We had a pretty usual New Year’s Eve for us. Or at least it’s been usual for the past few years!
When we lived in the UK, we used to either go to dinner, or go to a friends, or (before the ‘lock-in’/cover charges came in) we would do a bit of a pub crawl. I used to like that – a beer in one place, move on to a beer in another. Nothing too frantic, talk to some friends, not too expensive. That all changed with the advent of the “lock-in”, where ostensibly to combat drunken marauders in town centres, pubs would only let people in until 9pm or so, then they would not let any more in. They also started charging cover charges about this time. That meant that the cost of the evening went way up, and once you were in a pub, you were stuck there unless you left to go home.
I understand to some extent the reason for this, but quite frankly, most of us just want to follow traditions and have a nice time, not terrorise the towns. (I wonder if there are any fewer ‘drunken marauders’ under the new rules?)
Anyway, back to last night. As usual, our great friend Manuel invited us to his family dinner. It’s a big family night in Spain, where all the family and extended family gathers to break bread, watch the “New Year countdown” shows, and chat. There is not much drink involved, just loads of food and chat. It is lovely, and we feel tremendously privileged to be invited.
We saw Brigida in the morning, and asked when we should arrive. “Anytime,” she said, “8, 9 o’clock, later, it’s up to you”. So we all agreed that Kenton and I would turn up around 10, as the food would generally not be served until 10:30 or later.
For us, the day was pretty well organised. We made our dishes in the afternoon (mushroom toasts and curried prawn tartlets). We always make something to take along, although our “foreign fare” is viewed with much suspicion! By 9:30, I had showered, and was sitting in front of the fire, drying my hair and reading.
Then The Call came. It was Brigida. “Ana, where are you, we are waiting?!” says she. Oh. My. God. We didn’t know what had changed since morning, but somehow we were already late! Both of us went immediately to panic stations to finish getting ready, and we were at Manuel’s house within 20 minutes. Whew!
We apologised, of course, but no matter, all was forgiven. The evening was lovely, friendly, and low key, just what one wants from a New Year’s Eve.
Fry together in butter/olive oil a mix of 70% finely chopped mushroom, 20% finely chopped onion, and 10% finely chopped garlic.
When soft, add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and about 1 oz of Malaga wine. Cook until fairly thick, then finish off with a couple of tablespoons of whipping cream and blend.
Fry small slices of baguette in olive oil until crisp on both sides. Top with the hot mushroom mix, sprinkle with fresh parsley or sweet paprika and serve.