Introducing … Annie Manson. Hello Annie, why Spain?
It happened by accident. I came to Tarifa looking for a lock-up-and-leave beach-front apartment to escape to at weekends from London life. Fell in love with where I now live as soon as I stepped through the door. It was totally inappropriate and didn’t tick any of my preconceived boxes but felt just FAB!!

What were you going before you came to Spain?
I had a catering company in London. Capital Radio was probably my biggest client that people can relate to. I would run their hospitality at Party in the Park. Feeding 2,500 people can be challenging but great fun too. I was freelance – didn’t work every day but when I did it was full on. I had a great team behind me too.

Don’t talk to me about ….
People who moan and complain about Spanish people, customs and way of life. We are guests in their country so when in Rome…..

What people don’t know about me is…?
That I love dipping salt & vinegar crisps into a tub of cottage cheese.

“Annie B’s Kitchen” has become a bit of a legend – how did it start?
My background is finance. B.Com from Uni of Edinburgh. Straight from there to City of London to work with Chemical Bank of New York and then Dun & Bradstreet. After 4 years I’d had enough and was lucky to meet up with Clare Latimer who ran her own catering company. Sounded like  a dream to me. So my salary dropped BIG TIME and I started peeling potatoes and shelling hard boiled eggs. By this time I had bought a flat in London.<

What dream for your business are you now realising?
To put Vejer on the foodie map of Europe. When I bought my house here, I had no idea Vejer was such a gourmet goldmine. Not only is it full of fabulous local produce from the land and sea, the home of sherry is just up the road in Jerez! Vejer is full of great eating places, almost all owner-run and managed where they take huge pride in what they serve and how they serve it. I’ve been working on luring an influential journo here and have recently succeeded. His article came out, tipping Vejer to be one of the next 4 classic foodie destinations in Europe. The Sunday Times, Travel Section, 10 June 2012

Cookery classes – are attendees potential master chefs, can boil an egg learners come too?
Anyone who loves food and wine can come along: It’s all about sharing so whatever standard you are at – there is always something new to learn from fellow classmates. I’m always learning from class attendees too. NO skills are required – just a healthy appetite for eating and learning. I even had someone here last year who sat staring at a grater. When I enquired if there was a problem he asked – “Which side do I use?”

Proudest moment so far
Reaching the top of Kilimanjaro on 29 Feb! Not the summit – just the top was enough for me. Other than that – recently it must have been being presented with my Sherry Educator’s Certificate for the DO of Jerez – hence my ignorance re Cartojal!!! My family were the distillers of Glen Garioch in Aberdeenshire and imported Sherry from Jerez in barrels in the 17-18thC. It was then bottled when it reached them in Scotland. The barrels were then used in the whisky ageing process.

Sherry… tell us more
Sherry is the most underrated and undervalued wine in the market. The word Sherry is generic – Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso, Cream, Moscatel and PX are styles of sherry. Go into any bar here and ask for a Sherry – they will look at you blankly. You need to ask for it by type. All Sherry is made from white grapes. It’s the aging and oxidization that brings on the darker colour. I tell everyone that sherry is FAB – it’s Fortified, Aged and Blended. There is a sherry to match every food  – no wine can do that. I love to drink a different sherry with every course – it may be more alcoholic but it’s complexity and depth of flavour means that you only need to sip on it – not knock it back as I do with wine! Like wine, the more you pay, the better the sherry you will drink. VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry) is an incredible accompaniment to any meal.

What cookery book is beside your bed?
Tonight it’s Frank Camorra’s Movida. It’s the most brilliant book about Spanish food. I’ve had it for a couple of years but there’s always something there I need to refer to.

Kitchen item you can’t live without
My Victorinox Tomato knives. Made by the same people who make Swiss Army Pen Knives, this little knife is just incredible.

If you could have other Chefs around the dinner table who would you invite & what would you cook?
Keith Floyd would have been the best guest! Frank Camorra. Rick Stein. My uncles in Texas and Kansas (the most brilliant chefs) and Suzanne Husseini.  We would have a Ajo Blanco with frozen grapes and a glass of Manzanilla. Arroz con Gambas with a copa of Amontillado. Presa Iberica (my favourite cut from the Cerdo Iberica and a copa of Oloroso then chocolate and almond torte with raisins soaked in PX, Creme Fraiche, Strawberries and a copa of PX

To relax you….
Cook, entertain, drink wine

Would a happiness boost involve food?  If so what, if not what makes you feel happy on a rainy day?
A happiness boost can involve food. The new season’s figs have arrived and my first bite into my first one last week was AAAGGGGHHH.
I guess on a rainy day I remember being here on the beach with a picnic of Manzanilla, a tumbler of Gazpacho, Olives, Jamón, sliced tomatoes, a tortilla de patatas that’s still warm,  and a bottle of vino Rosado – 2011 Torres de Casta is my current favourite, by the way. Lots of friends, crashing waves, sunshine & sunset.

Favourite moment in life was …
I think there have been too many…….can’t select just one.

How do we find out more about Annie B’s Kitchen
Website:  www.anniebspain.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/CookinginSpain
Facebook group – AnnieB’s Spanish Kitchen
Thank you annie manson

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