Sunday, 11 July 2010

¡Campeones Del Mundo!

Well, we did it! Bloody hard work, it was, though. I don't know if it was a deliberate strategy by the Dutch, but they seemed to want to injure any Spanish player they could get a boot to. I don't think I've ever seen such filthy play from a European team in a major game. De Yong should have been sent off in the first half for kicking Alonso in the chest. As the game continued, Spain showed flashes of brilliance, but couldn't manage to get the ball between the posts. It would have really pissed me off if the Netherlands got a shock goal, or the thing had gone to penalties. Fortunately, Iniesta saved the World Cup from the fate of awarding victory to the wrong team.

Is Madrid happy right now? You bet it is. Not much sleep expected tonight.

¡ES - PA - ÑA!

¡ES - PA - ÑA!

¡ES - PA - ÑA!

Excitement Is Building

Still about two hours to go before the World Cup Final kicks off. I've just been down to the shop to get some supplies in, having decided to forsake the atmosphere and dodgy viewing angles of being crushed in a bar somewhere, and watch it at home in the company of MamaDuck and possibly one or two mates.

The main street is full of people wearing red-and-yellow shirts, shorts, flags and caps, and most of the cars going past are adorned with Spanish flags and all seem to have developed the same malfunction of the horn (the one that goes beep beep, beep-beep-beep, beep-beep beep-beep, beep-beep).

Prediction? 3-2 to Spain. And my Dutch sister-in-law agrees. However it turns out, I don't really mind. Even if the Netherlands win, it's been a sensational ride. But let me just say this:

¡ES - PA - ÑA!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Pulpo Paul...

...the psychic octopus predicts Spain will win the World Cup Final on Sunday. Woohoo!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Espan - Ya!

Well, who'd a thunk it. Spain 1, Germany 0. Off to the finals we go. I can't begin to describe the atmosphere here in Madrid right now. Let's just say we're happy.

Jack Of All Trades

One of the fascinating things about running your own little business is that you pretty much have to do everything yourself, unless you have stacks of cash and can afford to hire people to do things you're no good at. So with Great British Food, I've had to design order forms, posters, flyers and packaging, as well as the website. Not a problem - I've been doing that kind of thing pretty much all my working life. I also make the products - again, not a problem, I'm a pretty good cook and I make really great pastry. I also keep track of income and expenditure for the accountant (yes, one essential outsider!), and at the moment, I'm the delivery boy too. My business partner takes care of sales, for which I am grateful - I can do that, but it doesn't exactly fill me with joy, even though I know very well that a business without sales is just a hobby.

Where is this leading? you ask. Well, one of the core concepts for market differentiation is that our pies are square. This means we have to find square moulds, square tins, square everything. Up till now, I've been using square stainless steel collars for the pork pies and the chicken & ham pies. This is less than ideal, because it's very difficult to get a good release, so you can end up with broken pies, or holes in the pastry. This is obviously not good when you try to inject the jelly and it all squirts out through a hole.

The solution? Silicone rubber moulds. Silicone rubber is fantastic for baking - absolutely nothing will stick to it! But it was impossible to find moulds of the right size and shape. I decided to make my own. I made a former out of modelling clay, and trawled the interwebz for a supplier of silicone rubber. It's quite easy if you live in the US, but the shipping costs are simply outrageous. Finally I asked a sculptor friend of mine if he knew any suppliers in Spain. He put me onto an outfit in Pontevedra, Galicia - Resinas Castro, who have a very good website and offer online sales. I received excellent service from them - I would email questions at 10 pm, and get answers (in English!) ten minutes later from the Technical & Commercial Director.

I placed my order last week, and received the material (Elastosil M4601, in case you're interested) this morning (it would have been yesterday, but I was out when the courier came). With a great deal of trepidation, I opened the big can and the small bottle. I had expected to be getting something like putty, but this is actually pourable, a bit like molasses. You mix it in the ratio of 9:1, and pour it into your mould or onto your former. It's as sticky as hell. I had no idea how much to mix up for my project, and the stuff is expensive, so you don't want to waste any of it. I now know that 100ml was about twice as much as I needed. And I also know that the poured product cures faster at higher temperatures. When I'm at home in our apartment in the summer, I tend to keep the shutters down to keep out the heat. Consequently the rubber was drifting away from the edges of the former before it began to set, leaving the coverage very thin. I salvaged it by scraping the material up and pouring it on again, and by blasting it with a hairdrier to get it curing before it all fell off. It's now basking in the sunshine on the window-sill and curing nicely. Next time, I think I'll do this on the roof, in full sun.

With a bit of luck, I should be able to make at least a dozen moulds with this batch of material.

And the title of this post? A crap Old Wive's Tale, ('Jack of all Trades, Master of None') that originated in the days when Guilds controlled everything, and they made you do a seven-year apprenticeship before you were considered qualified to bake a loaf, lay a few bricks or cut someone's hair. Other archaic pearls of wisdom include: 'The Camera Never Lies', 'A Bad Workman Blames his Tools', and 'Bloody Hell, This Silicone Rubber is Hard to Work With'.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Psychic Octopus Predicts Spain Win

And why the hell not. Story here.

Monday, 5 July 2010


If you've been following the plot, you'll know that our fledgling pie business got a bit of a boost a few days ago when InMadrid (monthly English-language paper) published an interview with me. Naturally, as a web-savvy kinda dude, I checked the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) to see what impact this had on our website. If you Google 'pork pies Madrid', huzzah! Number one already! But the next result caught my eye, a discussion thread on

So, of course I went there for a look, and was astounded by the negativity, comments like 'well good luck, but it'll never work'. Sheesh, thanks for the advice guys, don't you think we thought about this for a few minutes before deciding to go ahead? Some other bugger posted a recipe for a Scotch egg - you can make this yourself for tuppence! But, as a subsequent supporter pointed out, you can also build a sofa, a car or a yacht, if you want to. I signed up to BritExpats in order to be able to post a reply, got accused of spamming and self-promotion (not allowed). It's all completely weird. I've had a few private messages with the moderator, who's actually very keen on the idea and can't wait for us to hit Malaga. And I have to point out I'm in a purely defensive position here, against folks who have never experienced the joy of a GBF pie. I am not spamming (pointless - these guys aren't even our market yet) - I hope I can be a bit more subtle than that. Grrr.

They say 'no publicity is bad publicity', but I think that's about as true as 'the camera never lies'. Anyway, let me call on PR guru Alexander McNabb - is I doing this right?