Friday, 30 September 2011

Fruit Cheese

When I say fruit cheese I don't mean wedges of wensleydale with nuggets of dried cranberries or apricots in them, I mean fruit puree cooked until it's a solid, sliceable preserve. The most famous example is dulce de membrillo, a delectable Spanish quince paste & the Brazilian goiabada, guava cheese, which is possibly the most delicious thing I have ever eaten.

Fruit cheese isn't the easiest thing to make, but it is very satisfying. And you can still make it if you don't have quince or guava available (my quince tree produced 4 fruits this year, so it'll be a couple more years before I'm making my own membrillo). Damsons, plums, pears & apples (especially when combined with blueberries or cranberries) all make delicious cheeses too.
Since the cheese will set firm, you can use it in a variety of ways. The simplest is to pour it into heatproof containers, shallow trays, moulds or ramekins & leave to set. Get creative with your moulds, as long as it's heatproof, and you brush it with vegetable oil or glycerine to stop things from sticking, pretty much anything will work. I like to use soap moulds (they come in lovely shapes & are a nice size too), loaf tins & even ravioli moulds (which make adorable little fruit pastilles)

But before I get to the recipe, a few things to warn you about.
This is a recipe that you can't wander off & leave to it's own devices for half an hour. It'll burn the minute your back is turned. It will also spit like Chantico* on a bad day, so wear long sleeves or wrap your arm with a tea towel for the last half hour of cooking. And for the love of all things good get the longest wooden spoon you can. And tie it to the end of a broom or something. 'Luckily' I have a long history of self-harm, feral cats & weeding without gloves on, so am fairly impervious to burns, boils, cuts and furry things gnawing at me, but I don't encourage others to try it. Be careful, and put a dab of lavender oil on any burns. Okay, health warning over!

Plum Cheese

1kg plums
500g-700g sugar

Place the plums, skin, stones & all in a large pan. Just cover with water & bring to a simmer. Cook until soft & mushy. Leave to cool. Rub the plum mush through a nylon sieve (or a mooli if you're fancypants enough to have one). Weigh the pulp & return it to the pan, adding an equal amount of sugar (it will look like instant diabetes, but trust me, it'll be fine). Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for an hour or more, maybe even 2 hours depending on how juicy the plums were, until the mixture is thick & glossy. And when I say thick, I mean seriously thick. There will be a moment of yeah, that's pretty thick, and then it will suddenly be thick. You'll not only be able to scrape the spoon across the bottom of the pan & leave a line, it'll take a few seconds for the mix to realise what's happened, and then slump back together. Scrape into whatever vessels you're using (and make sure they're heatproof. This stuff will melt thin plastic & clingfilm) & either cover with greaseproof paper, or if you're feeling fancy, spoon into greased moulds & top with food grade paraffin wax. The cheese will keep for a year (it's mostly sugar after all)

As for what to do with it, well the world is your fried mock oyster. You can serve it in slices with cheese, cut into cubes, or if you have teeny tiny cookie cutters cut it into pretty shapes & roll in sugar to make fruit pastilles. You can chop into chunks & add to tagines, bread & butter pudding, fruit crumble or rice pudding too.

*What do you mean who? Chantico is the Aztec goddess of fires & volcanoes. She has a bit of a temper.

Monday, 26 September 2011


8 days of blogging? This must be some sort of record! After a week of chutneys & relishes, here's something a bit different. Well not that different, as it's still preserving. Today it's all about ketchup!
Ketchup has been around since the 1690's, but was very different to the red gloop we're so fond of today. It was made in China out of pickled fish & known as kê-tsiap (meaning 'carp juice'. Yum). The sauce made its way to Malaysia where it was known as kechap & by 1740 British explorers had cottoned on to it, and started calling it ketchup. It wasn't until the early 1800's that it was made with tomatoes (and a lot of salt). Prior to that, most ketchups were made with mushrooms, oysters or walnuts, and were similar to soy sauce in consistency.

I know it seems a bit odd to make something yourself that is so cheap & readily available, but I love making my own ketchup. It's not just that I like making it out of yellow or green tomatoes & alarming friends & relatives with weird coloured ketchup (okay, so maybe it's a little bit of that) but the flavour is so much better than shop bought ketchup, and you can really mess around with your ingredients. I like to make a spicy red tomato ketchup with Mexican flavourings like cumin, oregano & a few minced up pickled chipotle chillis. Yellow tomato ketchup gets yellow mustard powder & ground ginger. So do whatever flavours you like.

The basic tomato ketchup recipe requires 1 litre of passata. My favourite way of making passata is to roast around 2kg of tomatoes, halved & arranged in a tray with whatever herbs you fancy (oregano or rosemary work well) in the oven at 180C until softened. Leave to cool & rub through a nylon sieve with a wooden spoon to get rid of all the seeds & skins. You should end up with about 1 litre of the tastiest pasta sauce you'll ever eat.

If you don't have a glut of tomatoes to use, you can still make ketchup with other fruits. Tomatillos make excellent ketchup (replace the lemon juice with lime & add a couple of green chillis for a spicy kick), as does rhubarb (2kg of rhubarb baked in the oven until tender & pushed through a sieve will make enough puree for this recipe, though I'd recommend leaving out the lemon juice as rhubarb is pretty tart). Elderberries, pineapple, mango, plums, bananas & gooseberries all make delicious ketchups too.


1 litre of passata
100ml red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar if using yellow or green tomatoes)
100g sugar (or you can use honey)
juice of 2 lemons (about 50ml)2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt1 tsp oregano1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper

Put all the ingredients into a pan & bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring regularly, until the sauce reaches & thick but pourable consistency (remember it will get a little thicker when cool). Pour into sterilised bottles & seal tightly. It sounds like an odd thing to do, but turn the bottles upside down & leave to stand for a few minutes (this is to sterilise the tops of the bottles & give them a longer shelf life). Use within 6 months & store in the fridge once opened.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Apple, Honey & Ginger Chutney

It's the last day of Chutney Week, and I'm taking a break from the Great Cider Caper 2011 to post another favourite. This is a very sweet chutney, it's almost jam-like (without actually being jam), stuffed full of apples with a sharp bite of ginger & the mellow sweetness of honey. This is another large recipe, and a good way of using up an unexpected bagful of cooking apples from your in-laws (unless they get made into cider). I like cutting my crystallized ginger quite chunky, about the same size as the raisins (which are there to give the chutney body, as just apples makes it a bit too much like baby food for me), so you get little bursts of spice & texture. If you like it finer, then chop away!

Apple, Honey & Ginger Chutney

2kg apples
250g raisins (or sultanas. Or any dried fruit)
250g crystallised stem ginger (you can also use stem ginger in syrup, the syrup can also be used to substitute some of the honey too)
250g brown sugar
250g honey
600ml cider vinegar
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp salt
1tsp allspice (or ground mixed spice)

Peel, core & chop the apples. It'll take a while, so having the radio on makes it less of a slog (or learn Spanish with Michel Thomas, and spend all your time muttering 'loh noh ness-e-sEE-tow a oor-a'). Put everything in a pan & bring to the boil. Simmer until thick (40 minutes to an hour, depending on your apples), spoon into sterilized jars & leave for a month before eating.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Carrot & Chilli Chutney

Despite it being a bit of a rubbish year for parsnips here (I have maybe 5 in the whole garden that survived the dry spring) it's been an excellent year for carrots. This year I've grown White Satin (as the name suggests, it's a white carrot with good sweet flavour & lovely long roots), Yellowstone (a favourite of mine, with a lovely earthy flavour & good texture) & Kingston (an orange variety that stores well, and was used to make this chutney!). So I've had enough to do some preserving with (and hopefully even have a go at making some halva at some point!)

Carrot & Chilli Chutney

1. 3kg carrots
175g sugar
175ml white wine vinegar
juice & zest of 1 lemon
50g tomato puree (or 50ml if it's easier)
8 tbs yellow mustard seeds
8 tbs groundnut oil (or vegetable oil)
3 tbs tomato puree
3 tsp coriander seed
2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp turmeric
1tsp chilli powder (cayenne if you're feeling brave)
1 tsp salt
4- 6 red chillies, finely chopped
thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

Grate the carrot. better still, sucker someone else into grating the carrot (MikeyFox will always oblige if there's cider available whilst doing so). Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the mustard seeds & wait for them to start popping. Once they start cracking away add the other spices. After 2 minutes of stirring, and getting giddy with the smell of frying cumin, add the tomato puree, stir, then tip in the carrot & remaining ingredients. Mix well, reduce the heat & cover. Leave to simmer for 25-30 minutes, giving it the occasional prod to make sure nothing sticks or burns. If you feel like it needs more liquid, add a few spoons of vinegar. A splash of balsamic works surprisingly well. Spoon into sterilized jars & cover with a little more oil. Seal & stick in the back of a cupboard for a few weeks, preferably a month, before eating.

Delicious on toasted pitta bread or roti. Highly addictive.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Winter Ale Chutney

This is a bit of a blast from the past - my first ever chutney recipe! I came up with this waay back in 2005, when I inherited my Grandmothers preserving pan. I love this big old thing. I remember when my Nanan bought it from Harrods on a day trip to London in the early '80's, and every June we would spend a morning strawberry picking, and in the afternoon she would make strawberry jam in her mighty preserving pan.

Since it has been in my possession, no strawberry has met its unfortunate end within, my being of the opinion that cooking them or adding sugar is the cruellest thing you can do to a beautiful ripe strawberry. So it's been used to make chutney, the occasional relish, and even a few rare sweet things like damson cheese & apple butter (yes, recipes will be posted. Eventually!). As this is my first attempt, I used cup measurements rather than weighing things out, which I'm more likely to do now, but I really like the ease & simplicity of the cup of this, cup of that approach. You can substitute the dried fruit (and the spice bag) for whatever you have, or whatever you fancy. A honey beer goes well with dried pears & figs, a darker ale goes well with currants & sour cherries. There are lots of dried fruits out there, so let you imagination go nuts.

I've made this recipe many times, and try different beers each time. Real ale, especially brown ales & bitters, work best. Pale ale is too hoppy, and doesn't have that depth of flavour & bitterness that the chutney needs. A spiced ale works surprising well, and honey beer is really special. Basically, as long its a good, well-flavoured beer you'll be making something special! (This beer was made with Thorne Brewery Best Bitter, which is MikeyFox's brewery. I know it's good beer because he makes it!)

Winter Ale Chutney

2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup beer (there will be some left, so you'd better drink it!)
1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup raisins
1 onion, chopped
4 apples, peeled, deseeded & chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp each of peppercorns & cloves, tied up in a piece of muslin
juice of 1 lemon

Put the dried fruit in a bowl & add the beer. Leave to stand for 20 minutes, so the fruit can get nicely soft & sozzled.
Put the vinegar & sugar in a large pan & bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Tip in the dried fruits & beer & add the remaining ingredients. Stir & simmer for around an hour, or until the mixture is thick & glossy. Fish out the muslin bag of spices (or it could be a nasty mouthful for someone!). Spoon into sterilized jars & tuck away in a cupboard for a month before eating. If well stored, it will last until the next Ice Age*. You may be battling giant radioactive serpents, Cthulhu & his Excessively Limbed KinThings may have eaten next Tuesday, but you'll still have chutney!

For those interested, the Happy Squid T-shirt is from the lovely Kate Beaton, who is right up there with Blackadder & Horrible Histories when it comes to making history disgustingly amusing.

*Honestly. I'm still eating chutney from 2006 & I'm fine *twitch*

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Red Hot Relish (Aka Mike Salsa)

This year I created a long raised bed for growing tomatoes in (nicknamed 'Tomato Mile', as it's very long. About 17 meters) and filled it with varieties from Eastern Europe & North America that wouldn't sulk & die in our, ahem, robust North Lincolnshire climate. The names make me smile - Stupice, Latah, Blodkompfchen, Galina, Czech's Excellent Yellow... so I'm awash with tomatoes at the moment. I'm making passata, sauces & ketchup mainly, but MikeyFox requested a spicy tomato relish, and who am I to refuse?

Alas, he has been reading too much Raymond Chandler, so decided Mike Salsa would be a perfect name for a detective. A wisecracking, hard-drinking salsa that could either punch you on the nose or read you his poetry.

Red Hot Relish
(aka Mike Salsa, detective)

800g tomatoes
400g red onions, sliced
3 red peppers (bell), deseeded & halved
3 - 4 red chillies, thinly sliced
2 tbs pickled jalapenos, chopped
200g sugar
200ml red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin seed

Arrange the tomatoes & peppers on a tray & roast under a hot grill until blistered. leave to cool & peel off the skins (they should slip off fairly easily). Put the sugar & vinegar in a pan & bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the rest of the ingredients & simmer until you have a thick, jammy consistency. This will take anything from 20 minutes to and hour & a half, depending on how wet your tomatoes are. Spoon into sterilised jars & store for 2 weeks before eating.
Goes brilliantly with guilty pleasures like Tex-Mex, chips, burgers, sausages & battered onion rings.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Tomatillo Salsa

I love growing tomatillos (also known as tomate verde - green tomato in Spanish, even though they're not actually tomatoes, though they are very green), a staple ingredient of Mexican cooking. They are a member of the Solanaceae family along with tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines & chilli's (right up there with the curcubits when it comes to awesome things worth having) and various plants that will kill you or give you the screaming ab-dabs. They are ridiculously easy to grow, and don't need any fussing over. They make smashing sauces & salsas, both raw & cooked. And don't go listening to thundering idiots telling you to substitute tomatillo for green tomato or gooseberries in recipes. They are talking shite. If you have space for a few pots, or a square meter or so of sunny garden, get some seeds (or ask me for some if you can't find any) & grow your own. They're beautiful to look at, with sunny yellow flowers, and will keep cropping right up to the first frosts. Anyway, enough with the enthusing, I'll do a vegetable blog post on how to grow them.

So here's a recipe for a preserved version of the classic Tomatillo salsa, traditionally a dish made with raw or boiled tomatillo, rejiggered into a cooked chutney. It also uses serrano peppers (another thing I had a go at growing this year. I can really recommend them, they're easygoing plants that don't mind a bit of neglect, and happily take care of themselves in a corner of the polytunnel or sunny spot in the garden), which are very hot, but the heat doesn't linger on the palate, giving you intense little bursts of heat. Fresh is best, put pickled works really well to. If you don't have serrano peppers, jalapeno is a good substitute, either fresh or pickled. Or you can use green chilli.

Tomatillo Salsa

900g tomatillo
450g onions, chopped
4 fresh serrano peppers
200g sugar
200ml white wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
large handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Arrange the tomatillos on a baking tray & roast under a hot grill until the skin starts to blister. Put the vinegar & sugar in a pan & bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the onions, roasted tomatillos & salt. Simmer until you have a thick, glossy mixture. Add the juice of a lime & the coriander (don't be shy with the coriander - the more the merrier!). Spoon into sterilised jars & try to resist temptation for a month.
Goes well with tostadas, chalupas, tortillas, tacos, nachos and anything that needs a dollop of something fresh & spicy!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Mediterranean Pickle

This was my first year of growing aubergines in the little polytunnel. I grew Listarda de Gandia, a very pretty purple variety with white stripes, early ripening & very reliable (you can see it in the picture on the right, along with the tomatoes, green peppers & courgettes that went into the recipe. How pretty are they?!)
I also grew Diamond, a Ukrainian variety with clusters of long, intense purple fruits, and Orlando (the unnervingly long, curly purple things skulking under the courgette in the picture)I will be growing both varieties again next year! (and maybe one or two more!)

Rather than chomp them all (mostly in a Spanish style ragout with roasted tomatoes & chickpeas - om nom nom!), I decided to make some pickle, so I could continue to appreciate them in the cold winter months.

Mediterranean Pickle

450g onions, chopped
900g tomatoes
1 aubergine, thickly sliced
450g courgette, sliced
1 yellow pepper, halved & deseeded
1 green pepper, halved & deseeded
300ml red wine vinegar
300g sugar
4 cloves garlic
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs salt
1 sprig each of rosemary & thyme, tied into a bundle with 2 bay leaves

Place the tomatoes, peppers, aubergines & courgettes on a large tray & roast under a hot grill until the skins blister. Leave to cool, and remove the skins from the peppers & tomatoes. Chop the roasted vegetables into even sized pieces, as coarse or as fine as you like (I like them chunky). The aubergines can disappear into this chutney, so if you want aubergine chunks in it, set them to one side, to stir in at the end of cooking. Heat the vinegar in a large pan. Add the sugar & stir until it's dissolved. Add the salt, paprika & herb bundle. Add the onions & garlic, then the roasted veg. Stir gently, so everything doesn't get too mashed up (or stir vigorously if mashed up is your kind of thing) & simmer until the mixture is thick & glossy. This can take as little as 20 minutes, or over an hour, depending on how wet the vegetables are. Remove the herb bundle & spoon into sterilised jars. Leave for at least a month, preferably two.

Goes beautifully well with pasta, sharp salty cheeses, grilled tofu & burgers.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Chutney Week - Beetroot & Mustard Pickle

It's that time of year again. I've been spending every spare minute in the kitchen, making pickles, chutneys, salsas, sauces, ketchup's & cheeses (not the dairy kind, the molten, skin-stripping, fruit & sugar kind). So that must make it Chutney week! So I'll be posting a chutney, pickle or relish every day for the next 7 days.
Also a reminder, not that you need it.

Sterilise! Be it boiling water from the kettle, 20 minutes in a hot oven, the steam setting on a dishwasher or gamma radiation. make sure your jars are clean, dry and as sterile as you can get them. Your chutney will last longer, and a cheese toastie won't give you the dread lurgies.

To get things started, here's a favourite of mine, Beetroot & Mustard pickle. It's a bit different from my usual pickles, as there is oil in it, so it is similar to the Indian style of pickles where oil is used to protect the vegetables from exposure to air, rather than a thick sauce of sugar & vinegar. So when you open it, if you're a more restrained individual than myself, and the jar will sit in your fridge for more than 3 or 4 days, pour a little oil on the surface before resealing when you've used it, and it will store for ages. It's also quite hot, and yes, the recipe does say 12 tbs of mustard seed!

Beetroot & Mustard Pickle

1kg beetroot (I used yellow beetroot, but you can use red if you prefer)
175g sugar
150ml white wine vinegar
juice & zest of 1 lemon
12 tbs black mustard seeds
8 tbs groundnut oil (or vegetable oil)
3 tbs tomato puree
3 tsp coriander seed
2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
4 or 5 chillies, finely chopped (6 if you like it hot!)
thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

Grate the beetroot. It will take forever. You will curse my name. It will be worth it, I promise. Toss the beetroot in the vinegar, lemon juice & zest & set to one side. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the mustard seeds & listen. Once they start popping add the other spices. After 2 minutes of stirring, and getting giddy with the smell of frying cumin, add the beetroot & remaining ingredients. Mix well, reduce the heat & cover. Leave to simmer for 25-30 minutes. It will look like there's not enough liquid, but trust me, it's fine.
Spoon into sterilized jars & cover with a little more oil. Seal & stick in the back of a cupboard for a few weeks, preferably a month, before eating.

Om nom nom!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Curried Vegetable Relish

It's definitely autumn here in the flatlands. There's a chill in the air, and I'm starting to ogle shawl patterns on Ravelry*. There's also the frantic rush to get veg from the garden harvested, processed & tucked away safely for winter. Yeah, that's a bit of a clue.
So along with roasting tomatoes & tomatillos for making sauces & pasatta, podding beans for drying, bagging up potatoes & processing beans, beet leaves, chard & courgettes for freezing, I'm also making pickles!

So here's a nice little recipe that's good for using up whatever veg you have an excess of. I used courgettes, carrots, cauliflower & peas, but you can use runner beans, sweetcorn, turnips, beetroot, radishes, aubergines - anything really! The recipe uses Garam Masala, which is a mixture of ground spices. You can buy it ready blended, but you can also make your own. My blend has cumin, cinnamon, fenugreek, black pepper, turmeric & ludicrous amounts of coriander seed. No chilli for a change, as this is a warm, pungent sort of blend, rather than a hot & spicy one. Though you can add chillis too, if you fancy.

Curried Vegetable Relish

225g courgettes
225g carrots
225g cauliflower
225g peas
225g onion
400ml white wine vinegar
170g sugar
1tsp yellow mustard seed
1tsp ground ginger
2tsp garam masala
1tbs salt
1tsp cornflour

Chop the vegetables, as coarse or as fine as you like (I like my pickles chunky). Pile into a colander & scatter with the salt. Cover & leave overnight. The salt will draw the moisture out of the veggies, so they'll still have a bit of bite to them.
Next day, rinse the veg & drain. Blend the cornflour with a little of the vinegarin a small bowl & set aside. Put the remaining vinegar, sugar & spices into a large pan & bring to a boil. Add the cornflour mixture & boil 3-4 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat & stir in the vegetables. Pack into warm, sterilised jars & try not to touch for a month.

Goes well with cheese, vegetable fritters, veggie burgers & hot dogs. Yum!

*Turning leaves are all well and good, but nothing says autumn to me quite like the twitching of the crochet hook!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A Day in Manchester

As well as taking me to the lovely Hardstoft Herbs, MikeyFox also took me to Manchester to celebrate my birthday. I am a lucky wee fox!

We spent most of our time walking around the city. I used to visit it often as an art student, and later MikeyFox & I would go to gigs at the Academy, Bridgewater Hall, and even saw Will Oldham* at the Manchester Cathedral, so it didn't require hours of making maps on Google.
We visited a lovely health food shop called On The Eighth Day, it's a workers co-op shop & cafe, run by a lovely group of people. If you're ever in the area, I really recommend a visit, if only for their excellent range of dried chillies!

Whenever in Manchester, we always go for lunch at the Arndale Market. Tacked onto the end of the Arndale shopping centre, the Market is crammed full of food stalls offering everything from the usual Greek, Italian & Chinese stuff to Japanese, Mexican, Jamaican, Korean & Brazilian. We resisted the tostadas & decided to visit the Brazilian snack bar, where we had pastels. Pastels are a typical kind of fast food in Brazil, somewhere between empanadas & deep fried pasties. MikeyFox said they reminded him of Findus crispy pancakes. These fried treats were filled with cheese & vegetables. Yum! They were washed down with a pint from the Boggart Brewery's Micropub. Dessert was a paçoca each. Paçoca (a Brazilian native word meaning 'to crumble') is another Brazilian treat, a peanut candy with a texture similar to fudge. Sweet, salty & crumbly, I'll have to learn how to make them, they were delicious!

Fortified with beer & fried things, we went in search of excitement in China Town. We bought some lotus seed Mooncake & red bean paste buns (an allotment treat for the next day) from Ho's bakery, along with some Pearl Tea, which we drank under the beautiful archway. I even finally found a Jicama, which made it the Best Day Ever. After 3 years of trying to track one down I can safely say that they're delicious, and worth looking out for! (though possibly not as obsessively as I have been).

For dinner we went to Las Iguanas, a Latin American restaurant on Deansgate. The menu was excellent, with lots of Vegetarian options that weren't just flour 'n' beans. I was sorely tempted by the Moqueca - a dish of sweet potato & coconut served with rice & plantain, but in the end opted for the Chilean pastel de choclo. I'm glad I did, I loved it! I could have eaten another one! How could you not love a South American version of Shepherds pie with a base of squash, sweet potato & chickpeas topped with creamy mashed sweetcorn! MikeyFox went for cheesy pumpkin chimichangas. For dessert, we fought over macadamia & dulce du leche cheesecake & a sticky Ipanema mess of guava, yoghurt, raspberries & crushed meringue.

You might have noticed drinks in that photo too. Yes, there were drinks. MikeyFox, being the designated driver (ie. the one who has passed his driving test, and never made his instructor, a burly man in his 50's, cry and hug the steering wheel) had cranberry & lemonade. I had caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil (again with Brazil), which means 'hillbilly' or 'bumpkin'. How can you not love a drink with a name like that? It's a giddy blend of a whole lime bashed with sugar & lots of cachaça. What's cachaça? It's a bit like rum, only its made with fresh sugarcane juice rather than molasses. It's Brazil's favourite liquor, with 1.5 billion litres quaffed annually. It has over 700 nicknames, my favourite is omim-fum-fum!
Turns out Las Iguanas has their own sugar cane plantation in Brazil, where they make their very own cachaça. The lovely staff were happy to provide us with a bottle to take away, and instructions on how to make caipirinha. Bless 'em!
I also got a Lemon Grenade T-shirt, which makes me unreasonably happy.
Until next time, when I'll be back to talking about vegetables. And possibly ketchup.

*I kid you not. Alas, he didn't sing 'Drunk at the Pulpit'