No Show!!

 What is a No-Show?

no-show

In the restaurant and hotel business, it is; when somebody has reserved a table or a room but never arrives, – they don’t show up at all! In my case, it happens in our restaurant, – too often! Especially in the high season. The other evening it was TWO tables, that never got used. In total of 13 guests, which is a very big deal for our little restaurant. We have been out shopping fresh products to the evening and our staff has been called to work. The money earned in our relatively short high season, is the money we live off throughout the whole year. Besides, it is also a shame for the people, that tried to reserve and we had to turn down, because we were fully booked. (At least we thought!)
It has always been one of the biggest issues in this trade. How can you make sure not to loose business on no-shows? Some restaurants simply overbook and then hope for understanding guests, if everybody are so kind to show up. Others charge a reservation fee in case of No-Show. Neither of these, I’m keen on, so my solution is that every mid-day I call all guests, who have reserved a table for 5 people or more, for the same evening, to make them confirm their booking. (A strange thing is; that it is often the groups, that change their minds and don’t cancel. – And these are also the no-shows that “hurts” the most.) It does add extra costs to call to Spanish, English, German etc. mobile phones every day, but it has so far reduced the numbers of no-shows…

I just cannot understand how people call and reserve but then can´t be be bothered to cancel the reservation, if they can’t come anyway.

Please, don’t be a No-Show!

   

Magical Vejer.

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Saturday, 25th of July, was a very special evening in Vejer de la Frontera. A town, known in all of Spain for it’s beauty, became even more magical this evening. The town hall turned off the street light in the ancient part of the town, lit thousands of candles and arranged a classical concert in the main square; Plaza de España. Days before the event, everybody was talking about it. Excited! Families with houses in the old part bought their own candles to add to the magic and restaurant owners had dollar signs in their eyes. And it was, as last year, a huge succes. More than 50.000 people came and enjoyed the evening. The car queues up to Vejer were up to 8 kilometers long(!), – some say even longer!!

Since the evening many photos, taken by various people, have been shown on Facebook, instagram, etc. My favourites are by a photographer from the neighbouring town, Barbate; Juan Daza.11742666_880753791960301_1758632995133755105_nnyvelsagadeespana11705245_880753921960288_5786196949748219747_n11742634_880753881960292_1941723903558310869_n

 

 

 

Summer is here!

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The sun behind Trafalgar light house.

I have not been active on my blog lately because we are so fortunate to be very busy in the restaurante. We are so pleased and enjoy welcoming regulars and new guests every day. You can see some of my summer Photos on instagram: miblotublog.

I wish you all some WONDERFUL & SUNNY SUMMER DAYS

   

My favourite olive oil…

olie 1

Spain is the world largest producer of olive oil and Andalucia produces 80% of  the Spanish total productionOlive oil is used in abundance here, – it is included in almost all dishes. Even at breakfast; the typical Andalusia breakfast is toasted white bread dripped with olive oil and tomate puree, served with a fresh orange juice and coffee(app. 4,00€). During the years we have tried many different olive oils, believe me; A LOT! But my favorite is still a virgin olive oil from Alicante. I tried it first time about five-six years and from that day we have bought many boxes to the restaurant. It is addictive and we use it in great amount.

We buy it directly from the relatively young olive farm Masia el Altet in Alicante. It consists of 60% Picual and 20% Arbequina olives. The remaining 20% is made up of three local varieties: Genovesa, Blanqueta and Alfafarenca. The result is a very fruity olive oil with lots of banana, apple, freshly cut grass, tomato, artichoke and herbs. In a very short space of time this olive oil has won a string of international awards – and with good reason.

If you can get hold on the olive oil Masia el Altet, you won’t be disappointed.

http://www.masia-el-altet.com/

Cold avocado soup with Norwegian lobster

Here is a great suggestion for a nice summer Salad.

avokado cream

Cold avocado soup with Norwegian lobster (serves 4)

Soup:

2 avocados

3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

1 lime

1 garlic clove

2 drops good quality sesame oil

100ml water or cold vegetable stock

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salad:

A couple of handfuls fresh, crispy mixed lettuce

20 Norwegian lobster

olive oil

2 garlic cloves (unpeeled)

12 ripe cherry tomatoes

1 spring onion

2 limes

2 tablespoons toasted pine kernels

½ tablespoon good virgin olive oil

6 sprigs coriander

Soup:

Blend the avocado, yoghurt, lime juice and zest, grated garlic clove, water, sesame oil and olive oil in a blender until smooth, and season with salt and pepper. Divide the cold soup into 4 deep plates.

Accompaniments:

Mix the lettuce leaves together, having rinsed and patted them dry. Deshell and devein the lobsters without removing the heads. Fry in oil with 2 unpeeled garlic cloves. Halve the tomatoes, finely slice the spring onion and slice the limes into boats.

To serve:

Spread the tomatoes, spring onion, lime, pine kernels and prawns over the soup and lettuces. Drizzle with virgin olive oil and sprinkle torn coriander on top.

This ideal summer dish also tastes great with king prawns or scallops.

(Photo: Lykke Rump)

School’s out!!

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A good indication of the summer holiday is soon here, are all the beautiful sunflower fields…

“We don’t have school tomorrow!” David proclaims as he enters the room. WHAT?? Why not? It is not usual that a school holiday ambushes us and suddenly, we need to change plans. There are quite a few of them, and we still struggle to keep track. First of all; the National Holidays we  pretty much have gotten used to. But the small local ones.?!! It is a jungle! And I know that we are not the only foreign parents who have been standing in front of the school gates on a day off…
The single bank holidays are spread out during the school year and differs from village to village, according to their saints, parties, carnival and so on. One tradition, I find cool though, is that if 1st of May falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the kids will get Friday or Monday off instead. (Public offices, too) The Summer Holidays is loooong, and this year it starts TODAY!! (We got the note about that a couple of weeks ago!) The children returns to school the…hmmmm…(mid september?!) Again I don’t have a clue. And probably won’t have until two weeks before it happens. It is the same every year and as the years go by, you get used to it. In the end of August you start asking around. Have the neighbours heard any date? Nope, well then; I’ll just ask again in a couple of days time! Thank God, that we work and live in the same house. I don’t understand how parents, who don’t work at home, manage to live with this casualness.

It could be nice with a piece of paper in the beginning of the school year, where all the dates of the holidays were listed. But then again, that everything is more relaxed, is one of the reasons why it is nice living in Spain. It is just my Danish “everything-has-to-be-planned-to-the-very-last-minute-at-least-3-months-ahead” that has to be ajusted a bit!

   

CopaJerez 2015

indgang

A couple of days ago I was so lucky to be invited to CopaJerez 2015, which is a food & sherry pairing competition in Jerez de la Frontera. It is a very interesting event, where restaurant teams from 8 different countries compete to achieve the perfect combinations of a 3 course menu and sherries. The countries represented were Spain, Germany, Denmark, Russia, The Netherlands, USA, Belgium and England.

The representative from Denmark is a highly recognized restaurant; Kiin Kiin. It is the only Thai restaurant in the world with a Michelin star, so I was very excited to see them here in Jerez. All the teams, led by a chef and a sommelier, were very inspiring. The competition was won by USA, Restaurant 15 Romolo from San Francisco. But the team from Kiin Kiin did take home the prize for creativity, which they truly deserved.  I was especially intrigued by a small spicy sausage flavoured with lemon grass, which I later had the opportunity to taste. It was served on plate covered with a lid and inside filled with smoke. When the lids were lifted up by the chef and sommelier in front of the four judges, we; the audience, were for the first time given an insight to the flavours, which these lucky judges were indulging. The room was filled with wonderful scents that immediately sent me back to Bangkok in my back-packing days many, many years ago. Thank you for that experience.

lifting the lids

Thanyakarn & Simon from Kiin Kiin lifting the lids from the plates and the room is filled with wonderful aromas..

Besides the cooking event, over 40 sherry wineries were there to present their wines, with tastings. Producers of Spanish cheese, sardines and black foot ham were giving out samples of their products.  And on a stage, different Spanish chefs showed their skills in show cooking. The show cooking was a bit difficult to follow because of the chefs was performing on a stage. The sound and image on a big screen didn’t reach the audience well, and it would probably be better to do the happening on the floor, where people could take better be a part of it, ask questions to the chefs etc.

It is such an interesting event, that I could only wish for it to be open to the public. To let all sherry lovers in, make it a world- known event to promote the sherry, let the wineries and food producers be able to sell their products at the event instead of just handing out business cards. I like the small size of CopaJerez now, but only because I’m lucky enough to be invited. Make it bigger, so everybody has the opportunity to join and enjoy.

But all in all; I had a perfect Tuesday afternoon, where my taste buds were in paradise!!!!!

CJerez

Food & sherry pairing competition. (Photo by: Shawn Hennessey)

 

Football and Spain

David fodbold 2010-11

David and his team, 2010-2011.

It is CL* night tonight!!!…  –  and the restaurant is really quiet, due to we do not have a television in the bar. It was a decision we made from day one…. No television in our restaurant, even though the Spanish electrician looked very doubtful at us we told him: ”No, we don’t want an antenna connector for a TV over by the bar!”

Now, 9 years and Spain winning two European Championships & one World Cup later, we kind of understand why!! Football is BIG here. Not just the national but also the club football can empty the streets for an evening. As you probably sense right now, I am not that much into football (even though I did play it as a girl…) I like watching my son’s matches, but I don’t like a quiet restaurant!

For David, our son, football is BIG! He always has a football by his side. When he was 6, he started playing in Vejer, where the kids practice three times a week and play a match every other weekend. That is really serious compared to Danish standards. Up to the first match David came in doubt!!!

  • “When we come to Chiclana to play, which club do I actually play for??? Spain, Madrid or Barcelona???”
  • “Well, not yet, darling! You play for Vejer!”
  • “ Ahhhhh, all right” (Did I notice a slight disappointment in his voice!!?)

After the interesting match he proclaimed, that as grown up he wanted to play on the national team!

  • “Which one, we asked him; the Danish or the Spanish team?”
  • “Spain, of course ….”(after a pause)” but if I’m not good enough, I’ll just play for Denmark!!”

 

*CL= Champions League

Strawberry Ceviche

We are so lucky that in Spain the strawberry season is fairly long, from February to June! We love them and right now they are featured on our menu, served in a delicious dessert Thomas has created. “Ceviche” is a known dish(originated from South America), but mainly served as a cold starter with fish, lime, chili, coriander as the main ingredients. With this fish salad in mind Thomas came up with the idea to a “dessert ceviche”; with strawberries, lime, chili, fresh mint and pistachios. This dessert has been praised by many of our guests and quite a few have asked for the recipe. Now it is for you all to try and it is very easy to make:

ceviche de fresas3

Strawberry Ceviche

(serves 4 persons)

Cream:

2 dl of milk

1 dl of full cream

75 grams of sugar

¼ vanilla pod

20 grams of maizena

2 egg yolks

 

Toppings: Strawberry ceviche

400g Strawberries

2 limes

2 spoonful sugar

½ dl water

¼ vanilla pod

½ small red chili

4 fresh chopped mint leaves

2 spoonful toasted pistachios without shells

How to make the cream:

Bring milk, cream, sugar and vanilla to the boiling point.

Whisk lightly together, in a bowl, the egg yolks and maizena. Slowly pour the cream/milk into the egg yolks, while whisking. When well mixed pour everything up in the pot again. Put it on low heat and whisk until it becomes thick (1-2 minutes…), then take it off the heat and sieve it and refrigerate it until you need it.

This is called English cream!

How to make the strawberry ceviche:

Clean in cold water the strawberries, nip the green top off and cut each in 4 or 6 pieces.

Grate the zest of 1 lime and juice both of them, put juice and zest in a small pot with the sugar, water, vanilla and chili. Bring it to the boil and let it cool off in the pot. Sieve it and marinate the strawberries for a few minutes in it. Just before serving mix in the chopped mint leafs and toasted pistachio nuts.

Before serving:

Pour the English cream about halfway up, in 4 glasses. The other half you fill with the strawberry ceviche.

Serve them with a crusty cracker and maybe some shredded, freeze dried chili as in the photo.

 Enjoy!

When the strawberry season is over, you can replace them with watermelon, peaches etc. (or with the seasonal fruits and berries in your part of the world) as will we in the restaurant.

   

Age and Beauty….

bodega tio pepe

Photo: Marcel Dykiert

I always enjoy visiting the old sherry bodegas(wineries). The atmosphere, smell, light, difference of temperatures in the different storage rooms, to hear the history & tradition of the families and process of making the wine and off course the tasting. It is a fascinating world. Here is a beautiful photo from the famous Bodegas Tio Pepe.

 

 

Restaurante Patría, Spain, Europe…

food in the world

I have just received a call from a nice woman, who wanted to reserve a table for Saturday evening. After writing down her name, number of people, time etc. she mentioned, that she found our phone number a bit strange…”Is this restaurant not in Peru?” Nope, I’m sorry. I’m in Spain! ”Then please cancell the reservation…” 😉

We already knew that our restaurant was not the only one by that name…  Last summer, we had a group of 5 people, that never showed up. The day after we send them an email, asking if we had misunderstood the date. They replied “that they had had a wonderful evening at Restaurante Patria, but been a bit puzzled by arrival, since the waiter could not find their reservation. But luckily he could fit them in anyway. From Maria, Ecuador.”;-)

May the best (and least corrupt) man/woman win!!

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Election Day is coming up. Not the National Election, but the Municipal. The 24th of May the residents of Vejer de la Frontera will decide who shall be the Mayor the next four years. The poll card came yesterday, and of course I’ll vote.

My parents always said; if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain! One of the disadvantages of moving to Spain, is that we are no more entitled to vote in a National Election; not here, not in Denmark. It is a strange feeling that this “birth given” right has been taken away from you and it makes you want to vote even more… But I still have my right to vote at the Municipal Election. Now who shall I give my vote? In a municipal election is it often more personal, but being an outsider, I don’t know many of the candidates. But some elements have made it easier for me. Two of the main candidates from the two biggest parties; the former mayor and the sitting mayor have been indicted and are at the moment under an investigation of fraud. And keeping in mind how much fraud by Spanish politicians, we hear about every day in the news, I regret to say that it doesn’t sound totally unreal that they could be guilty. And still PP & PSOE has chosen them as their best candidates as Mayor. Well, they can’t count on my vote. That leaves me more time to concentrate about the other candidates…

Always remember to vote!!