Food and Drink

Why would you want to visit or live in Spain

There’s sea and sun to entice
you……..and all that wonderful wine too. In fact, 15% of the world’s vineyards
are in Spain – spread across all of Spain’s autonomous regions. Though the
biggest surface area of vineyards is in Castilla-La Mancha, La Rioja boasts the
greatest density of planting.

At February 2014, Spain was the
world’s third largest exporter of wine, behind France and Italy, and the UK and
Germany were the top customers. (Spain thanks all you lady and gentlemen
inebriates in the UK). Since Spain produces a lot of sherry and brandy, some
61% of its vineyards grow white grapes. Despite this, thank goodness, the
majority of wine production concerns red wine.

The main quality wine regions of
Spain are called denominaciones de origen (similar to appellations in France).
Particular laws dictate the quality of wine they produce. European Commission
regulations require that Spanish wines are placed in a series of
categories/sub-categories.

Vino de Pago


These are wine regions that claim
the very highest standard within precise geographical rules, often concerning
single individual estates with an international reputation. At present there
are just 11 regions with this status – 8 in Castilla-La Mancha and 3 in
Navarre.


Denominación de Origen Calificada


These are regions with a
substantiated record of undeviating quality. Right now, there are only 2 wine
regions with this status – Rioja and Priorat.


Denominación de Origen


Currently there are 66 wine regions
with this status – regarded as pre-eminent, high quality wine producing areas


Vino de Calidad con Indicación
Geográfica


There are only 2 regions at present
– a category designed for regions starting to climb the quality ladder.


Vino de La Tierra


These are wines that have no EU
recognition, Even so, there are currently 46 Spanish regions producing them.
They are allowed to bear a regional name on the label. In 2006, a new Vino de
La Tierra “super region” was created and named Viñedos de España, with permission
to blend wines from 11 different Spanish regions. However, this has not yet
received EU ratification and is facing legal challenge by the regional
governments of La Rioja, Castile and León.


”MsoNormal">Vino de La Mesa


The grapes used are bulk-grown and drawn
from a wide variety of regions. As a consequence, there can be no vintage or
area designations on the label, apart from “Produce of Spain”. Production of
this low-grade wine is falling year by year.


”MsoNormal">Although just about all wine regions
are confined to specific centres of production, some of the top denominacionesare produced in more than one autonomous locality (Cava and Rioja are
examples). By contrast, Vinos de Pago have a location
yardstick that is very exact, often pinpointing particular plots of land and
only allowing wines produced in the immediate vicinity




 





 





 


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Posted by on 04/25/2014 08:41:00

Who is the world’s largest exporter of strawberries

Who is the world’s largest exporter
of strawberries? Why, it’s Spain, of course. Some 285 thousand tons of fresh
fruit leave these shores annually, bound for European countries and the rest of
the world. Some 90% of this production is grown around Huelva, a city in
south western Spain, in the autonomous region of Andalusia.

People have lived in the area since
3000BC and Huelva claim’s to host Spain’s oldest football club – Recreativo de
Huelva, though it cannot be that old.

The strawberry industry is said to
generate in excess of 500000 thousand euros in revenue for the country, and
continuing strawberry success despite difficult economic times, has forced many
Spaniards to return to strawberry picking for their income. However, they face
stiff job competition from low paid immigrant pickers. Last year some 65000
women from eastern Europe and north Africa were hired. All pickers need to
beware though, because Japan has developed a strawberry picking robot. Its
special cameras detect the colour of ripe fruit, and pick accordingly.

There is a benefit for the women of
Huelva though. Apparently the divorce rate climbs at the end of the picking
season, when many of their men have become infatuated with attractive immigrant
pickers. The men will surely not be as enchanted with the robotic pickers of
the future.

So, which countries are the biggest
strawberry lovers? Well France is certainly well up the list. It takes around
75000 tons of fresh Spanish strawberries annually. Germany tops the list,
buying some 90000 tons each year.

In recent years, production has
increased by 18% annually, and this has encouraged Spain to look around for new
markets. A toe hold has been established in Asia, but business levels remain
relatively small with exports totaling just 6 tons last year. It’s a start
anyway. It’s a similar story with Russia and the Eastern Bloc countries. They
are starting to show interest in fresh Spanish strawberries, and undoubtedly
sales with gradually blossom there too.

Why are strawberries so popular?
First they taste truly wonderful, and they signal that summer’s on the way.
Then, they are very good for your body. Just one handful of strawberries
(around 9 or 10) provide less than 30 calories; 0.1g fat and no cholesterol;
less than 10g carbohydrates; oodles of vitamin C; 20% of the daily recommended
intake of folic acid; lots and lots of fibre; along with high antioxidant
levels. 

A highlight of a trip to the local
market is to see stallholders set out their strawberry stocks, plied high on
plastic trays. Then with a small plastic spade, they fill a bag with the
quantity of fruit that you want to buy. Driving home with the strawberry smell
impregnating the car is the highlight of the morning, giving those taste buds
an intense work out.

If you have not read our blog
regarding Spanish Cherries this is also worth a read! Spanish
Cherries

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Posted by on 03/08/2014 18:36:00

Spanish Cherries

Spain is the world’s 7th largest producer of cherries, and is the second largest producer in Europe. Some 60% of Spain’s cherry crop is exported with Germany and the UK taking a large proportion.


In fact, UKs imports of Spanish cherries peaked in 2011, when 10 million punnets (2500 tonnes) were shipped in during the five week season. The Brits obviously liked them.

The bulk of the cherries are produced in the 40 mile long Jerte Valley, near Caceres. It lies in Spain’s Extremadura region, south-west of Madrid, and close to the border with Portugal. Originally the area was the main centre of chestnut 
production, but when blight ruined those trees in the early 20th century – they were replaced by cherries which are now planted on terraces. These terraces rise from 1100 feet at the valley floor to 3600 feet at the top. In 2013 there were 3737 growers, farming nearly 10000 hectares of terraces.

Picota (meaning peaked, and referring to the slight oval shape, or peak at the end) is the name given to the four protected varieties of Spanish cherries. They are protected because a Denomination of Origin Certificate has been granted.
 
The four varieties are Pico Limon Negro; Pico Negro; Pico Colorado and Ambrunes. Ambrunes is dark red in colour with firm, crisp and juicy flesh. It’s very sweet, as it matures on the trees longer.

All are unusual in that they are separated from the stalks when picked. Hence they are referred to as "stemless” or "stalkless”. It’s claimed this is an indication of perfect ripeness.

If you are ever near Jerte Valley a visit should most definitely be on your itinerary. There are many cultural; and gastronomic celebrations and fiestas around harvest time. There are tours of co-operatives and walks through the cherry trees. 

Without doubt there will be the chance to taste the fruit and the liqueur into which it can be made. 

Last but not least, throughout July, there are competitions held to decide the best dish made with cherries. If you look at Gordon Ramsay’s book "Just Desserts”, you’ll see a recipe called Cherry and Almond Clafoutis. Though it cannot be guaranteed to win one of those competitions, it is a fantastic pudding, especially if you use Spanish cherries.

The ingredients are –

·       50gground almonds

·       15g strong plain four .

·       good pinch of sea salt

·       100g caster sugar

·       2 large free range eggs

·       3 large free range egg yolks 

·       250 ml double cream

·       300g fresh ripe cherries

·       softened unsalted butter, to grease the pan

·       icing sugar, sifted, to dust

The cooking method is as follows–

·       Put the ground almonds, flour, salt and sugar into a food processor and whizz for a few seconds to blend.. Add the eggs, egg yolks and cream and blend to a smooth batter. Tip into a large bowl or jug, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

·       In the meantime, stone the cherries and pat them dry, if they’re especially juicy. Rub the inside of a large oven-proof sauté pan or gratin dish with the softened butter.

·       Scatter the cherries over the base of the pan or dish. Stir the batter in the jug and pour over the cherries. Bake for about 20mins in an oven, preheated to 190 degrees centigrade, until risen and golden brown.

·       The middle may be slightly flatter than the surrounding batter, but it should be set. If not, then bake for a little longer.

·       Dust with iing sugar and serve at once.

All Gordon’s desserts will cause you to salivate, especially the half dozen or so relating to cherries.

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Posted by on 02/15/2014 12:10:00

Eating Out in the Moraira area

People are always asking for my
restaurant recommendations, and that’s very difficult advice to give since
there are so many options available. To my mind, it all depends on the purpose
of the restaurant visit. Is it merely to satisfy hunger without changing into
posh garb. or is it a business lunch.
 Perhaps it’s to relax with friends and chat while eating good food in a
pleasant atmosphere Equally, if the visit is to celebrate some special
occasion, then that will be a factor in the restaurant decision too. You’ll
want somewhere with a buzz.

Relaxing with friends and/or
celebrating are surely the most pleasant eating occasions, so here are some
location suggestions (naturally they are high on my favourites list too)

Ca Pepe

The restaurant is located
in Calle Haya, just outside of the main Moraira town, but that provides the
bonus of easy parking, even in high season. Ca Pepe is family owned and run,
and their success is due to the strategy of using seasonal local produce, and
to the care they take to ensure the high standards they set are met by all
staff. Just look at the referrals they are able to present on their website.
The menu del dia here is priced at 16.95 euros and includes a ½ bottle of wine

D’Gust

The position of the
restaurant is ideal – in the corner of Plaza La Sort, in Moraira town. You can
eat outside, or at one of the elegant internal dining tables. Either way, the
food is presented in an artistic manner that makes the mouth water. The menu
del dia is priced at 15 euros and on my last visit, the starter of salmon and
the sea bass main course were superb.

El Caserio

This is on the main road
out of Moraira, towards Teulada/Benitachell. The style of cuisine is best
described as International/Spanish, but whatever the label that most accurately
fits, everything is presented in a stylish fashion that adds to the pleasure of
the meal. An evening set menu is offered at 21.50 euros, but that provides you
with a choice of starter, main course and dessert, and they surprise you with a
couple of extra tidbits during the meal. If I say more there’ll be no surprises
for you, so no more clues. A whole host of a la carte options are available
too, but whatever you choose we’re certain you’ll be licking your lips all the
way through the evening.

La Masena

This is a beautifully
converted, but still rustic, finca – on the outskirts of Javea. It’s actually
on the Carretera Benitachell (the road running towards Javea from Benitachell).
It’s open every day, except Tuesday, from 12.30 to 1600 hours and from 19.30 to
2300 hours. You can eat inside the stylish air conditioned dining room, with
its beams and chandeliers, or you may decide to dine "al fresco” on the
relaxing outside terrace. There is no doubt that this is a venue to celebrate a
special occasion, and the house specialities endorse this view; Carpaccio of
pear confit with shavings of foie gras; marinated quail salad with mango;
scallops "au gratin” and suckling pig with oranges and fried bananas – these
will give you some idea about the gorgeous food they serve. The a la carte menu
is not cheap, but if you go for the menu del dia at lunchtime, the cost is 17
euros per head, and there is no reduction in quality. Indeed, I visited today
and chicken cordon bleu and beef stroganoff were menu del dia possibilities and
both were divine

Options

Again, this is a town
centre location. The restaurant has a host of highly complimentary  reviews on the Internet, comments confirmed
by my own experience. There is no menu del dia on offer, but  you can choose 2 courses from a set menu for
20 euros and for an extra 5 euros you can enjoy an additional course

Rodolfo

This is a genuine Italian
restaurant, and although it’s a Moraira town centre location there’s a large
free car park to the rear. All food is cooked and prepared under the
supervision/instruction of the half Italian/German owner, Rodolfo. The pasta in
particular is made to order and tastes fabulous – not surprising since he is a
Member of the Federation of Italian Professional Chefs. He says his aim each
day is to treat customers to the delights of Italian cuisine, with the subtle
combination of flavours, colours and aromas. There is no doubt he succeeds.

Vall de Cavall

Located just off the
Teulada road outside of Gata de Gorgos – food aside, the setting of the dining
area is wonderful. You look across open countyside and dine beneath the gaze of
the elephant shaped mountain called Montgo. The menu del dia will cost 17.50
euros per person and all the tasty courses will be beautifully presented, by
friendly and enthusiastic staff.

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Posted by on 09/30/2013 12:53:00

dining out in moraira

It’s fair to say that Moraira isn’t the place to experience much authentic Spanish cuisine. Rather, the food
available here is best described as "international”

The exception to that statement can
be found on a visit to Spanish bars in the Moraira village. There you will come
face to face with "tapas”. These are hot or cold snacks, served as bite-sized
portions – and a selection of them will make a very pleasant and filling lunch.

On display, you’ll find such
attractions as aceitunas (olives,
often with an anchovy or red pepper filling). Additionally you’re likely to seebacalao (salted cod loin, very thinly
sliced) and banderillas (olives, baby
onions, baby cucumbers, chillies and pieces of pepper, all pickled in vinegar
and skewered together). It’s likely there’ll also be calamares (rings of battered squid) or albondigas (spicy meat balls) awaiting you.
 

If, on the other hand, you prefer
something more formal, then there are hundreds of restaurants to choose from.
These range from those aiming for the custom of holidaymakers and ex-patriot
residents (at 10/15 euros per head) to those specialising in celebrations of
special occasions (at prices from 25 to 50 euros per person). This latter price
may seem high, and it is, but for your money you are given first class service
and top quality food and wine, all beautifully presented.

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Posted by on 08/04/2013 14:54:00

Trip To Galicia

Mo & Ali Segovia

Mo & Ali Segovia

Ant & Sal in Segovia

Ant & Sal in Segovia

Our first stop was Segovia, north of Madrid – a beautiful city with a stunning cathedral and Roman aquaduct.

Segovia Cathedral

Segovia Cathedral

The walled city is perched on a rock rising out of the surrounding Castillian plains, and is a maze of narrow streets dotted with Roman monuments and noble mansions.

Mo & Ant Segovia

Mo & Ant Segovia

We stayed one night in a converted monastery within walking distance of the old town.

Wow Beef Rib En Route

Wow Beef Rib En Route

Then on to A Pobra de Trives, near Ourense in rural Galicia, after an interesting drive north west through spectacular scenery. No postcards here (well no shops, actually), so just a couple of snapshots of the hotel, which was a luxuriously converted old manor house on a farm, set in beautiful lush pastures, woodland and lakes.

Converted Old Manor

Converted Old Manor

Manor Views

Manor Views

Very green with lots of livestock, the cows and goats with bells so the herdsman can find them to bring them home. So peaceful, and no English spoken – popular area for walking holidays, but few foreign tourists come here so we were something of a curiosity!

Manor Gardens

Manor Gardens!

Mo's Space Ship!

Space ship!

Our next stop was Vigo

Escudos Hotel

Escudos Hotel

A busy commercial port on the south coast of Galicia (not far from the border with Portugal).
The city itself was busy and a bit touristy as many cruise liners stop here. But our hotel was a delightful, peaceful haven overlooking the estuary, another lovely old building with gardens down to the beach and all mod cons – we got a free upgrade to a huge suite overlooking the estuary.

Escudos View

Escudos View

Escudos Gardens

Escudos Gardens

There are lots of traditional fishing villages in the many inlets, and summer resorts popular with Spanish holidaymakers. And fantastic seafood restaurants – every conceivable type of shellfish is caught or farmed off this coast.

Seafood Lunch

Seafood Lunch

From Vigo, we visited Santiago de Compostella.
The buildings, especially the cathedral, were spectacularly ornate though rather gloomy.

Not difficult to imagine the throngs of pilgrims there in the Middle Ages, and what an awesome sight it must have been for them. We didn´t get to pay our respects at St James´s reliquary as the queue was several hours long.

Then on to La Coruña for 2 nights – this is where the Armada set sail from and the site of many historic sea battles and sieges. Another busy port on a rocky islet linked to mainland by a narrow strip of sand. Two sleepless nights in a beachfront hotel in sweltering heat – the only bad hotel choice I had made when I booked them all on the internet. The “English weather” we had been promised did not materialise, it was sunny every day and only a few drops of rain during the whole trip. More spectacular coastline, maritime museum and aquarium. The Costa del Muerte (coast of death) is here, very rugged coastline where many ships foundered on the rocks, and Cape Finisterre (heard of in the shipping forecast, always wondered where it was!). Finis Terra in Spanish, means “the end of the world”, which of course it was until Christopher Columbus came back. We celerbrated Mo’s birthday in the famous El Coral seafood restaurant.

Mo's Birthday Bash at El Coral

Mo’s Birthday Bash at El Coral

From La Coruña we drove into the Picos de Europa, a spectacular mountain range in the province of Asturias, only 18 miles from the sea. A wonderful drive through deep gorges cut by gushing mountain rivers. It was a Sunday, and the area was busy with Spanish holidaymakers and day-trippers, every little town had canoes, bikes or horses for hire and there were hundreds of families enjoying a day out on the river and picnicking under the trees. We stayed overnight in Covadonga, a small village in the mountains with another spectacular church, huge monastery and convent.

Church close up

Church close up

Another pilgrimage site, to a shrine carved out in the rocks to the Virgin of the Battlefield.

Covadonga Shrine

Covadonga Shrine

Covadonga Cave

Covadonga Cave

Woodlands

Woodlands

Church in Covadonga

Church in Covadonga

The legendary battle of Covadonga (not heard of it? Shame on you ….. neither had we!) took place here in 722, when Don Pelayo defeated the Moors and heralded the start of the Spanish Reconquest.

Mo & Ant Covadonga

Mo & Ant Covadonga

Next stop was near to El Burgo in Castilla-Leon. Lots of old fortified towns and villages and lofty castles en-route, this being the oldest kingdom in Spain.

Rope Bridge En Route to Meseta

Rope Bridge En Route to Meseta

Then on through the “Meseta” – the vast central plains with acres and acres of arable farms, but strangely empty of people. We stayed in a delightful former convent in a quaint walled town where the locals looked at us as if we´d just landed from another planet!

On through more meseta to another walled town at Mora de Rubielos, near to Teruel. A beautiful small town with mediaeval origins, immaculately cared for. Exploring the maze of narrow streets revealed beautiful historic town houses with balconies hung with bright geraniums.

Sally and I walked the stations of the cross to the shrine at the top of the fortified hill with a lovely view of the town below.

Mora de Rubielos Shrine

Mora de Rubielos Shrine

One of the locals chatted animatedly with Maurice, in sign language, about how cold it is there in the winter, like England! They do get lots of snow in winter and there are ski resorts in the mountains nearby.

!http://assets1.advanceagent.co.uk/4h9d/a9c1f7ad/Castilla-Leon.JPG!

Mora de Rubielos

Local stonework

Local stonework

And then home to Moraira, after 10 days “on the road”, 7 different hotels, and having traveled about 3,000 km. Another huge area of Spain explored, and a breathtaking diversity of scenery, history and traditions experienced, but there is so much more to see ………..

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Posted by on 10/02/2009 07:06:00

Cookery Courses, Platinum Restaurant, Denia

Platinum Restaurant Denia

Platinum Restaurant Denia

This very delightful restaurant will be running cookery courses in January. These will be held on Tuesday and Thursday lunchtimes and will be for one day each week and will run for six weeks. The cost will be €210. The groups will be small and the course will include 6 first course lunches with wine, 6 cookery sessions and one safety, knife skills. All materials will be supplied. A deposit of €50 will be required when booking.
For more information telephone Karin or Stuart on 96 6433472. The restaurant is located just past the Marina Alta Hospital, on the right.

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Posted by on 01/11/2009 16:47:00

Alleluja Bar Jalon

Alleluja bar Jalon

Alleluja bar Jalon

Alleluja bar products

Alleluja bar products

Alleluja bar courtyard

Alleluja bar courtyard

This bar is full of atmosphere and is run by “Holy Joe”, a very interesting and flamboyant guy.
The bar is situated opposite the main car park in Jalon.

At mid-day they serve salads and entremeses, wines, beers and other drinks and if you are lucky you may be there when there is music by Spanish guitarists and singers.

The bar also sells fruit in season, nuts, dried fruits, wines, local pottery and other products.

The prices are very reasonable.

In summer there is a pleasant vine covered terrace at the back where it is most enjoyable to sit and have a drink and/or lunch.

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Posted by on 01/05/2009 16:35:00

Co-operativa Virgen Pobre de Jalon

Jalon Valley Wine

Jalon Valley Wine

Jalon valley bodega

Jalon valley bodega

For anyone interested in wines the Co-operativa in Jalon is well worth a visit.
It was built 60 years ago; since then has been refurbished and in 2007 obtained silver and bronze medals. Two wines were recently recognised as on a national level with the city of Cordoba. It is very famous for moscatel.

The wine growers from Jalon, Llíber and Alcalali take their grapes to be processed here and they use as much as 2,200,000 kilos of grapes.

If you visit the Co-operative you can taste many of the wines

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Posted by on 01/05/2009 16:31:00

Christmas Cabaret and Dance, El Andaluz, Moraira

Moraira El Andaluz

Moraira El Andaluz

A Christmas Cabaret and Dance will be held in the El Andaluz Restaurant, Moraira on Saturday, 20th December, commencing at 10.30 hours. This restaurant is situated about 150 metres past El Paichi Garden Centre on the left hand side, taking the Benitachell road at the roundabout.
The “Voice of David” will be the vocalist. David has been singing with various bands for many years, including the Lyceum Ballroom, London and also nightly at the Talk of the Coast, Benidorm.

Also performing will be Barry Moon, comedian who has entertained troops in the Falklands, Northern Ireland and Kuwait.

Tickets are €15.0 which includes a Tapas Meal – over 18s only. These are available from El Sid´s, Moraira, Cornish Pride, Moravit, Moraira or telephone Barry on 616 746 995 or David on 634 763 311.

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Posted by on 12/19/2008 14:52:00