A Holiday Home in Istria

A Holiday Home in Istria

Are you the kind of person who goes on holiday and imagines living there? The kind of person, who, when they return home, often to the inevitable damp and drizzly weather that we generally experienced back in Manchester, dreams of having a holiday home? Somewhere where the weather is guaranteed and where you can just kick back and relax? Whenever you want – because it’s yours. If this sounds like you, then read on – as we have an idea…

We’re selling our beautifully renovated Istrian stone house because we have found another property to renovate, a few kilometres away. We live in Istria full time – because we did what we’d always dreamed of. We bought a house in the sun and, in March 2017, left the grey skies of north west England behind. We had no intention of renovating the property and flipping it. Completely out of the blue, the new property caught our eyes and we decided that if we didn’t go for it, we’d regret it. So, our beloved stone house is up for sale.

Admittedly, circumstances haven’t been on our side. Trying to sell a house, in the middle of a global pandemic, has not been easy. But then again, nothing has been really easy and I suppose if this has been our only concern over the last year or so, we’ve fared pretty well. However, travel to Istria is now becoming much easier and interest in the house has taken off. Unfortunately, trying to sell a property abroad, is not as easy as when we sold in Didsbury. Open days, for multiple viewings are unheard of here. We rely on getting the word out via our own marketing and our own website. We’re also targeting a very specific and quite niche group of buyers and enquiries, leading to viewings, are much slower than back in the UK. However, we know that our buyer is out there – and we’re ready and waiting for them.

We also know, from the enquiries we’ve had, that lots of people are very interested in our property as a second/holiday home. We know that people in the UK are interested, as well as potential purchasers from across Europe. But in these challenging times, we are also acutely aware that cost is a massive consideration – and to buy a holiday home these days, as tempting as it may sound, may not be possible for everyone. However, if you are determined, like we were, to be abroad, there may just be a way to do it…

The word TIMESHARE is one which makes me shudder. I couldn’t think of anything worse than ploughing money into a property which wouldn’t completely be mine, and which could only be used through negotiations with everyone else who had invested in it. Paying money to have a property in the sun, and perhaps being stuck with the weeks no-one else wanted. The weeks when the weather’s not good, for example, Or, totally out of season. Paying money for a property which kind of was mine, but not really. However, we’ve recently been thinking about the concept of “timeshare” and realised it could actually have some very positive connotations, in the right context…

For anyone interested in the possibility of a holiday home, but not relishing the prospect of taking on the whole financial commitment, how about doing it with family and/or friends? A kind of timeshare – but with people you know and trust. Our home has three – but potentially four – large bedrooms. It has three large living spaces – this would be reduce to two if The Snug was converted into a self-contained en-suite, but the current living room is very spacious. We have two bathrooms – one with a bath and one with a wet-room style shower, so no arguments in the morning! The outside area is spacious and is well set up for outdoor life, with a gravel parking area for two cars. More space is available around the house for further vehicles, if necessary. And, if our potential purchasers fancy a little bit of a renovation project, we also have an additional stone cottage, to the rear of the main house. If renovated, this could become a very cute annexe, creating additional living space. Or, if a pool was on the agenda, it could be demolished to create the additional space. And, with the beautiful Istrian stones salvaged and cleaned up, all of the material would be there to build a garden wall, for privacy.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in investigating with family or friends, take a look at our website, where you’ll find a whole lot more information. And that dream of yours might just become a reality.

 

 

Thai Chicken Soup

Thai Chicken Soup

I’m not sure why we would have this soup if it was on the menu when eating out, but we never actually made it ourselves. Until now.

I think I just assumed because of its flavoursome quality and spiciness that it would be a real faff. Plus, we don’t tend to eat a lot of meat at home, so chucking in the chicken element, just complicated things. Well, we’ve now got over ourselves and made a big batch of it last night. Utterly delicious and wildly simple to cook, in a relatively short time. Plus, the added bonus of not too much washing up.

INGREDIENTS

  • Sweet potatoes (four, peeled and chopped into cubes)
  • Large clove of garlic, sliced thinly
  • About a 2cm piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • One stem of lemongrass, peeled and bashed up to release the flavour
  • Red Thai curry paste
  • Two or three fresh chillies, de-seeded and chopped
  • Veggie (or fish) stock
  • Coconut milk (one can)
  • Very lean chicken fillets, cut up quite small
  • Brown sugar (about a teaspoon)
  • Splash of lime juice
  • Fresh coriander (leaves for garnish & stalks for flavour)
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper to season

METHOD

It really couldn’t be simpler. Heat the coconut oil gently and saute the garlic, ginger, chillies, coriander stalks and a handful of leaves and lemon grass for about 10 minutes, over a low heat. Add the cubes sweet potatoes, the stock, the Thai red curry paste, sugar, lime juice and the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, slowly, and then simmer until the potatoes have softened. Whizz the mixture with a hand blender and when smooth, add the chicken pieces and heat through for no more than 5-6 minutes. Check that the meat is white – if it is, your soup is ready. Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves. We served ours with the most amazing toasted brown bread, with carrot, from Lidl (in Istria, so may not be available in the UK), but I suppose any kind of bread (toasted or not, depending on your taste) would work as well. Or pitta bread, or naan or flat bread. I think the next time we do this, I’ll add rice noodles, cooked separately and then when the soup is ready, poured over the top.

A perfect supper dish, for a late summer’s evening. And, I imagine, for a cold winter’s night. Perfect, therefore, at any time.

 

Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dahl

It’s not a difficult dish to make, but there are many, many recipes out there for dahl. I think however, we’ve found the perfect recipe, because of the balance of flavours and texture. I found it on this website, but the author of the recipes/blogs goes into so much detail that the recipes ad ingredients are almost lost and it involves a lot of scrolling and clicking away from adverts, so I’ve posted the essentials below, if you want to test out this dahl.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 onions diced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • ½ finely chopped red chilli (or ½ tsp dried chilli flakes)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 cup (200g) dried red lentils, uncooked (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 can (14oz/400ml) chopped tomatoes or passata
  • 1 can (14oz/400ml) coconut milk
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach washed
  • Fresh coriander to garnish

METHOD

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and red chilli and cook for a few minutes.
  • Grind the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds lightly in a pestle and mortar, then add to the pan, along with the turmeric and garam masala and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the lentils, tomatoes with their juice, coconut milk and stock, then stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and cook on a medium/low heat for 15-20 minutes until reduced and thick. If you have time, you can leave it a little longer on a very low heat for even more flavor (just stir often and check it doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan).Taste and add more chilli if desired.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and spinach until it wilts.
  • Serve warm with rice, naan bread or poppadoms.

Maybe it’s because you don’t cook the lentils first that the texture of this dahl is just a little different. It’s kind of creamy and “nutty” at the same time, so has a bit of oomph to it. Too often, when I’ve order a dahl, I’m disappointed because it’s on the lentil soup side of things. Not this one. Strong, bold flavours and extremely filling so plenty left for your lunch the next day.

Pistachio Pesto

Pistachio Pesto

OK, if you have a nut allergy, DO NOT – and I repeat *DO NOT* – try out this recipe. If you don’t, and you are a fan of the pistachio nut, DO try it out. Because not only is it stupendously delicious, it is beyond easy to make, takes very little time, very little washing up is involved and is not expensive. It’s become a bit of a staple for us, especially when hot evenings mean we don’t want to spend too long in the kitchen.

INGREDIENTS

(I’ve not added quantities as you’ll know how much pasta you want, how many nuts and how much parmesan etc.)

Pasta – spaghetti works well, as the pesto is quite thick, so clings to the strands – but have done it with penne & tagliatelle, and both are as good
Pistachio nuts
Parmesan cheese
Basil leaves
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
 
 
 

 

METHOD

This could not be any easier. And if you find shelling pistachios to be very therapeutic, it’s the recipe for you!
 
Shell all the pistachios, put them in a blender and add the parmesan cheese, basil and oil. Meanwhile, cook the pasta.
 
 

Blending the nuts & cheese & basil leaves & oil

 
 
Transfer the pistachios mixture to a pan, and stir over a medium heat, adding pasta water to obtain a cream. When the pasta is cooked, add it to the pistachio cream and stir, adding more cooking water until you get the consistency you prefer.
 
 

Heating through the pistachio cream, adding pasta water to get your desired consistency

 
Serve and complete with chopped pistachios, parmesan and a basil leaves,and a sprinkle of black pepper.
 
 

At Last…Online Grocery Delivery!

At Last…Online Grocery Delivery!

We’re very used to getting in the car and driving to the supermarket. We’re not lazy – it’s just we’ve had no alternative. We live in a small village and although it has four very renowned restaurants, it has no shop, Once we’d arrived here, four and a half years ago – the reality hit us pretty quickly. We’d been used to popping out of the house and crossing Burton Road, and there we were – at the West Didsbury Co-op. Larger supermarkets were a drive away, and we thought that going to Sainsbury’s in Cheadle was very convenient – but, we’ve now realised that we could be sitting in a traffic jam on the A34, putting ages onto a 5km journey, there and back. Now, we travel to Umag or Novigrad or Porec or Pula – the longest journey being an hour to Pula, but we also get to experience city life or eat in a harbourside restaurant, or outside the Roman ampitheatre. Don’t think Cheadle can top that! Going the other way, we also shop in Koper (on the Slovenian coast) or Trieste – 40 minutes to get there, and no traffic jams, just rolling hills, vineyards, the Adriatic coast…

But, I’ve been trying to find an online grocery delivery service for ages, because sometimes you just want a bit of convenience. And, a chance visit to our local council offices in Oprtalj turned up the most wonderful thing. Leaflets for an online delivery service. But no ordinary delivery service…

Primarily aimed at holiday makers, and from the company behind many of the boutique hotels, resorts and campsites in Istria – Valamar – online deliveries are now available all year round, and to residential addresses, as far as Opatija and even Krk Island on the west coast of the peninsula. We obviously had to give the service a whirl, and so last week we were back in the familiar world of online grocery shopping.

What we loved immediately about this service was the fact that they use local producers to source all of the groceries. So, all meats, cheeses, breads, wines, olive oil, fruit and veg are sourced from within Istria – and largely from family small holdings and farms. Fresh fish is caught off the coast. This definitely ticked our provenance boxes, and as we have to drive a lot by necessity, it felt like we were able to give a little bit back. The website is in English as well as Croatian, so the ordering process was very easy. The only glitch occurred at the payment stage because we needed a code from our bank and their app is not the easiest to navigate. PBZ, take note, please. A quick call to Valfresco customer services sorted it all, and I was just advised to select the cash payment option and pay the driver on acceptance of the delivery, until we’d sorted the code with the bank. The next day, the van arrived, loaded with our goodies…

Everything we ordered was delivered – no replacements. Although there was some use of plastic, most veg was wrapped in paper or in wooden crates. Everything was fresh and in excellent condition. And for just over 500kunas (roughly £55), we had a LOT of produce.

I ordered a veg box, not reading the details about what was included (lesson learned for next time) and ordered more garlic, onions and potatoes. We now have a glut of these veg and are having to think creatively about how to use them! Lots of meals are now including roasted potatoes, onions and garlic, but we’ve made a huge vat of minestrone soup and frozen it, and have roasted a tonne of garlic bulbs, which are now sitting in ice cube trays in the freezer, ready to be tossed into meals…

We rarely eat meat, but sometimes a spicy chicken curry, in particular, hits the spot. The chicken fillets looked worth an investigation and we both agreed that when cooked, it was about the very best chicken we’d tasted. Very obvious that this wasn’t factory produced, pumped with water and goodness knows what else. So, there was only one thing to make – a chicken curry with jasmine basmati rice…

For friends and family who live in the UK, this probably doesn’t seem too much of a momentous occasion – but it is. It’s another step towards a life which is becoming increasingly easier, as we continue to find out more about Istria – and as our house is for sale, it’s another little tip we can pass onto the new owners. (And, as an added bonus, Valamar Direkt also deliver prepped meals from partner restaurants – all you need to do is pop them in the oven. In the interests of research, we’re going to have to do this…)

How To View Our House For Sale…

How To View Our House For Sale…

So, you want to move abroad. Istria could be the place and we’ve whetted your appetite, with our property for sale website. What now?

We could be wrong, but we’re assuming that you don’t live here already and that, like we did, you will want to view the house and the area, if you are serious about a potential purchase. We’re very aware that it’s not going to be as simple as viewing a house in the UK – or wherever you are based – but we have done it ourselves and so we hope we can help make it as simple and as stress-free as possible for you. You may be the kind of buyer who’s looked at our website and that’s it for you. In which case, we’d better start packing our bags!

However, we’re guessing that you will want to do at least one viewing and we think this can be done in a couple of ways, in normal times. See below. But these times aren’t quite normal and so we want to introduce you to our safe viewings in these days of Covid-19…

Safe Viewings

We have prepared a virtual tour of our home, where we’ll walk you through the house, room by room and the outside area. We are currently updating this virtual tour, so please email if you would like to view the original one, in the meantime. If this then whets your appetite, we can then arrange to delve deeper via phone call, Zoom or FaceTime or WhatsApp. We’ll also be able to answer any questions you have in real time.

We would still welcome serious viewings in person, but we would obviously insist on all safety measures being adhered to, including the wearing of masks and use of hand sanitiser. In a move that is just not us, because we are very much “people people”, we’d also request, sadly, no hand-shaking and no touching of anything around the house. As the visit would be relatively short, we would ask that our bathrooms not be used. We are so very sorry that we need to ask these things, but we would much prefer to be safe than sorry…

Under Your Own Steam

You might decide to incorporate a viewing of our home with a break in Istria. If so, we can advise you on flights, car hire, hotels, apartments – basically whatever you need to know. When we know that you have a definite date for coming out, we would then provide you with all the information you will need to find the house. For obvious reasons, we have not included such details on the website as we will only share this information with people who are definitely interested in taking the next step. We would give you a comprehensive tour of the house and answer all questions as honestly as we can. We would then suggest places you could visit to get a “feel” for Istria.

Under Our Steam

If we are honest, we did feel a little bit daunted when we set off from Manchester to come and view a house in a country we didn’t know. We did cope and look where we are now. But, we know that for some people it might be easier to do it with our help. Therefore, we can offer the following service:

We will have communicated with you prior to your arrival by phone and/or email and will meet you at the airport, or wherever you arrive, within reason. If your stay will be a short one, we would bring you back to the house in our car, and if previously arranged, you would be our guest in our home. If your stay was going to be longer than a couple of days, if required, we would help you to book additional accommodation by recommending places we know to be of a high standard. During your stay with us, we would provide meals and take you on a number of trips around the peninsula, so that you could get a real “feel” for Istria. Should you choose to view our home in this way, we would discuss the finer details with you prior to your trip. To cover our costs (petrol, food, drink, our time etc.), a charge of £150 (for two people) per night, would be payable, in advance. Please note we can only offer this service for a maximum of two nights. Should you subsequently purchase this house, this fee will be refunded back to you, in full.

What are you waiting for?

We’re ready to pack our bags. Are you ready to pack yours? Contact us here.

(PS – in the image above, we’d just completed strimming the grass, leaving the patches of wildflowers. It grows quickly over the summer, and needs to be taken right back, so for the first couple of days after cutting, can look a bit scorched. But the green soon returns!)

Information for Potential Travel & Viewings

TRAVEL INFORMATION FROM CROATIAN VILLA HOLIDAYS WEBSITE – UPDATED ON 4/6/21. PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU CHECK FOR TRAVEL UPDATES, FROM YOUR COUNTRY OF DEPARTURE, PRIOR TO MAKING A DEFINITE VIEWING APPOINTMENT.

Restrictions applying to tourists arriving in Croatia

Croatia accepts all foreign travellers. Croatia is open to all foreign tourists provided one of the following certificates can be shown on entry:

  • A negative PCR or rapid antigen test dated no more than 48 hours prior to arriving in Croatia.
  •  A certificate showing that you have had your second vaccine at least 14 days prior to arriving in Croatia (with Johnson and Johnson vaccine a single jab is enough).
  •  A certificate issued by a doctor confirming you have recovered from COVID not more than 180 days and not less than 11 days prior to arrival in Croatia.

Children under 7 don’t need a negative test if their parents have one of the above certificates. Quarantine or self-isolation is not required on arrival with only very limited exceptions. Currently travellers arriving from South Africa, Brazil, India and Zanzibar must comply with a 14 day period of self-isolation in the place where they are staying.
If you arrive in Croatia without one of the certificates listed above you can take a test on arrival and must then self-isolate until you get the results.

Other conditions for entry to Croatia

If you are travelling from outside the EU you must have an economic interest for wishing to come to Croatia. This includes having pre-booked holiday accommodation. Holiday accommodation includes hotels, villas and holiday homes, apartments, camp site pitches and charter yachts. You will need to be prepared to show documentation at the border that you have pre-booked accommodation. If you are travelling from within the EU you do not need to have pre-booked your accommodation. Only the COVID certificates listed above are required.

Enter Croatia Form

The Croatian authorities introduced (29/05/2020) an online form which can be completed with all your travel and accommodation details. You can complete this form in advance and submit it online. The data will be stored and matched with your passport details when you enter Croatia. This will speed your entry at the border.  The form can be found on this link: Enter Croatia form.  This takes you to a page where you can select the language in which you want to complete the form. You can select one of ten languages. These include English, German, French, Italian, Polish and Croatian.  After submitting the form you will receive an email acknowledgement. All travellers should complete this form.

Spicy Spanish Sausage Stew

Spicy Spanish Sausage Stew

I like nothing better than a one pot dish, into which I can just chuck everything and leave it to get on with cooking itself. Recipes like this one, also have the advantage of being easy on the washing up, as the stew is just turned out into big bowls. Perfect!

What You’ll Need :

  • Three or four large potatoes, cubed
  • Two quartered onions – for added sweetness, red are best
  • Sausages – for this particular stew, we used chorizo sausages, chopped into chunks. In the past I’ve used veggie sausages and these work as well, as the spices and seasonings do give the stew a kick
  • Mixed peppers – red, green & yellow for colour – cut up into large chunks
  • One can of butter beans
  • White wine
  • Vegetable stock (a mug full is enough)
  • Olive oil
  • Spicy paprika
  • Chilli flakes
  • Salt & pepper

What You’ll Need To Do :

  • Peel and cut the potatoes into cubes and put into an ovenproof dish with two onions, roughly quartered.
  • Cover with olive oil, chilli flakes, paprika and salt & pepper and mix together. Cook for about 30 mins, until the onions begin to char
  • Add the peppers and push the sausage chunks down into the mix. Add the veggie stock and enough white wine to cover everything
  • Cook for about an hour and then add the butter beans – these help to thicken the white wine juice – cooking for a further 10-15 minutes. by which time the top of the dish should be beginning to blacken & char

Served up on its own, it’s a pretty substantial meal, but crusty bread, rice and pasta are great accompaniments too. Get your bowl, a glass of wine and curl up in front of the TV – or, when the weather improves, get outside and do it al-fresco.

 

April in Istria

April in Istria

We’ve realised that there is little point in trying to predict the weather in April in Istria. This our fourth April here and previously, we’ve had fierce Bura winds coming down from Slovenia. Torrential rain. Soaring temperatures. And this year, just to be different, snow blizzards. Only one day of snow, but enough to put out the electricity on multiple occasions throughout the day and cover everything in a thick blanket of white. Including our beautiful hyacinths, which had been standing tall and proud.

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

The tallest of the hyacinths suffered the most, as the snow came so fast and thick we didn’t have time to do much apart from cover the bed with plastic sheeting – the weight of the snow crushed them and there wasn’t much chance of them recovering, so they were cut and the house now smells gorgeous. The other bulbs seem to be rallying, so we’re talking nicely to them every morning.

We knew the snow was forecast, as it has been a few times since the new year, but we thought it would be like it always – a few flurries and then nothing more. How wrong we were! Our day in photos…

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

The snow fell consistently for about seven hours, with strong winds whipping the snow flurries up against the house. Thankfully, after doing a bit of deforestation earlier in the year, we still had a lot of wood for burning and so the woodburner was cranked up. Candles also had to be lit as it was dark, and we didn’t know how long it would take until the electricity was back to normal. This was the kind of day we were wishing for in the depths of January, but not in April!

Then, as quickly as the snowy weather had arrived, it changed. The light changed and things suddenly seemed brighter in the garden.

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

The snow has all but gone now and we think that’s the excitement over for this year. However, April being April, we know there will still be some weather surprises. Rain is due over the weekend, and one thing we think we do know now, is that when rain is forecast in this spring month, it’s generally not just a shower. We will have torrential downpours over the course of a few days – it’s what we now know nature does to kick start the explosion of green that happens at this time of year. So, it might be a week or so yet before we’re sunbathing on the renovated loungers or eating al fresco, but this crazy weather is a sign that winter is over and summer is around the corner. Not long until this will be the view from the house…

house for sale in istria, property for sale in istria, renovated stone house for sale

Our (full time) home is for sale, as we have found another property, very nearby, to renovate. If you would like to find out more, we have a very comprehensive website, as well as a dedicated Twitter account and Facebook page. The renovation part of this blog also details our journey from the day we moved into the house. No white-washing, no little white lies and cover-ups – it’s all there as we believe that if you making a big purchase like a house, especially if abroad, you need ALL of the facts, not just the gloss. If you have any questions, or want any further information, I’d be happy to answer anything via email – helen@escapetoistria.com

 

 

Ca’n Llimona, Soller, Mallorca

Ca’n Llimona, Soller, Mallorca

This restaurant is probably known, and frequented by, all of our friends who’ve ever been to Sóller, but just in case you, like us, didn’t know about it, here’s the low-down on Ca’n Llimona.

Tucked away down a side street called Carrer de la Victoria, just off the main drag, Carrer de sa Lluna, it could be easy to miss. The frontage is pretty but it it’s quite a small frontage and so doesn’t really stand out, especially if you pass by when it’s closed. However, we were recommended that we eat here, by the hotel we were staying in – more about them in next blog – and so we decided to have dinner here. We stayed in Soller in mid-May so still quite early in the season, and the restaurant wasn’t busy but this gave us a much better chance to have a mooch and actually speak to Claudia, the owner and head chef. Her passion for what she does is palpable, as she explains the menu, the methods and the inspiration and design for the restaurant. Which, interiors-wise, is beautiful, with a real fusion feel of being in both Spain and Morocco.

Everything is mix & match, which when done well, is just lovely. Painted wooden chairs and tables, display crates, fresh lemons on tables, an apothecary cabinet to display the wines, Spanish tiles, candles, glass lanterns. Everything that I just love in one place.

When life gives you lemons, the place to go to is Ca’n Limona…

The menu is very small – home made pasta dishes and sauces only, and a small range of home made desserts. Do not let this put you off, as you will be missing out on an amazing gastronomic experience. The pasta is freshly made every day by Claudia, and she then cooks it and serves it. What a woman! When you make your choice, the uncooked pasta is presented to you on wooden trays, prior to cooking. A really nice touch, I think. We chose the spinach and ricotta ravioli with a rich tomato based sauce and the lemon tagliatelle with pesto and parmesan, both served with the juiciest, freshest tomato salad. Incredibly simple, but so well executed and the taste was out of this world…

The wine we chose was La Sastreria, a very Spanish palatable dry white – perfect with the pasta and with prettiest label I’ve seen…

All in all, an exceptional dining experience, which just goes to show you don’t need to be all fancy-pants. Sometimes, simple is best. Or, as we always say over at We Are Life Design, less is more

The First Sign Of Spring

The First Sign Of Spring

Without realising, until very recently that it’s actually become an annual tradition, there’s a default meal we always make when the first warm days and lighter evenings arrive. It goes back to when we lived in West Didsbury, in Manchester and those first few days of warm sunshine, after a long winter, usually meant we’d fling open the French doors, get out the garden furniture and eat outside, no matter how chilly it got later. And after a winter of carb loaded stews, soups, curries and although usually delicious, always quite heavy food, we always craved a salad. Not a summer one with delicate leaves and light dressing, as it generally wasn’t quite warm enough for that kind of salad. No, what we wanted was the kind that still was substantial enough to withstand a chill in the air, but be a cold dish, with salad ingredients. I think this started out as being made from what we had in the cupboards/fridge at the time, but it definitely wasn’t from a recipe I followed, so the ingredients do change.

Easter Monday 2021 was a lovely warm spring day and we had everything necessary to knock up our first Spring Salad of the year – with enough left over for a working lunch the next day. If you fancy giving it a try, here’s what was included :

  • New potatoes – cubed and boiled, then left to cool
  • Hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • Ripe, ready to eat avocado, chopped roughly
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Thinly sliced red onion (or sliced spring onions if you want a less intense flavour)
  • Pitted black olives
  • Tuna (I used a tin of smoked tuna, from the Greek range in Lidl) and/or chopped anchovies
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Olive oil and salt and pepper

There’s no fanciness to the way we do this salad – everything is piled into a big bowl, mixed and drizzled with olive oil. It’s very tasty on it’s own, and because it is actually quite a substantial salad, you don’t really need anything else to accompany it. It’s great as a very quick meal to make for friends and if bulked up with crusty bread or pittas and hummus, it’s a winner as it’s quick, easy and good on the washing up. It also looks very pretty as a centre piece because of the colours.

spring salad, istria

Oh, and the working lunch the next day? Yes, we did have plenty left over which had chilled over night in the fridge. Perfect to eat as an unexpected April snow blizzard raged outside…