Not going to lie – these were bloody amazing! My favourite bit about going to IKEA, other than causing arguments amongst other couples and farting in cupboards, is getting a plate full of meatballs and chips. I don’t care that the meatballs are probably made from reindeer anus and chipboard, they taste delicious and I’d cheerfully bathe in the gravy. Even the addition of that shitty bit of parsley doesn’t ruin my meal like it normally does, now that I know it serves a purpose (the size of the parsley sprig is used to signify whether you have a large, medium or small portion of meatballs, so that the cashier doesn’t have to count how many meatballs you’ve got!). So Paul was tasked with doing a bit of research and we’ve managed to find a recipe and tailor it so it is possible on Slimming World. Nevermind a platinum Body Magic sticker, I frankly think we should be given an OBE each. Scroll down for the recipe, but if you want, stick around for a bit beforehand – I’ve got more to tell you about our trip to Corsica…
…when I last signed off, we were asleep with a puck of beef resting in our stomach. I reckon it’s still in there. We woke ridiculously early to give us enough time to walk the 27 miles to the Pod, only to have to walk back and get a code from reception before they’d open the gates. Nothing says ‘home comforts’ like a prison gate to get out of your hotel. The Pod remained amazing and we were in Terminal 5 in moments. I’ve never flown from Heathrow despite having done a fair bit of travelling, so it was all very new and exciting. Ah wait no, sorry, it was dull and tedious. I know airports are never the most exciting of places, but I get the impression that unless you were minted, the terminal wasn’t really for you. It’s still better than Newcastle Airport mind, but that’s more due to the fact Newcastle Airport consists of a couple of bars, a duty free shop and some toilets that haven’t been cleaned since the days of me being an early teenager and buying condoms from the machine on the wall because my then-f’buddy was too worried. Ha! Plus it’s invariably full of at least 2,000 pissed up Geordies who think they’re sophisticated because they’ve got a Stella Artois moustache at 4.30am in the morning. Oh honestly you know I’m right.
We decided on a light breakfast in The Pilot’s Lounge, so-called because I went up-a-height when I saw the price. The waitress – a smile wearing a tabard and sensible shoes – forgot to give me my pot of tea, my toast and my hash-brown. It’s alright though, I forgot to give her a tip, so that balances things. You know how I can’t go anywhere without immediately discovering a new enemy? I’d barely buttered Paul’s toast when I overheard an American chap behind me LOUDLY telling everyone south of Manchester how ‘TERRABUL’ the coffee was in England. Oh it was just ‘AWFUL’ (though he was strangling every vowel as he spoke). I couldn’t eat my breakfast because my teeth were grinding so hard diamonds were falling out of my nose. I’m a proper moaner, don’t get me wrong, but I’m awfully British about it – I’ll twist my face to Paul about something that has upset me, but I’ll wait six months and bring it up in the bath or something. He went on – it was all I could do not to hurl Paul’s tea in his oily face. Listen, I’ve been to America and I’ve had what passes for coffee there – it looks, smells and tastes like what I’ve bled out of my radiators. When he wasn’t moaning he was hacking away, coughing up phlegm like it was jet-fuel. No discreet coughs into a hanky for this chap, no, he preferred to let us listen to his chest echo and rattle. No wonder the coffee didn’t taste good, chum, it has to sink through eight yards of lungbutter to get to your stomach. Fucker.
Having finished breakfast and realised to our absolute horror that there wasn’t so much as an arcade for me to throw a month’s wage into, we settled down for the two hours before our flight. Thankfully, I had my new phone, old phone and iPad to entertain me, so I just sat on one of the departure lounge chairs with them spread out in front of me like I was on the lowest budget version of 24 you could imagine. Paul ate a Toblerone. OF COURSE, though, the horsefucker from the restaurant was on our flight. Of course! So we had two hours of boredom punctuated by him mining for phlegm. Lovely. My sigh of relief when they opened the gate almost blew the Newcastle to London Cityjet service over. The good thing about flying British Airways is the allocated seating – I can’t bear the undignified scramble for seats you get with the likes of easyJet and Ryanair. I don’t understand it – it’s not as if the flight attendants are going to auction off the spare seats if you’re not jammed in the bloody doorway one minute after the gate opens.
We promptly boarded the plane and, as expected, immediately brought the average age of the passengers on board down by around thirty years – everyone, to an absolute fault, was ancient. I wouldn’t have been surprised if British Airways had removed the back toilet and fitted an onboard crematorium. Normally I watch the safety demonstration like my life depends on it (boom boom) but I didn’t bother – it was clear from the amount of creaking hips and whistling hearing aids that if the engine had caught fire and we needed to evacuate post-haste, both Paul and I would perish in the flames whilst Elsie in 22A blocked the aisle putting her good teeth in and trying to get the inflatable slide to come out of the toilet door. We did have a chuckle when the exceptionally posh older chap sitting behind us dropped something on the floor and burst out with the loudest ‘FUCK’ I’ve ever heard. My ears were still rippling as we flew over Nice. I love it when posh folk swear with gusto.
The pilot came on the radio (you’d think that would make it hard to grip) and announced that it would be a smooth flight all the way to Corsica and that it was gorgeous and sunny. Excellent! I like to hear the hairs on my leg crinkle when I get off the plane when I’m on holiday. Go hot or go home, or something like that. I don’t know the hip sayings, I’m in my thirties now. Oh fuck I’m old.
As usual when I fly, I spent the entire time on the runway thinking about how it would feel if my face was burned off when the fuel tank exploded or what sound the bones in my leg would make as they were concertinaed by the crumpling metal of a crashing 737, but as soon as we were airborne I was fine and only concerned with making sure I didn’t miss out on the onboard snack, which turned out to be a croissant I could have shaved with and a plastic cup of orange water. Delicious! I still ate every last crumb whilst moaning about it to Paul. Our flight attendant was charming but looked like Missy from Doctor Who, which was a little alarming, because I did expect her to wrest the controls from the pilot and ditch us into the sea.
The flight itself was uneventful, bar for a tiny bout of turbulence as we flew over the bottom of France which shook a few pair of dentures loose, and we disembarked in Figari after only two hours. Figari Airport is absolutely tiny and only seems to appear once the plane is low enough for me to look for a four-leaf clover amongst the grass. It was in no time at all that we were off the plane and through what was ostensibly called security but actually amounted to nothing more than a very handsome Frenchman saying bonjour to me and oppressing his smirk at my bong-eyed passport photo. Paul held us up with his pressing need to have a poo as soon as we arrive anywhere new (I touched on this when I wrote about our visit to Germany – it’s like a nervous tic he has) and we were forced to wait behind M. Physema in the AVIS car hire queue.
The car hire process was unpleasant, not least because I had to listen to the guy in front churning his lungs for a good thirty minutes before we got anywhere. The unpleasant shrew behind the counter barked at me in what I’m not even sure was French, hurled a set of paperwork at me like I’d murdered her child and then spat in the general direction of a trillion parked cars and sent me on my way. I don’t think I managed one word other than a cheery bonjour which might have caused her ire. We trundled our suitcases down to the little garage only for someone else to shout inexplicably at us. At this point, we were a little deflated, and when someone finally drove a car around to us my spirits didn’t lift. It was a Peugeot 208. A new one, yes, but I’ve had farts with better acceleration. Plus, Paul and I are big guys and a tiny car doesn’t quite suit our ample frames – I’ve never had to pour myself into a car like a glob of wax in a lava-lamp. Nevermind. They clearly hadn’t cleaned the car either given there was someone’s chewed off fingernail sitting on the dash. I made a mental note to leave a skidmark on the back seat and cracked on.
We didn’t have the language skills to argue or beg a better car, plus I got the impression that had I gone back to the rental desk and complained, my face would have been taken off by the tongue of the angry pickled Nana Mouskouri lookalike behind the desk. So we set off, slowly. Oh so slowly. The road away from Figari airport takes you up a fairly steep hill and clearly I overstretched the car because it stalled on the first hill. Superb! Thankfully I was so distracted by trying to master driving this shitbox that I forgot all my worries about driving on the right, which was a relief given I’d built it up into being a terrifying experience in my mind.
Actually, a serious note. If you’re nervous about driving on the other side of the road, don’t be. It comes very naturally – the only thing of concern were the roundabouts, of which there are many, and the fact that absolutely no fucker indicates. Not one! Joining a roundabout becomes a terrifying guessing game of intentions and given the average Corsican drives like the interior of their car is on fire and they’ve got a mouthful of petrol, you really do just need to take your time.
Yes, the driving leaves a lot to be desired (or, another view, they all know the roads so well that they know where they can afford to take chances) – quite often on a mountain pass you’ll be faced with someone hurtling towards you in a little Renault, fag in one hand, phone in the other, steering the car with their blanket of chest hair, leaving you with the choice of a solid wall on one side of the road and nothing but air on the other. Best of all is the look of absolute astonishment that they’ve found someone coming towards them on the opposite side of the road. I’m not a religious man but there were more than a few times I just shut my eyes and prayed for the best. It’s not uncommon for someone to overtake you on a blind corner or on the crest of a hill and to blur alongside the car shouting something terrible. I finally discovered what it must feel like to have me driving up behind you effing and jeffing. What am I like. Our villa awaited, but my fingers are bleeding now, so I’ll stop for the night. Here’s the recipe!
Note that we served this with mashed potatoes, rainbow carrots and tenderstem broccoli. We’re making a bit of an effort with our 1/3 speed rule and if we come up with a fancy recipe for anything like that, I’ll be sure to include it.
to make IKEA meatballs and gravy, you’ll need:
- 500g turkey mince
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp each of oregano, paprika and rosemary
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp quark
- 450ml stock (made with 2 beef stock cubes)
- 1 tbsp of cornflour (4.5 syns)
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
Don’t sweat it too much regarding the herbs. Go for fresh, always better, but dried is fine! I’m going to call it 1 syn – you don’t use all of the gravy, but it’s up to you.
to make IKEA meatballs and gravy, you should:
- sort out your sides – potatoes, broccoli, the gayest carrots in the world, whatever you like
- in a bowl mix together the mince, half the nutmeg, rosemary, oregano, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and half the parsley then divide the mixture and roll to make about thirty meatballs
- spray a large frying pan with a little Frylight and cook the meatballs until cooked through and browned – better to cook them nice and hot to get a brown crust – urgh, crust
- transfer the meatballs to a plate to rest and let the meatballs pan cool a little…then…
- add the quark and 2 tbsp of the stock
- mix well until the quark is softened and melted
- add the mustard powder, worcestershire sauce, the rest of the nutmeg and cornflour
- mix well until you have a smooth, thick paste
- add the rest of the stock and cook over a low heat, stirring continuously, until it thickens (you can gradually increase the heat if you wish to speed the process up, but be a kind and gentle lover and watch for signs of the mixture splitting)
- transfer the meatballs to the pan to warm through
If you feel the need to have a hot-dog for dessert to complete the IKEA experience, I won’t judge.
Though, I’m always judging.