Alas, on the 20th December the Iberian pigs ran amok, broke through the fence into the lemon grove and barged their way into the greenhouse, ploughing through my carefully nurtured rocket, oakleaf lettuce, frilly Portuguese salads, escarole, mustard greens and chard. They knocked over my pots of seedlings and left a terrible mess.
Three days later I had settled the salads back into the ground, but now, almost a month later, they are only just beginning to recuperate, and emerge from a muddy sulk. The greenhouse door will never quite be the same. I have to confess it is not a proper greenhouse, only a metal frame with plastic stretched over the top....oh for something more beautiful!
The chief advantage of the escapade was that the pigs made their way into another part of the oak forest and stuffed themselves on acorns. Eccellent timing, as this is the very week they will meet with the grim reaper.
We have Fingal Ferguson, he of the Gubbeen Smokehouse, putting in a guest appearance, and Ted Berner and Ivan Whelan of Wildside Catering specialists in hog roasts (Here's a photo of some of the wild bunch). They will be helping and learning; making chorizo, salchichón, caña de lomo, black puddings, and preparing the hams for salting. We are being joined by food blogger and chef Joanna Bourke from Dublin, and her friend Cristina, who both completed the Ballymaloe course last autumn.
There'll be two days of hard work, and the usual feasting: day one, tomato stew (our bottled summer tomatoes, dried oregano from the forest, and offal /organ meats) served with country bread, and manchego cheese and oranges for after. On the second day we make a massive puchero the Spanish version of a pot-au-feu, if you will, which has many versions. Ours is made with chickpeas (garbanzos) and garlic, and belly fat, and spare ribs and espinazo, and turmeric and potatoes. Tim Clinch will be here to record everything on camera.
I hope to post pictures and will try to keep away from the gore for the more sensitive readers.