I rarely feature photos of myself in my blog or social media posts, but here are a few to make up for the loss (or not). My 15 minutes of TV fame in the company of the popular presenter, Michael Portillo, were finally broadcast in early November (read about the shoot here). These slotted into his informative meandering across Andalucia from Granada to Cadiz meeting artisans, farmers, cooks – et al.

Michael Portillo fronting the magnificent Alhambra (Channel 5)

Ironically that very evening I was at a splashy travel event hosted by the big-wigs of the Andalucian Tourism Board for World Travel Market. They of course had no idea about Channel 5’s series Portillo’s Andalucia despite it offering such high-profile coverage – for free. Not just in the UK, but worldwide.

This oblivion was ironic in view of the €38 million they had just allocated for an ambitious and not very clever publicity campaign. It aims to lure even more (younger) visitors to Andalucia – Spain’s most visited region. Called ‘Andalucian Crush’ the campaign sounds to me more like a soft drink, or possibly a heaving tapas bar. But what they meant to convey was the emotional impact of the region’s bounty – there’s no denying that.

Still, the flamenco staged at the London launch was tops, boosted by the surreal setting of a slick 42nd floor restaurant (with a humongous view) deep in the heart of the City of London.

A blur of wild flamenco – in the heart of London

Luckily, a handful of my faithful friends watched the first episode of this six-part series and sent me some snaps. But I only managed a quick look at ‘my’ episode the next morning on catch-up before dashing to the airport to catch a plane to…. where else but Malaga – Andalucia! There was definitely a theme in the air.

At the mercado with Mr P & his Panama hat

On a roll – through the camera lens

In the programme itself, the covered market of San Agustin made the perfect place to start our chew over the history of Andalucian food. We met at a stand of mouth-watering pickles – all about vinegar. Next stop was a generous line-up of pork, and finally a vividly coloured stand of fruit and veg. Sadly the fish-stand wouldn’t play ball with the idea of being on telly – so nada pescado!

Meet and greet at the Mercado de San Agustin
Spouting Andalucian food history – what’s new?

From the market we segued (by taxi – it was late July and over 40°) a few blocks away to Chikito, a charmingly old-fashioned restaurant with an illustrious history. Back in the 1920s, then called Cafe Alameda, it was frequented by a group of intellectuals, El Rinconcillo, who included Federico Garcia Lorca, the composer De Falla and a youthful Segovia. Today a life size bronze statue of Lorca sits in one corner in homage to one of Spain’s greatest writers, murdered by Franco’s thugs.

And then to lunch at Chikito – starting with gazpacho

Our leisurely lunch kicked off with a divine gazpacho – just what was needed in that heat – followed by Remojon Granadino – an unusual and totally delicious dish of cod with orange, olives and pomegranate seeds. Incidentally recipes for both these dishes feature in my book Andaluz – A Food Journey through Southern Spain, (more info here), as does the restaurant itself.

A nest of remojon – beautifully presented
Out damned snail….

Another sampler of Andalucian classics came in the form of tiny snails. Oops. Hard work extricating them from their shells and I don’t think Mr P enjoyed them much – he soon took off to the Alhambra!

How to watch it

The programme is now up on My5 for free although restricted to UK viewers. AppleTV also list it with “guest star Fiona Dunlop”. I found this link to access the series in the US – hope it works, I can’t tell! Here’s another, I think suggesting the same VPN system.

My contribution starts about 15 minutes in & lasts for – yes – 15 minutes – of fame!

A last plug for me came in Mr P’s article for the Mail on Sunday, not one of my favourite newspapers – but hey, I’m in there with Granada