Happy new year

Traditionally it’s downtime At Maria’s during January – everyone catching their breath after December’s hectic round of Fiesta Evenings, Wine Tasting, catering for Christmas parties, preparing hampers…but like everyone and everything else, this January is very different.

M: “At least we had a little wine tasting! It was a lovely, lovely evening – not so many people, but we had a really, totally, lovely evening. The best we could make it, no?”

H: “Yep, we certainly did.” There was nothing little about the evening, six courses, six wines and two sherries to taste! “I loved it, can’t believe you converted me to smoked salmon!”

M: “Ha Ha ha. You are very strange, no liking fish!.”

H: “That, I am Maria!”

M: “This time last year I was back in Alberique, the sun was shining, you were on the plane… I think you bought the storm with you. Oh the snow, you remember? I did not believe it, we woke up in Vallada and it had snowed! And the rain, when we went up to the mountains? We have never see anything like that! Not in ten years!

“It was so cold. Like here today, it is so cold!”

H: “It’s freezing! We’ll be putting brandy in our coffee, if it gets much colder, just like your nephew did when we went to his bar to get out of that rain!”

M: “Ha ha! Yes Brandy with everything! That is the Spanish way! Coffee and brandy, even if they aren’t drinkers! They have a little Carajillo. Cara-ji-llo, it is coffee but you put a brandy in, with sugar, OK, and then you put hot coffee, see, and that is a Carajillo.

H: “Don’t forget to set fire to it too!”

M “Yes of course, the fire, never forget the fire! Ha ha ha.

“I remember, many years back, when Paul and I were in Vallada. We lived in a flat with our three children and we have a lovely, lovely set of friends – life was good – it was the high society of Vallada!

Our friends all had successful husbands and wives that did not work – they were the first lot of Ladies that lunch!

Most of them had a second house in the country – up in the mountains. On Sundays, especially in the winter, we all met at one of these houses. We made a fire outside and when it had died down, we made a big, big meal for everyone, sometimes a paella, but mostly we just barbequed meat – like the cowboys!

On this Sunday, I remember they said “Maria, you make the coffee!” So I was making the coffee, as you make it, in a big pot for everyone. I put in half a bottle of brandy and sugar and then the coffee, of course. One of the husbands who was helping me started laughing, and said “Yeah just put in a lot of sugar!”

You see, the wives, they never drink – I don’t think it was the thing to drink then. Normally, at the weekends after lunch, we went for a walk and met our friends and finished up at a bar. We might have a tapas there, but the ladies, the wives, only had a Coca-Cola or orange juice, never wine, although the husbands did! Sometimes we stayed in the bar quite late, maybe eight, nine o’clock. Then someone would shout:

“Oh! what shall we do for dinner?”

We all rushed to collect our children and grab something from our fridges and then met back at one of the houses to make a big meal from all the different ingredients!

Anyway – the barbeque, so, I go out to the fire with the pot of coffee, I give everyone a cup and it was hilarious! Oops! Because these wives, they never drink! Oh my, I forgot! But we did have a lovely lovely, lovely, time though. And it was a different kind of life to the one we have here. But still... beautiful.

Stay well. Stay safe. Stay tucked up inside! Speak soon. M

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On Saturday the 5th At Maria's were due to celebrate with a wine tasting evening. Working with the current Welsh covid guidelines, tables were organised into tables for four, the wine delivery arrived, menus decided, then...

All change in Wales.

But nothing beats our Maria! After a flurry of phone calls the evening's re-organised to a Thursday, let the prep begin!

Maria explained the menu: "We will be tasting wine, yes, then we will have pintxos with each wine.

(Pintxos: Small bar snack usually on bread. But you know Maria...)

We were treated to a Banquet!

A dry white sherry to start with almonds and olives and two types of Vermut.

Onto the whites – three of them, each served with a different 'course', this was certainly not bar snacks! We tried smoked salmon, anchovies, tortillas. The different pairings of food and wine were delicious: wines I would usually find too dry, too sharp, when paired with salty anchovies, tomatoes and garlic became the perfect combo.

Three different reds followed accompanying chorizo dishes, stuffed pork and mushrooms. My personal favourite, not that I can claim to be any kind of expert, was a dark, heavy red – Quinta del'67, perfect with stuffed pork.

M: It will be totally amazing with turkey, I tell you."

Amazing evening team. Amazing food. Amazing wine. Amazing amount of Christmas shopping completed!

All the wines tasted on the evening are available to order for take away either by the bottle or cases of six bottle.

Absolutely fantastic evening! Delicious food, amazing wines in a wonderful Covid safe environment. Thank you all xx


Ideal gift if you can't choose which wine, or which course!

With things getting a bit hectic as we head towards Christmas, why not take the pressure off and treat yourselves to a Friday or Saturday night takeaway. Each week At Maria's produce a new menu which you can collect and enjoy with your feet up at home. Why not try the chicken Romesco, Which next week we're going to show you a quick version recipe.


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This time last year we were planning book launches, Christmas food festivals, wine tasting evenings, the restaurant was fully booked right through until January, life, to be honest was hectic. And now here we are creeping towards the end of this year and it’s all a bit, well…la basura…a bit rubbish!

It’s very quiet when I arrive at the restaurant, Maria and Vanessa are in socially distanced huddle, their voices muffled by their face masks.

“Morning!” I call and I think they shout Morning! Back. We try discussing the menu that Maria is creating for a client but we can’t hear each other. We move to the long table Marai in the middle Vanessa and I at either end and ditch the masks.

“That is better! Now we can speak! Ok, Wine tasting. We have an evening, 5th December. We have only tables of four. We bring wine to each table to try and we serve pintxos.”

“Pin what?”

Pintxos. It comes from the Basque region. Little bits of food, maybe cheese, jamon, fish on top of a small slice or bread. Then you hold in place with a cocktail stick. You can see the difference between tapa and pintxos – tapa is a small dish of food, paella or patatas bravas and pintxos are served on a small bread base with a cocktail stick spearing something like jamón, cheese, mushrooms or chorizo! Simple!”

“So, you will come?”


And if you want to join us here's the details...

Copies of Tapas At Maria's will be available at the beginning of December.

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