SENSATIONS, FLAVOURS AND AROMAS
ANDALUSIA - “ALL FLAVOURS AND TRADITIONS"
Andalusia is a melting pot of cultures with evidence of human settlements since prehistoric times. Especially its coastal areas and the inland, situated at short distance from the beaches, reflect the many different cultures which passed by throughout history.
Cultures like the one of Tartessos - which has long been considered as from the world of legends like for example Atlantis - the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and finally the Arabs influenced not only the form in how to cultivate the land, the plantations themselves, the culture and traditions, the language and the daily lifestyle of the people, but also the cuisine, which was enriched by the influences, preferences and habits of each new culture.
Today we can find in the Andalusian cuisine reminiscences of Mediterranean, Germanic and African recipes, creating the simply unique gastronomy of Spain, which also varies from region to region and even from town to town – according to the influences the local population endured during their thousands and thousands of years of history. In the small villages the women maintain still today laborious recipes and products, which need a lot of time to be elaborated and which cannot be produced massively. Today we will taste some examples.
It would be impossible to cover the full range of flavours, unique recipes and specialties in just one excursion. Therefore we focus today on two typical products, which have a long history and can be found in the area of the Sierra de las Nieves – a region very accessible and close to the Costa del Sol and to Benalmádena.
Today we will discover the world of cheese and the famous "must" as they call the local wine in Yunquera, while we will also visit this picturesque enclave with all its anecdotes and history.
Welcome to a world of aromas, flavours and textures…!
Departure from Benalmádena in a tourist coach with 54 seats.
We go on the new highway of the coast to the speed road A357, on which we stay until the exit Coín. The road takes us to this town, which is the capital of this interior region. From here we enter the Sierra de las Nieves on the road A366, which will bring us to the neuralgic centre of the administrative district – Alozaina.
After máximum one hour drive it is now time to Split up the group. One part will stay with the leader of the group in the cheese factory Naizaloa, while the other part will have another 15 minutes drive in the bus until the village of Yunquera. While the first group receives all the explanations about the production of goat cheese, the second group will discover the picturesque town Yunquera with all its legends and anecdotes and will finish with a wine tasting in the wine cellar “El PorFin”.
PRICE PER PERSON: 38.00 €
The price includes
The second group will leave Yunquera. We pick up the first group and go all together to the association Arte de mis Manos for lunch. In surroundings, which breath the agricultural traditions of the region, we will try typical plates of the mountain villages of Sierra de las Nieves, accompanied by wine and water.
After lunch we will visit the handicraft workshops and the shop, in order to see authentic Works of art, which are created in the centre, while they keep alive ancestral craftsmanship.
We leave “Arte de mis Manos”. Now in the afternoon, the groups are changed. The group, which visited in the morning the village of Yunquera, will be left now in the cheese factory, while the rest will visit Yunquera and the wine cellar.
We leave Yunquera and pick up the rest of the group in the cheese factory. From here we following the road A354 in direction Casarabonela and Zalea, where we will change to the road A357, which brings us on the highway and back to the coast.
Arrival at Benalmádena.
- Transport in tourist coach
- Guide from the moment of pick up
- Second guide during the visits
- Visit of a family run cheese factory with cheese tasting
- Small fresh cheese as souvenir
- Guided visit of the village of Yunquera with visit of the birth house/museum of the blessed Juan Duarte
- Visit of a family run wine cellar with wine tasting and tapas
- Lunch with typical plates (starter, main dish and dessert) prepared with ecological products from their own garden, including one bottle of wine for each 4 persons and water
- Visit of handicraft workshops and shop
NAIZALOA - ”A FAMILY RUN CHEESE FACTORY"
Legend has it that it was an old Arab who discovered the cheese, while he was crossing the desert. He carried a traditional container, which in Spanish is called “a bota”. They were made of the stomach of an animal and used to transport liquids. In this case it was probably made from a sheep's or a goat’s stomach, containing still some lab enzyme. While riding through the desert, the milk was stirred and shaken in the rhythm of the steps off his horse and turned into fresh cheese. The poor Arab was very surprised when he wanted to have a good drink - but the concept of cheese was discovered. In the year 59 B.C. Julius Caesar invaded France with blocks of cheese in the provisions for his soldiers.
Since these days the production of cheese has developed a lot and nowadays exist more than 400 varieties of cheese, each one with a myriad of textures, aromas and flavours.
Isabel Maria - the owner of Naizaloa - is a woman versed in the rich culture and traditions of her rural surroundings and decided to convert the knowledge of cheese making, which generation after generation were developed and enriched by her family into a commercial business. Thus was born the cheese factory Naizaloa in 2003, counting with the help of her husband John.
He takes care of the herd of goats, which are of the autochthonous race of Malaga, to guarantee their perfect condition at the time of milking and the quality of their milk, of which Isabel Maria prepares her delicious cheeses.
The group, which visits the cheese factory in the morning will be able to see the milking of the goats and the more daring participants may try to milk by hand - as it was done for thousands of years - before you see the modern facilities and machinery for the automatic milking, the pasteurization and the curdle of the milk.
Then the cheeses are moulded and pressed, to lose all traces of whey. Finally they have to rest for one hour in brine, in order to become the first final product – the fresh cream cheese.
Working with traditional recipes, but respecting to the last detail the regulations for health and hygiene standards, this family business offers us a cheese of highest quality with all guarantees of craftsmanship and tradition for all its different varieties, which are already well known and popular far beyond the regional borders.
While the cheeses are ripening in the brine, we will try the different varieties and observe an exhibition of how the cheese was made traditionally and by hand for thousands of years.
The variety of cheese is determined by the period of time it ripens in the cold chambers and we will try the following varieties, all produced by Naizaloa:
At the end of the visit you will takes home a fresh cheese as souvenir.
- fresh cheese
- the semi-hard cheese and
- aged cheese
While we are finishing our visit, the other part of the group left already Yunquera in order to pick us up. For lunch the whole group will be reunited and eating together in a very special place, which is very different to any restaurant.
ARTE DE MIS MANOS - ”A VERY SPECIAL ASSOCIATION”
Recovering historic craftsmanship in order to advance in social aspects.
Arte de mis Manos – AL-ANDALUS is a company with social character, distinguished by the idea behind this association, which is to recover ancient handicrafts in a world where the new technologies emerge with overwhelming force, while the traditional craftsmanship fall into oblivion.
The second detail about this company is its uninterested intent to develop our social environment and the rehabilitation they give their own workers – in situation of social exclusion.
Through their handicraft school workshop, they shape real artists working with clay, copper, ceramic, wood, wrought iron, the fabrication of Waldorf toys, etc. while helping them to develop personally and to re-integrate in society.
We will see some of their workshops, where they create real artistic masterpieces and talk to some of the persons, who live and work in the centre.
The educational character of the centre is enforced by the activities and workshops, which are offered to visitors and children and which are as varied as the persons who take part in this project.
Afterwards we will have lunch in surroundings which are impregnated by the history and the customs of traditional agriculture. The room is a real museum, decorated with old tools and historical agricultural equipments, which were used by past generations every single day.
Our menu shows us the local gastronomy with typical plates of these mountain villages – all prepared with ecological products from their own orchard. Although the menu will be different every day – according to the products of the season and adapted to the actual temperatures – the food will always be home made and prepared with a lot of time and love – offering plates which you will not be able to find in any restaurant anymore.
A highlight will be the visit of the shop, in which are offered only and exclusively objects, produced and elaborated in Arte de mis Manos and which are authentic works of art.
Afterwards we exchange the groups and the part which visited in the morning the cheese factory will go after lunch to the town Yunquera to start the afternoon with the visit of the village – and vice versa.
YUNQUERA - ”ENCHANTMENT IN THE SHADOW OF THE PINSAPO FORESTS”
The town's name comes from the large number of reeds that always grew in the region and gives an idea of the enormous amount of existing water supplies, natural abundance that extends into the surrounding mountains, where Yunquera is honored to have the best maintained and most extensive Pinsapar of the world.
The place where Yunquera is situated today is one of the two existing passages, which allow a more or less easy crossing of the eastern mountainranges of the so called Serranía de Ronda – a mountaineous region surrounding completely the highplateau of the city of Ronda, which was in history a very important commercial centre and crossroad from the coast to Seville (always capital of the region since Roman times).
If we add to this fact the abundance of water, welling up from springs located in the mountains, it is assumed that the area was inhabited since prehistoric times, but it was not until the arrival of the Romans when these territories showed some scattered houses inhabited by Romans and everything indicates that Yunquera did not become a real Roman city worth this qualification. The only constructions left of this time are two Roman bridges, situated on the road to Ronda. The Romans called the region “Juncaria”, which means "meadow of rushes”.
It is very sure that there existed some Christian settlements in the region, like Pereila, Porticate and Yunquera itself, before the arrival of the Berber troops which established themselves in this territory in the VIII century a.C. In their times the area depended on the Kora (or province) Takurunna, with the capital Ronda.
During the Arab domination the village was called Toranjibal. The Arabs, with their proverbial reverence for water, designed a series of gardens that were easily irrigated by an ingenious system of channels and aqueducts.
This agricultural tradition has not changed during the centuries, as you still can see in the areas dedicated to the cultivation of orchards - like for example in the valleys of Rio Grande and Jorox - while the high plateau is dominated by olive trees.
Yunquera is mentioned in the texts of the Christian conquest as one of the places that capitulated after the conquest of Ronda in 1485. After its surrender in May 1485 the Christians allowed the Muslims and the converted Moorish population (called Mudéjares) to stay, both here and in other towns of the Sierra de las Nieves. However, after their elevation during the years 1568-1570 in practically all mountainous regions of Andalusia they were finally expulsed.
Finally in the mid-sixteenth century sixteen families from the town Estepa installed themselves in the region and began to build their houses along the creek. It seems that they first lived in the convent “Convento de las Nieves”, where the Marquis of Estepa lived and which is located several kilometers from the present town. Yet this settlement is actually considered the birth of today’s Christian Yunquera.
As it was necessary in time to expand the cultivated areas for the growing population the neighboring towns (Alozaina, Tolox, El Burgo and Casarabonela) were forced to cede part of their territories and the actual municipal territory of Yunquera was definitely established.
During the visit of this picturesque village we will see its most important buildings regarding its history and social life.
Parting from the most emblematic and vibrant streets, we will visit the church Iglesia de la Encarnación, which is known as the cathedral of the Sierra de las Nieves, due to the beauty of its interiors.
Situated at the highest point of the direct surroundings, it was built in 1505 on the foundations of the old Islamic fortress, although it was reformed afterwards several times, suffering a los of architectonic changes.
Our next stop is the birth house and Museum of the Blessed Juan Duarte Martin, illustrious son of the town and martyr of the Civil War. He was born on 17.03.1912 and was killed on the November 7, 1936 after being tortured with unbelievable cruelty during a whole week, because he didn’t wanted to betray his faith. We will hear all about his life, his person and his death while visiting his family home, which is a typical house of modest farmers of the period of the Civil War. The house was restored and converted into a museum by private initiatives and is even more important since Juan Duarte was beatified in Rome on 28.10.2007.
Then we will see the remains of the castle which is completely integrated in the historic town centre. Also the historic documents doesn’t provide much information about this edification, as the first indications date from the time after the Christian conquest, when the Catholic Monarchs ordered to repair it. However, very soon – already in 1498 (just 13 years later) – they order its destruction together with the fortresses of El Burgo, Monda and Tolox, as they were no longer needed for defense.
The few remaining walls are forming today the walls of several buildings and houses of the historic centre.
THE MUST OF YUNQUERA - PRODUCT OF THE WINE CELLAR “EL PORFIN”
From the lower part of town we go back up, following its winding slopes, passing its religious niches and popular sources until we finally arrive at the only winery, which officially remains in the village – although Yunquera was formerly a centre of viticulture with many family run wineries that produced the famous local wine, which they call here “must”.
This will be our last stop, where we will hear all the details about the wine production, starting with information about the grape harvest, the pressing, the fermentation in the barrels and its history in general.
Obviously we will also try the wine, which has a very different flavour to the palate than the better known wines from the Rioja region or from northern European wineries, but it will be accompanied by some Spanish “tapas”.
After a pleasant chat with the owners of the wine cellar we return to the bus in order to leave Yunquera – either in direction to Alozaina for lunch (in the case of the morning group) or to collect the rest of the group and return to the Costa del Sol (in the case of the group of the afternoon).