Earlier this week, my friend Jane Gregg, who runs www.epicurianways.com , a travel company offering food and wine routes in Spain, mentioned that she didn't have as much demand for Andalucía as she did for Barcelona, Cataluña and The Basque country. This was my response to her.
‘’People don’t seem to think of Andalucía as a foodie mecca. Andalucía is bursting with history as well as being an oasis of fabulous ingredients that don’t need to be fussed over – especially on Costa de la Luz. Ask any student who comes here. A simple pickled Boquerón, a succulent fish baked in salt with a glistening salsa Verde, spectacular Atun del Almadraba – especially as presented at El Campero in Barbate – it just can’t get any better than that. And then there’s the hint of the flavours of Morocco running through so many dishes here (possibly more so in my kitchen than on the streets!). Pomegranates, pears and plums just now. Carrots when cooked in their skins – wow.
Angel Leon, who has a restaurant called Apoinente in El Puerto de Santa Maria, received his first Michelin star recently. Have you read much about what he does with fish? Dani Garcia in Marbella got his second Michelin star. Have you seen Jon Clarke’s book ‘ the dining secrets of Andalucía´? There is nowhere in Spain I’d rather be to enjoy the fruits of the sea and the land – boom, boom!!
And then of course, the magical Sherry. And now more red wines are being made in the Arcos de la Frontera area as well as around Ronda. Right here in Vejer we even have a boutique vineyard called Etu. Just nurturing their 3rd vintage, they are producing some red wines that will make their mark before too long.
There’s always something delicious to discover, friends offering some new delicacy to share. Sometimes my friends and neighbours think that what they cook is just not worthy of sharing because they think it not special enough. More often than not their recipes haven’t changed for generations. I find that special. The root of the cuisine here has to be less is more. Scratching the skin of a freshly picked simple lemon can send one into the realms of competing in Masterchef! Andalucía is not yet on the gourmet map, but it will be. Trust me.’’