Thursday, 23 January 2014

Dolce Vita, Benalmádena - Review

[Image description the view of Parque de la Paloma from the outside seating at Dolce Vita]

I have just written a fresh review for Tripadvisor of the café-bar Dolce Vita in Benalmádena under the title “New Hands, Just As Fab”. Here’s the text:

It has been a couple of years since last I was at Dolce Vita. It is now in the hands of the capable and affable Elena and Ángel, both of whom will give you a big smile with your beverage &/or food. They will also pass the time of day and have a laugh if you have the time to pause and soak in the Spanish tranquility. Coffees can be made to one's taste and sandwiches are made fresh to order. Try the English breakie (breakfast) with perfect fried eggs - soft yolks in which to dunk one's toast! There is wifi too, a boon to those of us far from home. And a bookcase stacked with tomes to browse. Oh, and some exceedingly clean loos for the fastidious.

The link will also lead one to my original review, “Eat, Drink, Befriend Well”, if one scrolls down.

If on one's travels, one finds oneself in Benalmádena, why not pop into Dolce Vita - you are certain of a warm welcome! %D

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Anglo-Swedish-German Entente Cordiale

A couple of evenings ago I was viewing "Inspector Barnaby", the German-language version of "Midsommer Murders". Last night I watched "Potiche" (Trophy Wife) with the stunning Catherine Deneuve and comedic Gérard Depardieu in French.

Yesterday afternoon I had a really interesting conversation in German and English on the merits of sport and travel as means of progressing mutual understanding between different nations and indeed regions within individual countries. My German-Swedish neighbours are returning home tomorrow. I shall miss our conversations across our respective balconies. Mind I did once meet them in the flesh as it were. On Sunday gone, we, along with much of the local and tourist population, were taking a long and leisurely stroll along the esplanade, the paseo marítimo, in the glorious sunshine and comparative warmth, when my companion and I encountered them not far from bar Maracas and near the castillo Bil-Bil. So close-up our neighbours were just as affable. How odd though to conduct conversations in four languages - English, Spanish, Swedish and German. And that was just the four of us! 

Virtually everyone one meets in Spain, or for that matter anywhere in Continental Europe, is a polyglot. It re-inforces how useful languages are and the ignominy that, as a nation, we Brits on the whole fail to live up to the mark of our European counterparts.

[Image description: Rosetta Stone courtesy Wikipedia]

Learning languages, like playing sport and travelling, helps to break down barriers, in that one comes to appreciate other cultures, other literatures, other politics and other ways of thinking and behaving. Communication is good for business and economies; it is good from a socio-cultural perspective; it is also good for peace.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


Over the past few years when hosting a party I have invariably ordered in sushi from Waitrose Entertaining, excepting one occasion when a guest promised and indeed brought along a tray from Costco which was just as delicious.

Initially I was surprised at Brits chowing down on Nipponese cuisine, but every single occasion the sushi platter has been wiped clean. There has been in England's cities an inexorable rise in Japanese eateries, be it sushi restaurants or noodle bars. (Whilst I am a big fan of Italian pasta, I adore all kinds of Japanese-style noodles - easy to cook and served with a quick broth or just soy sauce.)

The English do not generally like their food raw - it is only in the past few years I discovered I may have my steak bleu or blue which is rarer than rare and absolutely delicious! So what has turned residents of a fishing nation to raw fish and seafood? Perhaps the multitude of cookery programmes (programs) on the television has alerted and educated folk to be more adventurous. Perhaps as British cuisine has ameliorated the more we travel and discover that foodstuffs can be cooked differently and taste so much better, and so our collective palate has altered.

What I do know is that sushi is a perfect finger-food. It can be eaten unadorned in one gulp or garnished with ginger or dipped in sauce or sprinkled with wasabi. Quite simply it can be adapted to a plethora of tastes and thus folk. Of the host, it requires little more than opening and placing on the table. Thus the need to constantly return to the oven to check on those adorable little canapés that burn the instant one turns one's back, interrupting conversations with one's guests, is completely avoided. It reduces stress for the host - a good thing at any party!

Having just given a party large enough to require more than three kilos of sushi (I estimate approximately 100g per guest - some pick, some gorge), I thought I would try to determine which of my regular orders is most popular.

Taiko Traditional Sushi Platter 1.2kg cost £26.00, £2.17/100g
courtesy & © Waitrose

Taiko Sushi Canapé Platter 1kg cost £26.00, £2.60/100g
courtesy & © Waitrose
Taiko Vegetarian Sushi Platter 760g cost £16.00, £2.11/100g
courtesy & © Waitrose

I thought for ease of reference I should place them in the order in which they were devoured - well except the veggie one, the remnants of which were taken away by a couple of guests for their brunch! I consider the second platter the most impressive visually, but oddly enough folk left the edamame beans. However, once a Hong Kong guest demonstrated, I was more than happy to nosh on them. I also got to sample the Arctic [surf] clam (Hokkigai) Nigiri for the first time ever: a tad chewy but delicious!

To my mind - and only sampled on my guests of course - the Taiko Traditional Sushi Platter offered the best value for money, especially given it was the most popular. The veggie option proved to be less popular… But don't take my word, try them out for yourselves! %PPP

Sunday, 5 January 2014

little flower-stalk

little flower-stalk

in blue jeans
faded brushed-cotton shirt
once patterned, now grey
crouching in front of electronic gadgetry
on slightly soiled plimsolls
deep brown orbs, passionate
intensely concentrate
listening through state-of-the-art headphones
pressing down silver-streaked, melanic hair
he strokes his hand across heavy growth
beginnings of a Bohemian beard
he speaks in soothing dulcet tones

no formal theology
pursuing spontaneous
Paul's purist ideology
compels him to spend hours
weeks at a time
seeking new sounds
having developed an encyclopædic
knowledge of these and their respective cryptic
on one of several CD's
he can select a sound
from his available palette
no need to search for one to fit a concept
simply tweak for modulation

bringing up the sampler
on the computer
a red wave expands
like some seminal oscillator
finding the exact break-lines
separating individual sounds
up to ninety-nine times
the sample is fed
through a filter
then looped
a new sound created
not as sophisticated
as the board
till perfectly honed

a click of the mouse
and on the computer screen
a virtual Roland/808/909
recreating Acid House
the early rave scene
from back in time

a toilet-break beckons
Paul opens
his sound library
to me
where time is mensurable
in fractions
of seconds
I pluck sounds
from the screen
particularly enjoying
thirteen and fourteen
there are spooky notes

Paul had me listen to tracks
a few of his rare grooves
taken from stacks
of vinyl
rather than compact disk
revolving on the turn-table
at forty-five r.p.m.
on the valued record-player
sounds reminiscent
of 1970's Jean-Michel Jarre
ethereal synthesizers
ecclesiastical organs
journeying to some destination
I do not know
pulling me with them
voyaging with the flow
continuing my induction
an affective impressionism
snatches of Techno
Drum & Bass
and Jazz
space age
meets aboriginal
in elicited syncretism

in a computer concerto
checking for
spiritual harmony
the expansion
of musicality
musical form
and technical ability
breath-taking creation
of new worlds
through originality
and perfection
the perpetual leitmotive
in the Paulo-post-future
a hemlock or Valerian potion
the suicidal motif
will end
with a fatal coda
Paul's ultimate
Neurotic Symphony
the sublime acme
of contemporary
musical techno-creativity

[Image description: Roland TR-808, courtesy Wikipedia]

A musician friend permitted me to watch him at the creative slog in order that I might write about it. It is my hope that this poem illuminates some of what goes into creating the recorded sounds we all often take so for granted.