I was a little behind the ball with the sexy judge, Mercedes Alaya. A young Spaniard at dinner last night declared her 'hot' and told me she has a Facebook page set up by fans who now number more than 22,000. Quite a celebrity, then. Albeit one who never smiles, in public at least. Not bad for a 49 year old with 4 kids.
Talking of youngsters . . . In front of me as I drove up the hill to my house today was a car with two young kids in the back seat. How could I tell? Well, they were not only un-belted and jumping around but also hanging out of the windows. Where are the traffic police when they're really needed?
Which reminds me . . . When I tried yesterday to find out how many points are left to me on my driving licence, I was repeatedly told: "This user is not registered as a driver on the system". When I told a Spanish friend about this at dinner last night he replied - "It's always better in Spain not to exist. It's when the bastards know about you that the trouble starts." So maybe I won't, after all, go to El Trafico to try to establish my existence.
The Spanish airline Iberia is part of IAG, which also owns British Airways. The latter is doing reasonably well but Iberia is losing money hand over fist and economies are being imposed by IAG. These are seen as anti-Spanish by at least some of those affected and there've been anti-BA and anti-IAG demonstrations in Madrid. One placard read BRITISH GO HOME and another IAG: A TOMAR POR CULO, which I think I'm right in translating as 'Take it up the arse'. A good example of the more robust nature of Spanish political dialogue. The basic problem with Iberia is that its short-haul costs are twice those of competitors. Pilot salaries are said to have reached 70% more than the industry average. One wonders how this came to be. Government subsidies? As of now, IAG are saying it's touch and go whether Iberia will survive. But this may be brinkmanship, of course.
The Times has listed 50 great wines for summer. There are several from Spain, as listed here. If you want all the guff that goes with them, you'll have to go to the paper's web page. And get past the paywall.
- Spanish Garnacha Tempranillo: Valencia, Spain. Asda, down to £4.25 from £5.25 until August 15
- Bargain barbecue red: 2012 Castillo del Baron Monastrell, Yecla, Bodegas y Viñedos del Mediterraneo, Spain. The Wine Society, (01438 741177), £5.50
- 2010 Barranco del Vero Cabernet Garnacha, Viñas del Vero, Somontano, Spain. Waitrose, down to £5.99 from £7.99 until July 16
- 2012 Pizarras de Otero, Bierzo, Mencía, Spain. Majestic, £8.99 or two for £6.99 each
- 2007 Castillo del Rey, Reserva, Cariñena, Spain. Ellies Cellar (01259 740283), down to £6.99 from £8.99; Hennings Wine (01798 872485), £7.99
- 2011 Las Cuadras, Costers del Segre, Spain. Armit Wines (020-7908 0660), £10.99
- Manzanilla: Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla, Spain Selfridges, £7.99; Wood Winters (01786 834894), £10.50
- Sacristía AB, Manzanilla, Primera Saca, Antonio Barbadillo Mateos, Spain Lay & Wheeler (01473 313300), 37.5cl, £21.70; Wine Shop (0208-467 3528), £20
As for the Pizarras del Otero, I've been trumpeting the quality of the unknown Mencia grape for 10 years now and this is what the columnist had to say about this one:- The wonderfully perfumed, tannic, inky, richly fruited mencia grape is from Bierzo in northwest Spain. Mencía has produced some magnificent reds, with the sort of steely, herby, mineral-rich concentration that producers in other Spanish regions would kill for. Expect lots of dynamic, rich, tangy, plum skin and vanilla pod fruit from this extra-ripe Spanish red. However, this appears to be another Spanish wine that's only available outside Spain. I spent a fruitless hour this morning trying to find out how much it costs here. All I could find was a reference to it selling for 5.80 euros. And this priceless citation
Talking of wine . . . . here's a truly priceless menu citation from fellow-blogger Lenox. If you look carefully, you'll also see a nice translation of Tragos.