Long lunch at Estacion San Pablo de Buceite

A long lunch at a railway station restaurant with trains passing by every hour or so may not be at the top of most people’s list. However this restaurant is different and a long lunch here is a joy.


Quite how different may be seen by how the owner reckons that, if you are on the train, you can ask the conductor to stop at the normally not-stopping station, and once you finish lunch you can signal the returning train to stop and pick you up!


The hours of the restaurant are posted at the doorway, but can change.

opening hours

The train times are posted on the outside terrace of the restaurant but no instructions of how actually to hail the train to pick you up!


The outside terrace is the old platform and is covered for shade and the odd splash of rain. A shaded lawn garden surrounds the restaurant, with cats and birds vying for crumbs.

platform restaurant outside

As the long lunch takes its course the odd train will pass by, from the new local bullet nosed ones to the long distance Talgo’s on their way to Madrid. Adding to the ‘sleepy station being passed by’ feel to the place.

san pablo train

The food is excellent and presented on the plate in a very attractive way. All courses have wide choices and are changed often. The service is good and not rushed.
A favourite place of ours to eat, not least for its quirkiness as an old railway station, complete with a station masters uniform and hat on the wall.

The link to their website is at: http://laestacion.sanpablodebuceite.com

liqueur cappuccino

dessert osborne bullstation cat



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Cake making day – for a change

I decided to make some cakes today because I had all the right ingredients in my fridge and store cupboard and we had run out of biscuits to have with our tea!

The recipe I followed was from the website: www.ivillage.co.uk.

Everything worked out fine but I had much more mixture so I put the leftover amount into a small tin, lined with greaseproof paper. It worked well and when it was cooked made a small oblong sandwich cake. The cakes took a little longer to cook but I always feel that oven cooking times can vary so much that you have to use your own judgment.

As you can see from the photo, I went one step further. My butterfly cakes are delicious. I scooped out the middle bit from the each cake and put a dollop of butter-cream icing (75g butter & 150g sifted icing sugar beaten with just a little milk at the end for a better consistency) and a little bit of homemade plum jam on half the cakes and homemade nectarine jam on the other half.

Mmmmmm! . . . simply delicious and reminded me of when my children were young and I used to bake fairy cakes. It was a fight between all three of them as to who was going to lick the bowl, beaters and spoons!

Basic recipe for fairy cakes

Makes 24 mini cakes or 12 larger ones

For mini cakes you will need a 12 hole tartlet tin (these are 5cm at the rim and 1½ cm deep) and you will need to use it twice. For larger fairy cakes use a 12-hole bun tin (these are 6½ cm at the rim and 2cm deep). You can use the little paper cases according to the size tin you have. If not, butter the base and sides of the holes before filling with the mixture.

Ingredients: 125g/4½ oz softened butter 125g/4½ oz caster sugar 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 tsp vanilla extract 125g/4½ oz self-raising flour 2 tbsp milk

Method: Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas mark 5. Either butter the tin or place the paper cases in the holes (see above). In a mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. You can use an electric whisk or a wooden spoon. Add the beaten egg, a little at a time, whisking to incorporate, then beat in the vanilla. Sift in half of the flour and fold into the mixture. Add the milk and the rest of the flour and fold until well combined. Spoon into the tin and bake for 12 minutes or until risen and golden on top. Allow to cool for ten minutes on a rack before removing from the tin.

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Harvest/Vendimia 2011

The lead into the 2011 harvest has been strange. Everything seems to have been early. The almond blossom was in early January as mild winter weather led plants to think spring had come. There was also lot of blossom on fruit trees only for it to be blown away with high winds, so very little apricot and green plums. Late rains then continued into June which led to mildew on the vines.

We had sulphered but this year as usual but downy mildew took its toll and stopped leaf and vine growth in its tracks. The tempranillo was more or less wiped out but the syrah was okay and had reasonable grape growth. We have learned this year that we should use Bordeaux mixture, here it is called ‘Caldo Bordeles’ to stop downy mildew. The sulphur is to stop powdery mildew.

We like to harvest near the full moon when it is waxing gibbous. The best date was the 10th August and the brix levels in the grapes that we had were on average 20.

So at 5.30 we started cutting having laid out tables and work areas on the terrace and washed down all the buckets and basins and prepared our new destemmer or ‘despalilladora’ as it is called in spanish.

Friends arrived to help, being put into teams of cutters, carriers and table sorters. We did not have so many grapes and the new machine made easy work of destemming which last year had taken up so much time. By 9.00 it was all done with maybe only 200 litres in the fermenting tank. A big disappointment when we were expecting 1500 litres, but a lesson that nature can be fickle.

We cleared away all the buckets and had a harvest breakfast of hot sausage and bacon rolls washed down with bucks fizz, then some beer. Tortilla, cold meats, cheeses and prawns did the round of the table until all were full and ambled off ‘muy contento’!

Thanks to all who helped namely Carl & Jill, Carmen, Christine, David, Sarah & Antonio, Ikuku,  Jenny & Einar, Jim & Louise, Julia & Gordon, Paco, Penny, Thiery & Breda & Alannah.

The last word goes to Molly, our lost and found basset hound. She found it all too much and just laid down and fell asleep!

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Verdear – the picking of green Olives

Verdear or ‘greening’ is the picking of green olives for eating. The verdear usually happens in October but this year has been unusual. Many crops have been early, as is the case with the olives, which are ready now, some two or three weeks before time.

On the same tree will often be found the two different types of olive. The ‘manzanilla’ olive which has the shape of a little apple, round and plump, and the slightly elongated olive which is left on the tree to become black and is picked in late November or December and is used to make oil. Some trees have just one type of olive but grafting can give double cropping.

So now the verdear begins, clambering up a ladder to reach as many olives as possible. Standing on branches, stretching out and up, the olives seem to dance out of reach just when you think you have them in your grasp. The sun blazing down . . . hot and thirsty work, also very dirty as the trees seem to collect dust. The olives cannot be bashed down with a large stick like they can later in the years as they will bruise.

Olives that have small marks are okay for preserving, as the mark can be cut away, but deep marks are no good as it usually extends into the flesh of the olive and once cut away leaves very little left to eat.

Once collected, the olives with bad marks are discarded and the rest washed. Next job is to slice around the olive to allow the flesh to be cured. There are some wooden lap crushers that do the job of opening up the olive, but it leaves the olive looking battered with a gaping wound . . . not nice to look at when eating.

A washing up bowl full of olives will make about eleven or twelve good sized jars. I put the jars into the oven for 15 minutes at 200°C and boil the jar lids on the stove for the same time before filling.

I put 3 table spoons of salt into 1 litre of water, the salt water is thus the main medium for curing and this is not a too salty mixture, you can experiment here and maybe use less salt. It will take about 4 litres of this preparation to deal with our washing up bowl full. Now we start to bottle the olives. Some methods have you soaking the olives pressed down under water and changing the water until the water is clear, but this often leads to the olives going mouldy.

Into each jar put olives so that the jar is half full, then use some small pieces of lemon, two crushed garlics, a sprig of rosemary, a torn bay leaf, some torn basil leaves and a sprinkling of dried chilli. Pour the salty water over then fill the jar full of olives with more pieces of lemon, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, basil and dried chill. Fill the jar to the brim putting a final layer of olives on the top. Seal and store in a dark place for at least 3 months.

This recipe can vary, red peppers can by used or fresh chillies or oregano. Any number of herbs can be used.
The salt water cures the olives by way of the cut made and the added ingredients give flavours. When the jar is opened it often foams out as fermentation has taken place. Rinse the preserved olives off several times and discard any olives that have discoloured. Pour over good quality olive oil before serving.

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Bottling 2011

We decided to bottle one of the barrels now in January, another in February and the last one in May. This will give us a spread of time that the wine has been in the barrels and how the flavour compares over differing time periods.

The devil is in the detail, so . . .

Barrel One

Five days prior to bottling,in mid January, I used four egg whites mixed with half a litre of  salty water to pour into the barrel. This is to take down to the bottom any remaining sediment that may be in solution.

Used 4 crushed camden tablets (sodium metabsulphite) in small white bucket for corks to soak. Used 10 crushed camden tablets in larger white container to flush through the pump and then put water into bottle soaking bin. We are using the pump to transfer the wine from the barrel to a container that has a tap and can thus fill the bottles easily.

Used two crushed camden tablets in container with tap and put water in  bottle soaking bin.

Rinsed bottles in sink using bottle brush then into black bin that has crushed camden tablets added. Soaked and rinsed bottles thoroughly, then into oven at 200 degrees centigrade for 15 minutes. The bottles have then to cool down for 10 minutes or so and then go straight to have the wine poured in and corked.

Changed water in soaking bin after processing 100 bottles or so and used 10 crushed camden tablets each time.

Started bottling at 12.30 and finished at 6.30 having bottled 256 bottles from the barrel before the sediment came through.

We tasted as we bottled and found the wine to have a bright, clear and fresh burgundy colour, there is some nose which should dissipate and the wine has medium length and a fresh young fruity flavour.

Barrel Two

Late February and time to prepare for bottling.  Used exactly the method as previously.

Bottled 252 bottles, which took nearly 6 hours.

The wine has a bright and clear burgundy colour, this time with no nose and good fresh berry fruit bouquet and flavour.

Barrel Three

Late April and time to prepare for last bottling of the 2010 vintage.  Used exactly the method as previously as it has worked well.

Bottled 238 bottles, which again took nearly 6 hours.

This final bottling has bright and clear colour with no nose and fresh berry fruit flavour, but is a little dryer.

Next year we will go into stainless steel tanks as I want to have consistent flavour.

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