Well, it’s about time that I got my Christmas baking boots on, now, isn’t it?
For weeks, my feed reader has been choc-a-bloc with blog postings stuffed with festive baked goods, and I can only hold out against that kind of onslaught for so long. So, having realised that resistance was futile, I closed my eyes and let my mind drift across the sea of baked possibilities. I ended up in Spain.
While I was still, unquestionably, in Ireland, I had found myself dreaming of that Spanish confection known as turrón. It’s made primarily from toasted almonds and honey, and varies in texture from break-your-teeth hard to soft and fudgy. When I was a kid, my brother, who lived in Spain, would bring a selection home at Christmas and I have been a sucker for turrón, particularly the soft variety, ever since. It’s just as well I can’t lay my hands on it too easily here – I inhale and it’s gone. And while the brother hasn’t lived in Spain for years, in my head Christmas is still flavoured with almond and honey. So I thought that I would try to capture that in festive shortbread form. I was very pleased that I did.
Shortbread, inspired by Christmas past
It can hardly have escaped anyone’s notice that eating locally is all the rage these days. Yes indeed, reducing your food miles and growing your own are where it’s at. People who previously didn’t know one end of a spade from the other are suddenly all about raised beds and double digging (for which purpose one sincerely hopes that they are, by now, using the right end of the spade).
Bully for them I say and, yes, bully for me, out there with my wellies on, digging up spuds with the best of them.
But, but, but.
Y’know, a Paddy such as I could probably make themselves quite at home in the corner of Spain that is Galicia. The landscape is really quite green, the region does a good line in celtic diddly-eye music and the local cuisine features plenty of spuds. Walking through the countryside here, you might well feel like you have been transported to somewhere that has all of the appearances of the slow-paced, rural Ireland of times past, but with warmer weather and, it has to be said, better seafood.
The borderlands of Galicia and Castile y León