The Coffee Fairy’s adventures in Nicaragua – Chapter 1

September 27th, 2010

The Coffee Fairy goes traveling and guides a group of people through magic Nicaragua.

Follow her adventures…

Chapter ONE

Are you being served…….properly?

I have spent the last 3 months dividing my time between worrying myself sick and being stupidly excited about taking three paying customers into the wilds of a remote cloud forest in northern Nicaragua. I was sure they would have a great time, I was pretty sure I could do everything I promised, but seriously, shouldn’t I know better than to actually take their money until they had come back with smiles on their faces?

Nope, I´m afraid not, there were tickets, hotels and taxis that needed to be paid for and booked in advance and I had to know they were serious about this trip, but deep down I strongly suspected that they would eventually come to their senses and back out.

In the months leading up to our departure I did a great impersonation of someone who was totally in control. Of course I was capable of of organising an amazing volunteering experience in a third world country with an itinerary that included surfing down volcanoes and a midnight expedition to watch turtles laying and hatching their eggs on a beach as well as a trip to a stunning volcanic crater lake.

Inside I was terrified, what if they didn’t like it? Wanted their money back? Wanted to come home? What if we didn’t get on?All questions that were causing me sleepless nights and worry. Not to mention the rainy season…. Nicaragua, it seemed, was experiencing it’s heaviest rainy season for five years.

Triffic.

Arriving in Nicaragua is an experience in itself, when you are so tired that you could sleep on your feet the painstakingly slow process through passport control is enough to send you over the edge. However Tom, Sarah and Antony were all surprisingly good natured and seemed to be taking it all in their stride. Not even ‘losing’ the taxi drivers when we arrived seem to phase them, it took me about 20 minutes to find our drivers in an airport area the size of a small playground…….well, it was quite dark. Then, I felt that the journey to the hotel really should have broken them, one taxi hit a massive pothole and blew a large wheezy puncture which needed to be changed in virtual darkness by the roadside. While the other taxi, driven by a distracted driver, constantly on his mobile pone, nearly upended on a curve. But these near misses were simply greeted with a great sense of humour and requests for beer once we arrived at the hotel.

Brilliant, my kind of people.

Two and a half days later and having enjoyed blue skies and temperatures of 30 degrees, an introduction to the positives and negatives of Central American cooking and the delights of Nicaraguan rum, we set off for the north. The real work on the school needed to start soon and I had to see my coffee farmers to discuss the new harvest of coffee, this wasn’t Club Med, we had work to do.

Quite what work we had to do remained to be seen, but I kept that bit quiet, I’d figure something out once we arrived in Miraflor, but first we had to get to Esteli.

Nothing has ever been particularly straightforward in Nicaragua, it’s what I love and detest about the place in almost equal measure, which is fine when I’m dealing with it on my own. The pressure increases somewhat when you have three expectant faces looking to you for the answers, you know when rum is not the answer and the Nicaraguans are being less than reliable then, it can be a little bit disconcerting. Not being met by the truck you had booked to meet you is all part of the adventure, at least that is what I kept telling them, and for their part they could all have given the Nicaraguans a lesson in the art of being ‘tranquillo’ thank heavens………

We had transport arranged to take us up to Miraflor on the Sunday, due to heavy rainfall the river has now completely overflowed which has rendered it impassable, this means that all transport must go the long way up to the community. That’s a round trip of 6 hours, more if it’s been raining and the roads are a churned up mess of mud. Fortunately, for this part I had booked a truck, and as we sat or stood in the back of the vehicle, all five of us trying to find space amongst 8 bags and rucksacks full of clothes, numerous sacks of fruit and vegetables and a sense of excited anticipation in the boiling sunshine, (I know I know, what rainy season?) I hoped that it would be as good as I believed it could be.

The views certainly didn’t let me down, following months of rainfall the scenery took on an almost Jurassic Park style magnificence, green lush and utterly beautiful. As the three of them took in the breathtaking surroundings on the ride up they were almost speechless, their reactions were perfect, they raved about everything. I was really delighted but I was afraid to get ahead of myself, they had yet to see where they would be staying and the conditions of the toilet, all of which could have them shouting the trade description riot act to me. I couldn’t breathe easily just yet.

One moment in particular sticks out when my breathing became regular again, they were all being shown around the house and their rooms Sarah looked at me and just beamed and said “It looks like the sort of house you would build if you were a child” and I knew exactly what she meant, like some sort of magical Hansel and Gretel cottage in the middle of a secret garden. Laster as we sat around the kitchen table in Mayra´s kitchen tucking into as variety of gorgeous food they all looked happy and relaxed and said they felt as if they had been there for days….in a good way! This was going to be more than alright.

The next day it was down to business, we visited the school to see what work needed to be done. Which walls needed doing, what paint and how many desks needed to be ordered.

It was then that we realised that Tom, who is my New Best Friend (NBF) and I would need to catch the bus down to Esteli the very next day for a shopping list to include paintbrushes, white spirits and desks. We caught the bus at 6.30am and were asked if we wanted to travel on the roof, I stupidly said yes.

Riding on the roof of a bus for fifty minutes on the nornçmal route is a very different experience to hanging on for dear life for three hours while the bus negotiates treacherous, mud filled, pot holed scree laden roads. Nice. Not to mention, (although I will) the 24 sacks of potatoes, half a dozen bags of rice, several large car batteries and 10 piles of wood which were also put on top, to keep us company.

You still there? Well we nearly weren’t as we hadn’t factored in the low hanging branches which threatened to swipe us off the bus if we didn’t duck, lie or curl up in the three or four seconds warning we had. The bus when it could went at breakneck speed, frankly, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock had it easy.

By the time we shakily climbed off in Esteli, my NBF looked as if he had been caught in a catfight, scratches all across his face, chin and neck. I felt bad, but I got over it quite quickly, not sure he did….

Then it was like something out of the Keystone Cops, running all over Esteli with our shopping list of desks, paint, paintbrushes and popping into Radio ABC to make an announcement about the coffee meeting. We went back to Miraflor on the bus with no lunch and barely time to grab water although we did have two seats this time, inside the bus. We were starving and knackered, and to add to our misery the bus then suffered a puncture and the journey took 4 hours.

We had ordered 20 desks, bought 11 gallons of paint, nine paintbrushes, white spirits and travelled 7 hours on the bus from hell, somehow we still had a laugh because we were NBF’s but really…. we were expecting a heroes welcome….instead we arrived back exhausted, to the sight of Sarah having her toe nails painted and Antony, all 6’6 of him, eyes sparkling, like a little kid telling us how much they had done and where they had been throughout the day.

Lovely.

………..To be continued with news of the coffee meeting, an amazing changing room style school makeover and a potentially massive project for the future….

The Coffee Fairy

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Speciality and Fine Food Fair 2010, Olympia London

September 8th, 2010

FoodAdo loved the Speciality and Fine Food Fair 2010, it was just irresistible!

The FoodAdo Team was enchanted by the friendly people, the best specialities and the clever producers coming from all over the UK (not to mention those who were coming from oversea!)

Great selection of foods, magical chocolates and sweets, surprising vegan, vegetarian and organic products.

The strike? It did not stop hungry foodies from attending: the place was very busy, till closing time. The Fair’s staff had to ask visitors to live because people would not go away at closing time (6pm).

It was so good, they just couldn’t have enough of it!

Paul from FoodAdo and Galia from ChocChick

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Ooh recommends… FoodAdo – a site for serious food lovers

September 1st, 2010

Ooh.com is a free site for listing and booking trips, courses, classes, accommodation and events. We love seeing passionate people listing and selling activities you’d never normally hear about, and on Ooh.com you can book these exciting things to do directly from the people selling them.

Browsing around the site, you’ll find things going on locally and away from home. So, avoid run-of-the-mill tourist trails and use this site to find and book great local activities wherever you’re going.

Whether it’s next week or next month, locally or abroad, anyone can find and book new things to do.

Check out what they said about us!

“Online food shopping just got better. FoodAdo, a market place designed to champion small artisan producers in the UK, is the perfect site if you want to treat someone to delicious food and also support passionate suppliers.

The site gives off a food festival or farmer’s market vibe, complete with extremely tempting photos of specialty foods. There are delicious brownies, tasty tapenades, organic chutneys and specialty oils to end up in your shopping cart – it could get pretty pricey if you’re hungry!

On each product page you can read the producers’ personal stories of how and why they started, what it is that makes their foods so unique and special and discover their favourite recipes. Holly Caulfield from Chocoholly seems like a cool chick, as does The Coffee Fairy.

As the site is still very new we’re waiting to see even more products on there. The drink section is particularly strong, whereas the bakery treats could boast more. However, as more and more artisan producers discover the site, we bet it will be quite hard to make a decision among all this deliciousness.

Top tip:
Every Friday, FoodAdo is hosting a food giveaway competition. If you fancy winning chutneys, marmalades, chocolates and other delicious artisan products, be ready at 11 o’ clock and answer that Friday riddle.”

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Cyrus Todiwala and his restaurant’s best specialities

August 25th, 2010

Cyrus Todiwala MBE (‘A chef of genius’ — HARPERS) is Executive Chef and co-owner – with Mrs Todiwala – of the award-winning restaurant, Café Spice Namaste, in the City of London. He has cooked for prime ministers, presidents and royalty and appears regularly on radio and television.

Foodies rejoice! In response to overwhelming demand from customers at Café Spice Namaste, we have launched the Mr Todiwala collection of splendid spicy pickles and chutneys. All are made on the premises of Cafe Spice Namaste using the finest, freshest ingredients. Where possible he celebrates the very best of British produce including Cheltenham beetroot, sweet Russet apples and organic Estate Venison. Flavours include: Kerala Beef pickle, Grundon’s Apple & Mango Chutney, Hot and Spicy Prawn Pickle and Hot Tomato and Garlic Chutney. Delicious with Indian food…or with your favourite roasts, cold meats, pies and salads. Better still, give your daily sandwich a mouth-watering makeover. But be warned – one taste and you’ll be addicted!

Café Spice Namaste is a firm favourite with both critics and customers alike. And it’s easy to see why with a sophisticated menu offering a range of Parsee and Indo-European dishes from Goa, North India, Hyderabad and Kashmir, using the best seasonal produce sourced from Britain wherever possible.

Cyrus’ food is ‘quite simply divine’, a fact acknowledged by TIME OUT, who’ve said, ‘If there is a God, the canteen in Heaven will be run by Cyrus Todiwala.’

All of our excellent pickles and chutneys are hand made in our restaurant kitchen, not a factory. They contain no preservative except citric acid crystals, and they possess certain qualities that may be lacking in more mass-produced products. Besides being mostly seasonal, our products also depend largely on local produce and some exotic meats such as venison, wild boar, game, prawns, fish and other products which we find are good for pickling.

Welcome to Mr Todiwala’s splendid spicy pickles and chutnies – designed to make your taste buds tingle!

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Mr Filbert’s travels and recipes

August 24th, 2010

A note from Mr Filbert: My company, Filbert’s Fine Foods, was launched in 2010 by my friends, Mark Taylor and Paul Dooley; two food enthusiasts with a passion for inventive and original recipes. Between them they have over 40 years experience in the food business, and have been awarded over 30 taste awards from expert panels for different products along the way. From their base in the idyllic village of Milton Abbas in Dorset, they have crafted a range of distinctive new products under my brand, Mr Filbert’s.

A note from Mark and Paul: We created Mr Filbert to help us tell our story in a richer and more interesting way. Mr Filbert is a charming and slightly eccentric culinary inventor. Having spent much of his early life travelling the world in search of adventure, Mr Filbert returned to England with his faithful dog Mac when he inherited The Old Watermill in Dellcombe Bottom from his Great Uncle Archibald, together with a very vocal parrot called Duck. From his kitchen workshop, Mr Filbert set about devising amazing recipes and contraptions with which to surprise and delight his friends. He sources the finest local produce and exotic ingredients from around the globe to create his range of deliciously different nutty snacks, gourmet oils and sumptuous drizzles. Take a look at www.mrfilberts.com to find out more about him!

We hope you enjoy our delectable recipes as much as we enjoy making them!

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Alan Coxon and his time machine: go back to Roman times with his recipes!

August 19th, 2010

Alan and his time machine for foodies

Alan Coxon is a creative cook and a food archaeologist who explores food with a unique approach.

Vinegar is not just vinegar to him, there is so much more to discover.

“I was always been fascinated with the history of food, the origination of our everyday ingredients ,and so I decided to study and investigate the foods of  Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and  Mediaeval old England.

I have been working on an historic food range created from recipes and theories of centuries past.  I have explored the flavours and ingredients that once adorned tables of the mighty Roman Emperors, Medieval Knights and Ancient Greek temples.

Each period product holds unique combinations of flavours that will enhance modern cooking make for interesting discussion in the kitchen at the dinner table or around the barbecue, they also make for stunning and innovative quality gifts for any foodie, chef or cook!”

Alan and his beautiful vinegars won many awards including 5 gold “Innovation” and “Superior Quality Taste Awards”.

The FoodAdo Team is very happy to have him coming on board!

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UK National Picnic Week 9-15th August

August 12th, 2010

National Picnic Week 9-15th August: an old tradition that is still great fun

During the 14th century, picnics were medieval hunting feasts. These feasts, taking place before the hunt began, were of special importance. The typical foods would be cheese, baked specialities, pastries and lovely preserves.

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition, volume XI, p. 779) picnic means “a fashionable social entertainment in which each person present contributed a share of the provisions; a party including an excursion to some spot in the country.

The oldest print evidence of the word picnic in the English language can be traced back to 1748, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The word picnic was known in France, Germany, and Sweden before it became part of the English society.

According to Wikipedia, “the first usage of the word picnic was traced to a 16th century French text, describing a group of people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine. A theory has it that the word picnic is based on the verb piquer which means ‘pick’ or ‘peck’ with the rhyming nique perhaps meaning trifle. The 1692 edition of Origines de la Langue Franqoise de Ménage, which mentions ‘piquenique’ as being of recent origin, marks the first appearance of the word picnic in print. The word picnic first appeared in English texts in the mid-1700s, and may have entered the English language from this French word or from the German Picknick.”

What about today?

Picnic is fashionable more then ever! People are still in love with picnics in UK and you will see lots of groups this week end: from families to friends or couples, from easygoing to high end, from beer to champagne!

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Sasha and his family, growing beautiful plants and seeds in their organic farm

August 5th, 2010

Sasha from Sun and Seed, growing organic plants and seeds with real passion

Sasha and his family produce cold-pressed pumpkin seed and sunflower seed oils, employing traditional, old fashioned methods and aiming for the best.

The result is very different from the cheap refined oils that one could find in supermarkets.

“Our farm is almost completely self-sufficient. We make considerable effort to keep our environmental impact positive in all aspects of our production.

It is not only about producing organic seeds. We always use recycled glass for Sun and Seed jars and bottles, never transport our products using airfreight; and all of our agricultural waste is either composted or used to generate power for our workshop.

We believe that neither our customer nor the environment requires anything unnatural, so we crafts our products using traditional techniques and artisan imagination.”

Sasha grows Sun and Seeds plants in Vojvodina (northern Serbia), where the land is very fertile and there is no heavy industry – therefore no pollution.

As the business grew, the family teamed up with other farmers in the area who were as passionate about great organic food.

They began to work together to grow more types of organic food and market them through the Sun & Seed collective.

Today they are able to produce a comprehensive range of our award-winning products.

The quality is high, the taste is great and they are organic and healthy!

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What is a FoodAdo Friday? Rules and T&Cs Friday Oct 1st 2010

August 3rd, 2010

FoodAdo Friday is a competition on FoodAdo’s Facebook and Twitter pages during which the FoodAdo Community is challenged with questions or games.

Foodies enter the game by registering an account on FoodAdo.com and posting their answers, recipes, pictures or solutions to the Friday riddles.

Once the games are closed, one clever foodie is proclaimed “FoodAdo Friday Winner” and receives a pack with delicious artisan products delivered straight to his home or office, wherever in UK mainland.

A tasty present from FoodAdo that wishes to spoil the most creative foodies on the web.

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T&C:

In order to be eligible to win you have to:

1) be resident in UK mainland

2) hold a free account on FoodAdo.com – http://FoodAdo.com/register

3) post your comment/answer – the more creative and unique the better

4) get at least 5 people to “like” it – let’s share our foodie community’s best ideas!

5) be nice & respectful to the other foodies on FoodAdo community – no scratching, no biting! :)


The games starts on Friday at 11.00am and closes on the following Monday at 11.00am

Have fun & love good food!

 

 

These below are the prizes won in the past weeks: tasty Pinks Organics and SUN & SEED specialities

Check them out in Sun&Seed Pinks Organics Shop on FoodAdo!

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If you don’t want to miss next FoodAdo Friday, register or follow us on Facebok and Twitter!

If you don’t want to miss next FoodAdo Friday, register or follow us on Facebok and Twitter!

If you don’t want to miss next FoodAdo Friday, register or follow us on Facebok and Twitter!

Pinks Organics: hand made food – the old fashioned way!

July 27th, 2010

Pinks Organics, as we know it, was founded by Fiona Pink and Tom Vickers.

Far before them, in the early 1880s, Fiona Pink’s Great Great Grandfather, founded a company called Pinks. Pinks soon became the biggest jam company in the world. It was a household name and had the contract to supply the British troops fighting in the great war, with Pinks Plum Jam.

This was a time when production was mainly done by hand; before high levels of pesticide use and intensive farming set in, ensuring purity and quality of food.

This ethos – to supply food that’s pure and untainted, is the inspiration for a new era of Pinks.

I grew up with the history and stories of Pinks Jam as a child and so it seemed only natural to want to revive the company”, says Fiona.

As a result, nestled in the heart of the Dorset countryside, Pinks Organics holds on to those values by producing an exciting range of artisan products that are simple in origin and true in flavours.

Semi dried and smoked semi dried cherry tomatoes form the basis of this range which is both refreshing and pure.

Tom and I are delighted at the fantastic response that Pinks Organics has already received” says Fiona .

“I know my Great Great Grandfather would wholeheartedly approve!”

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