February 2014


Well here is a big thank you to all at Eurotracks for putting together this pack.  7 days to explore La Garrotxa between Besalú and Girona on foot and by bike taking in Santa Pau, and the heart of the Volcanic Park and on to ourselves for two nights before departing for home.  Below is the link giving all the details of the itinerary

http://www.eurotracks.net/lg.html

Good luck and come and visit La Garrotxa!

So you don’t ski…..

The idea of winter sand and sun doesn’t ring your bell…

….and you just want to get away from days of perpetual rain or snow and freezing temperatures.

Well, there is an alternative……La Garrotxa, Catalonia.

In the last couple of weeks we have welcomed two British couples that have taken advantage of our Catalan winter weather……if that is what it can be called.  OK for two months we have regularly awoken to hard frosts, but as the day unfolds it is typically bright and sunny.   With the arrival of February and ever lengthening days you can walk with the warmth of the sun on your back.  This week we have seen our first primulas and other spring flowers.  A pair of yellow butterflies were cavorting in the garden a couple of days ago and the our early morning walks with our Giant Schnauzer, Bismarck are accompanied by the sound of birdsong chattering across the valley.

Our guests this week enjoyed a Monday morning cycle ride through the Val d’en Bas and on to Olot in bright sunshine and 20ºc.   Alternatively you could take a walk along the via verde or on one of the many signposted walks or for the more flush amongst you, what about an early morning hot air balloon trip taking in the snow capped mountains to the north.  Want a break…..there is plenty to do here in La Garrotxa in the middle of winter!

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 ‘Cycling on a winters day in the Val d’en Bas’ (phot0: consorci del vies verdes)

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‘Winter walking’ photo:(Turisme Garrotxa)

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‘Hot air ballooning over La Garrotxa’ (photo: Vol de Coloms)

Yes, you read it correctly.  It’s  a total winner and we challenge you to say otherwise!  The rich, sweet, buttery nature of the Sticky Toffee Pudding (STP) and its accompanying toffee sauce and homemade vanilla ice cream is hugged by the  embrace of that dear old friend, Glenmorangie Original  with its fruity palate and caramel and butterscotch nature.

So on your next stay with us when you find that STP is on the menu, you know what to ask for.  CHEERS!

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http://www.larectoriadesantmiquel.com

So, here I am again,  an amateur at work.  Trying to get into the groove again of writing a weekly blog on ‘La Rectoria’ and its related ongoings. This week we made preparations for and hosted a group of 5 travel bloggers and ones that might be described as professionals at their craft – 2 Brits Andrew Higgs (Grownuptravelguide.com), Iain Mallory (Malloryontravel.com),  2 Spaniards Diego Pons (viajanocondiego.com), Doris Casares Medin (3viajes.com) and a Costa Rican, Mariana Calleja Ross (traveldudes.org andmytravelthirst.com organised by the Jaume Marin of the Patronat de Turisme Costa Brava Girona as part of  a ‘fam’ trip on the Catalan Pyrenees.

Four days of skiing , ski mountaineering, snow shoeing ,  trains and feniculars!  So by the time they got to us we reckoned that they’d be pretty hungry. We arranged a little something extra from them, a tasting matching whisky with food,  something that we are exploring here.  On this occasion we had 4 pairings Caol Ilsa & smoked trout (Del Val d’En Bas), Aberfeldy 12 year old & walnuts,  Glen Garioch & 70% chocolate and Ardbeg 10 yr old & roquefort cheese.  Caol Ilsa and Ardbeg being Islays complimented the salty and smokey elements of the cheese and fish respectively.  The peppery nature of  Glen Garioch embraced the richness of the chocolate and the fruitiness of Aberfeldy  blended with the butteriness of the nuts.

With our guests slightly ‘oiled’ it was to dinner.  A starter of squid stuffed with black pudding, followed by slow cooked beef served with blue cheese polenta and roasted parsnips & carrots and to finish ‘Mum’s Own’ sticky toffee pudding and homemade vodka and white chocolate ice cream.

After dinner we were asked about our wee family business – why here? the ins and outs of how we operate….where do our customers come from etc.  And so it was to bed.

The next day and their final morning was an early start as they had to be at Can Xel by 08.00am and take off of their hot air balloon trip with Vols de Colom.  So after some coffee and OJ and a quick sneeky look at the chapel they were gone not before some warm farewells.

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Since then we have received some photo’s and most kind words through the ether of the social universe.  If any of them read this I ask one thing….how do we get our wee message out more.

But finally, many thanks to all of the above bloggers.  We hope that you got something of a flavour of this part of the Pyrenees and best of luck with all of your endevours.

http://www.larectoriadesantmiquel.com

One of the classic Scottish desserts, ‘Cranachan’ is basically whipped cream into which are folded raspberries, toasted oats, honey  and whisky served in a coupe.  To give it something of a contemporary  twist I decided to serve it as an iced parfait for Burns Night this year.  So here goes.

Ingredients (makes 12 individual darioles)

100g rolled oats

5 egg yolks

150g honey

375 g raspberries

2 egg whites

60 g sugar

200ml double cream

75 ml whisky….a good one is better!

Start by laying the rolled oats on a baking sheet and toast in a hot oven until golden brown.

Place the raspberries in a blender and blitz to a pulp (I use frozen, primarily for easy and convenience and because fresh ones are a) not readily available here and b) they are pricey………..we hope to start growing our own before long).

Meanwhile place the 5 egg yolks in a metal bowl and whisk, occasionally placing the bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Be careful not to over heat and therefore ‘cook’ the yolks.   Continuing whisking until the yolks are creamy white in colour and form ribbons when the whisk is removed.

The  honey should be heated until boiling.  With care this is best done in a microwave.  The boiled honey should be poured in a fine gentle stream into the now whitened yolks, continuing to whisk all the time until the honey, egg yolk mix has cooled.  About 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they are soft firm peaks and then slowly add the sugar, whisking all of the time.

In another bowl whisk the double cream until firm and then slowly add the whisky continuing to whisk.

Fold the pureed rasps into the egg yolk/honey sabayon.  Followed by folding in the whipped egg whites, followed by the whipped cream and whisky.  Finally, fold in the cool toasted oats.

Spoon into individual dariole moulds and freeze for 24 hours before use.

I served the finished parfaits with a rasp coulis and ginger and almond biscuit (cantucci di parto) recipe to follow.

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http://www.larectoriadesantmiquel.com