Tag Archives | Spain

Tasmania, and disconnecting to reconnect

Koren and Alana at Mount William National Park, Tasmania

My bedroom window looks out over a sprawling concrete jungle, the chaotic collection of high-rises and pavement that makes up the bustling Spanish city of Alicante that I currently call home.

I love this boisterous, vivacious, disorganised city. But it’s easy to feel disconnected among it’s tangle of people and metal and asphalt. Disconnected from nature, especially. It’s a lament most city-dwellers probably share.

On the opposite side of the world, and entirely at the opposite end of the spectrum, lies the small southern Australian island of Tasmania.

Wild and isolated, battered by Roaring Forties winds and soaked by metres of rainfall each year, large swathes of Tasmania have become a sanctuary for protected old-growth forests, remote beaches and wide inland lakes.

When Alana quit her job in Brisbane this year, packed her life into Walter the Campervan and took up the life of a gypsy, she allowed me to tag along for a few weeks.

We headed directly south to Tasmania. Continue Reading →

Homemade soap, the traditional Castile way

Spanish grandmother Francisca, 81, prepares traditional homemade soap.We spend our lifetimes living and learning, collecting little pearls of wisdom and knowledge that shape the way we think and act and perceive our world.

But sometimes, I think, we forget that the elders in our society have walked these same paths before. They’re like a great beautiful leather-bound book of knowledge just waiting to be cracked open and read. We just have to find the time to honour that wisdom, to seek them out and listen and learn from their stories.

A few months back I spent an afternoon with the grandmother of my friend Juan (y’know, the guy of homemade vegan Nutella fame.)

Grandmother Francisca is 81-years-old, and grew up in Spain during the difficult years of civil war and rule under Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, a time of using and reusing by necessity because often there simply wasn’t enough to go around. Continue Reading →

Traditional Polish Chlodnik or chilled beetroot soup

Vegan Chlodnik chilled beetroot soup

I need a long time to settle into a new place, like in some ways I’m adverse to change. I remember feeling devastated as a child when my parents finally sold our dinged up old red Toyota for a fancier, much newer Landcruiser. “Why do we have to change?” I questioned my Mum, distraught. What about all the precious family memories from road trips around Australia stowed deep within its worn seats?

Likewise, when I move city it takes me a long time to feel grounded, to stop feeling nostalgic about the place I left behind. I love the adventure and challenge of a new area, discovering it’s own unique daily rhythms and quirks, yet there’s also a small part of me that longs to curl up on the same battered couch each night, to live in just one place forever, wrapping it’s warm familiarity around myself like an comfortable old blanket.

Recently I clocked up a year of living in Spain and with the milestone came the realisation that I actually feel at home here, finally. Continue Reading →

Gazpacho with a (watermelon) twist

Watermelon gazpacho served on a hot Spanish summer's day

This is the story of how a Polish girl taught an Australian girl how to make a traditional Spanish soup, while an Argentine girl played guitar. Probably the most international lunch I’ve ever hosted!

On the menu was gazpacho, a chilled tomato soup that has long been popular here in Spain, especially during the searing summer months when the mid-afternoon sun bakes city pavements bare of people. It’s remarkable just how refreshing and cooling a big arvo bowl of gazpacho can be.

I freaking luuuuuuurve the stuff. Yet, despite having lived in Spain for more than a year, I’d never actually tried making my own. Until last week when, as the temperature climbed above 30 degrees, I was spurred into action by my Polish friend, Asia, who sung the praises of her cooling gazpacho with a fruity twist: watermelon. Continue Reading →

Quinoa-stuffed roasted capsicums

Quinoa-stuffed roasted capsicums

Spanish cuisine can sometimes be a little hostile towards those who choose to eat sans meat. Countless dishes come stuffed with jamón, tuna is apparently considered a vegetable, and declaring oneself a vegetarian is likely to evoke looks of pity from locals.

I’d lived here three months before meeting a single Spanish vegetarian – and as luck would have it, I met two more in the same week. Naturally I’ve been busily raiding their recipe books ever since, hunting for excellent meals that I can pinch and present to you here.

This amazing roasted capsicum offering comes care of Francisco, known to us as Fran, from the Mediterranean coastal city of Alicante. Continue Reading →