Let’s be completely honest – planning a holiday or family vacation can be a bit stressful; however, the end result is by far the most rewarding. Today we live in a very fast paced society, and in many ways we just can’t seem to slow it down and take a breather! When it comes to holiday destinations, one of the best places to visit and experience that much needed “breather” is definitely the Costa del Sol in the South of Spain.
Tantalise your taste buds
The Costa del Sol in Malaga province is 900 kilometres of breathtaking beauty, blue flag beaches, diverse culture and exotic cuisine. For those of us who love to travel, several things will cross our minds before arriving at our destinations, and one very important thought is “what are we going to eat!”
Believe it or not,in the South of Spain you’ll find some of the most nutritionally healthy foods on the planet. Andalusian cooking is inspired by a blend of cultures, such as oriental and Middle Eastern tastes. Because Andalusia was under Moorish rule for almost 800 years, it left behind a distinct culinary heritage that’s famous the world over.
Here, you will find creative uses for specific spices and herbs, oranges and other tropical fruits included in main dishes; almonds and cinnamon served with meat and extra Virgin Olive Oil as the foundation for flavour everywhere.
Andalusia just happens to be one of the largest producers of Olive Oil in the world. It’s actually quite amazing, and the culinary experiences you can pick up by simply walking into a bar will leave you glowing. Don’t take our word for it, just simply walk into any bar along the Costa del Sol and your drinks will be accompanied with a bowl of Olives – not exactly the peanuts or pretzels you might have expected! But, what’s truly unique is not all olives have the same flavour, it seems here everyone loves to blend new herbs and spices to make them their very own.
Andalusia is also home to plenty more interesting variations of food. For example, found in the south of Spain is a breakfast item called ‘Pan contomate y aceite’ – this is toasted bread topped with chopped tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil. A far step away from your ordinary bacon and eggs!
Did you know that Andalusia is home of the Gazpacho? If you’re a fan, you can thank the South of Spain for its creation. Simply translated, Gazpacho means “soaked bread”, and it has an interesting history. This tasty cold soup was once considered peasant food or a poor man’s dinner. The dish consisted of bread, olive oil and crushed garlic. But, this peasant dish did something completely unexpected…it travelled across the globe, picking up many different variations. Today, Gazpacho is incredibly popular the world over; but if you want to taste it in its original form, you’ll have to visit the South of Spain.
Culinary trips or food adventures are not uncommon; in many ways we need to experience some of the diverse, tantalize our taste buds, and of course fill-up our very own recipe books. Just like some will travel the world for wine tasting, many plan tours featuring new and exciting foods.
So, if culinary is your main attraction, you might want to consider the many tapas and even wine tasting tours, held throughout the south. If you are not exactly sure what tapas are, we won’t spoil it for you; but, we promise you won’t be disappointed!
The Ronda and El Tajo Gorge
Here’s one piece of advice you need to follow if you are really planning on visiting the Costa del Sol – make plans for a day trip to Ronda. The drive alone will leave you in amazement.
Ronda is a small city located high in the mountains and seemingly just appears out of nowhere. From Malaga it’s an hour and half drive through some beautiful country side. Up and up you go to the peak of a mountain where Ronda is perfectly situated. Here, you can enjoy a “Tapas tour”, which provides an opportunity to explore the many flavours of Andalusian cuisine.
You may even decide to join a guided tour, which includes a food guide – yes, a food guide! We also recommend you partake in a Tapa Crawl – imagine a pub crawl or as it’s sometimes called in the west, “bar hopping”; however, a tapa crawl involves an array of wonderfully prepared and tasty small authentic dishes of food.
Of course we can’t leave without mentioning the most famous of dishes across Spain – the Paella. There are many varieties of flavors available when choosing the perfect Paella. They even have vegetarian Paella’s so everyone can enjoy the unique blend of flavours found in the rice.
You can order seafood Paella, by far the most recommended, or even a hearty helping of meat Paella. At most restaurants the menu item will always state for two persons, this is one heck of a dish and requires some time to make. But if you’re lucky, you’ll find a great little place that offers a tapas Paella for a nice sample first.
Wash it all down with red or white wine, better yet, order a jug of Sangria! Sangria is another famous element to the South of Spain. Be careful though, you’ll find Sangria in its original form here in the South of Spain. Why should you be careful? Sangria actually contains over 5 different spirits! Let’s not forget the wine and fruit added as well. The point is Sangria is incredibly tasty, and you’ll find that you barely taste a hint of the alcohol therein. Sangria has a talent for quenching thirst, and on those hot summer days, you might find yourself ordering more than one jug to share.
But, besides the best of Spanish cuisine during a tapa crawl; there is an extra added incentive – it´s free if you order a drink! You can choose a small beer (cerveza), a soft-drink or a nice glass of Tinto de Vino.
Spain´s vast beauty cannot be properly explained in a simple blog posting; it needs to be seen, experienced, and yes tasted as well. No matter which part you choose to visit, Spain offers you an incredible and culturally diverse culinary experience.
So, grab your sun hat, sun screen and some loose fitting shorts…you’re in for one heck of a treat!