Gambas Olorosas

'Do you want a bag to take the rest of this stuff home then?'
'No, no! It's all for you!'
Lucia had returned from her home-town of Jerez de la Frontera (where sherry comes from) and had brought me gifts. She bustled in with a bag of Payoyo cheese from Cadiz, a bottle of sherry, a box of cooked prawns she had bought from her local market the day before, and another box of some fresh, peeled prawns. It was promising to be a great evening.

They say that on nights of a full moon, the fishing is especially good. Prawn-lovers also argue over where the best ones come from. It seems to be a tie between the waters off Cataluña, Valencia, Denia, Garrucha (in the Almeria province of Andalucia) and Sanlucar de Barrameda, the latter being about 30mins from Jerez. She cooked gambas al ajillo. First she fried the prawns in lots of oil, with a healthy dose of garlic and some little guindillas - dry chillis. After the prawns had taken on some colour, and shrivelled a little, she tossed in a double shot of sherry, allowing it to reduce slightly. The resulting earthenware-contained mix was sweet and fragrant. The blend of wine, seafood and garlic danced surprisingly daintily on the palate. Having cooed sufficiently we proceeded to blast away the flavour with the parmigianaesque nutty strength of the curado cheese and some glasses of the amontillado.

In Henry IV, part II that fat jollyite Falstaff bellowed:
'If I had a thousand sons, the first human principle I would teach them should be, to forswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack.'
In short, to stop drinking lady-liquor like beer and wine and get stuck in with the big boy's drink, sherry.
It is a drink that has been in production for more than three thousand years. In 1587 - the year Mary Queen of Scot's head was lopped off - dear old Francis Drake had a dalliance to the south of Spain pre-armada and attacked Cadiz. In the raid he smashed up around thirty ships and labelled the mission 'singeing the King of Spain's beard'. As well as spanking the old port town he also managed to pilfer 2,900 barrels of the region's favourite tipple. From that time on, our dear British ships have sailed southwards to get our hands and throats on the stuff.

Regarding sherry, there are seven main types.
1. Fino - a light liquor, dry, and with a clear golden colour. It is slightly floral and has wispy nuances of almonds. It is the classic aperitif, often found in a grandma's clutches before Christmas lunch.
2. Manzanilla - also light, it is clear in colour and very dry. It is grown uniquely in the Sanlucar area (that of the prawns) due to the Atlantic micro-climate and as a result is quite sharp and has faint hints of salty sea air.
3. Amontillado - this is what comes out when you let fino stay in the barrel longer. The wine oxidises, darkens and intensifies in flavour, as if the fino is relaxing more, letting its hair down. Due to its time 'inside' it's generally a little more potent too, slightly bitter and nutty on the nose. Great for cooking and marinading white meats with garlic and salt.
4. Oloroso - this a sherry allowed to oxidise against the air, eschewing it's yeasty protective layer - the 'flor' - that covers the chemical processes of its cousins. The end product is a dark wine with heaps of body, abundant and strong aromas - oloroso means fragrant - of nuts and a flavour that is a little sweet.
5. Pale Cream and Cream - dessert style sherries. They are both sweet. Pale Cream is lightly-coloured  and made from Palomino grapes whereas Cream is very sweet, dark, intense and is made from oloroso wine.
6. Pale Cortado - this is a mahogany-coloured wine that sits between amontillado and oloroso. It is produced without the flor and is nice and dark. In short, not to spurn it in any real personal attack, you can live without it.
7. Pedro Ximenez - this is a velvety sweet sherry, similar to Moscatel (also produced in Malaga), that is a guilty little pleasure with puddings and smacks of raisins on the tongue.

Sherry is equally adept at being flame-fried with kidneys, simmered with parsley and clams, or sipped in front of some live flamenco with a little dish of olives. I think it's reputation as a favoured booze of the silvery haired generations should be depth-charged out of existence. Either that or the grandparents know real quality. I can see why Drake and Falstaff were so enamoured!


That's quite a lot about food.
In other news, my career as a Spanish television presenter is advancing further still. The format is generally decided - Roque wants to do a programme about literary 'routes' in Spain. For instance a programme presented, by me, in situ, in Pamplona, were that episode about Hemmingway's Death In The Afternoon.

Last Wednesday I had a photo-shoot of sorts in the garden of his house out in Aravaca - a rather wealthy residential suburb. He gave me some tips and cues in the fading light as a bouncy photographer called Ivan clicked and snapped about me and his pet cat and dog scurried around the flowerbeds. Rather surreal. I've seen the RAW format images so it's now just a matter of time, and finger-crossing, until I see the finished ones. He wants to make an advertising dossier about the potential programme. We'll see if his Photoshop is able to null the red in my cheeks a little first.

And the Christmas excesses have begun...

Madrid: The gift that keeps on giving.

"Just those five?" he chuckled with mock consternation, "You'll be left hungry with just those five!"
"OK, OK," I smiled, holding my hands up in defence, "put five more in."
The local fishmonger in his blue apron plopped another handful of fresh, shining little sardines into the newspaper cone and wrapped it up with a twirl.
"Vale, so that's €1.14 then," he said, leaning over a veritable marine cemetery of colours.
"Christ that's cheap," I hissed under my breath, "adios!"

Those little sardines were decapitated, gutted, splashed with lemon juice, rolled in flour and chunky salt, and laid in a boiling bed of olive oil for a couple of minutes either side. Golden and crispy. Bones and all and served with a lemon. The snack of all snacks.

*        *          *          *

“That’s a lot of tomato.”
“Yup, a whole perfect kilogram…sliced,” I surveyed my knife’s handiwork, “I don’t think your blender’s big enough.”

Salmorejo – the stockier but simpler cousin of the famous gazpacho – is an unexpectedly tasty cold tomato soup made from a whizzed up purée of tomatoes, a little garlic, crusty bread, oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. To finish, when pooling nicely in a bowl, add chopped jamón serrano and some hard-boiled egg.

It bubbled over the lid of the little blender, unaccustomed to such a tomato fiasco.
“Right, I’m splitting it.”
Two batches, totted up with water for consistency and a little salt. Healthy, clean-tasting, and occasionally violent on the breath. Too much garlic.

*        *          *          *

So Roque was on the phone for me in the police department. Bureaucratic nonsense to get a case number before sitting down to meet a real human being.
, they took his bag. It had his jacket, some teaching materials, a copy of his book, keys for his flat, keys for his work, his ipod and his passport,” he rolled his eyes at me, “no the bag isn’t mine…it’s my friend’s…I’m speaking to avoid translation problems…fine…what’s your name please?..just what’s your name?” Roque hung up the phone on the officer. “It has to be ‘you’ phoning because it was your bag stolen.”
“Why did you ask for the person’s name?” I enquired.
“Now, when I ring back pretending to be you, if it’s the same person I’ll hang up!”
He repeated the process with more success.
“My name? Luke Darracott”
“My parents’ names?” He looked at me.
“BRIAN, ANN,” I mouthed silently.
“Brian and Ann”
A pause.
“My address?”
“CALLE DE LINNEO,” I mouthed again.
“Calle Pirineo,” he said confidently. I sniggered and sweated at the same time. That’s absolutely not my address. On a little chitty I wrote ‘If you have the chance again, it’s ‘de Linneo’ not ‘Pirineo’. Roque covered the receiver with his hand and almost, just almost, cracked up.
Then came some slightly less stressful ones: date of birth, occupation, what had happened to the bag. The pencil and paper system was useful.
Roque then snorted quite audibly, stopped himself and then ‘mmhmm-ed’ into the phone. He wedged the terminal between his shoulder and ear and started writing me a message:
She said, ‘either there’s a delay on the line or you are speaking strangely.’

It worked. We sat down for five minutes and were seen to by a very amiable policeman.
“Apart from your passport is there any identification in the bag, or anything with your name on it? I think a book was mentioned?”
“Oh yes. There’s a book I wrote”
“So you’re the author?”
“Yes, that’s right,” I paused to let my ego deflate, “would be funny if I got my stuff back because somebody found my book”
The policeman smiled.
Whoever has my bag is either going to learn about Spain or, depending on their tastes, get a free lesson in question formation.

*        *          *          *

“Cheers everyone. And to our victory!”
The glasses chinked as we pondered our prize with hungry intent. Four green bottles of cold amber Alhambra beers and a plate of tapas: piece of bread, covered in a tapenade-style paste and topped with a prawn. Some olives were gleefully scattered at their base.
“My arse hurts”
“Yeah, mine too,” I pondered the possible after-effects, “but it’ll be like steel covered in velvet in no time”
Our bikes were propped up against a little tree in a darling quiet square of Madrid. No locks. We had just ridden 40km and felt like kings. No one would dare steal a bike from such pantheon figures. We allowed the wet patches in the small of the back and armpits to cool and dry a little. Milky light was trickling down through the leaves leaving a dappled patchwork of dripped luminous puddles on the ground.
“Next time we should do the whole route…” somebody said with a weary confidence.

The anillo verde. The great cycle route around Madrid. 64km in total, adding another 10km for entry and exit. I could explain the route, but what would be the point unless you know the city. You pass suburbs and intriguing residential and business areas one minute and sweeping vistas to the mountains and hills the next.
Burnt faces. Burnt arses. Burnt calories. But interest and love for the city were both phoenixed by the experience. So much to offer.
“I’m going to need a long, long bath…”

*        *          *          *

SMS (sent 6 Nov 14:15): Mate. I am up La Pedriza mountain in Manzanares el Real. You like views…this would blow your mind. Mountains all around me and a view to Madrid!! Boom.

Despite my message lacking the apt floridity to put into words the genuine beauty of the place where I was sitting at that moment, I think Matt would have respected the frankness. 

As Manzanares the town ends, the mountains just begin. It sounds airy-fairy, but I say it literally. House, house, house, town, town, car park, barrier, mountains, paths, nature, eagles. The transition is instant. Little paths then snake off and filter into forests and up inclines as the tendrils for serious trekking and Sunday strolling spill away from civilization. Views that could kill you for their grandeur are mixed in with terrain that also can if you don’t give it enough respect. I didn’t. But I seem to be a pro at going ‘off-piste’. Ten minutes of grappling and rock climbing and skin-ripping later and I re-joined the ‘path’.

And then the summit. The reason for the text to Matt. Madrid sat far-off in its high-altitude plain; the four ‘torres’ poking up into the sky next to the distinctive and jauntily crooked Caixa towers. The town, nestled like a sleeping cat by the lake. And peaks and peaks and peaks. 

SMS (send 7 Nov 15:44): I’m sad I missed it. I’ve just bought spanking ‘North Face’ trainers, perfect for mountains.

Along with the purchase of a walking routes book it seems I’ll be back to the hills, this time not alone.

Madrid: The Layered Cebolla

Visitors are threatening brilliantly with visits. The sky has only clouded twice in a month and a bit. Love still evades. And the new timetable means I now see all the daily strata of Spanish life.

After a metro and a bus I'm in the north of the city with either Rob or Amanda, poised, sticky-eyed, about to teach some yawny businesspeople. The approaching sunrise throws warm oranges, peaches and strips away the veil of black with a bruise of purple. It's a silly hour for bipeds to be waddling around the planet they evolved on, but such are our ways. Before attempting to pretend we're anywhere near awake we head to Bar Toñi for a quick milky coffee served in a small tumbler.
It's a tiny bar with wood panelling and a general hue that is all ochres and gnarled mahoganies. The barman, a slender and attractive fellow we name 'Big Tony', fills up the tumblers along the bar where they are lined up ready for the customers. Along the counter working men stand in tracksuit bottoms or overalls or t-shirts laughing and joking, watching the corner TV dribble out the morning news. Some businessmen sit around a table. Sometimes there's a woman. There are only three or four tables. The men notice the pretty businesswomen walk past. I do too. Amanda might tut. Rob would damn the world if he missed her. A few coins pass hands.

Leaving the main artery my road, Linneo, hums quietly as the clocks tip-toe past five o'clock. Old men are playing petanque in the sand and the now mellowing sun in the park over the way. There's the flat up on the fifth or sixth floor that houses an aural rainforest of birds, which twitters and chatters and tweets out of sight. At the crossing with Moreno Nieto street (which oddly translates as 'Dark Skinned Grandchild' but is more likely - and hopefully - named after the writer and erudite Jose Moreno Nieto from Extremadura) the road bends up towards the towering neo-Mudejar seminary on the hill. Where the chemical Fosforo street passes through, my front door stands on a corner waiting. Mondays and Wednesdays a middle-aged man sits there in his blue flip flops and either listens to a radio or plays with his phone. Waiting for someone? Checking the football? Some days an ancient veteran of life sits in his chair with a carer or family member, oxygen tubes filtering out of his nose. Sometimes I get a smile. Dogs yap and a scooter will buzz past.

Families are strolling. Everybody strolls. Why wouldn't you when it's warm. October is grilling and simmering, the sun is stroppy. Home is 12 degrees, Moscow is 6. October 12th was 34 degrees. Now the weather is fondling the mid-twenties. A terrace BBQ in the north, again, with a view to new flats and skyscrapers and a sun that drops into fire as the flaming coffee-punch-spectacle queimada is finished. On Linneo and its sisters the little bars fluster into life; chairs and people spilling out onto the pavements. I cook something. The salmorejo recipe from my student? Or just a salad? Then the bed and the closing of the eyes.

I'm getting a rhythm. This is what I wanted and needed. Now if only I can get some unassuming idiots to spend more money on my book!

The Selfish Spatula

The city is cooling off. It only occasionally tip-toes over 30 now. Walking is a pleasure again, not a perilous skin-troubling gauntlet. The shops are selling jumpers. No more shorts for the fashion-conscious.

The economy is dripping ever more into junk. This morning I read the news - among the Steve Jobs laments and the everyday war stories - that Spain's debt has been downgraded again. AA-, whatever that means. Joyless news. How to console oneself during these times?

Well, the ever-constants: walking/eating. They never get tired and they never require too much expenditure. Whether it is strolling up and down the grand 20th century ornate bombasity of Gran Via, through the meandering lanes of La Latina, or around the city's many parks, walking is always an option.

Food, as those who have read my blogs or have met me will know, is as important to me as breathing. The joy is as much in the cooking as in the eating. Last Sunday I made a caramelised onion chutney. It is sitting in the pantry, 600g of sludge, waiting to be opened at the start of December. I fear the sugar genuinely caramelised and what will appear in two months will resemble a hard block of black sugar-tar with bodies of sweet onions entombed within it. Then there are the garbanzos, chickpeas, which, when bubbled with chunks of chistorra and garlic, paddling in tomate frito and a blob of chilli bean paste, are quite delightful.

I make tortilla española now. The Spanish will say that the best tortilla is the simplest style: potatoes, eggs, salt and cooked in oil. I agree to a point. It's tasty. But served ad infinitum it does have the potential to bore the palate to the extreme. I actually cook tortilla paisana, which is the same but with tasty extras. I experimented first by adding red onion and red pepper. It was a success. I even flipped it well - a moment of intense personal triumph. For a friend's leaving party - ever with undercurrents of sombreness - I cooked a chorizo and black olive one as well as a spinach and cabrales cheese. The mm's and aah's are what makes cooking so lovely. The gooey smiles and sleepy eyes when nice food is masticated.

The next plan is to try my hand at the hearty and sphincterally windy Asturian stew fabadas and then, one day, the king of average-but-famous dishes, paella.

I can do this now. I have an early timetable. So I work 8-5pm. I have time for a life. Time for cooking, for shopping, for thought, for a girlfriend, for productivity and poetry.

How Not To Cook Chipirones

To return to a place to live is odd. You get back and you recognise everything and know where everywhere is. The excitement is there, but it's different. Still of discovering something new, but maybe only a deeper understanding and what you already knew. Sometimes it takes a while to adapt to the new rhythms: the heat that you had forgotten and have to acclimatise to (in my case an unseasonably hot September, 32 degrees as a daily high); the timetable changes with the time zone as you now find yourself going to lunch at 3 o'clock and stuffing your face with heaving plates of meats, marine life and potatoes and bowls of cold soup; you arrive home at 10:30 from work and have no idea what to do - drink wine? read a book? eat food? do exercise and repeat. Finally is the added feature of being stranded on the living room floor until one of your current housemates moves out to free up and bedroom. It's not the comfiest but it's bearable. You just want your little space to fill with your books and clothes and scent and make it your own. You also have no wage yet but you stupidly and ill-advisedly, continue to buy food and amenities. You want internet on your phone but you must wait. At least returning to work was easy.

There are bonuses though, to this new place. It's by the river so you can run/cycle/walk/crawl, you choose, by the Manzanares River, or wind your way up into the Casa de Campo - a 1700 hectare ex-royal hunting ground - and enjoy the boats trickling over the water of the lake. Then you have the Palace and its gardens a few minutes back into town, proud and green. You smile that you live in the district of Madrid called 'Imperial'. And then you stumble into the 'historic' part of Madrid. Little winding streets, churches, tapas bars, colours and shady corners. And then the centre and the tourists. You have towns, so many of them, nearby. You spend a public holiday with a couple of your Spanish friends (Esther and Elena) in Manzanres and enjoy the sun while the rib you for being a guiri.

And then you utterly balls up to twattery cooking some baby squids.
Heather and I had spent €24 on these bastards, chipirones they're called. We didn't know what to do with them exactly. Seafood is not my speciality, but I had an idea how to treat them. I believe they should be served simple, a culinary shrine to their fishiness. Fried in oil, then garlic and lemon and maybe a sprinkling of paprika to serve. I came home from work to find a couple of forlorn little sea creatures in a fine-smelling pan - citrus rock pools -  in a pool of blasted garlic and a blackish sauce.
'There's more of them in the fridge love,' came a warble from the living room.
I took out the semi-translucent blobs and cut their glassy-eyed heads off, chucked them in the pan and started frying with all the vigour of Gordon Ramsey as a contestant on his own programme. I was a chef. A deft twirling squeeze of the lemon, flip, and then a daring drizzle of oil, careful now, and onto the plate. Poof! Paprika, done.

They were horrible. Truly disappointing. Well-cooked, but offensive to my mouthal zone. An advert, an example, as to why you should always check a method before launching into a new food stuff. None of us had prepped them properly.
One must:

  1. Remove the head, yes, and the little cartilaginous spine inside the 'pocket'. I can tell you they are quite tough to the chew.
  2. Turn the pocket inside out and remove the ink tube. This will assist in removing the black sauce from your usually chalk-white flaps of sea-flesh and not deposit what tasted like a grainy sand mixture all over your unsuspecting tongue and teeth. 
  3. Wash all over and fairly thoroughly. 

I now know how not to cook chipirones. I have had them before and they are delightful. Light and aromatic, like calamares but more modest.

A final piece of news is that I intend to 'crash' the InMadrid (Madrid's English language newspaper), October edition launch party and peddle my book like the whore I need to be.

Fishing for a meal.

While the 'Inspección Pesquera' and the Guardia Civil continue to fight the fishing of immature fish in Spain - down from 8,027kg in 2010 to 6,800kg this year - it is still clear that Spain is a nation of fishermen. All that coast and all those towns; from the rambling and dainty fishing villages in wind-swept Galicia, to the gloriously greedy Basques and then the legions of Mediterranean settlements, and finally the hungry belly of Madrid; it's a wonder there's anything left in the sea.

Over in the UK, still, I continue my fight to hold onto my Spanish dream. I could be back as early as the beginning of September. In the meantime food, and in this case, fish, has kept the Iberian flame flickering within.

In the Middle Ages, in Spain, the farmers were always getting on the nerves of the monasteries. Monks were the only people with official fishing rights over the Asturian rivers of the North. Farmers are farmers though. If there's good and plentiful fish to be had, no bald, pious bloke in a habit is going to stand in their way. They would fish for salmon without consent, against the clergy, and would then take truckloads of the stuff to market to make a few pesetas. According to some no doubt crusty, historical parchment, the pesky farmers also sometimes added a mysterious green tincture to the water to drug the fish, thus making them easier to catch.

Despite the apparent popularity of the now quite classy salmon, back then it was a fairly 'meh' fish. Not a delicacy by any means. There was too much of it. So ordinary it got boring. During the building of the church of Santa María in the Basque town of Tolosa in the 17th century, the workers apparently started an 'anti-salmon campaign' against the very clergy who were feeding them. With a bit of added violence they succeeded in ensuring that they were not given salmon to eat more than twice a week. They were sick of it.

To me though, salmon is still one of the marine royal family. Maybe a prince. It doesn't have the same fishy smack as sea bass or mackerel. Nor does it have the same gleeful luxuriance of scallops, mussels or fresh prawns. But, like chicken, it is versatile. And, unlike chicken, has a lotof flavour. After reading about this most noble and pink of fish I was hungry and I started to miss Asturias. And then I started to hanker for Spain again. I decided I would cook for my brother and me an old Asturian dish.

Salmón a la Ribereña

This is a very simple but excessively tasty dish. I am writing for two to dine.
First, take two fat salmon steaks, nice and orangey-pink and coat them fairly well with salt, pepper and flour. Heat up a pan to a medium-low heat and add about 1.5tbsp of butter, yes, butter, and 1.5tbsp of olive oil. When they come together and the butter starts to fizz a bit add the fish, skin down, and let them sit for about 5 or 6 minutes. Always cook for longer on the skin side. Flip them over and let them cook there, flesh down, for a further 2-3. Some people like a bit of 'raw' salmon in the middle, some like it all dry. But you're going to take the fish out and leave them to keep warm in an oven after all these minutes so don't cremate them in the the pan. An oven at 130-150 should do to keep them toasty.
After you've removed your fish add about 100g of chopped serrano ham to the pan (parma ham will do, but the Italian is a bit weaker in meatiness). It'll start to curl up and crinkle and crisp. Then add 100ml of farmhouse - not fizzy - cider and 100ml of fish stock. Let it reduce. Taste it.
Serve the fish with simple new potatoes bashed and mixed in a big saucepan with lemon juice, salt and pepper, butter and chopped mint. Pour your sauce over the top and eat.
(An addition to this meal is also chorizo a la sidra, which is just slices of chorizo fried a little and sat to bubble away in about a third of a bottle of the farmhouse. Serve with good, crusty bread as well.)

Return To Iberia

As if everything in the last post was a lie, the blog is not dead. I have woken it up. Hear it yawn after its Russian hibernation.

I am writing from a fifth floor flat. There is a fig tree standing out in the sun on a terrace that it shares with a Victorian lampost and scattered chairs. I can see the Royal Palace gleaming over in the distance as cars honk in the roads below. Andres Segovia and his Spanish guitar are trickling out of some speakers as little puddles of yellow light filter through the open windows and doors of the room I'm lodging in. I'm staying with Anna, a friend from my time in Madrid two years ago, and her wildly attractive Canadian housemate Jenny. My plan is to come back to the city and country I love so much and live and work; tired of constantly uprooting my life. Holidays are fine, but year in year out total change takes its toll. The differences between Maidenhead, Moscow and Madrid couldn't be more marked.

Packs of clueless tourists wander round the Puerta de Sol, clutching at their maps and guidebooks; remnants of the recent protest/sit in - the Movimiento de Indignados or 15-M - pepper the square and people take photographs; bars sit purring in the side streets, doors flung wide, with young friends and old men gesticulating, eating tapas and drinking; the air is hot but the wind, this week anyway, finds its way through the little lanes. I thought I would be excited coming back - 'oh, there's that!' 'and, oh my God, there's the plaza de Cibeles!'. Instead I walked the streets in a comfy daze. I was at peace. I was home. It felt like some natural resting place. I met friends, drank, ate, went swimming, cycled along the river, visited some towns outside of the city - the mesmorizing romance of Segovia and the geographic unknown that is Manzanares el Real - and generally let Spain once again lay it hands over me and have its sultry way.

I know it can be as infuriating as any country. But the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Jenny, Anna and I walk out around the Templo de Debod and see the lights of the city and the Royal Palace.
'Yeah, this is where I want to be'
It's a shame Anna won't be here when I return, hopefully, in September. My Spanish friends will though. It's quite scary to finally think, 'ok, so this is where "life" starts'. There's still the little coward in me telling me to just stay in the UK. But at the age of 24, with potentially a flat on arrival - with some friends of mine - and an instant job - I could return to Talking Point while I searched for the job I really want - it seems silly to not press ahead with Spain.

Spain is in. Rick Stein has just filmed a series of cookery programs about the country. Jamie Oliver's been there. It's still sunny there and tourism is alive. Now is the time to go there. This blog will be more about Spain itself rather than just 'this is what I've been up to'. So I hope you are ready to learn.

As the sun continues its fiery tirade against the world and the gutteral strums of Andres' guitar float around the flat, I sit, in my shorts, hoping that I'm making the right choices. I hope I'm not just being blindsighted by blue skies and sanguine Riojas.

A final word.
My book is finished. Its title is 'The Sun Struck Upwards' and it should be available for purchase in the coming couple of weeks.