Food and Farming

So… DonQui is in a bit of an agricultural mood at the moment. Having whipped his allotment into shape he is in need of a few more things to plant. He is thinking of beans – they always seem to do well and the surplus can be easily frozen. A few more herbs might be in order too. He already has thyme, oregano, tarragon, parsley, coriander and chives but some basil would be nice and Duchess has her heart set on some mint. The latter is a problem since mint runs roots all over the place and could soon take over everything. Never mind, he will deal with that in due course. In the meantime he needs to decide where to go to pick up some more plants.

What’s this?

Darsham Nursuries

According to The Guardian newspaper the Darsham Nurseries,  just down the road, is on the list of the 100 best places to eat in England.

A nursery café one of the best places to eat in England? Normally all DonQui might expect in such a place is a stale piece of cake and some instant coffee – not for him!

Yet this information comes from a most trusted source so he decides to give it a try. After all he does need to buy some plants.

And what a delightful surprise it is!


Duchess is delighted with her ‘English Garden’ cocktail. Such things are not to DonQui’s taste but he can appreciate the fresh minty aroma while he sips on a good glass of Beaujolais.


The menu offers a tapas-style selection of modern European sharing plates in larger than expected portions.


DonQui particularly enjoys the seasonal grilled local asparagus with romesco and almonds. Romesco is a Catalan pepper based sauce from Tarragona and although DonQui did not sample this when he was in Tarragona he finds it quite delicious. The locally sourced  Blythburgh pork chop with apricots was simply divine although DonQui struggles to see it as a ‘small dish.’


Duchess’ favorite was the ‘garden greens’ (Swiss chard) with burnt lemon and goat’s cheese curd. It was slightly better presented that the picture above indicates but by the time DonQui got around to taking it Duchess had already tucked in!

One side dish DonQui had to order was radishes with butter and salt – a very simple French classic. As a very young colt DonQui remembers his grandfather raving about radis au beurre. He had fought at the Battle of the Somme in the First World War and radis au beurre was something he had acquired a taste for in the cafés behind the lines when he was away from the action. He even insisted that the French word for butter was aubeurre and no amount of DonQui’s primary school knowledge could convince him that the ‘au’ was not an integral part of the word. “I was in France and I know,” was his emphatic reply and that was that.

The meal was utterly delicious, finished off with a heavenly concoction of creamy cheese over fine phyllo pastry with honey and nuts. It was billed as a ‘cheese cake’ but the name did not do it justice. DonQui is not a great fan of traditional cheese cake and this was anything but.


And yes DonQui did pick up some mint which is now awaiting re-planting. The nursery did not have any beans but in light of the most delicious lunch he really does not mind.



DonQui Oaty is rather sad to be leaving Tarragona. He really liked it there and vows to come back soon.
What was so good about it? Well lots really

The old city is a Roman walled town. Now for some uncountable reason DonQui rather likes old stuff – particularly Roman old stuff. Tarragona has lots of it with walls, amphitheatre, circus, underground passages and an OK museum.


A pretty impressive Cathedral

It is compact, easily walkable and has lots of good restaurants, bars and cafés, all of which are in trotting distance from one another. Donkeys are welcome.

The old Roman forum is great for tapas in the evening or a coffee in the morning. DonQui tried out many of the places surrounding the forum but would have had to stay another week to try all of them. He rather liked the local Vermut (Vermouth) served neat, in a tumbler full of ice, garnished with olives and a slice of orange. He was also quite taken with the local Montsant wine.


The humans there do lots of fun thinks like building towers…


dressing up as dragons…


banging on drums and making lots of noise…


and dancing in the street.

DonQui rather liked the beaches. The Costa Daurada, or Gold Coast, stretches for 15kms to the north of Tarragona. The beaches are all soft golden sand and barely a Brit, German or Russian tourist in sight. DonQui tried out Platja del Miracle in Tarragona which was OK, the 3km long Platja Llarga which was great and the smaller Platja del Móra about 10kms out of town which was also great.

apt view

What was not so good?
Parking was impossible. Not that DonQui needed a car in Tarragona. However, it did make it easier to get to the out of town beaches. In most cases it would be better to take a train from Barcelona but be aware that the fast train from Barcelona stops at Tarragona Camp which is 20 minutes out of town. The stopping train goes into the town proper.

Useful links

The Tarragona blog

Tarragona beaches

Ale and Hops


DonQui’s step quickened as he approached the shop in Tarragona. This is my sort of place, he thought.…an emporium dedicated to ale, hops and the joy of the fermented grain. Maybe it would be as good as the Adnams store in Southwold — one of his favourite shops anywhere.

Ale hop full

He couldn’t work out what the cow was doing in the entrance, nor why so many women seemed to be heading inside, leaving their men to wait impatiently on the street. In his experience men seemed to get much more excited about beer than women. Perhaps in Spain things were different.

Imagine DonQui’s huge disappointment when he went inside and there was not a single bottle of beer to be seen—just lots of girly Stuff and nothing of any use to DonQui at all.


Duchess was happy though. She bought Stuff while DonQui sat on a step opposite feeling more than a little dejected and wondering when beer time would come around again.

Arròs negre

DonQui realises that he has not talked much about food yet. This is quite unusual as he has food thoughts most of the time.

One of his greatest joys when travelling comes from trying out new dishes and his stay in Tarragona was no different.

Duchess rather fancied a paella but the set menu at the inviting looking Cucafera Restaurant near the cathedral caught DonQui’s eye. For €15 he could have arròs negre – a paella-like dish of rice cooked with squid ink along with a starter and desert. With house wine at €9 a bottle it was too good to pass up.

cucafera starter

The mussels DonQui chose for his starter were amongst the best he had ever had. Their taste reminded him of the sea. Duchess, who had a mediterranean salad with tuna, found them a bit  too salty but she thoroughly enjoyed her salad.

black rice

This black rice looks… well rather black… and very shiny, DonQui thinks as he contemplates the dish in front of him. But when he tucked in he released that it was even better than meadow hay. Strips of squid were hidden amongst the rice, the dish had a deep rich flavour and the seafood was cooked perfectly. To DonQui’s mind it did not surpass the beautiful saffron taste of a good paella but he was very glad to have tried it.

cucafera wine 1

The house wine was a local Montsant – not a wine DonQui was familiar with. The grapes are grown just a little inland from Tarragona and this particular bottle was a full bodied mellow red which went very well with the arròs negre.

cucafera wine 2

It went down so well that by the end of a long leisurely lunch DonQui was left with the feeling that he should look for a nice shady tree to lie down under for an hour or two.

DonQui recommends

Cucafera Restaurant for a long leisurely lunch outside under an awning on Place Santiago Rusinyol in front of the cathedral.

Pulvinar, Carrer dels Ferrers, 20, 43003 Tarragona. Owned by the same people as Cucafera but equally as good. They also have pizza which DonQui did not try.

Human Towers

Sometimes DonQui is quite puzzled by the things humans can get up to.

11 September is the Diada Nacional de Catalunya – the Catalonian National Day and DonQui finds himself in Tarragona where the humans like to climb on top of each other whenever they get the chance. He tries to imagine what a tower of Donkeys would look like but then realises that Donkeys would be far too sensible to do such a thing.

Human Tower

DonQui is quite envious of the man in the foreground’s straw hat and hopes he will get one soon.