Food, friends, laughter and tears, a non typical summer holiday

This was a much anticipated summer holiday and all that was expected was lots of pretty much everything of the good life. We started off in crazy cool Miami with friends. Lots of Cuban influenced foods, often served with fried plantain, a member of the banana family. I have read about plantain but never tried them before, I am not sure I would cook them myself but it was interesting. The biggest revelation was Masas de Puerco Fritas (Cuban Fried Pork Chunks), melt in your mouth amazing, a crispy outside and very tender and flavoursome. Even better washed down with good wine and massively large cocktails with more spirits than juice!

From there it was time to head north, the beach was amazing, no place for gourmet eating, the best meal of the day was no doubt an all American breakfast with crisp bacon, 2 eggs sunny side up and toast with jam served with a smile and a friendly chat every day. Only once did I stray from this and headed down memory lane and had a buttermilk waffle with whipped butter, bacon and maple syrup at a Waffle house, true southern style, every artery challenged and cholesterol going through the roof, but yummy! This was mildly sorted out by a 3 mile walk on the beach every morning meeting natives such as egrets, pelicans, the odd sting ray and dolphin following in the water.

The food improved as we headed south, still on the gulf coast and spent a lovely evening at Pinchers crab shack, with a hammer, a nut cracker, a large pile of crab claws and never ending Margaritas, bliss!

Every day starts with a clear blue sky, a sun shining and the question is how hot it will become and how long it is possible to be on the beach, it is like waking up to a treat being more used to waking up wondering IF the sun will shine at all! Everything seems a little big brighter and shinier with wonderfully colourful flowers in bloom everywhere. A truly sun drenched holiday.

In the middle of all there was some monkey business that seemed to cloud the otherwise perfect sunsets

Not dwelling on that the holiday went on until I got some very sad news. That was the signal of an early end of the holiday. A quick change of flights, home pack and off again in 36 hours we landed in a grey, windy, cold and rainy Sweden. Sunny Florida with 38C had been exchanged for 12C, a true step back to reality and no way was I going to go to the beach in anything less than jeans, shoes, a sweater and a coat! What does help is to see all my old friends that, after more than ten years in the UK, makes Sweden still feel like home! In the middle of sorting everything it was also midsummer, a very Swedish tradition. Some years midsummer is postcard pretty and as Swedish as anything can be, the maypole, the flowers in the hair, schnapps and herring, but most years it is rainy, windy and cold, like this year… There was a wedding this year that brightened things up and despite the weather it was great fun, some wonderful pictures taken of a lovely couple and even the sun came out for everyone to get just that snapshot that we will all keep and eventually forget about the cold and just remember what a great day it was!

After three weeks on the road it was finally time to come home, the flight was delayed and overbooked, the air was stuffy and it was unpleasantly early but once home it was all worth it! Sometimes there is nothing like being home and I launched in to some comfort cooking. I slow cooked a leg of lamb, studded with home grown garlic and lavender, roasted at low temperature for a long time in the oven making the meat tender and bringing out all the flavours.

I picked lots of blackcurrants and made the most summery tasting blackcurrant jam, not so sweet so perfect to go with meat, but also on toast on a lazy weekend.

A couple more trips this summer but not as long and I wish I could head back to the beach. After so much happening I am ready to chill out and get my thoughts back to the subject of food!

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