Papas Arrugadas with Mojo Sauce (vegetarian starter or side dish)

A deceptively simple starter from Lanzarote that is utterly addictive, this is described as “Canarian wrinkly potatoes with red and green pepper (mojo) sauces“.

The sauces need to be pre-prepared and this makes a huge batch but since they last well in the fridge, since they go with almost anything and since they are utterly addictive, this is not a problem.

Peel and chop one small bulb (yes, bulb) of garlic. Take two thick slices of bread, remove the crust and discard and tear the rest into bits. Take a tablespoon of cumin seeds, dry fry them and grind to a powder (or just take a tablespoon of pre-ground cumin powder, if you must). Add 1 large tea-spoon of sea-salt. Divide this mixture in half – it’s going to make both sauces.

For the red sauce, add one or two teaspoons of paprika and one deseeded and chopped red pepper to one half of the mix. Put the lot in a blender and grind until smooth, adding a tablespoon of white wine or cider vinegar and enough olive oil to make the mix smooth. Adjust the flavouring and consistancy with more vinegar and oil if necessary.

For the green sauce, take the other half of the mix and add a chopped, deseeded green pepper and a large bunch of coriander herb. Blend and add vinegar and olive oil as per the red sauce.

The potatoes are, properly, Canarian black potatoes but jersey royals will do just fine.

Wash the potatoes well but leave the skin on them and put them in water with half a lemon and a handful of salt and leave to steep for an hour. Throw out the water and the lemon and add half a cupful of rock salt and half-fill the pan with water. Simmer for twenty minutes and then empty the water. Put the pan on a very low heat and dry the potatoes, giving the pan a shake every now and again to stop them sticking and evenly cook until the skin goes wrinkly. Now they’re ready to eat, with relish(es)!


The Social Network.

Social Network poster, Eisenberg as Zuckenberg

Powered by Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue, this chugs along at a fair old rate, and you need to pay attention to keep up. It’s interesting and exciting despite having almost no likeable characters in it – Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo is the nearest thing to a ‘hero’ since Jesse Eisenberg’s protagonist is played pretty much as a driven (and brilliant) jerk.

It’s a very good film – I was entertained and feel that I have probably been reasonably accurately informed, and I’m always a sucker for chopped-up chronologies – but I’m not sure it deserved quite so much praise as it has received. There wasn’t quite enough emotional involvement for that and I don’t know how long it will remain with me.

Robin and Marion

Robin fighting the Sheriff

It’s about 30 years since I watched this, and it stands up really well. It’s made by Richard Lester & has a similar style to his Muskateer movies, though there is a more sombre, elegiac, tone to it. The jokes have been pared back and there is a sadness to Robin’s twenty wasted years following King Richard on his vainglorious Crusade – and a struggle to find a purpose to life after he’s lost his illusions, although those illusions seem to take over again as the film progresses. I’m not entirely sure whether Robin is being played deliberately as a bit shallow and unable to comprehend how the legend has got out of control or whether this is a limitation of Sean Connery’s acting at this time.

The bittersweet mood is best illustrated by Robert Shaw’s superb Sheriff, a humane man trying to keep order in an inhumane world, and who must kill Robin (and wants to) but also sympathises with him and perhaps understands him better than everyone except, perhaps, Marian.

The climactic fight scene between Robin and the Sheriff is both tense and deeply moving.