The province of Cádiz: traveling between pueblos blancos, divine food and wine and hot beaches

Cádiz and its province are part of Andalusia, one of the most fascinating regions of Spain and, I am not exaggerating, of all of Europe. The province of Cádiz, which has 45 municipios and about 1,300,000 inhabitants, almost touches Africa with its coasts. The Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean and the Atrantic Ocean meet, is only 14 km from the coasts of the African continent and rest assured that a boat trip between Tarifa and Tangier will not take you too long. With an average temperature of 18 ° C, 300 days of sunshine, equal to about 3000 hours a year in which you can enjoy the blue sky in these parts, the province of Cádiz can count 268 km of coastline including 138 km of beaches.

But it is not numbers and beaches (not only) that I will talk to you this time. If in other articles on this site I have praised Andalusian gastronomy, today I will do it again, passing by one of the most beautiful things I have been able to admire while living in this beautiful Spanish region: the pueblos blancos.

The pueblos blancos

Arcos,
Photo by Santiago Galvin

The pueblos blancos are many, beautiful and different from each other. If you travel by car you will happen to “spot” some of them between Seville and Cádiz, so much so that you will want to leave the main road to run to admire all its beauty up close.
Arcos, Grazalema, Setenil de la Bodegas, El Bosque, Olvera and Zahara de la Sierra are just some of the best known villages that make La ruta de los pueblos blancos (the route of the pueblos blancos) a wonderful route between these white Andalusian villages.
They also have small or large hotels that allow those who want to stay at least one night and local craft shops that tell the past and present in all their purity.

Arcos de la Frontera

fPhoto by Juan de Dios Carrera

Arcos as well as being an excellent starting point for the Ruta de Los Pueblos Blancos is also considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of Andalusia. Its history and the sensational panorama that can be enjoyed from the top of the cliff where its major monuments are located, make it an almost mandatory stop when coming from the parts of Cádiz.

Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Botegas
Photo from www.cadizturismo.com

Setenil de las Bodegas has become famous for being the village of the rock. In fact, a huge rock hovers above several streets of Setenil, making an already beautiful village incredible for the white of its houses. A visit here cannot be missed, also for the views and the good food of course.

The queso Payoyo ( Payoyo cheese)

Tabla de queso payoyo _Setenil de las Bodegas
Photo by David Ibáñez Montañez

In the hinterland of the province of Cádiz, thanks to the production of cheeses derived from the milk of payoya goat and merino sheep, many national and international awards have been won. Among these, Queso Payoyo is one of the most famous cheeses produced in Villaluenga del Rosario, in the heart of the Sierra de Cádiz.

Olvera

Olvera
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

Olvera definitely has nothing to envy to the other white villages of the ruta de los pueblos blancos. Here the streets between the white houses, the vases hanging on the walls in typical Andalusian style and the streets that go up and down steeply are the order of the day. Getting lost in the streets of these small towns, savoring the beauty of the locals and the tastes of the products of the local gastronomy, is a pleasure that you cannot miss for any reason in the world.

The green way

Gree way
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

The green way also passes through Olvera, a nature trail that extends from the Sierra de Cádiz to the Sierra sud de Sevilla. Combining the Ruta del Los pueblos blancos with the green way could be a unique opportunity to admire divine places, explore the Andalusian nature, breathe clean air and eat excellent Mediterranean food from the area! For all the info on the green way, you can consult the dedicated website.

Zahara de la Sierra

Zahara de la Sierra
Photo by Andrés M. Dimungues Romero

Calle Ronda.
I only tell you this.
Zahara de la Sierra has many wonderful corners, including its incredible location, but Calle Ronda is something truly unique (to me).
An uphill street with a cobbled floor full of white everywhere with many terraces, doors and windows.
Andalusia as I like it …
The one that excites you just to set foot there …

Local food and wine

Olive oil
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

Most of the traditional recipes of the province of Cádiz have olive oil as their main ingredient, which since 2002 has obtained the denomination of controlled origin of the Sierra de Cádiz.
An oil has wild, slightly spicy and bitter aromas, the result of a harvest in rough terrain where massive production is almost impossible.
A divine oil.

The wines

Consejo regolador del vino de Jerez
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

Even the wines are starting to give a lot of satisfaction to this territory, traditionally linked to white and fine wines but which, for some time, have also been starting to produce excellent red wines.
The province of Cádiz and many of its municipalities have made food and wine tourism a major attraction for tourists from all over the world.
Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María, Chiclana and Sanlúcar de Barrameda together have more than 7,000 hectares of vineyards that have been producing Jerez wines and grappas for centuries. And it is not just an attraction for wine tourism lovers. Heritage, nature and landscape have made it all a wonderful place to spend whole days.

Manzanilla and Prawns in Sanlucar


Manzanilla and prawns
Photo from sanlucarturismo.com

One of the many things that you cannot miss while traveling in the province of Cádiz, are the famous prawns of Sanlucar de Barrameda and, why not, also one of its most famous wines: Manzanilla.
This almost perfect pairing lends itself well to a light meal on the beach. The ancient traditions of Manzanilla make it one of the lightest white wines of the Jerez cellars, excellent to be enjoyed with the famous prawns of the area.

The Cacao Pico

Cacao Pico
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

In the “marco de Jerez” wine area, you will find a liqueur born in 1824, still made today with ancient techniques that respect the times and the environment.
The Cacaco Pico was born in El Puerto de Santa Maria, not far from Jerez de la Frontera.
Cacao Pico is used in confectionery, it can be eaten cold together with ice cream or perhaps with ice cubes. It has received some awards, both as best liqueur and in some cocktails it was part of as a main ingredient.

Tarifa

Bodegón de Atún- Conservera de Tarifa
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

We move to Tarifa to discover two specialties of the gastronomy of the province of Cádiz and also one of the windiest and hottest places in the whole of Andalusia.
Tarifa is one of those special places you fall in love with, even if there are no gorgeous white villages or glaring monuments. In Tarifa there is wind, huge beaches and life even in winter when I first set foot there.
A student of mine used to say that everyone here is a bit crazy because of the wind that blows constantly.
In truth, the strongest wind I can remember was a night in Cádiz: suddenly a window in my room flew open and the Mediterranean wind entered my room without permission!
Together with the scents of Andalusia …

Tarifa
Photo by Peter Pieras from Pixabay

We were talking about the gastronomy of Tarifa, right?
Going around this town you will find many shops, bars, restaurants, people on the beach who surf and kite surf, but never forget that you are in Andalusia, the Spanish region where it can be very hot and where you can eat divinely.

Tocino de cielo

Tocino de cielo
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

Tocino de cielo is a typical dessert of the area, whose most famous schools are in Tarifa and Jerez. It is created with egg yolks, sugar and caramel and is the right dessert to sweeten your days.
One of the most famous pastry shops to try it in Tarifa is certainly the Pasteleria la tarifeña.


Before going inside and climbing the hills a bit among other typical dishes and some pueblo blanco, let’s stop for a moment on these two wonderful “sea view” specialties

Amontillado and shrimp with fried egg

Amontillado y camarones con huevo frito_ E Puerto de Santa Maria
From Sprint Sherry

Amontillado is one of the many wines of the area that you absolutely must try. It is an elegant wine that should be drunk chilled and is well suited to every need. In this particular dish, with shrimps and fried eggs, it enhances and mixes the flavors of the sea and nature.

Atún encebollado

Tuna with onion
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

With all the seaside resorts in the Cádiz Province, finding good tuna shouldn’t be a big deal. However, if you plan a trip to these parts, you will find that between May and June, in places like Tarifa, Conil, Barbate and Zahara de los athunes, various events called Ruta del Atún are organized, in which you will probably also be able to try many dishes at tuna base like the one in the photo (with tuna and onion).

Tuna fillet in butter
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

El gastor

Returning a little towards the interior of the province, you can discover other beautiful villages but a little less known to mass tourism: El Gastor looks like a real garden with its typical white houses like a true pueblo blanco, vases hanging everywhere , palm trees in the squares and huge plants scattered here and there.
El Gastor is also known as “el Balcón de los Pueblos Blancos” (the balcony of the pueblos blancos) for the position that favors the breathtaking views.
One more reason to come here, I think …

Typical dishes

Popular dishes from the el Gastor area include stew, soups, asparagus scrambled eggs, and others based on poultry and pork.
But a typical dish of this mountain town is certainly the Asparagus Stew (Guisote de espárragos) which is a compound made from bread, oil, water and of course ground asparagus. All this is served in a large family pot which everyone, provided with a spoon, bread and wine, can use and eat.

Algodonales

Algodonales
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

No, I didn’t go crazy all of a sudden! Algodonales is also a splendid pueblo blanco in the province of Cádiz, but I wanted to start by telling it with one of the many events that make it distinctive and famous.
The one in the photo above is the historical re-enactment of May 2nd (dos de mayo). Here in Algodonales the event that at the beginning of May 1810 put the inhabitants of this village and the regiments of the French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte against each other.
The battle left 273 dead and about seventy houses destroyed.
Since 2005, this celebration in traditional dress has been born, which aims to pay homage to the brave who faced the French army.

Split olives
Photo from Cadizturismo.com

Local gastronomy

Algodonales is located in an area full of olive groves. Olive oil in this area is an important and well-made product, as are the split olives (aceitunas partidas).
If you come here, you should definitely try the local cheeses and wines, but also a traditional pastry with a bit Arabian “tendencies”: the gañote.

Ubrique

Ubrique from San Antonio
Photo by CPL

Ubrique has been declared a historic site. In addition to pueblo blanco, keep in mind that a stretch of the ancient Roman road passes through here, revealing its ancient origins (photo below).

UBRIQUE (SIERRA DE CÁDIZ).-
Roman road that connects Ubrique with Benaocaz.- Photo by Fernando Ruso

Typical products and gastronomy

Chorizá – Ubrique –
Photo by Francisco Javier Sánchez Ramírez

Ubrique, like other mountain pueblos blanco, also has its beautiful food and wine tradition.
It starts with local cheeses produced in the area: the products from payoya goat milk already mentioned are among the best known.
Sausages, salami, hams and other sausages created with the techniques of the past are also excellent products to be enjoyed as a snack.
Among the desserts you can also try the traditional gañote here, which is offered among the participants in a dedicated competition once a year.

…and finally…

I admit it … when it comes to eating and traveling, life takes on a wonderful meaning and everything shines in a different light.
From Cadizturismo (thank you thank you thank you !!!) they sent me so many photos and info that I would like to continue this article indefinitely … Instead I close with the last three tapas, with the hope of returning soon, indeed very soon in this wonderful province!

Tapa de atún y queso – San Fernando –
Photo by David Ibáñez Montañez
Tapa de jamón – San Fernando –
Photo by David Ibáñez Montañez
Croquetas
Photo from Cadizturismo.com





Lanzarote: from the volcano to the glass. The history of the island that produces an excellent wine from volcanic lava

la geria lanzarote vignes by Thierry GUIMBERT from Adobe stock

The vineyards of Lanzarote are different from the others. They represent one of the many “battles” that have taken place between man and the environment. If you try to stop in a winery in La Geria and take a taste, you will realize that here the man really managed to win a great challenge. In this case, however, he once made the landscape beautiful and created something good for the earth and the economy.

The vineyards of Lanzarote grow on a basaltic sea of black rocks formed after the eruption of Timanfaya in the 18th century and this is only the first of the many obstacles that a normal vineyard could encounter if it wanted to produce wine grapes.
Good wine I mean!
To all this we must add the climate of Lanzarote which is heavenly for men but certainly not for the cultivation of grapes: lots of sun, very little rain and even strong winds.

Although everything seems to the limit of the impossible, the wines of Lanzarote continue to win many awards for their goodness and their taste, a sign that behind the work of the farmers there is not only the commitment in wanting to grow something in a difficult condition, but also the great ability to create an excellent product.

El Grifo de Lanzarote won a prize in a Brussels competition for its 2018 Malvasia Volcanica Lias and one for the 2019 Red Collection, ticking it off among 10,000 wines from nearly 50 different countries. Martinon, Rubicon and La Geria also got some awards.

But where does the “secret” of the cultivation of the vineyards of Lanzarote really come from?
The winemakers realized that under the lava and ash, the soil formed by sand and clay was still fertile and so they dug deep funnel-shaped holes and planted 3 vines in each of them.
They also added semi-circular stone walls to protect the vines from strong winds and the volcanic ash that moves with them.

As for the absence of rain, the layer of lapilli (small fragments of lava) has been exploited, which have a thermo-regulating effect on the subsoil. This facilitates the filtration of rain avoiding evaporation from the soil and maintaining a constant temperature.