Monday, 27 October 2008

Love on an Island

It was the size of her tent that did it.  A cool blue New Zealand number folding to the size of a raincoat and weighing in at less than 2kg.  We'd not long before met at a tequila slamming party in Leeds and were now spending a week camping and walking on the island of Menorca.  This was my opportunity to wow her with my camp-building skills.  I thought i'd 'raymears' her into submission.  If the Trangia stove and British army poncho failed to impress, I knew i'd be back on that lonesome trail of singledom for a while longer.  It turns out I needn't have worried.

We'd been around on the island for a couple of days, camping among the aromatic pines just a kilometer north of a wild beach on the south coast.  Eating our way through chorizo, olives, hard goats cheese and delicious crusty bread, washing it all down with Vina Albali.  Rodney Ansell's Sunflower Guide to the Landscapes of Menorca lead us on a wonderful trail over walls, across rivers, around abandoned rusted cars and through the uplands north of Ferreries.

Stopping for a drink in the balmy heat of the afternoon, we sat among a patch of wild rosemary shrubs.  The smell was magnificent.  The verdant, lush green needles defying the parched land from which they sprang.  Bombarding olfactory senses.  I had an idea.  Rosemary & local lamb. Inspiration!  A future concept was born.

I'd never attempted anything so bold as a casserole on a Trangia before, but it would be the crowning glory on my attemps at wooing my newfound companion.  I'd spotted a carnisseria in Ferreries earlier in the day and now began racking my brains as to how I might convey a desire to purchase a couple of neck fillets of local lamb.  Would I have stopped short of bleating like a fool, who knows?  Regardless, I was saved the audition for animal farm, as like in most butchers' shops there was a rather handy poster on the back wall, which meant that the international language of finger pointing once more came to the fore.

Back at camp I diced a carrot and fine-chopped an onion.  Meat and two veg, keep it simple I thought.  but then I remembered the garlic and abandoned all caution.  simmer the onion and chopped garlic in olive oil for ten minutes or so, add the choppped lamb, salt and black pepper and a sprig of the wild rosemary and the carrot.  Brown the meat and pour in a good glug of Vina Albali, top up the pan with water and simmer for as long as the methelated spirit in the Trangia burner lasts (a good 45 minutes at least!).

The dish was perfect; no fuel left to cook the rice I'd bought, so we dunked the crusty bread and polished off the rest of the Albali.  And there I was, me, my new girl and ambitions of becomming the Guyrope Gourmet.

I kept the waxed wrapping paper from the butchers, and a reminder of Carnisseria 'Barber' in Ferreries, hangs framed on our kitchen wall to this day.