Friday, June 30, 2017

Barhopping in the Basque Country

In my latest novella, Gnarly, I talk about food a lot. Partly because one of the main characters owns a bar, but also because the Basque people in general are passionate about food. Some of the finest chefs and restaurants in the region can be found in the coastal town of San Sebastian, the beautiful city featured in my long novella. Today I'm going to share my love for the region with photos and a few recipes I've included in my blog tours.






This is a typical bar scene with a wide variety of pintxos (also known as tapas in other parts of Spain) lining every square inch of space. Each of these delicacies cost anywhere from 2.50-5.00 euros depending on the intricacy of the dish and availability of the ingredients.

Most people bar hop, trying out one or two plates at each stop, usually accompanied by a small glass of wine or beer. It's impossible to try everything in one night. The goal is to visit as many places as time and money allow.


This is why people come back to the region all the time. They can't get enough!  There's one day during the week (usually Thursday) when they reduce the price on everything so the streets are clogged with revelers looking for the deal.

You could quench your hunger this way, but pintxos are considered appetizers. After making the rounds, people move on to formal dining at home or at a restaurant. What can I say? Basques love to eat.




Check out this great variety of pintxos! 



Here are a few of the recipes I shared on my Gnarly blog tour.


 Sangria

1 (750-ml) bottle of red wine
¼ cup brandy
¼ cup orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Triple Sec or Grand Marnier)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
¼ cup sugar
½ orange, thinly sliced
½ lemon, thinly sliced
1 unwaxed apple, cored, and cut into thin wedges
Let it sit for a while before you pour over ice
Ready, set, enjoy!

Tortilla de Patata (Potato Omelette) 

5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds waxy potatoes, thinly sliced
2 Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus extra to garnish
Salt and ground black pepper

PREPARATION
Heat part of the oil in an 8-inch non-stick frying pan, and fry the onions until golden brown and cooked through. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Transfer to a plate. If you plan on adding chorizo or ham, you can fry the cubed or cut up pieces at this time and add to the cooked onions once you drain and pat dry. Add more oil to the pan and fry the potatoes, turning frequently. Cover tightly and cook over a gentle heat for about 30 minutes turning occasionally, until softened and slightly golden. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and parsley. Gently stir in the potatoes and onions until coated (and additional ingredients if desired), taking care not to break up the potato too much. It’s important to mix everything in a bowl instead of pouring the eggs directly over the potatoes in the pan. The eggs are distributed evenly and it tastes better this way. Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining oil. Add the potato/onion/egg mixture and cook over a very low heat until the egg begins to set. Use a rubber spatula to prevent the tortilla from sticking and allow the uncooked egg to run underneath. Preheat your broiler to high. When the base of the tortilla has set, which should take about 5 minutes, protect the pan handle with foil and place the tortilla under the grill until it is set and golden. Cut into wedges and serve garnished with parsley.


Bacalao a la Vizcaina (Cod-Basque Style) 

Ingredients:
1 large salted cod loin
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
2 roasted peppers (preferably red)
1 chopped tomato
1 tablespoon flour
Extra virgin olive oil.
Soak the cod loin in water for 24 hours, changing the water frequently to get rid of some of the salt
The next day, insert the cod loin in a pan with cold water and heat. Remove from the range when it begins to boil.
Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. Stir-fry the diced onion until it begins to brown, then add the garlic cloves, peppers, and chopped tomato.
When all the ingredients are lightly fried add the flour. Let it toast a little.
Add some of the broth in which the cod was cooked (two cups) and let it boil at low heat. This broth has the flavor and jelly of the cod.  
When the sauce thickens add the cod and keep on simmer until it’s time to eat. 
Serve with rice or a loaf of crusty bread.  



Alubias Rojas de Tolosa (Red beans from Tolosa) 

INGREDIENTS
1 ½ pounds dried red kidney beans 
6 tablespoons olive oil 
½ yellow onion, finely chopped 
5 ounces salt pork, in one piece
3 (3-ounce) chorizos 
6 cups water 
Salt 

1 small head green cabbage, coarsely chopped 
3 sausages (the Basques use morcillas aka blood sausages but you can use whatever you prefer) 
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced 
8 pickled guindilla (you can substitute with jalapeño, banana, or any other spicy green chilies) 

PREPARATION
Rinse the beans in a colander under cold running water. Place in a bowl, add water to cover by 2 inches, and let soak for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
Drain the beans, place in a stockpot, and add water to cover by 1 inch. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the onion, and the salt pork and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil, stirring occasionally.
After the beans have cooked for 1 hour, add the chorizos. Add warm water if needed to keep the beans covered, and continue to boil gently for 1 hour longer, or until the beans are tender.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the 6 cups water to a boil over high heat. Salt the water lightly, add the cabbage, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the cabbage has lost its volume. Decrease the heat to medium, add the sausage, and cook for 20 minutes longer, or until the sausage is fork-tender. Lift the sausages from the pot and keep them warm on a serving platter. Drain the cabbage, squeezing it thoroughly to eliminate any excess liquid. In a sauté pan, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden. Add the cabbage and turn several times in the oil and garlic to heat through and blend the flavors. Transfer the cabbage to a serving platter and keep warm.

When the beans are tender, remove the chorizos and salt pork to the platter holding the sausage. Slice the meat into 2-inch pieces. (For ease, you can transfer the meat to a cutting board for slicing and then return them to the platter.)


If I've succeeded in whetting your appetite, you can learn more about the region through the eyes of my characters in Gnarly.  Next week I'll post pictures of festivals and scenery.  Feel free to leave comments, in fact, I'd love to hear back from anyone out there. Traveling is my passion and I'm interested in hearing from fellow explorers.    


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sale Ends at Midnight!



Hi all! Just a reminder that today is the last day to catch the great sale over at Dreamspinner Press. Get my new release, Gnarly, for 30% off the retail price.

In case you're on the fence about the novella, here's a great review that might change your mind.

http://www.rainbow-reviews.com/book-reviews/gnarly-world-of-love-by-mickie-b-ashling-at-dreamspinner-press







Buy Gnarly here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/gnarly-by-mickie-b-ashling-8583-b








Friday, June 23, 2017

Inspiration Shots: The Basque Country





I thought I'd share a few photos I took last summer when I was visiting my family in San Sebastian, Spain. My new release, Gnarly, was inspired by this town. The Basque's are passionate about food and San Sebastian is famous for Pintxos (also known as tapas). There are more top-rated restaurants in this coastal town than anywhere else in Europe. If you ever get a chance to go to Spain, put the Basque Country on your must-see list. It's worth the journey.  

Gnarly is currently on sale at the Dreamspinner store: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/gnarly-by-mickie-b-ashling-8583-b

This m/m/m erotic romance is available at all major retailers including Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Gnarly-World-Love-Mickie-Ashling-ebook/dp/B071ZV5V5Q/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8



















Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gnarly is live!




Get a taste of the Basque Country without leaving the comfort of home. Gnarly is available for purchase at most retailers. You can get it at a discount ($4.19) if you buy at the Dreamspinner Store.

Blurb

Dr. Ed Hollingsworth, widowed for five years, returns to San Sebastián, Spain, after a thirty-year absence. He seeks out his first and only male lover, pro surfer Javi Elizalde.

After surviving a near-fatal shark attack, Javi turned his back on the sport he loves and became a recluse.

Iker Lizaso, professional jai alai player, finds himself at loose ends now that his contract has expired. Forced to retire at thirty-eight, he returned to his home in the Basque Country to figure out what to do with the rest of his life.

Three different men, encumbered by their past, converge in a city famous for its food, summer festivals, and romantic promenades. Can they find happiness together? It’ll be difficult, maybe even improbable, considering their backgrounds, but Cupid’s arrow usually hits the mark, and this particular strike might be epic.



World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/gnarly-by-mickie-b-ashling-8583-b

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sale!



Dreamspinner is having a big summer sale starting today! Fill your suitcases or e-readers with a wide variety of books from your favorite authors. Pre-orders are included.

Gnarly, my World of Love novella releases tomorrow and is included in the sale. Don't miss out on the great price.



https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/gnarly-by-mickie-b-ashling-8583-b


Friday, June 16, 2017

Gnarly Blog Tour Schedule



Hi all. Here is the schedule for the upcoming blog tour for my new release, Gnarly. Follow along for exclusive excerpts, recipes from the Basque Country, and a giveaway.



TOUR SCHEDULE


June 21 - The Novel Approach
June 23 - Molly Lolly
June 26 - Love Bytes
June 28 - On Top Down Under
June 30 - Bayou Book Junkie
July 3 - MM Good Book Reviews


Here's another snippet. In this scene, Patxi, Javi's father, accompanies Ed to Javi's apartment. It's the first time they see each other in thirty years.

“Javier,” Patxi called out in a loud voice.
“I’m in my room,” Javi replied.
“I brought you a visitor.”
“Who?”
“Are you decent?” Patxi asked.
“Why? Did you bring the king to visit?”
“No,” Patxi replied, chuckling. “I brought someone better.”
“Aita, stop kidding around.”
“I’m serious,” Patxi said. “Edu is with me.”
The silence was telling, and for one awful moment, Ed wanted to turn around and walk away, but then Javi called out in halting English.
“Is it really you, my friend?”
Ed’s throat burned, and for some inexplicable reason, tears flooded his eyes. He coughed and replied in what he hoped was a normal tone of voice. “Yup, it’s me. Can I come in?”
“At your own risk,” Javi said, reverting to Spanish.
Well, shit. It wasn’t the most enthusiastic reply, but it was better than an outright refusal. Ed headed toward the bedroom, grateful that Patxi didn’t follow.  He didn’t want an audience for this homecoming, not when he didn’t know how they’d both react.
At this time of the year, sunset didn’t start until well past eight o’clock in the evening, and the room was in shadows as waning daylight filtered in through the paned window. Javi sat on a chaise facing the door, his legs covered with a light cotton throw. He was wearing a white T-shirt that depicted an aging hipster hanging ten on a surfboard, gray hair tied back in a ponytail, a goofy look on his face, and the caption Surf Till U Check Out in big block letters. Years of sun worship had left its toll, Ed noticed. Tiny crow’s feet radiated from Javi’s limpid hazel eyes and deep commas bracketed his generous mouth. Fortunately, he hadn’t gone bald, and the reddish-brown hair, tucked behind his ears and curled around his neck, made him look younger than his years. Ed had loved finger-combing through the strands, tugging on the thick mass at the height of passion, and helping Javi tie it back when it got in the way of his sport. He’d begged him to keep it long whenever Javi had threatened to buzz it off, and from his spot near the door, Ed felt ridiculously pleased that one thing hadn’t changed. An unexpected surge of tenderness clogged his throat, and he blinked back the tears as he stood there soaking up the sight of his former lover.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gnarly-World-Love-Mickie-Ashling-ebook/dp/B071ZV5V5Q/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

DSP: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/gnarly-by-mickie-b-ashling-8583-b

Monday, June 12, 2017

Let's not forget...



A year ago a group of Dreamspinner authors and editors put together this anthology for the victims and family members of the tragedy in Orlando. The collection is still available for purchase and all proceeds go to LGBT organizations in Central Florida.

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/one-pulse-7577-b

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Basque Trilogy Bundle



My bittersweet trilogy has been turned into a bundle. You get three full-length novels for only $9.99.

Here are the individual blurbs:

Loving Edits

When bestselling novelist Mick Henley contacts his editor and former lover, Paul Alcott, after a seven-year absence, hearing Mick’s voice reinforces what Paul has known all along―he still loves Mick. The possible reunion entices Paul into considering a dinner invitation, but his hopes are dashed when he learns Mick is in a loving relationship with Spanish jai alai player Tono Garat.

Paul still accepts the invitation, and Mick asks Paul to help Tono through the final revision of a love story he’s written, inspired by his affair with Mick. When Paul refuses, Mick reveals he’s been diagnosed with a fatal disease, and the novel is Tono’s only means of coping with the eventual outcome.

Paul and Tono resent each other, but they can't deny the strong sexual attraction between them. Can the past blend with the present to ease the way for Mick’s inevitable future? Will they overcome their differences to provide the loving support necessary to sustain the man they love or will their collision destroy Mick's final days?



Tono

In the aftermath of Mick Henley’s death, his two lovers, Paul Alcott and Tono Garat, find themselves at odds. Tono has rejected Paul on the pretext that the public will find out about their love affair, thus tarnishing Mick’s memory; the reality is that Tono fears Paul will lose interest in him because they’re not intellectual equals. Tono’s fear is compounded when Mick’s final novel, Momentos, is presented to Paul posthumously with a request to start a trust from the proceeds to aid artists and writers suffering from ALS. Mick’s only stipulation is that Tono spearhead the organization.

Paul is energized by Mick’s request, but Tono is angry and conflicted about the challenge. After a five-month separation, they reunite, rekindling their strong physical attraction—and illuminating their many differences. As always, Mick’s presence lingers, intruding at unexpected times. Are their memories preventing Paul and Tono from finding true happiness as a couple? Can there be a life for two vibrant alphas without the gentle Mick to buffer the discord?



Momentos: Mick’s Journey

Before Mick Henley brought Paul Alcott and Tono Garat together in Loving Edits, it was simply Mick and Paul, two optimistic teenagers who began a love affair that would span twelve years—and leave an indelible mark on their lives.

The passionate young lovers shared a series of firsts before Paul’s harsh father drove a wedge between them, shattering their dreams and destroying everything Mick believed to be true about love. After Paul's defection, Mick met Tono, a closeted Spanish athlete, who helped heal his broken heart.

From passionate highs to heartbreaking lows, Mick inspires the two most important men in his life and brings them together with his impending death. They’ll learn that all their memories, even the most difficult to bear, are precious and that love is the most amazing journey of all.

Buy here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/basque-trilogy-by-mickie-b-ashling-8638-b

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday Preview




Another snippet for your entertainment.

“Maybe it’s time to make a few changes,” Iker said gently. “You’re an accomplished doctor and a responsible father from what you’ve told me. I find it hard to believe that your sons will turn on you if you sit them down and tell them the whole story. What you’re feeling for Javi doesn’t take away the love you felt for their mother. Young people are more tolerant than you realize.”
Ed looked up sharply. “I’m not telling them about Javi!”
“Then don’t mention him, but you can say you’re bisexual. It’s not the end of the world, Ed. Some very famous people claim that label.”
“I don’t give a damn about other people,” Ed snapped. “I’m trying to understand why I’m jonesing for the pair of you after being happily married to a woman for over twenty-five years.”
“Excuse me?” Iker asked. “Did you just say the pair of you?”
“I misspoke,” Ed amended quickly.
Iker gave him a sly smile. “Too bad. The idea of a three-way with you and Javi is hot."
Ed was horrified to feel his cock taking the bait. The image of them sprawled in his bed, naked and entwined, made him catch his breath. Blood rushed to his cheeks and his heart thudded loudly in his head. It felt like he’d been racing toward the edge of a cliff, charging nonstop until he flew out into the void, and the only thing preventing him from dropping a thousand feet and splattering on the rocks below was Iker. When had this stranger turned into his anchor?
As if he could read his mind, Iker reached across the table and grabbed Ed’s hand, which had been busy making little piles with the breadcrumbs he’d scattered over the fine linen.
“I think it’s time to go,” Iker said.
“Agreed,” Ed said, trying desperately to regain his equilibrium. Signaling the waiter, he asked for the bill, and when it was presented, he paid with his credit card. Iker motioned to leave a tip, but Ed reached for his hand to stop him.
“My treat,” he said brusquely.
“Thank you,” Iker replied.
They were subdued on the way home. Once again, Ed insisted Iker drive, giving himself the opportunity to dwell on their conversation. The flush of arousal he’d experienced at the restaurant had evaporated, and he was worn out. In light of their conversation, he gave some serious thought to all the possibilities. Had he been in denial all these years in order to keep the status quo? Family, wife, children, career. Wasn’t that supposed to take priority over anything else? If so, he’d done his part, and quite well, he wanted to add. But maybe now it was time to rethink his priorities.
Being bisexual didn’t take anything away from his previous life. Why not admit he’d had feelings for Javi all along? And what of Iker? Was he just caught up in this shitstorm because Ed had a thing for Basque men? Ed knew he was prevaricating before he even finished his thought. Iker was attractive in his own right and shouldn’t end up as collateral damage.

Holiday Deal