Saturday, 24 September 2016

La Despensa Del Mar Restaurant, Benalmádena: a Review

Meeting up with Spanish chums in the commercial district of Benalmádena, called Arroyo de la Miel, we needed a restaurant that could cater for a large electric wheelchair. Despensa was perfect. A waiter willingly re-arranged furniture so that the wheelchair could fit at table.
La Despensa del Mar literally translates as the pantry of the sea, an appropriate nomenclature for an eatery specialising in fish and seafood, but as it is attached to a sister restaurant meat-eaters are permitted to select from its menu too.

Between six of us we shared: two house salads; mixed, deep-fried fish & seafood (top image below); lamb meatballs (bottom image); stewed lamb; cheese; and jamón. Almost everything was consumed, but what was not eaten was left only due to each & everyone of us feeling totally stuffed.
Various drinks were consumed, but I personally heartily recommend the draft beer, una caña, which was malt-flavoured and refreshing, served ice-cold.

We did not have dessert as one of the party was celebrating a birthday. We took along our own cake which the staff were happy to bring out after our repast.

Staff were friendly, polite and efficient; well, until it came to paying the bill - apparently, a common issue across Spain!

We all shall be returning.

Okami, a Japanese's Japanese Restaurant: a Review

Anyone who has eaten Japanese cuisine in the UK knows how expensive it can be. Okami, situated very close to the cathedral in Málaga city, serves up excellent value for money dishes. As we were not paying such high prices, we felt comfortable trying dishes unknown to ourselves.

 [Image descriptions: top, the external façade; bottom left, from our table looking towards the restaurant window; bottom right, our table looking towards the prep area]

This restaurant was established and is owned by a genuine Japanese. The dishes are completely authentic, other than where they specifically state in the menu that they are fusion - such as hamburgers Japanese style.

[Image description: our waitress & chef in the prep area]

Anyone who has followed my reviews over the years probably knows that I love my fish. (The only fish I refuse to eat - having tried it once - is pike!) Having sampled quite a lot of deep-fried fish and fish cooked a la plancha (grilled or braised) over the past week in Málaga, I was ready to experience raw fish. I selected chirashi [big bowl - for those who like large portions] (sashimi [thin-sliced, raw meat or fish] e ikura [salmon roe] con arroz sushi [rice]) - see the image below. I had not realised, but due to lunching on a weekday, I was given a bowl of miso soup and a bowl of edaname beans as a surprise. I shared the latter amongst my dining companions. The soup contained small pieces of tofu and seaweed and was the best Miso I personally have ever consumed. The beans were perfectly cooked and sweet to taste. My main came with wasabi, sweet-pickled ginger slices and soy-sauce. I demolished the lot as it was absolutely delicious. At €16 for two courses I am not complaining one iota: real value for money for such high-quality cuisine.

Other dishes selected by my chums included: fideos yakisoba con ibérico - slightly spicy noodles with Iberian ham & vegetables; and a mixed sushi platter (bottom image below). My carer found his large noodle-dish to be very satisfying and filling. My other two companions took their time, but did manage to finish off their shared platter after a starter of tuna tartare with avocado (top image below).

A mixed plate of desserts were not to my taste as they were too sweet, but for those with a sweet-tooth (i.e. the other three) something different to sample.

The total bill for four adults with drinks came to €81.70. Shared out that works out at a very reasonable price to pay for a substantial luncheon. 

Okami is wheelchair accessible and one of my companions was able to use the WC without difficulties.

I can hardly wait to return! %PPP


Friday, 23 September 2016

UNCRPD Survey for DRUK


Disability Rights UK are running aseries of meetings around the countries to obtain feed-back from people with disabilities and their carers about the issues that concern us in order to feed into the United Nations's review of the application here of UNCRPD (which we ratified in June 2009).


Naturally many if not most of us cannot attend these sessions, so DRUK (logo below) have set up a two page survey: the first page is contact details; the second the issues each of us considers to be important. The answers here can be as short or as long as you require.



I have detailed my responses below, as this might prompt your own responses.



What are the priority issues that you believe should be included in our report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?

i) financial support issues, especially removal of benefits from those with disabilities;
ii) accessibility issues (transport, buildings, websites, new products);
iii) onerous re-assessments (WCA/ESA/PIP) for those who are not going to ameliorate (based on dogma, not efficiency savings);
iv) excessive bureaucracy - need one system that can be used by NHS, social services & DWP;
v) countering anti-disability rhetoric & polemic - law to prevent MSM & politicos from inciting hatred; law to ensure balance of views on MSM, so that free speech is protected but not to the detriment of disabled & other minority groupings; jurisprudence system must take issues seriously & rigourously use appropriate laws for prosecustions & sentencing;
vi) independent ODI at arms-length from Govt., but given appropriate powers and funding to investigate disability issues both for the individuals concerned & whole of society;
vii) separation of disability issues from EHRC and re-establishment of a truly independent DRC (if indy ODI not poss), as the former has failed (as predicted) to rigorously pursue disability issues, but given appropriate powers and funding to investigate disability issues both for the individuals concerned & whole of society.

Only since approximately 2010 have I felt fearful of my own government & fellow countrymen. I used to regularly go out & about in my mobility-scooter, but after the co-alition govt. took power the politicos & MSM launched frequent attacks against disabled folk, with much press being given to "scroungers" and defrauders. I stopped going out in my scooter and sold it last year, as I received abuse every time I went out, from students at the local college and from traffic passing me on the main road. I am now on anti-anxiety medication. Strangers now (contrary to previous British reservedness) approach one and believe it their right to question one about one's condition, disabilities and right to receive social security payments.

i) Plenty of examples of hardship and even death due to DWP's sanctions régime have appeared in press, websites and via activist groups.
ii) The DDA was introduced in 1995, but still inaccessible buildings, road-crossings, & other structures are built. Local Authorities ought to be obliged to factor in access issues at the planning-approval stage, rather than the onus being on disabled folk to sue once a structure has been constructed.
iii) I have severe ME as defined by NICE and my NHS consultant. There is NO scientific evidence that folk in said category ameliorate. Yet DWP still re-assesses periodically. This is detrimental to my & many others' health, as stress pejorates our illness. The assessment régime is thus making us worse. This also wastes public money. There is already a clause that every benefit-recipient has to sign confirming that we will notify DWP of any amelioration/pejoration. A sytem based on trust would be much more cost-effective. Therefore one has to conclude that the system is deliberately antagonistic for dogmatic reasons.
iv) Forms have to be completed for every single agency, much of the information requested is the same. So the booklets (c. 40 pages so not mere forms) for ESA and PIP have much overlap; as do the ones for social services; then the care agencies want the same info again. I imagine that much of this info would also be useful for the NHS - reducing bed-blocking, ensuring continuity of care, etc.
v) There was some research done into bias in MSM - sure you know of it. However some mainstream TV channels still produce voyeuristic programming into the lives of folk dependent on social security.
There has been some evidence that the CPS and the courts are failing to use current laws, although the former recently announced an increase in the past year of prosecutions. Judges appear unwilling to use the law that permits extra sentencing where a disability hate aspect occurred.
vi) The ODI is a vassal of the DWP. I have covered on my own blog the annual failure of this department to support UN Enable's "International Day of Persons with Disabilities" and the pertinent issues raised each year ( ; ;
vii) The EHRC published a list of questions it wanted answered by the Govt. in 2014, nearly five-and-a-half years after UNCRPD was ratified by UK - in the meantime disabled folk were starving, commiting suicide and dying due to UK govt. policies ( I feel certain a dedicated DRC would have acted much faster seeing the toll of suffering my fellow disablies were experiencing.




Please do respond if you are able, as the more of us that do so, the better DRUK's response to the UN. Cheers!

Friday, 16 September 2016

El Mentidero Restaurant: A Review

I am a huge fish & seafood fan: if I could, I should eat it every day. So staying in Málaga, a port city, I am naturally going to take advantage at every possible opportunity to sample the harvest from the sea.

[Image descriptions: frontage & signage]

On our first night in Málaga I persuaded my companion to dine at a fish restaurant because the menu stated that they also served "carne" - meat dishes. It was the espetos de sardinas grilling on an open barbecue in the window that drew my attention. And luckily there was just one vacant table waiting to be occupied. I did not give my friend any leeway, I sat myself down as rapidly as my arthritic body would let me!

[Image description: espeto de sardinas]

The espeto turned out to be the most disappointing aspect of our dining experience: not bad, not good; just so-so. However the rest of what transpired to be a veritable feast was fabulous.

[Image description: atún con manteca]

The highlight for both my carer & myself - and a dish we intend to return for before we return to England - is the atún con manteca or tuna with pork dripping. Tuna in Spain is not what we in the UK are used to: it comes in all sorts of varieties, cuts and styles. This dish was a thin steak of slightly dried tuna. Served with cold, toasted bread slices the combination might sound incongruous, but oh the flavour and texture in the mouth…! All that remained was one slice of unwanted toast.

[Image description: empty plate]

My chum is a fiend for home-made Spanish croquetas or croquettes. At Mentidero their speciality is a creamy cod & cheese delicacy. Friend demolished them all. And he heartily recommends.

[Image description: rosada a la plancha with salad - half the fish consumed!]

I opted for rosada a la plancha or grilled/braised kingklip. This is a very common fish dish in Andalusia. However, in fourteen years of visiting this was the best I had ever consumed - totally, except for a tiny mouthful I permitted my pal! The flesh is thick, flaky, succulent and very tasty.

[Image description: bread basket]

A bread basket accompanied the meal - the Spanish seem to eat bread with everything. Often such bread is dry and tasteless. We, however, were treated to the lightest of light corn-breads, which was slightly sweet with a cake-like texture. Surprisingly it went really well with all our dishes.

The house dry white wine had a slightly citric flavour that balanced well with the seafood.

We anticipate returning to El Mentidero very soon… Oh, yum!

Amigos Restaurant, Málaga: A Review

It being my friend's birthday, our choice of dinner eatery was his decision. He opted for Amigos, an Indian & Mexican (!) offering. When we turned up just after nine and a table for two had been saved outside on the terrace. We were quickly given menus and just about had time to select a bottle of delicious Cava when the waitress returned for our drinks order.

 [Image description: external signage]

We scoured the extensive menu. My chum was salivating at the thought of his lamb Madras and I also at my lamb Korma. Unfortunately it was not to be, for me at least. Prior to choosing Amigos we had been advised that everything could be made without garlic, to which I am seriously allergic. However, the waitress returned to advise that all the lamb had been marinated in garlic. Yikes! She suggested a beef fajita. A tad disappointed at not getting to have curry, I settled for the suggestion. Alas, not for long. Next up, the manager was next to the table advising that all the beef had also been marinated in garlic. He then apprised that the sole dish I could have at the restaurant was a rib-eye steak.

(To be honest, I sometimes experience similar issues with Indian restaurants in England. However, I have found wonderful eateries that cook everything from scratch, where a garlic-free curry is no issue whatsoever.)

The birthday-boy wolfed down his aromatic dish. He passed on that the pillau rice was one of the lightest he had ever had. A Sikh chap & his wife to one side of us and a Norwegian couple on the other also cleaned their respective plates. Empty plates are surely the highest compliment one can pay to a chef!

[Image description: steak & chips]

My steak was full of flavour and surprisingly for rib-eye lacking in gristle or excess fat. The outer reaches of the flesh were succulent as well, but the centre of the steak - whilst still delicious - had a rather dry texture.

 [Image description: empty plates]

Service throughout our dining experience was fast, efficient and very professional. The slowest part was waiting for the portable card-reader in order to pay.

My companion would return in a trice. I of course, due to my food allergy, would prefer to go elsewhere.