walked around for 45 minutes, the idea of cold air conditioning with a cheap lunch won me over.


I promptly ordered a refreshing vermut de la casa before the menú del día arrived.


My friendly waiter brought over a dish of little olives to go with the drink. I was beginning to like this place and forgot about the large wall TV (blissfully silent), showing the latest news.


I ordered Fideuà a la Marinera amb Allioli (seafood fideuà with garlic mayonnaise) as my starter. Fideuà is a very popular paella like dish, made with short pasta instead of rice – as with paella, fideuà should never contain chorizo! This fideuà was a good one, with, clams, squid, mussels and langostinos (prawns).


For my main course I ordered Tonyina a la Planxta amb Vinagreta de Soja i Llimona (tuna steak cooked on the griddle with a soya and lemon vinagrette dressing), served with fried potatoes in their skins. This was excellent!


For pudding I had iogurt – yogurt with cherries and fruit syrup on top.

vi rosat

Included in the price of my lunch was a 500ml garrafa (carafe) of very good vi rosat – that’s two thirds of a bottle!


I was astonished, when I got my bill – the lunch, including 3 courses, wine, olives, bread and a vermut was €10.50!

I suspect it may get a little noisy here at night, but there are always tables outside. Nevertheless, the lunch and service were excellent and I will go back!

La Cerveseria is at: Plaça de la Revolució 3, 08012, Gracia, Barcelona.

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Can Miguel

can miguel

I went to Calella twice this week with Oli and Nookie. We had been warned that restaurants on the Costa Brava could be for tourists only – all pizza and bad tapas (tapas do not come from Cataluña), but we embarked on a mission to find somewhere good regardless. Earlier in the week we thought we’d found and excellent restaurant, the menú diari looked good, it was full of Catalans and the camarera was charming. It all went well until we got to the main course where the fideuà was tasteless and rubbery. I think it was the first time I’ve ever had a bad fideuà! Needless to say, my camera went back in my bag and the restaurant will be nameless.

Today our luck changed and we found an excellent place called Can Miguel. with huge parasols to shade us from the sun and friendly staff.

menú diari

You will see from the menú diari, above, that the food promised to be good – 3 course with wine or beer for €12.50.

vi rosat

I ordered my usual vi rosat, which did a very good impression of Carlsberg in the film, Ice Cold In Alex.

musclos can miguel

To start, Nookie ordered musclos “Can Miguel” – Can Miguel’s signature mussel dish. Normally these come with garlic, but they were very happy to adjust the recipe to suit their guests. The bowl was enormous, so we all ate them. Despite the missing garlic, they were delicious!

amanida russa

Oli ordered Amanida Russa – Russian Salad, a very popular dish in Iberia, made of potatoes and other vegetables in mayonnaise. It is said that mahonnaise originally came from Mahón in Menorca.

gaspatxo a la andalusa

As it was about 30º C outside, I chose gaspatxo a la andalusa – an Andalucian Gazpacho, a cold raw tomato soup, chilled in the fridge and designed to cool you down. Note the little bowl of chopped crunchy vegetables to float on top of the soup.

amanida mixta amb tonyina

Nookie quite often wants a second starter instead of the main course. You will see here, that she was very well looked after with an Amanida Mixta amb Tonyina – a mixed salad with tuna.

pollastre al curri

Oli ordered Pollastre al Curri – chicken curry, which he pronounced excellent.

lluç a la planxa

I ordered Lluç a la Planxa – hake cooked on the griddle, which came with a generous helping of potatoes, mixed vegetables and asparagus.  Nookie had half the asparagus – her second favourite vegetable after artichokes and she did give me lots of mussels!


For pudding, Nookie had fresh fruit which came in a lovely glass bowl in the shape of half an apple.

panna cotta

Oli ordered Panna Cotta, an Italian sweetened, cream pudding, set with gelatin in a mould.

tarta de fresas

My pudding was a Tarta de Fresas – a strawberry tart, which I expected to be more French in style, but nevertheless, it was astonishingly light and quite delicious.


Nobody will be surprised to see me finish my lunch with a carajillo de cognac, a fantastic pick me up of espresso topped up with Spanish Brandy. They even serve it with a Malteser like sweet.

la cuenta

We werendelighted with Can Miguel, which compared extremely well with some of our favourite restaurants in Barcelona. It’s also worth noting how good value it is at lunchtime.

Can Miguel is at: Riera Capaspre, 4, 08370 Calella, Cataluña.

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Rabbit Vindaloo

wild rabbits

Most people in Britain probably think of vindaloo as a spicy lamb dish, sold in Indian restaurants and as a ready meal from supermarkets. However, vindaloo actually started off as a Portuguese pork or rabbit dish – Carne de vinha d’alhos, meat marinated with wine and garlic.

The Portuguese discovered India in 1498 and established their colony and trading posts over the next 100 years or so. Carne de vinha d’alhos came with the sailors, packed in barrels. Some say the pork was layered with garlic and wine, though centuries earlier, the Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans arriving in Iberia were well aware of the preserving properties of vinegar and the Moors who filled the Roman vacuum were known to have preserved meat and fish (in escabeche like dishes) with vinegar thereafter. So to my mind Portuguese sailors would have used wine vinegar, not wine, to preserve their meat, as Portuguese chefs do today.


Vindaloo became a staple food in Portuguese Goa, made by Franciscan priests, who’d gone to “save” the natives. Since wine vinegar was unavailable to the Franciscans, they made an alternative from fermented palm wine instead. Local ingredients, such as cinnamon, tamarind, black pepper and cardamom were added, along with chilli from Portuguese colonies in South America. When the British arrived in India, they liked vindaloo so much they brought it home. Duck vindaloo was a particular favourite. Early English cookbooks stuck to the traditional Goan recipe, though over the last century or so, British vindaloo has became a hot curry, without the vinegar marinade.

So here’s my take on a Portuguese Indian dish, made with rabbit – a popular meat on both continents and often used in Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos.

First of all, make a masala (which can be a wet or dry mixture) to marinate the meat.

The Masala (spice mix for the marinade):

75ml red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons hot pimentón de la vera
2 teaspoons dulce pimentón de la vera
a level teaspoonful ground cinnamon
a level teaspoonful ground turmeric
8 cardamom pods
20 black peppercorns
8 cloves
1 level teaspoon coriander seeds
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds

warmed spices

Warm all the whole masala spices (not the powdered ingredients) in a dry frying pan until they start to give off an aroma (don’t get them too hot, as they will burn) – this will bring out the flavours.

ground spices

Remove the warm spices to a mortar (remove the cardamom seeds from their pods) and grind them up with a pestle.

Rabbit Vindaloo (serves 4):

2 strips of pork belly (rind removed and cubed)
1 rabbit chopped into about 14 pieces
2 large onions (chopped)
1 head of garlic (finely chopped)
3 large tomatoes (grated)
3 small red and green chillies (chopped)
a piece of ginger about the size of thumb (grated)
2 dessertspoonfuls of tomato purée
a squirt of anchovy paste
Extra virgin olive oil for frying
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
a large pinch of crushed dried chillies
a large pinch of sea salt
additional red wine vinegar to taste (if required)
The rabbit’s blood – mix this with a little red wine vinegar to stop it congealing, cover and keep it in the fridge until required

pork belly

I added  two strips of chopped pork belly to the rabbit, for fat and flavour (…and of course one does want to keep the Inquisition at bay!), as wild rabbit is rather lean.


Chop the rabbit into about 14 pieces and put all the meat into a container that will fit in the fridge.


Sprinkle on all the masala spices and pour on the red wine vinegar.


Mix the meat and marinade with your hands – it’s messy, but probably does the best job. Cover and allow the meat to marinate for 24 hours or so. Do take the meat out of the fridge for a couple of hours before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.


When you are ready to cook, fry two large onions in olive oil, until they go translucent.

ginger and garlic

Stir the chopped garlic and grated ginger into the onions,


before adding the red and green chillis.

grated tomato

Grate three large tomatoes into the onion mixture


and allow this to cook for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle on the crushed chilli, black mustard seeds and sea salt, along with a squirt of anchovy paste and tomato purée,

marinated meat

Stir all the meat and marinade into the vegetables, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and allow to cook for an hour.

rabbit blood

After 60 minutes, taste the vindaloo and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Stir in the rabbit blood and vinegar mixture to thicken the sauce. Cook uncovered for a further 30 minutes or until the meat is tender. Do add a little water if the sauce gets too thick.

rabbit vindaloo

Serve with basmati rice, chapatis or nan bread. I’m very fond of aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower in a spicy sauce) as an accompaniment and perhaps a little lemon pickle (which is very hard to find in the UK).

I recommend drinking a Portuguese Douro red wine with vindaloo, such as a Quinta do Vallado or a Goa Beer.

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Kangaroo Casserole

kangaroo casserole

As I left the Squirrel Barbecue, Oli thrust a bag of leftovers at me and said, “See what you can do with these.” I cycled off into the night and on arriving home, just remembered to put the bag in the fridge before falling into a very deep sleep.

On careful examination the next day, I discovered 3 kangaroo fillets, 3 large squirrel legs, 6 chicken heart kebabs and a couple of ostrich burgers. The ostrich burgers were a bit bland, so I reheated them for breakfast with a fried egg on top. The other ingredients looked perfect for a casserole.

Kangaroo Casserole recipe (serves 4):

3 pieces of kangaroo fillet (chopped)
3 pieces of squirrel (boned and chopped)
6 chicken heart kebabs (including santa tomatoes, mushrooms and onion)
3 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
2 sticks celery (chopped)
1 pint beef stock
a splash red wine vinegar
a dessertspoon of tomato purée
a large squeeze anchovy paste
a pinch of crushed chilli
2 bay leaves
1 heaped dessertspoons of plain flour
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil for frying

barbecued kebabs

Start by frying the onion in olive oil until it goes translucent and sprinkle on a pinch of crushed chilli. Add the chopped streaky bacon and let it change colour. Stir in the carrot, celery and garlic – cook that for a few minutes before squirting in tomato purée and anchovy paste. Dust with flour and mix the ingredients together to form a roux, before pouring on the beef stock and a splash of red wine vinegar. Add the chopped meat and kebab ingredients plus bay leaves, then season with salt and pepper.

Put the lid on and increase the temperature until the casserole comes to a simmer. Have a good taste and adjust the seasoning, as you see fit. Put the lid back on and remove the dish to a pre heated oven at 150º C for two hours (stirring occasionally).


Kangaroo casserole turned out to be incredibly delicious – the taste and smell were absolutely amazing.  The tender, slightly beefy kangaroo and gamey squirrel (both smokey from the barbecue) came together like the very best venison equivalent imaginable.  It was all I could do to stop myself wolfing the whole lot down solo.

Serve with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. No doubt this goes best with an Australian red wine, such as Kilikanoon GSM (which is a good match for a barbecue).

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Squirrel Barbecue

squirrel barbecue

Last Sunday I was on barbecue duty chez Rick and Su in Golders GreenOli expressed a keen interest in squirrel and ordered 5 from The Wild Meat Company. Rest assured, these are grey squirrel and not our native red variety. Grey squirrels were introduced to Britain from America in 1876 – they are a larger species (which gives them a competitive edge) and sadly they carry a disease which kills our own red ones (now an endangered species). There are approximately 2.5 million grey squirrels in the UK and aside from threatening the red squirrel population, they do a considerable amount of damage to woodlands and parks, therefore, grey squirrel are regularly culled as per rabbits and deer. In my opinion, they taste pretty good, so why not eat them!

wild meat

In the meantime, I came across some other exotic meats at Kezie Foods and they were having a sale!

making kebabs

I arrived to a flurry of activity. Su and Groucho were busy making kebabs with chicken and lamb hearts,

mini peppers

mini peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.

celeriac salad

Oli started to make a celeriac salad, slicing the vegetables wafer thin with a Mandoline
…he cut his finger early on, so I took over.

asparagus and pea pasta

Rabina made a beautiful asparagus and pea salad, along with a spinach and orange salad (which I somehow missed).

bhel puri

Rick made a delicious, crunchy Bhel Puri – a savoury dish from India, typically containing puffed rice, potatoes, onions and tamarind sauce.

fish house punch

Rick and Su’s son Sam (top mixologist), sadly had to work, but suggested a cocktail for a Sunday afternoon.

fish house punch on tap

Rick obligingly mixed the Fish House Punch beforehand, so that we had it on tap!

quail egg tarts

With kebabs all made, Su and Groucho turned their hand to quail egg fancies – I was relieved not to get the job cracking lots of quail’s eggs without breaking a yolk – it’s hard work.

garden party

With guests in attendance, it was time to light the fire.

sous-vide beef and pork

First to be burnt were the beef short ribs (A.K.A. oven busters) and pork belly slices – both pre cooked sous-vide for several days.

flamin’ meat

Of course, as soon as I picked up my camera there was a forrest fire, but no harm done. The beef and pork just needed a little scorching to crispen up the fat and caramelise the sugars.

beef short ribs

These short ribs were probably the most tender I’ve ever eaten.

gran cerdo

Bridget arrived with a top red wine from Spain, that had us all laughing – Gran Cerdo.

Joseph Barnes Wines say:This hugely enjoyable red is made by cult winemaker Gonzalo Gonzalo Grijalba, the ‘enfant terrible’ of the Rioja region. Having first studied biology at the University of Leon and then Oenology at the University of Rioja, he proceeded to make biodynamic wines in the hills of Rioja. The ‘Gran Cerdo’ or ‘large pig’ is 100% Tempranillo and, true to form, Gonzalo Gonzalo includes no information on the label other than a rant aimed at the bank managers who have refused to lend him money to develop his business.”

wine legend

“You really should read the back label!”

zebra sausages

The zebra sausages turned out to be very popular, so much so that we had to cut them all into three pieces.

quail fancies

The quail fancies looked and tasted brilliant,

quail fancies with caviar

especially with a little caviar on top.

lamb heart kebabs

Next on the grill, were the lamb heart kebabs,

kangaroo steak and ostrich burgers

followed by kangaroo steak and ostrich burgers.

meat oli

The kangaroo fillet was spectacular. I’ve eaten the meat before and it has been a little tough, but this cut was tender like the very best steak. The taste is somewhere between beef and venison.

sous-vide squirrel

Squirrel are quite muscular, so they too got the sous-vide treatment.

grilled squirrel

The squirrel were a little gamey (like venison) and the long slow pre cook ensured it’s tenderness. The flavour is similar to hare or an older male rabbit …perhaps with a few nuts.

chicken heart kebabs

Next to the squirrel were more kebabs – this time with chicken hearts.
During the afternoon, liberal quantities of French fried potatoes were ferried around the garden on trays, to accompany the meat.


Chicory (endive) was the last thing to get a grilling – the heat was a bit fierce early on.

salsa de romesco

Rabina made an authentic salsa romesco especially for the chicory …and for a minute I was back in Cataluña.

chit chat

Meanwhile, Adrian Stout gave me the evil eye – or perhaps it was indigestion?

tongue tacos

Just as the barbecue was cooling off, the ox tongue tacos arrived. This was sous-vide ox tongue, as per the recent Barcelona barbecue, where Oli cooked it until it was falling apart.


For pudding, Rick made 3 layers of filo pastry, with honey drizzled on each – this was sprinkled with crushed cashew nuts.


…and of course there were strawberries with cream.

As it grew dark we sat outside on a bench and talked late into the night. As you can imagine, liberal quantities of cocktails, wine and cava were consumed.

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‘Nuduja (pronounced ‘nduya) is an Italian pork salumi (cured sausage), made with pig’s head (but not cheeks – they are use for guanciale), shoulder and belly, plus salt, roasted red chilli peppers and spices. The mixture is squeezed into a pig’s intestine, which is tied up and smoked then left to cure for up to 2 years. ‘Nduja comes from Calabria in the south of Italy and takes it’s name from French Andouille and the Angevins who ruled the region in the 13th Century. Add the letter “A” to ‘nduja and swap the “J” for two “L”s and the names become more alike, but that’s where the similarity ends. Later, probably when Calabria was ruled by the Crown of Aragon (sponsors of Columbus’ voyage to the New World) chilli peppers were brought back to Europe, and the Calabrians added them to their ‘nduja, which became a unique salumi in it’s own right.

‘Nduja is a soft, spreadable salumi and looks a lot like sobrasada from the Balearic Islands (also part of the Aragonese empire, back in the day), however, the taste is completely different. Sobrasada has a very strong salty pimentón flavour to it, whereas ‘nduja has a hot chilli taste that’s more fiery, less smokey and will put hair on your chest!

I came across ‘nduja a couple of years ago in my local pizzeria, Saponara, where they use it in their picante pizza – I like it so much I’ve never gotten round to trying another topping, so when I came across the salumi whole, at my butcher’s, I had to have one!

spread on toast

So what does one do with a 1lb salumi? Firstly cut a bit off and spread it on crusty bread or toast, like paté – it will burn your tongue and palate and then you’ll crave more! Next, take a tip from the Italians and add some ‘nduja to pasta sauce.

‘Nduja Ragu recipe (serves 4):

1 large onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 red or green pepper (chopped)
1 courgette (chopped)
5 medium tomatoes (grated) or a tin
6 mushrooms (chopped)
a handful of aceitunas (green olives stuffed with anchovies)
4 slices of smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
a 1 inch slice of nduja
1 teaspoon of rosemary, sage and thyme (a few sprigs of each), coarse sea salt and black peppercorns ground in a mortar and pestle
2 bay leaves
a dessertspoonful of tomato purée
a large squirt of anchovy paste
a splash red wine vinegar
a slug of extra virgin olive oil for frying

sliced ‘nduja

Start by frying the onion in olive oil until it goes translucent. Add the chopped streaky bacon and let it change colour. Meanwhile, slice off about an inch (2.5cm) of ‘nduja and remove the outer casing. Note the visible pieces of red pepper in the slice above.

bacon, onion and ‘nduja

Break off little chunks of the salumi into the bacon and onion.

stirred in

The ‘nduja will melt in the pan and mix in with the other ingredients. Next add garlic, courgette and the red or green pepper, followed by mushrooms and grated tomato. Sprinkle on the ground herbs, two bay leaves, squeeze in the tomato purée and anchovy paste along with a splash of red wine vinegar.


Give the mixture a good stir before adding a handful of aceitunas verdes rellenas de anchoa (olives stuffed with anchovies).

‘nduja ragù

Cook on a low heat for 20 – 30 minutes and serve with pasta and grated parmesan.

‘Nuduja Pizza recipe:


Having a good supply of ‘nduja gave me lots of opportunity to experiment, so I used some for home made pizza. Above, I made a marinara type sauce with 6 large tomatoes (blanched and peeled), chopped garlic, basil leaves, red wine vinegar a squirt of tomato purée and anchovy paste, plus an inch of ‘nduja broken up and stirred in.

‘nduja pizza

Bake the base blind (5 minutes at the bottom of a very hot oven), for a more crispy artesanal style pizza. Brush the hot dough with marinara and a topping of your choice. I used chorizo slices, mozzarella and kalamata olives. Bake the pizza on the bare bars of the oven, towards the bottom, for 30 – 40 minutes or until it has browned nicely.

rabbit and ‘nduja

…and I also cooked an ‘nduja and rabbit stew with dried broad beans, using this recipe. I broke yet another inch of ‘nduja in with the translucent onions, instead of chorizo, then skipped the pimentón and swapped the broad beans (pre soaked and cooked in a pressure cooker) for chickpeas.

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