chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms

Chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms – there’s not one bit of that description that doesn’t give me a stiffy. You’ll find the recipe below, but first, the next part of our trip to Benidorm. If you read the entry and enjoy it, please do leave feedback. I love feedback on the holiday entries, I truly do! Don’t let me down. However, if you’re feeling mean, you can skip straight to the recipe by clicking on the GASSY OLD SAGGY BAG below.

Right, she’s gone. Did you see her clothes? Is she wearing those for a bet? Let’s get straight back to Spain…

click here for part one

Let’s get straight back into it. That Wilkinson own-brand sun lotion won’t slap itself on, you know? You last left us at the airport, which is totally understandable. You were probably like me and, having seen the place as the plane descended through the clouds of Lambert and Butler, were wondering whether you ought to take a chance clinging to the undercarriage on the returning flight. With a deep sigh, we pushed on.

Paul then decided to hit me with another revelation – we had a private transfer to take us the 40 minute or so trip to the city centre. Marvellous – I can’t stand transfer buses: they’re always full of loud folks in loud clothes smacking their children and fretting whenever some half-finished shitpit looms large in the driver’s window. I envisioned a nice air-conditioned taxi, deftly driven by some Spaniard with big brown eyes and reassuring arms, who might be so taken by Paul and I that he would whisk us up into the mountains to feed us tapas and make us both his wife, spending many many years trying to make us bear children.

Well, that didn’t happen. The taxi driver looked like an meth-addicted gopher and the car had seen better days, namely the 1970s. I can get past that but then Paul explained that our private transfer wasn’t private at all – we had to share with two other folk. The indignity! How is that a private transfer? If you nip into a public toilet and have to shit in a cubicle with someone else, that’s not private, is it? Adding anyone extra into any situation, unless it’s an orgy, negates any notion of privacy. I started rolling my eyes so much Paul thought I was going into hypoxia and made me blow into a crisp packet that was caught against the airport doors.

As it happens, our company was terrific – just the type of people we would actually want to be stuck in a hot car with, full of laughter and bawdy jokes. Sharon and Kim, I remembered your names, which is some feat as I find most people so completely forgettable that they drift out of focus by the time we get to the ‘and who are you’ part of the conversation. They did little to allay my concerns about Benidorm’s reputation mind, given their second sentence was warning us about pickpockets and their third was telling us the areas to avoid if we didn’t want to get beaten up. I felt I didn’t know them well enough to lean over and ask them for directions to the sexual assaults hotspots with a knowing wink: well, I didn’t want to look too keen.

The taxi ride passed remarkably uneventfully, though it was had to discern anything outside as it was going past in such a blur – the guy was driving so fast that I can only assume that he was trying to blast the rust off his car. We arrived at the Hotel Melia precisely four minutes before we set off from the airport and first impressions were excellent. The lobby was airy and full of plants, mobility scooters were banned* and the staff were exceptionally welcoming. Alejandro on the front desk could not do enough for us – I genuinely think if I’d asked for a quick rim in the panoramic lift he’d have been on his knees quicker than you can say ¿te has sentado en un poco de chocolate?

* mobility scooters. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone all Jim Davidson on you (not least because I’m reasonably funny, as opposed to being an objectionable shovel-faced c*nt) and started taking pot-shots at the disabled. No – Benidorm gained a bit of a reputation for chavs and cattle hiring mobility scooters to blaze around the place in, as much as you can blaze anywhere with a setting of ‘tortoise’. People were being dashed against walls or tumbled into road as these whirring menaces scooted past. Benidorm Council decreed that you must be over 55 (years, presumably, though stones would do it) and/or disabled before you can hire them, and quite right too. If you’re disabled then of course you should use them, but if you’re only doing it to rest your sweaty cankles or to be a dick, then frankly, I hope you have your next period in a shark tank.

We took the lift to our room on the 20th floor and took stock of our bedroom. Comfortable, well-appointed, decent bed and the TV was tuned straight into ITV2 so you know the previous occupants had been watching Jeremy Kyle. Least I hope that’s the case – I’d hate to think a housekeeper has been learning English by watching that show given none of the people on it can speak it in the first place. Hell, most of them can’t blink in unison. We immediately decanted all of the toiletries into our suitcase and called down for some more. We also ordered room service – we wouldn’t normally be so greedy but we hadn’t had anything since our gold-plated yoghurt and it was too hot to move.

Room service was disappointing. I called up only to be put on hold for a good five minutes and then passed to someone who spoke neither Spanish or English. That’s fine, no problem, but I didn’t have the time to look up the Latvian for cheeseburger (sorry Mags) and two diet cokes. We stumbled around each other before he gave up and handed the phone to someone else. I can only assume he did so for a bet because this chap was even worse – it was like trying to place my order with Ludo from Labyrinth. I was giving it the old college try with my broken Spanish, but no. Nevertheless, after four days, we placed the order and what turned up was dreadful. A pre-BSE beef burger, chips that managed be so tasteless I wasn’t sure I’d eaten them and time-machine salad which catapulted me back twenty years to when my rough nana thought a salad should consist of sliced cucumber, quartered pink tomatoes and the shitty part of the iceberg lettuce (i.e. all of it) tossed in vinegar and cigarette ash.

We gamely tried to choke it down but most of it ended up being scraped into the bin. Paul thought I had tears in my eyes but it was actually my long-suppressed gag-reflex coming to the fore. We lay on the bed for a bit, watched a bit of TV for a bit and must have dozed off because we only came around when the dulcet tones of Susan Calman came bellowing out of the TV. I was confused: if she was on the TV, who was taking part in every single Radio 4 show? Goodness. For some inexplicable reason this seemed to trigger my ‘let’s get the fuck out of here’ button so we moved out on the balcony to admire the views.

Not bad considering the air is 40% Jet2 fuel and 60% Joop

Look at that sea view! It’s like a beach hut in Corsica, no?

I know what you’re thinking – we must have felt like the only ones there! I can’t say this sight filled me with any joy – looking at all these indistinct high-rise buildings towering in front of me left me feeling like a piece of knock-off Lego. In the 50s Benidorm’s fishing industry fell on its arse, leading to the Council approving all sorts of charmless buildings. It worked though – in a rare instance of ‘if you build it they will come’ actually working out, tourists flocked to the city. So, a necessary evil, I guess.

We took the lift and went over the road to the supermarket to get holiday hotel room supplies, namely off-brand Coke and sandwich making bits and bobs. I picked up a packet of something which looked a lot like ham but had no mention of jamón on the packet, but fuck it, I’m a game soul, I bought it anyway. Upon later consumption it had the taste of a teabagged-scrotum – and I finished the lot. 

After shopping, sex and a shower, it was time to finally head out and see what was out there. First stop: the airport to check for any possible free seats. I jest. No, we went to the Red Lion just down the road where we immediately dropped any pretence of staying sober by ordering two double vodkas and cokes. We took our drinks outside to watch the people walk by.

Now here’s the thing: you know what struck me? A glass hurled by a chav. No, obviously not. It was the sound of laughter. Every single person in that bar – and all of the people walking past – were laughing, having a good time, enjoying themselves. I think it’s easy to forget sometimes when you’re being faux-snobbish about Benidorm that people don’t go there for the haute cuisine (thank fuck) or the fabulous architecture but rather because it’s cheap, hot and fun. Just like Paul. Oh and also, everyone was talking to everyone else. People weren’t sitting primly at their tables rolling their eyes and tutting at others but rather engaging each other in conversations and jokes. Hell, we’re the most antisocial pair you’ll ever meet and even we ended up getting involved and it was marvellous. This scene would occur over and over and over in every single place we went to on this holiday and it was such a wonderful change.

Now, the rest of the night was a blur, if I’m honest, because we simply walked along the beachfront and stopped at random places on the way. I’ll save some of the descriptions for a later post. We can chart our progress in photos:

6pm: Happy to be here.

7pm: The look of a man who is terrified how much the charge will be for two double vodkas paid for on a credit card.

I know! It’s like wandering through Florence in the spring, isn’t it? I’m including this photo because it was immediately after we both shat ourselves – just behind that sign was a fireworks display. We (perhaps sadly) thought it was a terrorist attack and we were being shot at. When I got my breath back and asked Paul why he hadn’t run for cover, his reply was ‘eh, I’d rather die than run’. That’s my man!

8pm: sliding. Also, I love how this looks like we’ve taken the photo using Photoshop, but let me reassure you, we DO actually own these shirts and wear them out in public. And yeah, I know my glasses are bent. But so am I, and I could wreck your arse if you made a cheap joke.

We went to a bar and ordered something called a Fat Frog. It was revolting. I think it was a blue WKD, a Smirnoff Ice and a Bacardi Breezer mixed with a Brighthouse payment schedule and a lot of regret. It was like being 15 again, only I didn’t need to tug off the rugby captain to get a drink.

10pm: decay

Midnight: deterioration

2am: ruin.

We finished the night by stopping at The Red Lion on the way back – well, we needed a local. Another double vodka and coke please, barman. We sat down and people-watched. It was great, if incredibly loud, bar one thing that spoiled it completely. A few tables across from us was a young lass sitting by herself tucking into a fishbowl cocktail. Great, why not? Well here’s why: her easily-less-than-two-years-old baby was in the pram next to her, gristling and grumbling away, and she was sitting glued to her phone, cackling at something asinine on Facebook. The only time there was any contact with her child was when she practically burnt his eyelashes off every time her fag-holding hand slumped down off the table. Now, doubtless, I’ll get told off for being judgemental, where was the dad, blah blah, but no: there’s no situation where a kid that young should be in a bar that loud that early in the morning. It’s as simple as that. If he couldn’t sleep, then stay with him in a hotel room – she was paying him absolutely no heed at all. I’ve never been so close to snatching a child – it was only the worry that Ryanair would probably charge me a £55,000 Unexpected Infant Companion tax that put me off.

Didn’t put Paul off though – in a rare bout of gobshiteness, he called her Mum of the Year as he left. She responded with a volley of abuse as filthy as the table her drink was sat on. Pfft. Don’t care. We retired to bed in what would be an early for this holiday 2am. Let’s leave it there!

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Right, to the recipe, which works wonders as a posh starter or for a taster night or a tapas night! You can use the rubble to stuff a pepper with if you prefer. Or a marrow. Or your big gob. Whatever!

to make chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms you will need:

  • 16 biggish button mushrooms
  • 100g chorizo, finely diced (12 syns)
  • 4 bacon rashers, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sherry or white wine (not sure how to syn this, to be honest – it’ll be around 2 syns, if that, divided by 16, and most of it cooks off – so I’m not choosing not to syn it)
  • 1 tbsp breadcrumbs (same)
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan (same)
  • ½ tsp paprika

If you want to be super anal about it, work out how many syns in a tbsp of breadcrumbs and cheese and divide it by 16. There’s your answer.

For this whole recipe, we chopped everything in our little Kenwood mini chopper. It doesn’t need to be uniform or fancy, just everything cut really fine. Can’t fault ours – we use it all the time, and it even handled the chorizo well. Just like Paul. Buy one here: opens in a new window!

to make chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms you should:

  • preheat the oven to 220ºc
  • chop off the mushroom stalks and – you got it – finely chop
  • add the mushrooms stalks, bacon, chorizo, onion and garlic and cook for five minutes – you don’t need to add oil here as the chorizo will release plenty of oil
  • add the parsley, chorizo and then the white wine or sherry and cook until the booze has evaporated
  • remove the pan from the heat and add the breadcrumbs and cheese, add a little salt and pepper to taste and then the paprika
  • spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps and place on a baking dish
  • cook for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms have browned and the mixture is hot
  • stick a cocktail stick in each one to make them easier to handle and eat

Done! Less than a syn per mushroom. Good for a taster night, a tapas meal or anything else you like!

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chickpea and chorizo tapas – a super speedy dish

Chickpea and chorizo tapas, of course. But first – I’m going to open tonight’s post with a full and frank apology. Well, two, because I don’t like odd numbers.

First: I am sorry for anyone who is itching in the nethers at the excitement of another Copenhagen entry, but I’m actually going to interrupt the Copenhagen holiday entries to bring you our latest holiday shenanigans. I know, I’m such a cheeky kusse! But see, we’ve just been to Benidorm for five days and I want to write about it whilst it is fresh in my head. I usually take a notebook with me and fill it full of nonsense but I was so delirious from my anti-chav injections (you go to BUPA and they put you on a drip of Waitrose cordial) that I plum forgot. So: for necessity, before my mind decides that I need to know the names of the Apprentice candidates more than the precious memories of holiday past, we’re going to write about Benidorm. The posts will start tomorrow, assuming I don’t die.

But then, what of the second apology? It’s contrition served up with a big slice of full-fat humble pie. I poo-pooed Benidorm (my fault for drinking their tap-water) for years, thinking it would have nothing to offer me. I mean, I’m in gainful employment, I don’t look at a toothbrush with suspicion and I’m not a grandfather at the age of 31. My idea of a good holiday is seeing the world a bit, talking to the locals, buying shite in shops that haven’t seen a duster for twenty years and gorging myself on all the food that is decent, and then a bit more after. The idea of holidaying in Benidorm horrified me – I’d seen my fair share of those awful low-rent TV shows on Channel 5 with people almost 94% cremated barrelling around on mobility scooters and shouting in what I thought was Portuguese but was actually a thick Scouse accent. I thought it was going to be an absolute shithole full of the worst of society. However, Paul thought it would be a good idea to have two sunny long weekends away – one in 5* luxury in Portugal, one in a fleapit in Benidorm. In my haste to shut his mouth so I could open it again and get my end away, I agreed, only realising later how horrible it would be.

But fuck my arse, was I wrong. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My own blinkered (somewhat tongue-in-cheek, mind) snobbishness had led me down completely the wrong path. Whilst you’ll need to wait for the upcoming entries to see everything, I’m actually ashamed of how I had summed it up in my head. I’m not a snob, I promise you, but people have certain ways they like to enjoy themselves and I didn’t think there would be anything for us there. What I actually found was a fun place full of lovely people. Who would have thought? There’s some good stories coming your way, including us meeting our evil doppelgängers, Paul getting run over, me setting my face on fire and flatulence being used as a weapon against the miserable.

Oh and a black Rod Stewart. Of course!

Right, let’s crack on with the recipe. Have you noticed that our holidays are loosely following the man, the myth, the legend Rick Stein’s recent TV show where he stumbled around Europe like a lost pensioner from a Saga coach trip? He went to Cadiz, we went to Benidorm. Faintly similar. Anyway, he made this lovely wee tapas dish and, having watched the show on the plane to distract myself from all the vocal fry and glottal stops around me, I knew we could make it too. It’ll keep lovely for a lunch the day after.

NOTE: this one serves SIX instead of the usual four! Remember that it’s a tapas dish, you’re not supposed to have a bowl you can bathe in. Self-control!

chickpea and chorizo tapas

chickpea and chorizo tapas

to make chickpea and chorizo tapas you will need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 100g chorizo, diced (12 syns)
  • 1 small red pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 1 small green pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 60ml red wine (about 3 syns)
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2x 400g tins of chickpeas (drained)
  • salt and pepper

You can find plenty more of Rick’s recipes in his book, available here. And look – just to prove we aren’t just corporate shills, not only do we have the book, he also signed it! What a delight.

I know, it’s hard to make out, but the ‘run away with me and be the Queens of Padstow’ bit is very faint.

to make chickpea and chorizo tapas you should:

  • heat a medium saucepan over a low heat and add a little oil
  • add the onion and garlic, stir well and then put the lid on the pan and leave to cook for about 5-6 minutes
  • add the chorizo, peppers and bay leaves to the pan and cook for another five minutes, until you can see orange oil starting to come out of the chorizo
  • add the red wine and paprika to the pan, whack up the heat and give a good stir, and cook for a few minutes until the sauce is only loosely coating what’s in the pan (you’ll know what we mean when you do it)
  • add the chickpeas to the pan, reduce the heat a little, put the lid back on and cook for about 5 minutes, until the chickpeas are warmed through
  • add salt and pepper to however you like it
  • serve!

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