Hay dias cuando nunca se sabe quien va a tocar a la puerta!
I took these photos just a few minutes ago (15:30) and seeing how dry and washed out the colours of the “campo” already look confirm that it’s going to be a long hot summer here in Andalucia.
The track that runs past our house is the GR7, a long distance footpath that runs from Southern Spain through to Alsace in France. Fortunately for the goats, they were only going a little way to graze under some nearby olive trees.
We are very lucky when we are Up the Mountain, to live less than an hour and a half from the amazingly beautiful city of Granada. Home to the stunning Palace of the Alhambra, it’s a city that softly breathes echoes of its mediaeval Moorish past at every corner.
Today I’m going to take you on a little walk from the top of the hill which overlooks the Alhambra, to enjoy the amazing views of the palace from the Mirador (view point) de San Nicolás – probably one of the most photographed views in Granada.
If you wind your way slowly down the hill you get back to the town centre, walking through narrow streets.
Not many cars here, only residents, the little bus and taxis can enter.
Granada is famed for its tapas – with every drink, something wonderful to taste.
Peek through windows.
And fortify yourself with coffee and pastries. These little ones are called Piononos, named after a Pope and made in Santa Fé, a town just outside the city of Granada.
This past weekend was a huge religious festival with special cakes for “The Virgin” being sold everywhere.
A stroll around the centre and a chuckle at the Eco Roundabout!
Photos taken on my phone, so not the greatest quality, but when in Granada, you just have to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the tapas and tea shops, and promise to go back again.
Andalucía is a region of contrasts. Magnificent cities, historic monuments, skiing, countryside and the famous Costa del Sol. It´s all there and usually not more than a couple of hours away from wherever you are.
At the weekend we drove slightly north from where we live, over the border from Malaga province into Granada province, Big Man´s heartland and into some wild and rugged scenery.
Near his home town of Ventas de Zafarraya is an area of fertile plains. A huge amount of vegetables are cultivated and grown there and this provides much needed employment for many people.
Moving north again you come to the beautiful town of Alhama de Granada and between these two towns are a series of lush green plains divided by area of rough, rocky, almost lunar landscapes.
Water comes up through the rocks and provides irrigation and drinking water for plants, animals and Cortijo dwellers.
Some Cortijos sadly remain abandoned, mainly due to the inheritance laws here in Spain which pretty much oblige you to leave your property to your offspring. When families have 10 or more children, it´s understandable that families were often unable to come to an agreement regarding whether to sell, divide or buy each other out.
After a magnificent lunch of goat cooked over an open fire we set off to walk to a local goat farm and buy cheese.
There were plenty of goats…
….and it was milking time.
Some of the group also bought milk, luckily I had been given some that morning by one of our local goatherds.
There were one and two week old kids….adorable!
A family of strange looking turkeys were keeping everyone in line out in the yard.
Our walk took us past a tree which the locals called a Millennium tree, because of its supposed age.
It took five women to get their arms around it….and sometimes it´s good to hug a tree!
And finally a walk back to the Cortijo for coffee and cake. Sometimes the simple things in life are just what you need.
A few days ago Big Man came back from a trip to Granada raving about a different kind of tapas he had eaten that day in a bar. First of all I need to explain all about Granada and tapas. Granada (the entire province, not just the city) is famed for and rightly proud of its tapas culture. In most other regions you are asked if you´d like a tapas to accompany your drink and offered a choice. This can simply be cheese, jamon or olives or quite sophisticated grilled or fried fish, fillets of meat, or potato or seafood salad.
In Granada you don´t get offered, you just get given. Most bars will have their own specialities and generally their first tapas will be x, the second y and so on. Of course, if they serve you something you don´t want or like, you can ask for something different. They even have a word for going out and moving from bar to bar sampling the best they have to offer. It´s called “tapear”…isn´t that wonderful? Sounds so much nicer than going on a pub or bar crawl! It also helps with not ending up with a sore head if you drink alcohol as you are eating as you go along.
So, back to the tapas he ate. Apparently it was runner beans with bacon. It sounds simple, and it was, but he said it was delicious and fresh and made a lovely change from the usual fare. After cross questioning him under a spotlight (ok, I made that last bit up) he told me that he thought the beans had been cooked a little first in water, then stir fried with little cubes of bacon. Then he thought there might have been garlic and couldn´t make his mind up if there had been tomato, but probably not. What a great way to use up some of my runner bean glut and to get my super marvelous bean shredder out again!
So that was pretty much it. I sliced my beans finely (I used about 2 cups) and boiled them for a few minutes then drained them. I diced a couple of slices of smoked streaky bacon which I fried until slightly brown at the edges, threw in two cloves of crushed garlic and the beans and stir fried them for a few minutes more.
Big Man pronounced them even better than the ones in the bar, mainly because I had used some of my precious stock of lovely English bacon supplied by my pals. And I´m happy as we have a new quick and tasty dish to use up some of our runner beans which we´re currently picking at a rate of about a kilo a day.
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....