Tapas at their best at Mallorca’s Peccata Minuta

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Cafes and bars / Drink / Eat / Events for foodies / tapas

Spain’s emblematic snacks are taken to a higher level at Mallorca’s Peccata Minuta gourmet tapas events. Organised by the Balearic gastronomic association Chefs(in), they take place two or three times a year and we love to attend. There’s usually one around the time of Balearics Day (March 1st) and another in summer; we’ve also attended an indoor one in the theatre in Lloseta, and an autumn one in an atmospheric cloister in Inca. As you may have gathered, we are big fans!

The idea is that you buy a ‘passport’ in advance (numbers are limited to ensure the event runs smoothly) containing tear-out tokens which you exchange for the tapas and drinks, moving from stall to stall – rather than bar to bar, as in a traditional Spanish tapeo.

Peccata Minuta locations

Locations have included indoor markets (Mercat de l’Olivar and Mercat de Santa Catalina), the Museum of the Juan March Foundation and, last year, Son Vida Golf. Last night we attended this summer’s Peccata Minuta at Golf Son Muntaner on the outskirts of Palma. It proved to be good venue: plenty of parking, spacious clubhouse terrace, and bucolic views all around.

Golf course Mallorca

The venue for the summer 2017 event: Golf Son Muntaner.

The Peccata Minuta of summer 2017

Last night’s Peccata Minuta featured eight chefs, master mixologist Rafa Martín, specialist wine store Vinamica, Marabans Coffee & Tea, and a Paulaner mobile bar, serving wheat beer. There were free bottles of Evian water and savoury Gori de Muro biscuits (a Mallorcan product worth seeking out in any good food store here) to dip into.

These were the participating chefs, with the name of their restaurant(s) and the tapa prepared for this edition of Peccata Minuta:

  • Marga Coll – Miceli (Selva) and Arrels (Illetes) Crunchy apricot ensaïmada with almond ice cream.
  • Rafa Sánchez – Port Blue Hotels & Resorts Prawns with coconut.
  • Juan Portillo – Hotel Blau Porto Petro Monkfish with mussels, lentils, and saffron.
  • Tomeu Martí – Arume (Palma) Thai-style butterfish (negrito).
  • Pep Lluís Mayol – Ca’n Ribes (Sóller) Watermelon with tuna.
  • Tomeu Lassio – Restaurante Tomeu Lassio (Lloseta)  Black rice with cuttlefish.
  • Andreu Genestra – One-Michelin-starred Andreu Genestra (Capdepera) & Aromata (Palma) Lamb tamale with spicy apricot.
  • Miquel Gelabert – Can March (Manacor) – Iberian pork cheek and ‘trinxat’ of potato with vanilla.

DJ T-Mark (who presents a show on Mallorca Sunshine Radio – on which I also have a weekly show) played some cool tunes up on the clubhouse terrace up until midnight.

This summer’s al fresco Peccata Minuta was yet another success and we are already looking forward to the next one – whenever it may be. To find out more about Chefs(in), click here.

©Jan Edwards 2017

Superb Palma views and classical music at Castillo Hotel Son Vida

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Hotels / Sleep

Will you be on the island of Mallorca at the end of July this year? Do you appreciate classical music? Then this could be of interest to you:

On Friday, July 28th, the acclaimed Balearic Symphony Orchestra will play on the terrace of the iconic 5-star Castillo Hotel Son Vida, which has spectacular views over the city of Palma and the bay beyond it. The concert will start at 9pm, five minutes before the sun sets at the end of another day on this beautiful Mediterranean island.

Palma de Mallorca

Now that’s what you call a commanding view of Palma and the bay.

Concertgoers will be able to enjoy a welcome drink on the terrace before the concert, from 8.15pm – plenty of time to soak up the views…

All the ticket money goes to charity

Tickets for this grand charity concert cost 32 euros each and all the proceeds will be donated to the Natzaret Foundation on Mallorca, which accommodates boys and girls from families that are unable to look after their children.

Joji Hattori

The Japanese musician Joji Hattori was appointed as principal guest conductor and co-artistic director of the Balearic Symphony Orchestra in 2014 and will conduct a programme of compositions by Mendelssohn and Dvorak.

The globally renowned Hattori continues to work as associate guest conductor of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and, in the past, has served as principal resident conductor of the Opera House in Erfurt, Germany. As a guest conductor, he has worked with orchestras including the Philharmonia in London, Slovakian Philharmonic, Wiener Symphoniker, and the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker.  He has regularly conducted at the New National Theatre in Tokyo – Japan’s leading opera house.

4 facts you may not have known about Joji Hattori

  • He started playing violin at the age of five and studied at the Vienna Academy of Music.
  • In 1989 he won the International Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition in England.
  • He also studied social anthropology at Oxford University.
  • He’s owned Shiki – a fine-dining Japanese restaurant in Vienna – since 2015.

To book your place(s) at what promises to be an unforgettable night, go to http://www.castillosonvidamallorca.com/concierto-benefico

©Jan Edwards 2017

Summer al fresco opera nights at 5-star Castell Son Claret

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Chefs / Eat / Hotels / Sleep

Operatic concerts with a gala dinner included have become a popular summer fixture at Castell Son Claret, the privately owned 5-star hotel in southwest Mallorca.  As the name suggests, this beautiful hotel is in a restored 19th-century former castle, near to the village of Calvià, and it’s an exceptional setting for these summer events.

On Saturday, July 8th, the first of Castell Son Claret’s three operatic nights for 2017 – under the banner of Castell Classics – took place, with a world-class performance by six young opera talents from the Accademia Teatro Alla Scala in Milan. It was the third consecutive year that singers from this renowned performing-arts school had sung at Mallorca’s Castell Son Claret and the event was again a sell-out, with 170 people enjoying highlights from the Accademia’s 2017 ‘Love & Passion’ programme.

The concert took place on the large elevated terrace, which offers imposing views over Castell Son Claret’s fragrant Arabian-style gardens and makes an appropriately romantic setting for this genre of music.

Gala dinner by Fernando P Arellano

Castell Son Claret is home to Zaranda – the only two-Michelin-starred restaurant in the Balearic Islands. Fernando P Arellano is the genius chef behind the extraordinary cuisine here and he created a memorable gala dinner – ‘Serata Italiana’ – as part of this summer event at the hotel.

More summer 2017 events at Castell Son Claret

Opera lovers have two more summer musical treats to enjoy at this hotel, which has a peaceful setting in 326 acres at the foot of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tramuntana mountain range.

  • On July 29th, the celebrated Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva performs her summer favourites at Castell Son Claret. This opera sensation has appeared at prestigious venues around the world, including London’s Royal Opera House, where her lead vocals in Bellini’s Norma received critical acclaim.
  • The Castell Classics season for 2017 ends on August 19th with The Young Singers of the Salzburg Festival performing an eclectic programme of classics and a few surprise pieces too.

Both of these Castell Classics events include a welcome reception, the outdoor concert, and gala dinner with wines.

For more details or to book (highly recommended), visit http://www.castellsonclaret.com or telephone 971 138 620.

©Jan Edwards 2017 (photos courtesy of Castell Son Claret)

A cool culinary workshop on Mallorca

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Eat / Food

Ilove attending cooking workshops to learn new kitchen skills and there are quite a few opportunities to do just that here on Mallorca. My passion was probably fuelled by the fact that my mum didn’t teach me to cook when I was growing up; I’ve been making up for that ever since!

In recent years on Mallorca I have attended a gourmet tapas workshop in Palma, learned to make sushi and, most recently, was at an ice-cream-making class in Palma. I was also lucky enough to be at a private workshop in Sóller, which I have still to write about.

Mallorca’s best summer coolers…

Making ice cream has become more of a passion since I replaced my ancient old ice-cream machine with a whizzy new Cuisinart one this spring. Wanting to learn from professionals about the basics and ideas for combinations of flavours, I signed up for an ice-cream workshop this month at Clandestí Taller Gastronomic – a unique restaurant in Palma, belonging to chefs Pau Navarro and Ariadna Salvador.  They have been holding a few culinary workshops on days when the restaurant is not open to the public and publicise these events on their Facebook page. I should add that the workshop was in Spanish (castellano).

Around a dozen of us sat at the long counter to watch the two Italian workshop leaders – Nicoló and Serena – from Gelato Vecchia Maniera in Puerto de Alcúdia. We were shown the basics of making sweet and savoury cream-based ice creams and sorbets and came away with recipes for these too. The couple made a few different flavours which we were able to try and some of these became an element of tasting plates created by Pau and Ariadna for us to eat.

Summary

This workshop cost me 60 euros and I felt it was good value for this fun and informative evening (and the various tastings and a glass or two of cava included). I came home keen to try making some new flavours of ice creams and sorbets and have since made apricot ice cream (with fresh apricots from Porreres), cherry ice cream (the cherries have been delicious this year), and – my latest – a plum and gin sorbet. Just one scoop of the latter is a divine way to cool down on a hot Mallorcan summer’s day.

If you’d like to find out more about eating out at Clandestí Taller Gastronomic, here’s a link to a review I wrote about it for abcMallorca.

Jan Edwards©2017

Mallorcan dishes star in Israeli TV show

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Eat

You know a place’s reputation as a gastronomic destination has spread when TV companies start flying in to record shows. And that’s exactly what’s happened here on Mallorca: both Rick Stein and Yotam Ottolenghi have been to the island in previous years with British TV production companies. In the past few days alone, the UK’s The Hairy Bikers – Dave Myers and Si King – have been on Mallorca filming for a new series. I’d hoped to interview them for my show on Mallorca Sunshine Radio but, alas, it wasn’t to be.

Hebrew TV comes to Palma

The popular Brit presenters weren’t the only ones making a food programme here. An Israeli company – Erez Dan Production – has also been on the island, filming for one of Israel’s most popular food programmes on a mainstream TV channel. Don’t ask me the Hebrew name of it, but the concept is to feature the top five dishes in major cities all around the world – as determined by social media.

The TV company was looking for a Mallorca food blogger to take part in the Palma edition of the programme and invited me to be involved in part of it. Quite a few years have passed since my time as a corporate video presenter, but the prospect of being back in the exciting world of filming for a little while was one I couldn’t resist.

Ensaïmada

The company’s online research had revealed that one of Palma’s five most social-media-featured dishes is the ensaimada – Mallorca’s best-known baked product – and we filmed at a place that’s famous for them.  Ca’n Joan de S’aigo is in C/ Sanç in Palma’s Old Town; the business was established in 1700 and is also renowned for its ice creams and hot chocolate. Ca’n Joan de S’aigo is one of the oldest ‘chocolatiers’ in Europe and it’s still a popular tradition to come here for hot chocolate and ensaimadas after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve – when the place stays open late especially.

Traditional décor, including chandelier from Mallorcan company Gordiola.

Nadav, the Israeli TV foodie programme’s presenter, and I were first filmed strolling around the Old Town, talking about ensaimadas. Then we arrived at Ca’n Joan de S’Aigo, where the charming manager Pedro took us through to the kitchen to film some ensaimada production with the baker.  Nadav even took a turn at rolling out the lardy dough and shaping it into a spiral, ready for proving.

The crew in Ca’n Joan de S’aigo’s kitchen: Nadav is wearing the white apron.

Pedro (left) with Nadav in the kitchen.

Finally Nadav and I sat down to eat a fresh-from-the-oven ensaimada, which we both agreed was delicious and as light as eating a cloud – even though the quantity of lard in them means they’re surely heavy in calories. Not that the slim Nadav – who must eat a lot of food in the course of his travels for this innovative TV show in Israel – has any problems on that score…

And I did get to interview Nadav; I asked him about the TV programme: [audio

Text and photos Jan Edwards ©2017

Mallorca’s best apricots have a fiesta

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Eat / Events for foodies
Porreres fiesta

The best apricots on Mallorca undoubtedly come from Porreres. Before moving to live on rural Mallorca, I wasn’t too fussed about apricots but, when I tasted the delicious ones from this rural town, I became a fan.

In the 1960s and ’70s, apricots were an important part of the economy of Porreres and the fruits were even exported as far as America. To this day, the town still hosts an annual celebration of the fruit, La Fira de l’Albercoc, although far fewer apricots are cultivated than in the glory days of the last century.

A saintly reason to climb a ladder

If you’re on Mallorca in June, it’s worth a visit to this one-day event, which has a great ambience and seems to bring the entire population of Porreres into the streets to enjoy all-things-apricot. June has the saint’s day for Sant Antoni de Padua – sometimes known here as Sant Antoni of the Albercocs, because it’s a traditional date to climb that rickety old ladder and pick the ripened apricots, warmed by the sun, from the tree.

At this year’s Fira, we visited stalls laden with heaps of fresh and dried apricots for sale; there were jars of preserves, baked goods, ice cream, juice, and even artisan beer – all made from the luscious fruits. My favourite variety has a rosy blush, which I believe is locally known as the rojo carlet.

We were also able to watch a group of people stoning apricots ready to be laid out to dry in the sun, and visit an interesting exhibition of artefacts and photos relating to apricot cultivation in Porreres in the past.

While there, we tried…

… a savoury tapa garnished with apricot, accompanied by a glass of artisan beer; a glass of apricot juice, and some delicious tartlets made with apple and apricot under a crumble topping. The latter were so good that we bought two more to take home for dessert the following day (with some home-made apricot and cardamom ice cream I had already made). After all that, we didn’t need dinner last Saturday evening…

Text and photos Jan Edwards ©2017

Vermouth & tapas in Manacor’s market

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Eat

When we moved to rural Mallorca in 2004, one of the quickest lifestyle adjustments we made was the way we bought our fresh produce. In the UK, we mostly bought fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish in Sainsbury’s – our nearest supermarket – because there simply wasn’t enough non-working time to schlep around individual food shops or street markets.

We had plenty of time on our hands when we first moved here, so began to shop like the locals: going to the marketplace in Manacor to buy fruit and vegetables, the adjacent fishmonger’s  shop, and a butcher’s shop where we used to buy the small amount of meat that we eat.

This friendly stallholder has been selling produce on the market since we moved to rural Mallorca

Our Saturday morning shopping trips to the busy market usually meant a few encounters between our ankles and the bulging Rolser shopping trolleys that everyone seemed to use for their market shopping. It was atmospheric and fun…if sometimes a little bruising!

Supermarkets on the rise

Since those days, the town’s original supermarkets have been modernized and new ones have opened, including Lidl and Aldi. More people are now doing all their shopping in supermarkets. The couple that owned the butcher’s shop retired and sold up. The fishmonger’s closed long ago and the premises stand forlorn and empty.

We still shop in the fruit and veg market but have seen a decline in the number of people who buy – and sell – there. It’s sad, because the area around Manacor is mainly agricultural.

So we applaud the Vermutejant vermouth-and-tapas initiative, intended to attract people back to the marketplace – where it’s hoped they’ll start shopping again.

Tapas and vermouth, anyone?

The Vermutejant currently takes place every Saturday from 11am until 1pm: between one and three good restaurants/cafés each take a vacant stall in the market, from which they offer tapas and vermut for sale at surprisingly low prices. Live music of some kind adds to what is a great ambience.

The musical offering varies from week to week.

Young musicians of Manacor

We’re keen to support the local market, so we have treated ourselves to a tapa and small vermouth every week since the initiative began; it adds some fun to the weekly shop. If you’re going to be in Manacor on a Saturday morning, try the Vermutejant – and maybe buy some of the appealing fresh produce offered, to help keep Manacor’s market in business.

The Vermutejant takes a break with the official arrival of summer. The last one for this run of the tapas-and-vermouth event will be on Saturday, June 24th, 2017.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights of this Vermutejant season:

Miquel Gelabert from Can March restaurant in Manacor has offered tapas on several Saturdays.

Accessible prices too!

Nofre from El Palau cafe (with the soul patch)

Tapas from Can March

A tapa from Nofre’s El Palau offering

Maria Salinas

Maria Salinas – whose eponymous restaurant is in Mancor del Vall – came a long way to serve her superb tapas.

Gazpacho – one of Maria’s tapas offerings

Jan Edwards ©2017

 

Tasting the wines of Mallorca

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Drink / Wine

Seen at the Fira del Vi 2017 and probably a sentiment shared by many visitors.

Thirty-nine wineries from Mallorca offered tastings at this year´s Pollença Wine Fair – in its 14th year in 2017. It was good to see five Mallorcan bodegas that had not previously exhibited at this popular annual fair – and to discover some wines we hadn´t tried before.

We took along friends visiting from Oxfordshire who really appreciate Mallorca´s wines. They are always disappointed that they can´t find the island´s wines for sale back in the UK  – although Marks & Spencer does sell a wine from the bodega Macia Batle, and I have recently spotted one (A/N2 from Ànima Negra) on Selfridges’ website. I´ve been told that the import duty that would have to be paid would make wines from Mallorca seem too expensive in the UK. Do you know otherwise?

Taste all you want for 10 euros

For an entrance fee of just 10 euros we were able to taste as many wines as we wanted. That may sound like an invitation to excess but, believe me, there´s a limit to how many tastings you want in the middle of a rather warm day, as it was when we visited! Our entry fees also entitled each of us to a discount of three euros on a wine purchase. Our wine rack is now looking a little more interesting…

Below are some photos I took at this year´s Pollença Wine Fair – or Fira del Vi as it is known here. If you´re planning a visit to Mallorca next spring and would like to visit this annual wine event in Pollensa town, the dates are April 21st and 22nd, 2018.

Jan Edwards ©2017

Cocktails? Sip some of the best in Palma

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Cafes and bars / Drink
Glass bottle ceiling

I can’t say I remember my first kiss, but I certainly remember my first cocktail. I was in my early 20s and on my first visit to the States, staying in a Holiday Inn hotel near Philadelphia, which had a smart piano bar and impressive drinks list. For my first-ever cocktail I chose a Grasshopper – a pale-green minty creamy concoction that made me feel rather sophisticated (and just a teeny bit queasy, to be honest).

For me, cocktails are drinks to be enjoyed in a sophisticated setting. I rarely have a cocktail but on the occasions when I do, it’s in a proper cocktail bar, rather than a restaurant or regular bar – and usually with family or friends who are visiting Mallorca.

This week, as our friends from Oxfordshire were coming to the end of their annual holiday with us, we spent a day in Palma – ending it with the customary cocktail.

Palma has no shortage of cocktail bars, including the famous over-the-top Abaco in the area of La Lonja. Tourists make a beeline for this place, which is unlike any other I’d ever seen before – all fruit, flowers, and loud opera music. There are signs forbidding photography indoors but you’ll find plenty of images on Instagram (Bar Abaco). Clandestine social media photo opportunities aside, Abaco is worth experiencing for the setting and ambience, but the cocktails are pretty expensive…

Save some brass and go to Brassclub

Our choice this time was the cocktail bar Brassclub – owned by Rafa Martín, an award-winning mixologist who entered his first cocktail-making competition at the tender age of 16.

Brassclub’s stylish interior

Brassclub has terrace seating at the front, so you can watch the world go by but, if it’s your first time at this bar, I recommend going inside to soak up the smart interior – which wouldn’t look out of place in any major capital city, but manages to exude the ambience of the Mediterranean. Check out that ceiling! More than 3,000 bottles, positioned to resemble the waves of the sea, are hanging up there. It looks amazing, but imagine having to dust that lot…

Glass bottle ceiling

If the ceiling looks wavy it’s nothing to do with the cocktails!

The cocktails here are creative, delicious, and definitely Instagram-worthy. We chose Coco Mademoiselle (not pictured), Frida Mule, El Manierista and, for me (designated driver), the alcohol-free La Niña Prodigio. Nuts and popcorn were served with our drinks, so there was something to help soak up the alcohol for my companions.

Brassclub

Creating our cocktails

Tequila cocktail at Brassclub

Frida Mule – Jose Curevo tequila, aloja syrup, citrus fruits and apple soda – 10 euros

Cocktail

El Manierista: white and dark rum, elderflower, cinnamon, citrus fruits and thyme soda. All tied up in a glass wrapped in paper for 9 euros 50 cents.

Brassclub non-alcoholic cocktail

La Nina Prodigio: orange, grapefruit, lemon, ginger syrup, and sour apple – 9 euros, delicious and topped with two jelly bear sweets!

If cocktails aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other drinks you can have at Brassclub. If you fancy a sea view with your creative cocktail, head for Puerto Portals and BrassBaiben – the gastro-cocktail bar at restaurant Baiben. BrassBaiben is a collaboration between maestro mixologist Rafa Martín and Fernando P Arellano, of the 2-Michelin-starred Zaranda, who owns Baiben.

Text and photos Jan Edwards ©2017

Protur Chef 2017 was a great success

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Chefs / Eat

On March 18th I had the great pleasure of being one of the non-chef judges for Protur Chef 2017 on Mallorca. The main judges for the competition – which was on from March 16th-19th – were the chefs Tomeu Caldentey, Marc Fosh, Fran López, and the famous twins Javier and Sergio Torres.  If it hadn’t been for the fact that the twins’ names were embroidered on their chef jackets, I’d not have been able to tell one from the other!  Chef and gastronomy consultant Koldo Royo acted as Master of Ceremonies.

My stint was just for the Saturday morning, as other food writers, bloggers, and broadcasters also took turns on the panel for different stages of the cooking contest. When I entered the auditorium of the Protur Biomar Gran Hotel & Spa in Sa Coma I was instantly impressed by the professional set-up awaiting the young chefs who would be cooking on stage later.

The stage set for young chefs from across Spain

10 cooking schools, 20 student chefs

The 20 student chefs each had to create a dish costing no more than seven euros and based on Mallorca’s famous black pork. They’d come from 10 different cooking schools all over Spain to take part. We were able to observe the young chefs on stage with the aid of video cameras that projected live images onto what I was told was the largest screen on Mallorca. Then we were able to see and taste the finished dishes and give our comments.

The pork dishes tried during my stint on the panel

The audience could also see the action on the giant screen

Participating cookery schools:

Mallorca:

  • Escola d’Hosteleria de les Illes Balears (EHIB)
  • IES Puig de Sa Font
  • Amadip Esment Escola de Mallorca
  • IES Juniper Serra
  • IES Alcúdia

Tenerife:

  • Hotel Escuela SC de Canarias HECANSA

Barcelona:

  • EUHT de Sant Pol de Mar

Mérida:

  • Escuela Superior de Hostelería y Agroturismo ESHAEX

Pontevedra:

  • CIFP Carlos Aroza

Madrid:

  • Centro Superior de Hostelería Mediterráneo

I was unable to attend the final, on the Sunday, but imagine the atmosphere was incredible as the results were announced afterwards:

José Antonio Rodríguez, pupil of EUHT of Sant Pol de Mar, was the proud winner of the First Edition of the National School Cooking Contest  ‘PROTUR CHEF 2017’.  Second place went to Tenerife, represented by  Javier Jiménez of Hotel Escuela SC of the Canaries HECANSA, and third place to Toni Riera from  Mallorca – a pupil of IES Puig de Sa Font.

Chef KIDS

I didn’t learn to cook until I’d left home and, as a result, believe that every child should have some basic cooking lessons. This contest for keen budding chefs of the future – aged between 8 and 12 – took place over the same weekend.

Waiting for the start

It must have been a great thrill for the kids to see these TV chefs waiting to judge their salads

During my stint on the judging panel we watched the first nine (of 18) youngsters preparing a salad, after they’d had three minutes to select their ingredients from a market-stall-type display. At a later stage, they would be decorating cakes. Anxious parents sat in the audience, willing their offspring to do well.

At the end of the contest, the winners were:

  • Antònia Roser Sitges – 1st prize
  • Marina Vaquer – 2nd
  • Aurelio Ucendo – 3rd

Well done to all the contestants and to everyone involved in the organisation of the competition. I’m sure I’m not the only person looking forward to Protur Chef 2018…

©Jan Edwards 2016