Curing Pork Tenderloin

In Copenhagen the percentage of food we buy is less than a fifth of what we consume. Most of the food we enjoy is found in the bins of supermarkets. We have a form of bin etiquette that we adhere to, which mainly requires a bit of common sense.  I have never had any ill health from bin food, and actually, it is quite an experience to see how much food just one supermarket wastes, I am not going into the politics of this, but it presents a nice opportunity for spontaneity and culinary adventures.

Recently, we passed by the bins and as if manifested, we found an obscene amount of pork tenderloin, about 40kg. I say manifested because I am living on a ship and we are looking for traditional ways to preserve food for sailing voyages, we had just salted some cuts of pork and had had great success. Our intentions upon visiting bins had a keen focus on finding meat and vegetables that we could and can ferment, preserve or cure. This evening was a mega jackpot, aside from the meat we also found 5 ltr of organic olive oil, beers, smoked salmon, vegetables and fruits.

We spent the next day considering how we would organise our salting party. As usual you find some super technical stuff for recipes, but we chose to keep it simple (none of us having much experience) and go for a light salting with some herbs for one batch, where we would roll the tenderloin in the salt mix, massage it a bit and then tie it ready to hang. We spent some hours during the salting party, salting, and then it continued the next morning with a new recipe composed a spice mix, mainly paprika and red wine. The final recipe was to wash the remaining tenderloin with whisky and then coat with black pepper and hang.

Fortunately we had a space on the ship that was perfect for hanging the meat, and we kept opening the door to allow some air circulation, after two weeks, keeping a careful eye on the meat and checking to see if, and what fungus could be growing, only the white stuff presented itself thankfully (the white stuff is good and protects against other fungus)

After two weeks and the meat reducing in size by about a third and firming up nicely we could not resist any longer….the result was something special, a very empowering experience which I would recommend everyone should try, even better if they can get free meat. Now we have about 90 cured pork tenderloins which will last us for the year on the ship, and we can transport them as we sail, it is perfect.

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I am happy to answer any questions about the curing process.

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Nettle and Wild Garlic Pesto

I recently moved back to Copenhagen, having lived in Sicily for the winter where I had an abundance of fresh produce to eat, Copenhagen offers a different story: I now live primarily off food I have found  (or foraged) from the bins of supermarkets. After two weeks I started to miss something fresh. Whilst out running with Angus I spotted a fresh patch of nettles, so I picked a very large carrier bag of nettle tips and then Angus led me to a large patch of wild garlic…boom.

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Wash the nettles!

First step was to blanche the nettles (after washing them thoroughly) and then I started to blend them (after getting rid of most of the liquid). To aid the process I added some olive oil (that we brought from Sicily) once all the nettles were blended I chucked some wild garlic in to blend.

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Blanching

Following this, cheese from the bins was also added to the mix, with some salt.

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Lastly I toasted loads of sunflower seeds and added that to the mix, blending for a while but leaving some slightly intact, I enjoy a bit of a nutty texture. The pesto got spooned into jars and then olive oil poured on top to seal to preserve. The pesto is an outrageous green colour and has a delicious flavour, the wild garlic and nettles complement each other generously.

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Deep in the blender

I didn’t measure anything for this pesto, and I think it is hard to go wrong really, just watch for the consistency and try it on bread before finishing.

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Happy spring!

Chambéry to Sicily!

We made it. To Siciy at least. The trip passed by really fast, but we were busy all the time really, treating climbing like a full time job, yet without any of the labour. The last part of our trip turned caused us to produce constant noises of satisfaction and wonderment as we drove from Chambéry to Pelvoux through the Alps. The LDV graciously following the contours and sweeps of the roads through the alps, purring in appreciation of the views. We were fortunate to have clear weather and the mind to set off early to enjoy the drive from Chambéry. The Alps are awesome, in the true meaning of the word.  Our destination was Pelvoux, about 1,200 m high, not far from Briançon to stay with the lovely Dylan and Louise. We met them at a Mount Dauphin to get in a quick climb before the sun set. We jumped on a 40m 6b straight away.  The rock was conglomerate and really fun to climb on. Quickly following sunset the temperature plummets and hunger rockets. We drove jauntily home up to Pelvoux, picking up some carnard and escargot for din dins, cooked so kindly by our hosts. We were getting  a bit paranoid on the drive up to Pelvoux, we had the bikes on the top of the van and kept seeing high limit signs approaching, no problems thus far though!

The next morning we woke up and went up the Pelvoux valley; to go see the Glacier and the marvellous sights to behold. Angus went pretty psyched for the snow and ice. As we drove up to the glacier we passed relentless crags, multipitches, boulders and places for endless fun. What a place it is, Ailefriode was just a couple of minutes away. Outrageous. After being satisfactorily humbled by the views and mountains we went down to a granite crag and got on a really fun 7a+ which between us we finally managed to complete. Super nice rock to climb on, the friction of gritstone but with many more features and edges.

That evening we indulged ourselves in Dylans soup. We got up early and packed because the next evening we were taking the ferry from Genova. So we packed up and got onto a lovely south facing limestone crag. After the days climbing before, having climbed on four different rock types in 4 days and climbed several days in a row, the skin on our hands was somewhat lacking and we didn’t climb much, besides we wanted to scoot off to resume a leisurely stress free leg to Genova. We stopped in Briançon for a wander and found a really amazing bakery, probably one of the best of my life.  Breads galore. We carried on over the pass to Italy where we finally found snow, proper. The weather for the whole trip has been so good, sun everyday, it  has been remarkable and remarked upon. We arrived at the ferry in Genova with plenty of time, nice and relaxed. As we arrived at the ferry we could feel that we had entered another country and there was a definite change in approach and organisation, you basically had to guess what to do at the port in Genova. But that was fine, we are both versed in the ways of Italian style.

On the ferry we were fortunate to meet a very nice couple who’d been at a circus workshop in France for the summer, and we arranged to chare a cabin with them – nice one Chiara and Juan! The majority of the time on the boat was spent on deck with Angus, reading, because he really didn’t want to be in the section for dogs, so we hung out on the deck, it was super sunny and nice to be out anyways.  We arrived late in the evening in Palermo and parted to go directly to the crag at Valdesi – which is, as we found out also a hot spot for prostitute. We arrived to a very mild climate and the next day full sun, it must be over 20 degrees in the sun. Anyway, we were a bit ambitious climbing the next day because I still had non skin and Arthur certainly didn’t after he tried another 7a+ which was basically a nice climb except for something like a 7b boulder problem thrown in the middle.  After a couple of days at the crag there and Angus going nuts on the beach we met up with friends in the city (thanks to the lovely Barbara and her family for hosting us!!!). Arthur parted for Commiso to meet Raheela and I remained in Palermo.

It was a super trip down to Sicily and we have been slightly overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone we have encountered and had the fortune of staying with. The climbing has been amazing, and also a constant battering of emotions, confidence and feelings. We have also encountered a lot of young professionals also struggling to find work throughout France,  something that reflects the current employment situation in the UK.

Halt at Chambéry

Picking up from last post, we are leaving Lyon. Hard decision, we were so pampered there, Mama Jennifer and Papa Olivier were taking such good care of us, why did we have to leave their loving care? Obligations of a road trip, I suppose! Other lovely friends to visit, other crags and other rocks to crank on, and of course Sicily waiting for us!

And so we had to go, so we left. Onwards to Chambéry in the Savoie region, where my old friend (we met 15 years ago!) Taos was waiting for us.

As Taos was working until 18:30, we have a lot of time to kill, so we park the van and go into Chambéry town centre. First compulsory stop at a bakery, with beautiful breads galore, confirms our good feeling of the town. Delicious forest bread sampled and purchased. Next stop occurs as we walk passed the knife-filled vitrine of a shop. The shop is an outlet for the famous local knife maker Opinel. Luckily, they also sell books, and lo and behold, they’ve got the guidebook for the crags we want to climb. In the bag! We then met up with Taos in the evening, get to her place and go out for some beers and a little gig (lunar rock) in a bar with some of her friends. One of them, Jean-Michel, a climber, confirms Cessens’ quality climbing, psych goes up another notch.

Next day, we’re off to the crag. It’s a beautiful drive along the Bourget lake, nestled in between high mountains covered with crags. We get to the place where to park the van, up a steep mountain side (first mountain road test for the van passed), and off we go. The guide’s approach description is not exactly precise, so we find ourselves 150 meters below the crag down a super steep hill side. Angus is loving it, he’s running up and down, chasing squirrels, we’re mildly lost, sweating and we’re looking at a nice hard walk up a steep hill, and we still haven’t found the crag. Eventually, we get back up the hill, we find a crag with new bolts, it’s not in the guidebook, but we’re getting warmer! Another wander through the woods and imaginary paths (“is this a path? Are these wild boar tracks?”), and we finally find the crag! It’s now been well over 3 hours of search, it’s getting dark and cold. Luckily, we were expecting all this, so we hadn’t brought our gear, and we ready to go back home and to have a full day the next day. On the way home we go to Vertilac, the local climbing wall. Very nice place with a high lead wall, and we experience how different it is to climb routes indoors after 7 days outside on real rock.

Next day, we go for our first day of climbing on Alpine rock in Cessens!

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Cessens is a beautiful crag, no one there but us, Angus and serious limestone overlooking the lac du Bourget. The Climbing there is great, the rock has great friction but isn’t sharp, there are some loose bits for adrenaline rushes, and the bolts have great wide spacing, which spice things up too ! Still, we spend 3 days there, coming back every evening to Chambéry to hang  out with Taos, her partner, and one of their friends  Arnaud. We’re once again made to feel right at home and very warmly welcomed and cared for.

On our last day in Chambéry, we take our hosts and friends to another crag, Saint Léger, to give them a first experience of climbing on real rock!  Saint Léger’s a large rock outcrop of gneiss encased in a small valley, and it looks a lot like slate!

 

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The St Léger crag

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Arnaud on a bold crux (and Rob too)

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The crag supervisor ever watchful

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Taos trying a very hard route, strong show of determination there.

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Finally, as our ferry deadline looms closer and closer, we once again leave a lovely place, with old friends welcoming us into their homes and making us feel all fuzzy inside!

Arthur

Paris to Lyon

We decided to take our time down to Lyon and split the journey in two to visit Mr Benoit Sabo’ grandparents near to Montbard, we wanted to avoid the toll roads, so we took our sweat time and planned to see a bit of the French countryside, luck had it that day that there was an immense fog, so visibility was reduced to about 20 m most of the time…hoho. We arrived at Benoit’s grandparents for a slightly late lunch, prepared to kindly for us by his grandmother. It was a really nice place to stop off, his grandparents live in an old 16th century abbey, that was once huge but parts have fallen into degradation, a good portion of it is still in good condition and rather grand. The abbey had once hosted soldiers from Napoleonic times and there were drawings on the walls from them, pretty amazing. Lunch was amazing and we are completely grateful to Benoit and his grandparents for feeding us! We tried Epoisse, a local delicious cheese too. Mega.

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The Van at the abbey, full loaded, thanks again for the lunch!

After a walk around the village there we set off to Lyon where we arrived late about 10pm, that was ok because there rest of the Paris crew that were converging down on Paris were also arriving late. We were staying with the lovely Olivier and Jennifer in the centre of Lyon. In the evening we relaxed and drunk some good local beer and had a nice dinner together. The next day we took a trip to the local market, ate croissants and then took the crew climbing at a rather large, high indoor wall in Lyon. French climbing walls seem much better kitted out than the UK ones, not necessarily the routes but they all tend to have a sauna and a bar and serve good healthy food too. Pretty smart. That night we had Raclette together – awesome – pouring melted cheese on potatoes, it’s a bit of a winter tradition in France, but well nice and really heavy. Lyon is famed for food so it was important we indulge. After the Raclette we got the decks and vinyl out and dj’ed a mini party. The next day was subsequently a rather relaxed one, we did venture into the countryside nearby for a gentle hike.

The next four days we spent climbing at Crept, at the start of the Jura Mountains, near a little village of Montagnieu. Lots of the routes here were about 25-35 m long. Amazing, on limestone, some of it really nice rock and some a bit crumbly, so we wore helmets most of the time there…sensible. It took a couple of days getting used to the climbing there and getting into the swing of it, trying to understanding the grading, some 6a’s seriously spanked us. We had amazing weather the whole week; Friday was a bit of a wet day so we took a day off from Crept and went indoor bouldering. Then we spent the weekend at Crept again.

At Crept the guys at Hot Roc (http://hotroc.free.fr/topo.htm) had worked hard to bolt loads of routes, there must have been around 150 routes! We took Olivier with us the first day, he loved it, we loved it, Angus loved it. We returned to Lyon on the evening because it was close by and we wanted to indulge a bit in the local food and see a bit of the town. We went to a Bouchon one night for an outrageous meal. Really tasty. We happened upon a dub party in the city which was well nice, in a little bar/club and had ourselves a compulsory boogie.

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At the Bouchon

We had our first guest in the van too, Olivier came and stayed in the van with us at the crag on the weekend, after climbing on the Saturday we cruised down into Montagnieu to visit the local vinyard. The proprietor kindly let us in to try his wines. The wines were very nice, one of the grapes, Mondeuse, that they grow there is primitive version of the Syrah grape, that wine was pretty serious, but amazing, it made me sweat. We had some wine that evening and a delicious meal and read our books in the van until bed time. We had a leisurely morning and got on the crag nice and early still, Jennifer joined us in the afternoon and we got a lot of climbing done that day. Sunday evening we returned to Lyon and had a bit of a walk around day around Lyon on the Monday  with Jennifer. We had an amazing lunch, we bought a selection of cheeses, a good bottle of wine and a couple of delicious baguettes and went and lounged down by the river in the sun.

We finally departed Tuesday after staying in Lyon for 9 days! A lot longer than we expected to, I guess this was down to how welcomed we were by our hosts, thanks so much for looking after us Olivier and Jennifer, we really appreciate how welcome you made us!! The climbing was also amazing, along with the weather, the food and the fun. We climbed 7 out of the 9 days in Lyon – after having a pretty bad summer in Wales, regarding weather and outdoor climbing opportunities, it was amazing to have relentless good weather and to be outdoors on the crag all day, seeing the sunset every evening from the crag, the sun setting over the Rhone valley turning the limestone a warm pink before dipping behind the horizon. YEP!

What a great leg, on the Tuesday we set off to Chambéry!

The Journeying begins – North Wales to Paris

We left North Wales on the 7th of November to surprise friends in York for a birthday dinner. As a result we left all the packing to do on the 7th of November…and in a hungover state. We happened upon a rather nice drum and bass night the previous evening in Bangor…the proceeding day was spent packing and preparing everything, in the rain for added ease. With the help of Raheela and Handsome Mike, we succeeded…we emptied the caravan where we had been living, confined all our possessions to either the van or a bay in the barn…and said our farewells to N.Wales. We spent the evening with friends in York then headed to my family (Rob) in Sheffield to see family, work on the garden and the van get rid of some stuff and get some climbing done.

We arrived in Sheffield the following night shattered. We took the following day off, except for unloading the van into my brothers garage (thanks Will for helping us in the rain…) and getting on with some ceramics with Trudy, mymother ( www.trudyweir.co.uk). A very nice relaxing day, we did squeeze in a run with Angus through the woods too. The next couple of days were used working on the garden there, some pruning, tidying up etc, we built a bed using old poles that were lying around in the garden and a three bay compost system using timber that we had from pallets we had deconstructed and some pieces Clive had. We concreted in a couple of poles for a washing line too.

In the evenings we got a bit of climbing in at The Works. The mornings were early, taking Angus out for a morning run and then we cracked on with the van interior (another post will follow detailing the van interior and the work that went into it). We decided that it made more sense to get the van interior sorted so that the majority of the woodwork would be finished for travelling i.e storage and a kitchen. This took quite a bit of work and time, but was a fun challenge.

Once we had everything prepared in the van to a suitable level, we cut down on as many possessions as possible, getting into ruthless mode helps for such activities. As soon as you need to think of an item, that’s the cue to discard it.

Finally after a substantial delay and lots of work (thanks to Clive and Trudy for their patience and help!) we set off for Paris on the 21st of November, with everything surprisingly neatly packed in the van, we literally left for winter, it snowed that morning. We found we had built sufficient storage for everything we had…ideal!  To make things more interesting and throw a spanner in the works I (Rob) had drilled the last shelf into the interior the night before leaving…forgetting about cables etc (smart) for the exterior van lights, we had a bit of a fuse party following that…some cutting out of van lining and insulation tape later thrown in with some panic and frustration later the lights were back to normal…!

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We literally left for winter

Whilst we were in Sheffield we also decided to try get the radiator replaced because there was a leak in the old one, we figured it much more sensible and suitable to replace it now in the UK rather than struggle on the road finding someone with the right radiator. To our luck, a breaker in Doncaster (http://stores.ebay.co.uk/compassrecyclingltd ) had a couple of LDV convoys there breaking, we called up and they had a radiator for us. Over we went to get it; we decided to treat ourselves to the luxury of getting it put in there and then. To our luck, Richard had a diesel heater from one of the vans…jackpot, we snapped it up and its with us now, ready for us to install when we have the time and have done a bit of reading about how to install it. It will add a great amount of welcomed warmth to the van.

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The van, arrived in Paris with Joel (Arthurs Papa making an inspection)

In Paris we met Arthurs family for his nephews 1st birthday and met up with friends.  We took a trip out to fontainbleu yesterday (23rd of Nov) for a spot of bouldering and our first night camping in the van! To ensure it was a serious test we waited until it was 0°C for our first sleep.  Angus loved fontainbleu, the sandy soil around the boulders was perfect for one of his favourite past times…digging, I think a couple of the boulders may have different starts following his efforts. Good to mix it up. We got a spot of bouldering done; Font is hard the first day, still a beautiful place to be and incredible bouldering. The evening was wonderful; we had a great dinner in the van, read our books for a couple of hours and enjoyed the relative warmth the insulation had to offer! A joy, the bed was easy to set up and fun to get into, it was warmer than I remember the caravan being. I had problems sleeping because I had a serious crick neck, Arthur slept like a baby and Angus was wrapped up warm in a blanket snoozing well after a serious days digging. We headed back to Paris the next day after to a trip to a serious hardware shop to pick up some more items for van modification ready for our next leg down to Lyon.