We were fortunate; on our trip there was an Anchovy Festival, the 21st I believe. In between scoffing down huge breakfasts and feasting on cured meats, cheeses, bread and salad for lunch, we found the time to waddle down there.
After purchasing a ticket costing a princely sum of 1 Euro, we joined the snaking queue. Several women were stationed at a central work table heaving with sliced baguettes. A quick rub of tomato, topped with L'Escala's plump and creamy anchovies - three on a plate with a glass of red plonk and we were sent on our way. We laughed with glee; this would be at least a fiver in London.
At the end of the holiday, including some supplies we brought back with us, we worked out that we'd spent £80 on anchovies alone between the three of us. It was well spent. Eaten smeared on bread, bashed up into salad dressings, or straight out of the jar itself, we never tired of them.
Another huge addiction was Padron peppers, especially as they were a third of the price of London's offerings. Fried in oil on a medium heat until charred and collapsing and then sprinkled generously with salt, they preceeded every lunchtime, sometimes with a glass (ok, it was a bottle) of sherry, other times with a beer.
Chiperones were marinaded and painstakingly skewered to go on the barbeque. A lemon squeezed over them lifted the flavour, and it was perfect crunchy, sometimes squidgy finger food.
We were big into our seafood, what with a fish shop just down the road from us. Sardines barbequed until crispy-skinned were eaten with our hands, tender flesh dressed with olive oil, thyme and lemon.
And then, just when the wine almost got the better of us and the room was starting to spin, we remembered the marinading ribs and slapped them on the hot coals. Just cooked, we ate them noisily and greedily. They were incredible; meaty, juicy, the punchy marinade shining through. There was none of this slow-cooked falling off the bone business - the flesh was bouncy, giving some resistance to being ripped off the bone.
1 meaty rack of ribs, cut into 3 sections
1 tbsp hot paprika
2 tbsp brown sugar
5 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
3 stalks of rosemary
A few stalks of thyme
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
In a pestle and mortar, throw in the salt and sugar. Add the garlic and grind into a paste, adding the onion, chopped finely, halfway through. Add the peppercorns and give it a good bashing.
In a large dish, add the oil, lime juice, ground coriander and cayenne pepper. Stir well. Add the garlic paste and then chop the rosemary and thyme finely and add. Slash the flesh of the ribs and get them in the dish, really working the marinade in with your hands. Leave for a few hours, preferably overnight.
Cook on hot white coals for 15 - 20 minutes each side, depending on the thickness - you want them just cooked so that they're juicy within and slightly charred outside.