Cooking for a South African rock star in the Lecrin Valley, south of Granada

Do you remember a certain party when my friend Antonia asked me if Monchéri and I could take over a cooking job in the valley for a music producer and a band? May be I was drunk that night but I could swear Antonia mentioned it was a girl's band and Monchéri was absolutely enthusiastic. Our cooking assignment took place in Youth's amazing house, tucked among the olive groves in the Lecrin valley. Youth is a super music producer who shares his time between London and Andalusia. His studio in the valley has welcomed notorious English bands like Embrace and Delays. Actually, this is the second time, Monchéri and I, have been cooking for Youth, his assistants and his guests. We had kept such a good memory of our first cooking experience at his place that never mind the heat, the sinuous road from our village to his house, we took up the job with great pleasure. Monchéri who expected a girl's band was a bit surprised to see only guys there and I quickly assumed I totally misunderstood Antonia when a good looking blond young man came to say hello to us and introduced himself as Arno. As I couldn't properly grasped his name, Youth explained with a big smile that this guy was actually the biggest rock singer in South Africa and was staying to record an album, at his studio, to be released by next spring. How great ! naturally, we felt a little bit peevish not to know his name, not to know that he opened for the Rolling Stones when they were on tour in Spain in 2007. And when Youth very kindly proposed to us to come down to the studio, one day, after dinner to listen to the recording, we were both so thrilled to discover a very talented singer and songwriter with such a powerful voice. I would have loved to include a You tube video in my post but alas I still do not master this blogger feature, but please if like me, you never heard Arno Carstens before, do check it up on You tube. This guy rocks baby ! On top of that, he is such a gentle person. He very nicely agreed to answer some questions, didn't mind my taking photos and most important loved our cooking !!

Youth's house, built in a Moroccan style

the main entrance to the house through the patio....

....where towels get quickly dried in the sun...

the spacious kitchen area would make any cook happy

the dining table where dinners are served
a living room with views onto the olive groves

....and the hills.....

the guitar above has been made in Granada by
famous maker Bellido y Gil

sometimes after dinner, the ambiance got
really cool and laid back, with great guitar music.

the exotic touch of the house, decorated with
Indian statues and music instruments and Moroccan rugs
inspired us colorful exotic food

sweet corn fritters and a curried version of a cole slaw salad
Chinese-style fried rice and ginger meatballs

but we also had to remember that at times
good substantial food was needed
to compensate for the long hours of work

French-style sauté potatoes with garlic and parsley
nice chunky entrecôtes

Lasagna is one of my favorite dishes
I loved it when Clive, Youth's mixing engineer
asked me how I did them because they didn't taste
the same when he made some at home.

The answer is very simple....
I like to give them an exotic twist by mixing meat and shrimps
in the tomato sauce and adding grated ginger
and yes I prefer to make my own béchamel even if it takes hours

Give it a try !

and you'll see your guests asking for more !

desserts had not been forgotten
we had orange cake, chocolate cake
and my all time favorite, the lemon meringue pie

time for a pause......

Youth who is ever so cool shows me his journal book
where he writes down his poetry and makes little sketches.
He loves poetry, feels very inspired by the Lorca
culture in Granada. Monchéri mentions other names of
Spanish poets to him. I turn the pages of his book
and am charmed by the sketches below which
somehow make me think of Cocteau

The night before our last cooking day
we took a photo souvenir with the whole team

on the sofa from left to right : Clive, mixing engineer, Youth, Arno,
Alex, guitarist and member of the band Opera House, Tim, keyboards and computer
standing : Jo, assistant, David, drummer and Monchéri

the same with me in the middle

on the last day.....
packing but still playing....

on our last day, Monchéri and I
stopped on the road to lie down under these pines
do you see the sign "land to sell" ?

Monchéri is dreaming......

and me as well.....

photos by your devoted blogging hostess and Monchéri


willow said…
Oh Lala, I thoroughly enjoyed this post! All the beautiful food you made!! Wow! And the exotic house with the gorgeous view of the hills....sigh. Great pix of yourself and your moncheri. He looks incredibly tall! :)
charmaine said…
wow! Lala,looks like you really enjoyed yourself. his home is very beautifl,i love his collection of really need to write a cookbook,the food looks must have really enjoyed that beautiful view of the hills.i also love your friend Gym's beautiful shop,the decor is very lovely.i love the windows and the lavender sofa and those exposed beams are gorgeous. i can just keep going on and on about this post,but i can't because i don't have enough space.lovely post Lala! have a good weekend.

karina said…
How can you be so cool? and Beauty? and cook cakes?
Have a great weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!
rochambeau said…
Hi Lala,
What a fun fete for you and your Cherie to cater!!! The menu sounds great and the food looks delish. Love Youth's sketches and the last photo of you the best!

Thea said…
Hi Lala!! I've only discovered your blog on Thursday and what a lovely surprise I got this morning when I saw a post about our own Arno Carstens. (I'm an Afrikaans speaking South African and stays very close to Johannesburg) It looks like you had a wonderful time at Youth's Moroccan house!! It's a beautiful house and the view is to die for!! And the food looks delicious!

You have a lovely blog and I immediately fell in love with your friend Gym's shop!!
Relyn said…
If you ever plan to write your memoirs, might I suggest the title, "It's A Magic Life"? Yours is.
Vanessa said…
Honey, you had me at entrecôtes! :-)
l'air du temps said…
just when i was about to believe that 'perfect' does not exist, your words, sentiments and pictures prove me wrong in the most precious way.

this, my dear seems perfect. to be in the midst of such beauty, with interesting and charming people, incredibly delicious food, well worth all the effort i imagine it took. it seems like a moment that reflects the incredible beauty that life has to offer.

and you darling Lala, as we say 'hostess with the mostess.' meaning your beauty, charm, talent and elegance is a gift we are all fortunate to enjoy.

Anonymous said…
Looks like everyone was well fed. Delicious-looking food, beautiful atmosphere. Love your photo.

Don said…
Nice story. The Lecrin Valley is great and it looks like you have had a great experience there.
Arno Carstens is talented for sure. It's not .com. Also
Be cool.
somepinkflowers said…

that was so much fun, missy!
the photos were yummy
i could almost smell
the de*lish food.


i think i ate too much.

{{ you can cook for my band
oh wait
i do not have one...


if... }}
Sara said…
Hi Lala! All the food looks delicious, but when I saw those potatoes I really wanted to reach my hand into the photo and taste them! And the ginger meatballs too...yum.

That house has a fantastic view..I love how it sits so high up looking out over view below.

I don't know Arno Carstens but I will go find him on YouTube and listen...he has a wonderful way with a pen and paper too...I liked the flowing lines of his drawings very much.

Resting under the pine trees along the road - ahhh...I can smell the fragrance of the pines and hear the quiet of the wide open country....
Elizabeth said…
I wish I could see this enchanting place.
Yes, it is so like Morocco. Sob sob!
Your food looks amazing too.
We would have loved you to be at Constance's lunch where your gazpacho was a big hit!
Happy week
love from New York.
Kristen said…
What fun! The food looked wonderful and so do you!
The scenery/hills was gorgeous.
Lynne said…
wow! great story, great pics (the food alone!) and what a gorgeous home! i feel like i just went on holiday!
Anonymous said…
Lala, have just found your blog and enjoy your style.

The confusion might be explained by a touch of Alcohol and that Arno Carstens, solo artist, is also lead singer for South African cult rock band "Springbok Nude Girls" - perhaps this explains the lack of girl band!?!
tangobaby said…
What a group of talented and interesting people. I especially loved the sketches...almost as much as the photos of the food.

Thank you for taking us on this important assignment with you. I hope you have a chance to go back to that house again.
onesilentwinter said…
wow, thats incredible, the view from the window!
JoJo said…
Wow! A beautiful home with a wonderful view, AMAZING food with great music! While we can't see the smells nor sounds, my guess is that this was one sensual experience! Wonderful post. Thank you for featuring the guitar.
LL said…
Lala, my God, what is next for you? Now you are partying with Rock Stars! Wow! You live such a sensational life!!

I have never heard of ARno...never mind I do not even know who are the north American rock stars.....

I am out of the music scene....LOL.

Well Lala, that is one beautiful house. I like the high ceiling in the kitchen, the cool art of the Queen, and the colourful tile on the staircase.

And the food....yummy! Lala, really, we need to trade lives....
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