Chef José Pizarro's Top Foodie Tips for Spain
written by Gabriella Opaz | 1st March 2018
This tour is half way between a walking holiday and gourmet break as we bring you the very best of rural Andalucia from the great outdoors right to your dinner table; enjoy staying in boutique hotels, ambling alongside the tracks with an expert guide, and savouring the best of local produce in some fantastic little restaurants we have carefully selected along the tracks of the old railway.
The magnificent route carved out by Mr Henderson´s railway is one of Andalusía’s hidden gems, packed full of surprises that delights nature lovers, photographers, historians, railway enthusiasts, foodies and walkers alike.
This unique tour is wonderfully balanced somewhere in the realm of gentle walking holiday and foodie heaven, as well as helping to keep history alive; Mr Henderson´s Railway is a marvellous piece of Andalucian heritage that was once relegated to people´s memory, but we can now relive the glory days with this insight into the original Victorian Experience.
I want to thank both of you for such an excellent job…We were treated like royalty at each of the places we visited and were able to drink much better wine and experience much better cuisine than if I would have not had your assistance. I would recommend without hesitation that anyone planning a wine tour in the region to contact…Catavino.
Check into the luxurious Reina Cristina Hotel in Algeciras for a relaxing afternoon poolside enjoying the vast amenities in their centurion colonial estate. Come afternoon, we’ll enjoy a warm up hike through the rugged coastline of the Natural Park of the Straits of Gibraltar. Beyond its lush vertiginous landscape, the park houses a vast array of migratory birds, such as the Puffin, Alcatraz, Kingfisher and the Griffon. This evening, we will enjoy a welcome dinner at a cozy local restaurant that serves up some of the best of Andalucian cuisine.
Today, we’ll embark on our adventure to discover the various secrets of Mr Henderson´s Railway. After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, followed by a guided tour and tapas lunch, you’re private driver will whisk you off to the dramatic hilltop fortress town of Castellar where you’ll embark on a wonderful circular walk to Jimena de La Frontera. The old village of Castellar de la Frontera is perched high on a hilltop in the province of Cadiz, with commanding views over the Guadarranque reservoir, while Jimena de La Frontera is one of the most charming of Andalucia’s small towns, its Moorish castle presiding over a village well known for its traditional houses, narrow winding streets, and of course, railway. Tonight, we’ll savor local cuisine such a “Revuelto de esparragos” – asparagus in scrambled egg, and “Chantarella”, a type of wild mushroom. For something sweet, the ‘Piconate’ is a specialty in Jimena and hails from its Arabic origins.
This morning, we’ll stay local, ascending into the Los Alcornocales Natural Park, followed by a relaxing lunch on a sprawling terrace. After lunch, your private driver will chauffeur you to the stunning village of Gaucín. Thought by many to be among Andalusia´s prettiest villages, Gaucín enjoys views of Gibraltar and Africa on a clear day. Hence, it’s no surprise that it’s called “The Balcony of Europe”. Considered a gateway to the Serranía de Ronda where, depending on the time of year, you can enjoy an impressionist palette of colour: brilliant brush strokes of red poppies, yellow mimosa, purple wild orchids, tempered by the cool green of olive groves and occasional splash of pale pink almond blossom – making it the perfect backdrop for budding artists. Tonight´s accommodation will be in a boutique restaurant where we’ll enjoy a sumptuous dinner under a blanket of stars.
After breakfast, we’ll hike along a spectacular trail to the mouth of a deep gorge to watch for majestic vultures! If you haven’t seen a vulture in real-time, get ready to be impressed. Their speed, agility and strength is not only impressive, but astounding considering their size – think mini dinosaur. Bring your swimmers, because we’ll also be diving into turquoise blue waters, then lunch at another of our “railway” restaurants. This one was converted from an old cargo loading bay at the end of the platform. A feast for the palate and a surprise to the eyes. Tonight´s accommodation will be at a wonderful rural hotel, converted from an old mill. The restaurant is famed in the area, so keep your appetite on the ready, as you’ll be savoring an extensive tasting menu paired with regional wines.
Today´s walk will be a classic walk right out the door of the hotel and will criss-cross the railroad tracks and river to reach the neighbouring village where we will enjoy another fabulous lunch in one of our favourite “Railway” venues. After lunch we will ride the train to Ronda for the culmination of our time together. Once we are settled into the Reina Victoria Hotel, we will enjoy our farewell dinner at a local restaurant
Perched on an inland plateau driven by the 100m fissure of El Tajo gorge, Ronda is absolutely dramatic, spellbinding and a phenomenal geologic landmark. It has a superbly soaring location, and owes its name (‘surrounded’ by mountains), to the encircling Serranía de Ronda. After breakfast you will be met at your hotel for a cultural walking tour from a local guide who will help you discover some of Rondas’ most emblematic monuments, among them the oldest purpose built bullring in Spain. This will conclude your tour, but should you need transportation to Madrid, Barcelona or anywhere else in Iberia, we’re more than happy to help you!
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