Monday, 30 June 2014

Pig Cheek Vindaloo

We're England!
We're gonna score one more than you
Fat Les - Vindaloo

Another summer, another crushing footballing disappointment. Ever since that fateful night in Turin 24 years ago, when I've never seen my Father - or anyone else for that matter - drink so much brandy, I've become used to it. So much so that the St George bunting wasn't even unfurled this year.

Not that I'm feeling too down about it, the World Cup is turning into a cracking competition despite our early exit; even the Ewing is clamouring to stay up late watching Honduras kick lumps out of Ecuador or Greece crash out against the Costa Rica And, no matter how bad we are at kick ball, we're still great at curry. 

Originally introduced to the west coast of India by the Portuguese, carne de vinha d'alhos - a dish of meat, usually pork, marinaded in wine and garlic - was modified to local tastes with the substitution of palm vinegar for wine and the addition of lots of red Kashmiri chilies to evolve into what we now know as vindaloo.

Sadly it's now become somewhat of a joke dish; hijacked by sweaty men who like to posture post-pub, pints of lager in hand, whilst making jokes about frozen loo roll. Terry Pratchett memorably described it in his Disc World novels as 'mouth-scalding gristle for macho foreign idiots'. And while it is hot, the heat is far from the only point of what should be a fragrant, and even subtle, dish.

Following on from my last post - where we ended up eating karahi in deepest darkest Whitechapel - this curry was originally devised in preparedness for my spice loving Sister coming over to stay from Oz; a vindaloo being her usual choice when she goes out for a ruby. 

As with all best laid plans, we didn't end up having time to make it for her visit, but I did get a chance to make it for my Mum, another fearless curry lover, when she last came to stay. And, even if I do say so myself, it was quite frankly top drawer stuff. Easily one of the best curries I have made at home, and something a bit different than the fare offered by our usual flock wallpapered local haunts.

Not only that, but it was hugely simple to make. Just take your meat, I used pig cheeks - the Ewing cleared the shelves at our local Waitrose - and cover in the marinade for a couple of hours to allow the vinegar to tenderise the meat. Then soften onions in a little oil, add the meat and a tin of tomatoes and cook for a in the oven until tender. 

Cheeks are ideal for this as they have very little fat but lots of connective tissue that makes a wonderfully rich and gelatinous sauce that isn't too rich or greasy. Next time I plan to try some cubed pork or lamb shoulder, or even chicken thighs, but I reckon any tough cut - especially strong flavours like goat, game or mutton - would work a treat.

Pig Cheek Vindaloo
(Adapted from Simon Majumdar)

2kg pig cheeks or pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into inch pieces
1 cup palm/cider/white wine vinegar
10 cm fresh ginger, peeled
6 Fresh chilies, finely chopped (I grated mine with a Microplane)
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground Cumin seeds
2 tsp ground Coriander seeds
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar

2 white onions, sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Vegetable Oil for frying

Put the salt ginger and garlic into a pestle and mortar and grind to fine paste
Place the pork into a non-reactive bowl, add the garlic ginger paste, the chopped chilies and the vinegar and massage into the meat.
Mix together al the spices pour over the pork and massage well into the meat. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade for at least two hours to allow the vinegar time to penetrate and tenderise the pork.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180c.
Heat a little oil in a large pot and fry the onions until golden.
Pour the entire contents of the bowl into the pan along with the tinned tomatoes. Add water, if needed, so the liquid just covers the meat, stir well, put on the lid and place pot in the oven.
Cook for about three hours, removing the lid a third of the way through the cooking time, or until the sauce has thickened and the meat is tender.

As with all curies, this is even better eaten a day or two after cooking. Piles of fluffy white rice or nan bread, cucumber raita to cool down burnt tongues and plenty of Cobra are obligatory.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

London Loves

When I was young (very) occasionally I would visit Wycombe's resident meat market, the legendary Club Eden. Every town has one - the sticky-floored cesspit serving lurid alcopops and pints of gassy lager, where bouncers with thick necks the colour of corned beef give everyone the slow look up-and-down, from their Ben Sherman shirts down to their school shoes (no sportswear or trainers allowed, lest they lower the tone) before allowing them into the inner sanctum or condemning them to the last bus home.

It's been so long since those dark days that I'd almost forgotten quite how it felt to be scrutinized and looked over at the door, but I recently had the dubious pleasure of being reminded of such ignominy on our trip to the Shard with the Oz-based Princess Em and Robbie G. 

Looking forward to treating them to some booze with views, we approached the threshold as a clean cut and charming bunch of thirty somethings, all suitably dressed - Stealth had even cracked out her tuxedo jacket - until the first hint that all was not well as we attempted to gain entrance to the building. 'I'm not sure they will let you in' was the lady at receptions greeting to Robbie G - apparently the suede and canvas boots he was wearing were perilously 'trainer like'.  

Running the risk and proceeding up in the lift to the Aqua Shard bar I saw, for the first time in fifteen or so years, the full-up-and-down sneer in action as we approached the doorman. Even now the exaggerated head flick as he eyed us all suspiciously makes me both chortle with amusement and bubble with indignation.

Feeling like naughty school children, we were finally admitted and lead downstairs to the bar area, but not before my backpack has been pretty much wrenched from my back and stuffed into the cloakroom on the way past. Here we waited in wonder for our next staff encounter might hold, until we realised that no one was remotely interested in us now we were inside, leaving the Ewing and I to go up and attempt to order at the bar ourselves.

After a bit of a wait the cocktails, from three lists based on the English staples tea and gin, or from the Shard 'classics', were so so. Stealth and Robbie G's looked the part with their fancy fruit garnishes - although a good glug of Stealth's was spilt across the table by the waiter before she had the chance to try it - while the Ewing enjoyed her savoury Hot Tommy with tequila, watercress, chilli and lime.

Princess Emily's bloody mary, however - ordered spicy with just a little ice, but arriving with enough to sink the Titanic - was so unpalatably sweet she returned to the bar to ask for a top up of tomato juice. A fresh cocktail was offered, the new bar tender who sampled it didn't seem too impressed either, but refused as I'm not sure any of us relished the thought of hanging around there for much longer. 

Luckily our ardour for the rest of the day's Big Smoke-based debauchery wasn't diminished by our trip up the tower - rather to the contrary, the our whole experience on the 32nd floor gave us all something to dissect in wonder through the rest of the day. It was rather a shame though, that, unlike the cocktails, the service left a somewhat sour taste. 

Aqua Shard on Urbanspoon
Next stop was the Tower Bridge branch of the Draft House to slake our thirst. Previously written about on the blog here, and a still a very nice place for a pint in this neck of the woods. Despite being renowned for a huge range of craft beer and ale - including from the Kernal, which you can pretty much see from their door - I have scant recollection of what we drank - other than it was plentiful.

I do know I had something ferociously hoppy to start, followed by a half of their guest ale, rather a steal for these parts at £2.90 a pint. We also had a selection of snacks; their fabulous foot long scratchings; a 'boat' of southern fried wings served with Frank's Red Hot sauce for dipping; and their celebrated scotch egg with curry mayo which, even as a known egg hater, was too pretty not to get a snap of.

The Draft House Pub on Urbanspoon

Next up, along Wapping High Street, was the Town of Ramsgate, so named for the fishermen from The Isle of Thanet who’d land their catches on the wharf outside. Reputedly the oldest pub on the Thames, the original hostelry was probably opened during the War of the Roses, in the 1460s, although the present building dates to 1758.

Shoehorned into a thin strip between Oliver’s Wharf and Wapping Old Stairs, the small terraced garden backs on to the water and at low tide you can still see the post that condemned pirates were chained to as the river rose.  Luckily we had Stealth, our able tour guide, who gave us a brief potted history as we sat outside and enjoyed a pint of Ghost Ship, probably quite appropriate tipple for these parts.

This is an old-fashioned proper boozer, oozing history from its rickety timbers and, thankfully as yet, untouched by the hand of sterile commercialism. There is a menu of pub classics, served in hefty portions – fish and chips, ham and eggs, steak and kidney pud and spotted dick- and weekday lunches are available on a buy one get one for a pound deal, making it a perfect refuelling stop for those on a river walk (or pub crawl). There's even a resident cat, which had no chance of getting past the Ewing...

Town of Ramsgate on Urbanspoon
We had room for one more port of call before dinner, meaning a drink at the Captain Kidd, a few doors from the town of Ramsgate, was sadly jettisoned so we could fit in a half at the another previous favourite, the Prospect of Whitby. While the Prospect may lack some character compared to our previous stop, it remains a classic pub for a reason and it would be hard to pass by without calling in for at least one whistle-wetter.  

The Whitby is now owned by the Taylor-Walker chain, which seems rather a shame after its chequered history dating back to 1520 and with its previous patrons including Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys, Judge Jeffries, Whistler, Turner and Richard Burton. Rodney was even seen walking out of there when Uncle Albert went missing in Only Fools and Horses.

Despite the slightly soulless atmosphere and generic menu and drinks list, the service is friendly and views are still unbeatable; although I find sitting at one of their window tables, with the Thames lapping right up against the side of the glass, makes me feel decidedly queasy (nothing to do with the beer, of course).

Prospect of Whitby on Urbanspoon

The final stop saw us wind ourselves around the Shadwell basin, stopping to admire the stunning vista across the water to Canary Wharf - who knew urban East London could look so calm and beautiful - and into Whitechapel for a ‘proper’ curry.

One of my little sister’s greatest loves, and the thing she misses the most living in Sydney - other than her older sister of course – is a good curry. Which, like decent bacon and sausages, is something the Aussies have yet to properly master; surely a cash cow (or pig) for some enterprising entrepreneur.

While they may have hours of glorious sunshine, beautiful sandy beaches and a laid back lifestyle anyone would be envious of, the joys of a sweet and sour lamb dhansak; fiery chicken vindaloo, sag bhaji and fluffy nan bread remain elusive. Even if they often have to be endured with a side order of drizzle when enjoyed on these shores.

As a consequence of this deprivation everybody wants to take her and the G out for an Indian when she’s back home, not really much of a hardship, I suppose, but I don’t envy the co-passengers on the flight back to Oz.  While there are several decent restaurants near my house, I wanted to give them a proper East End experience, complete with the thick fug of grilled meat smoke hanging in the air and wipe down plastic tablecloths.

Last time I was in this neck of the woods we had gone to the Tayabs for chops and dry meat (and the memorable sight of Stealth prostrate in the corridor with some sort of bilious attack), so this time we chose one of their near rivals, Lahore Kebab House, to see how they’d stack up.

Lahore Kebab House. The food is karahi chicken karahi gosht, butter chicken bhindi gosht sag aloo, peshwari and garlic nans, tandoori rotis, rice and a plate of poppadoms - ordered by Stealth after the main dishes arrived 'it isn't the same without a poppadom.'

Décor is basic, to be kind, but the buzz from the rapidly filling room - even on a Monday night - and the heat and clatter coming from the kitchen were promising signs. As with many of the restaurants around these parts, LHR is unlicensed but you can BYO, meaning all the nearby corner shops have chilled cabinets stuffed full of large bottles of icy Cobra.

Dishes arrive with a lightning rapidity from the kitchen, a plate of salad to start followed by curries that are served in well worn karahi dishes set on hollow metal rings, followed by a basket of freshly baked bread and sides of chutney and fluffy pilau rice. I rued the fact I couldn't manage a plate of their famed chops, but the rest of our food was good, especially the karahi dishes and the bhindi gosht, rich chunks of mutton cooked with okra in a spicy gravy.

Deserts comprise of the tooth-achingly sweet familiar favourites; gulab jamun, kheer, halwa and kulfi, but we made do with a few more bottles of Cobra while we marvelled that our feast, sans grog, had only just reached double figures - 11 quid - per head. Less than the price of a drink at the Shard, no suspicious eyeing up at the door, and with a bagful of leftover nan bread to take home for breakfast to boot.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, or vice versa, I still loved experiencing some of the joys of my wonderful hometown, shared with some of my favourite people.

Lahore Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Monday, 16 June 2014

Hungry in Hungary

The cuisine of Mittleeuropa is right up my strasse (or, more properly, Utca, in Hungarian). Boiled pig, fried pig, cured pig and pig fat abound in every dish. There are cream cakes and pancakes and dumplings and cabbage. Quite honestly, what’s not to like?

For some the idea of Hungarian food still might all be huge, artless piles of Goulash, paprikash and potatoes, made to sustain the workers and keep out the cold. And while there are still plenty of options for decent, no nonsense traditional food, the Budapest dining scene has exploded in recent years to feature Michelin Stars, multiple cuisines and a reinvention of the staid and stodgy dishes of old.

The morning of our first full day in town was spent watching the May Day fly past over the Danube from our balcony. The Elizabeth bridge was closed to traffic and the crowds swarmed forth to watch a magnificent display of planes and helicopters that filled the air with thick vapour clouds and the sound of cheering.

The afternoon saw us take a visit to the Great Park, on the city’s edge, where a huge fair with rides, games, live music, street entertainers, political stalls (May Day is the day of the workers), a market, and plenty of food and drink vendors had been set up. The atmosphere was hectic,but wonderful; I can’t remember going to such a busy, happy and democratic event for a long time. 

Mindful we had to be back, and relatively sober, to meet Stealth from the airport, we enjoyed a dark craft ale (at a quid or so a pint) and some homemade lemonade before buying some traditional Hungarian pastries and cakes for later. A trio of Perec, or pretzels, covered in melted cheese; three slices of Retes, a Hungarian strudel, stuffed with a various fillings of cream cheese, poppy seeds and cherry; and the piece de resistance, a cinnamon and sugar coated Kürtőskalács, or chimney cake.

These hollow cakes are a Transylvanian specialty, traditionally cooked over charcoal fires on rotating spits, and I carefully cradled my all the way home on the busy underground to eat for breakfast over the following days.

Central Market - Budapest's oldest and largest market hall, found at the foot of the Liberty Bridge - is a must see, and we walked the few blocks from our apartment the following morning for breakfast and a browse. Top of my list to try was the famous Langos, available from the stalls on the second floor. We also chose a handful of other hot dishes and pickles to complete our stand up buffet feast.

The langos - discs of deep fried dough topped traditionally with sour cream, garlic oil and cheese, but also available with a variety of other toppings – was immense. It might not be too much of a stretch of the imagination to think such a combination would be delicious, but this was lighter and crisper than I imagined and managed to combine the trinity of salty fatty and crisp perfectly.

Alongside we had Töltött Káposzta, rolls of stuffed cabbage filled with rice, pork and chopped veg, and a plate of fried potatoes studded with slice s of spicy Hungarian sausage and, to cut through the richness, a plate of salty pickled cucumbers and green peppers. We drank espresso, but there’s also draught beer and shots of palinka available to fuel you through the rest of the morning.

While the rest of the second floor is rather touristy – given over to keyrings, scarves and knick knacks including Rubik’s Cubes and the like - the ground floor of the market is full of stalls selling fresh produce. Here we bought bundles of both white and green asparagus alongside grapes, garlic and tinned paprika.

By far the best bit for me were the meats; rows and rows of suspended salamis and sausages; great trays of pork scratchings, scooped into paper bags with little metal shovels; tins of preserved goose liver and blocks of glistening cured pig fat.

Just as the choice was threatening to overwhelm us, a rather enthusiastic butcher spotted the Ewing looking curiously into the chilled cabinet and proceeded to point at his wares while making animal impressions complete with corresponding noises, so we would know what was in each sausage.

With all that effort, and entertainment, how we could not be tempted, and we came away with salamis and sausages made with goose, horse and spicy Mangalitza pig (more of that curly-haired beast later) to go alongside the Alpenkase (alpine cheese) sausage I had picked up in Vienna.

Seeking shelter from a thunderstorm after a visit to the marvellous, if rather sobering, House of Terror, we found the rather promising sign above. Following the arrow, we found ourselves in the Czech Inn, and while we may have taken a slight swerve to the North East of Central Europe, we soon discovered they were fellow lovers of porcine products and fortified alcohol and got ourselves comfy for an afternoon session.

To drink we sampled each of the trio of beers on tap; a traditional Czech Pilsner; a lighter, fruitier wheat beer; and a smooth and tannic dark ale. Served alongside was a generous plate of bar snacks, all deriving from the aforementioned Mangalitza pig. These included pork scratchings on steriods; cured lardons of belly; a spicy paprika-flecked salami; and the piece de resistance, a tea cup full of lard. The meat feast was crowned with a dusting of raw red onion, a dish of salt and a basket of crusty bread. Heart-stoppingly brilliant.

To fortify ourselves a trio of flavoured palinka brandies were ordered - pear, apricot and plum - an enjoyable, if by this point not entirely necessary finale, that left the Ewing feeling rather green on our return to the apartment - and later lead to her composing a drunken ditty revolving around the lines; 'woolly piggy, wolly piggy. Made me sicky'.

We couldn't visit Budapest without sampling some the famed Hungarian rib-stickers. A wander around the streets one evening lead us to a little cafe/restaurant down a side street were we sat outside and I had a rather good, if not particularly photogenic, plate of beef goulash topped with fried parsley and served with bouncy little fresh dumplings - rather like the Germanic Spatzle.

Stealth and the Ewing settled their stomachs with chicken noodle and beef goulash soups, respectively. At about two quid a bowl for these, there were few complaints.

We also enjoyed an early Saturday night dinner at Cafe Kor, a perennially popular bistro by St. Stephen's Basilica, in the heart of the trendy 5th District. Here Stealth further indulged her love for goulash, with their, very fine, red wine-spiked version that came served with homemade potato croquettes that resembled Oven Crunchies on steroids.

I had a dish of roasted veal, served with a sour cream-spiked sauce that wasn't too dissimilar to tomato soup and none the worse for it. More ballast was provided in the form of a duo of bread dumplings that - although I was still digesting them days later - appealed to my love of good old stodge.

The Ewing's plate featured a little hint of greenery in the form of a dressed salad, but was mostly dominated by a huge tranche of pike perch, doused in a garlic sauce and balanced mountain of fried potatoes.

To finish we shared two of Hungary's most famous deserts, Gundel pancakes stuffed with walnuts and raisins - a possibly a mystery herb/spice which Stealth became obsessed with identifying, but to no avail - and topped with a flood of chocolate sauce, and Somlói spongecake, balls of rum soaked cake served with whipped cream and more of the bitter chocolate sauce.

Quite honestly, how could anything with cream, cake and chocolate ever be wrong, even after the unashamed gluttony of our previous course; although, Stealth did comment, as we were looking back through the photos after our trip; 'no wonder we all felt so bloated all week'. Certainly no one complained of feeling peckish later that evening.

While Budapest isn’t the bargain basement destination it once was, you can still find yourselves a steal. One thing they excel at is a boozy Sunday brunch, which coincided nicely with the Ewing’s birthday. I had booked us in at Le Bourbon, at Le Meriden, after hearing reports that the pastries were the best in town, although it turned out the other choices weren't too shabby either.

Being set loose on the various tables groaning with grub soon saw us take some contrasting approaches; Stealth racing straight for the soups and grill, the Ewing sticking mainly with the cold starter selection and me making sure to try some of everything, lest I should miss out.

The cold appetizers may have been my favourite part; fresh baskets of bread and pastries, piles of ham, terrines, pate, pastas and salads, including a faux lobster number that others spurned but I loved enough to go back for second (and third) helpings.

While the hot food, in its lidded metal dishes and featuring delights such as salmon with grapefruit and chicken ‘curry’, may have looked like something straight from the 70’s but was surprisingly tasty. Stealth proclaimed the dill pickle-spiked Stroganoff, not a patch on her mother's version, although I really enjoyed it (although I cunningly contrived to get the maximum amount of tail fillet in my portion).

There is also a carvery of roast meats, with big joints of beef and turkey carved to order and served with a variety of veg and sauces; and a grill station, from which we enjoyed a selection of steaks, kebabs and mushrooms freshly cooked to order.

Finally we staggered on to pudding, both Stealth and the Ewing’s highlight of the afternoon. The choice,as with the rest of the food, was superlative with a pyramid of macrons, fresh fruit salads and mini cakes and pastries to choose from. There were also glorious éclairs’, decorated with caramel and chocolate and flavoured with different types of crème patisserie, and a chocolate cake that was only available from the menu - although still part of the buffet – which of course we had to order for the birthday girl.

There was even a pancake stand from which you can create made to order deserts from a Wonka-esque choice of fillings. The poppy seed and walnut I chose went very nicely with a scoop of the rum soaked bowls of fruit on the desert table.

The atrium, with its stained glass ceiling and glittery chandeliers, is a lovely space to spend a chilled out Sunday afternoon, helped by unlimited ‘Hungaria’, a surprisingly quaffable local sparkling wine, offered alongside red and white, juices, tea and coffee, and all for about £20. And while my companions may have mocked the jazz piano player in the corner, I rather enjoyed hearing a little bit of Phil Collins.

One of the best quirks of the Budapest bar scene is the concept of the ruin pub. These ramshackle bars were originally set up in the Jewish Quarter, providing cheap places for young locals to meet and drink, but have now sprung up all over town. As their name suggests, they are mostly housed in previously dilapidated buildings and have a ramshackle and unique charm, along with very cheap beer. 
A walk around the Jewish Quarter will unearth a myriad of drinking choices, and while we stopped at a few, and all were good, Ellátó Kert was probably my pick of the bunch. An endearingly ramshackle outfit, with a great garden decked out with fairy lights - de rigueur for most of the bars we saw - and featuring DJs later in the evening, a selection of Mexican food and comprehensive cocktail list, 

We enjoyed a variety of tacos stuffed with pork al pastor, chicken tinga and grilled mushrooms and served with a variety of hot tomato salsas, soured cream and guacamole. While not groundbreaking they were tasty and cheap and pretty perfect at soaking up the mojitos and the pints of elderflower beer

While the ruin pubs were charmingly spit and sawdust with their mismatched and laid back approach, we did dust down our glad rags and find time for a few classy birthday cocktails at Spoon, a restaurant/bar found on a boat moored on the Danube.

While there might not be anything particularly compelling about the place on its own, location wise it's in a prime spot. There aren't many better places to sit and watch the rays reflect on the water, as the last of the sun slips behind the Buda Castle.

To drink we chose a range of crowd-pleasing cocktails, known endearingly, thanks to her sweet tooth, as 'cheap sugary-shit' by Stealth. Despite their fluffy appearance they packed a hefty alcoholic punch and a couple of lychee martinis later saw us staggering back along the river shore.

Our final day saw a long and blister-filled visit to the Ewing's grandmother's birth place, followed by a schlep to the momentous Monument Park, were we spent a hour or two posing by the Communist statues while merrily trying not to kill each other.

The evening's entertainment was far more relaxed, with a table booked for a last supper at the Pest branch of the Bock Bisztro, a cosy and fab little spot serving a menu of modern Hungarian food that combines hearty with invention, and with a comprehensive and predominately local wine list, too.

Starters were forgone to ensure we'd be able to buckle upon the plane home the next day, although our waiter bought a pot of Mangalitza lard studded with pieces of pork crackling, lest we wasted away before our mains. And while the Ewing may have looked a little green at the gills when it first appeared, she was soon slathering swathes of the pig fat onto the crispy bread along with the rest of us.

The chicken paprikash was a perfectly judged piece of sous vide poultry, served with a sweet and smoky sauce and a brilliantly fiery slice of fresh Hungarian pepper. On the side were a deuce of ethereal cream cheese dumplings, topped with sour cream and crispy bacon pieces.

The Ewing chose the stuffed rabbit saddle with razor clams, a beautiful spring dish with perfectly cooked bunny amid a puddle of sweet pea sauce. On the side were a duo of razor clams and a vegetable dish of mashed potato-filled leek halves, cunningly presented to look like the pair of bivalves.

Stealth took on the Bock burger, a behemoth with both a nicely rare grilled beef patty topped with a further puck of shredded and breaded meat (duck?) and char grilled peppers and onions.

Side orders of home made pickles from the barrel and a cucumber and soured cream salad didn't materialise, but I'm not sure we really missed them.

To finish Stealth and I shared a trio of 'bizarre' ice creams, a selection featuring tobacco, smoked paprika and bacon. The tobacco had that plleasant 'tickly' flavour, much like tobacco infused chocolate, while the bacon paired a sweet and salty cured pork and caramel sauce over a ball of good old vanilla. Mist curious of all was the smoke pepper, which was sorbet-like, and strangely sweet and refreshing.

The Ewing chose the chocolate mousse, with bitter cherries and sponge cake, and all accompanied by a serenade from the accordion played positioned behind us -  thus creating one of my favourite photos from the trip. A suitably rousing finale for three stuffed, happy (and rather drunk) ladies.