Three Ladies who do more than Lunch at El Pirata, Mayfair:
One of the best things about blogging for me has been broadening my circle of real life friends. It’s something that was completely unexpected in my case, but I think it’s probably a key motivator for a lot of other bloggers. Sometimes you chat on twitter and share experiences, sometimes you just find blogs that you empathise with. Now, while very few bloggers would claim to be Jane Austin or Virginia Woolf, at least in my case, I have a fascination with finding out more about the face behind the blog. So for me at least, I really like meeting bloggers in the flesh.
When Karen from Lavender and Lovage said she would be in London and wanted to see the Hockney exhibition, I offered to take her. Friends membership means I can walk into most exhibitions with a guest and save the entrance fee for both of us. And, it was a great opportunity to have a bite to eat first too. El Pirata in Mayfair is an old favourite of mine. It’s a remarkably unpretentious and good value tapas bar where you might not get the Spanish Michelin treatment, but where, at least in my experience, the tapas are classics, beautifully flavoured and well presented. We were joined by Tracey McAlpine the founder of ‘fighting fifties’ – a fellow tweeter about to launch what sounds like a much needed online resource for women in their fifties
It’s popular – perhaps unsurprisingly with a set tapas lunch of bread, olives, two tapas and a glass of wine for around £10 – and has a lively buzz about it.
We started with a large plate of iberico ham. Now, I love this stuff. And, I’ve even had a go at carving it (very badly) on another occasion. But, I much prefer eating it.
We also had some rather lovely padron peppers, freshly blackened on the grill. I’d happily snack on these all day. And, bar the fact they are normally seasoned with a lot of salt, they are pretty healthy (I think!). Karen was being VERY focussed!
Chorizo al vino had meltingly tender chorizo in a thickish wine reduction.
Our patatas bravas came with a spicy tomato sauce.
Pollo al ajillo was splendidly garlicky – succulent chicken wings in oil and garlic to pick up with your fingers.
Habas con jamon was a fresh tasting dish of beans and ham.
And finally toasted bread with fresh tomatoes topped with more ham and some crispy morsels of deep fried fish.
This was not a meal for anyone with a dislike of pork or garlic!
Nothing was astonishingly ‘cheffie’, but, it was exactly what we wanted for lunch. Food that we could eat and enjoy while being sociable. There are times when it’s nice to have food that is faultless and classic, which doesn’t need taking apart and putting back together.
Thanks to Karen and Tracey for the company and conversation and to El Pirata for the meal… – they covered our bill, which was an unexpected treat!
5 Down Street