home again

We arrived back home yesterday afternoon. After all the restaurant food, what I feel like now is cooking. Tonight I’m making hutspot, a Dutch dish with meat and (usually) mashed potatoes, though his particular recipe is more like a beef stew, with beef, chunks of potatoes, parsnips, carrots and Brussel sprout. Tomorrow I will be making red beans and rice – apologies to any reader from the US South, but I’m not making black-eyed peas on New Years Day. Actually, it will be brown beans and rice, that being what the supermarket had. I hope they taste the same.

We tried to eat local dishes as much as possible on our travels – gratin, tartine and lamb stew in Normandy (and now I want a recipe for gratin Normand!); tagine in Gibraltar, which is only 14 miles from Morocco; paella in Madrid; Spanish cheeses and Iberian ham in Sevilla; grilled sole by the Mediterranean; wines from Bordeaux and Ribera del Duero, Rioja and Provence, Valencia and Catalunya. We brought about 8 bottles home, too, including champagne for tonight.

We stayed in hotels ranging from luxurious to adequate – and here they are. In order:
Our airy and charming first hotel in Bayeux and its equally charming door; our less charming but comfortable second Bayeux hotel; our tiny but comfortable room in Mont-St-Michel and a hotel door (actually I think that’s a different hotel, but it gives you an idea of the streets there); our big but less nice room in Bordeaux; the stylish “design hotel” room luxe bath in Bilbao; the equally stylish hotel in Madrid that was yet somehow reminiscent of a Subway sandwich shop and its equally stylish bathroom (Subway’s aren’t like that!); the hotel in Seville with stealth parking but nice rooms (seriously, we were ten feet from the parking entrance and didn’t spot it until I’d walked by it twice); the extremely English hotel in Gibraltar; the slightly-neglected-feeling hotel in Almu├▒├ęcar that is clearly much livelier in season; the nicer but even more deserted hotel in Mar Menor where we were the only guests under the age of 70; the very modern hotel in Valencia, echoeing all that geometry outside; three pictures of the posh suite in Barcelona where we had two rooms, and two-section balcony, and a ridiculously complicated spa shower; the French version of a Motel 6 at Brive-la-Gaillard; and the cozy dormer room in Chartres. (If you’re actually planning to visit any of these and want to know exactly where we stayed, email me.)

And now, off to peel parsnips!

One Response to “home again”

  1. Grada Says:

    And after all your travels and a healthy homecoming: a right happy and travelsome 2012!

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