Archive for ‘Spain’

July 8, 2020

Some news from Spain XCIII

And here I am back on my beloved Spain. Even if times still are recovering and the healing will be long; all if not most is a go. There has been renew covid19 in Llerida Catalunya and A Mariñas areas of north Galicia as people still do not follow rules.

Some better news from my Castilla La Mancha region.

And this is Castilla La Mancha autonomous region of the Kingdom of Spain. One of my fav regions of my beloved Spain. There is so much to see as evidence by my many posts on it. However, let me tell you a bit more from the tourism pros.

The region is committed to natural spaces, charming towns and a great cultural offer in a safe environment for these coming holidays. Everything, led by a great kitchen that has seven Michelin stars as ambassadors. The third region of Spain in size has in its favor that national tourism is the one that leads the way because of the coronavirus. Hence, 90% of Spaniards plan to spend their holidays within their borders, according to the CIS ( Centre for Sociological Research).

For this reason, nature tourism gains strength with these jewels: two national parks, Las Tablas de Daimiel and Cabañeros; seven natural parks from the Alto Tajo to the Barranco del Río Dulce; six river reserves such as Sotos del Río Milagro; 48 micro-reserves, 122 natural spaces from the Lagunas de Ruidera, one of the most beautiful wetlands in Spain, at the source of the Río Mundo, and 26 natural monuments after adding the Chorreras del Cabriel (Cuenca). Archaeological sites such as Albacete from Libisosa should not be forgotten. There’s more: the Parque Minero de Almadén(mining park) or the black towns of Guadalajara.

On the cultural level, the biggest show in Spain stands out, Puy du Fou’s El Sueño de Toledo or dream of , which faces its second season on a five-hectare stage in the open air. Among the novelties is the appearance among the waters of the spectacular Crystal Palace of King Al-Mamún, as well as 15 Spanish horses that join the 35 already existing. The new Roberto Polo Collection museum a Center for Modern and Contemporary Art. In addition, the 46th edition of the Almagro Festival, the best in the world focused on the Golden Age, has been confirmed from July 14 to 26.

The Ruta de La Manchuela route, straddling Albacete and Cuenca, is dotted with charming medieval towns with treasures such as the Alcalá del Júcar Castle, the hermitage of Cristo de la Vida or the Iniesta Archaeological Museum. As a colophon, you must go to the Hoces del Cabriel, one of the best kept secrets in the area to escape to during this unusual summer.

And Castilla La Mancha has a new brand,Raiz Culinaria or culinary root, an axis to enhance visitor attraction by underlining the richness and gastronomic diversity. The ambassadors of this seal are the seven Michelin-starred chefs in the region: Fran Martínez (from the Maralba restaurant, in Almansa, Albacete), Enrique Pérez (from El Doncel, in Sigüenza, Guadalajara), Iván Cerdeño (from the restaurant of the same name in the Cigarral del Ángel, Toledo), Javier Aranda (from Retama, in Torrenueva, Ciudad Real), Jesús Segura (from Trivio, in Cuenca), Pepe Rodríguez (from El Bohío, in Illescas, Toledo) and Samuel Moreno (from Molino de Alcuneza, the second in Sigüenza). All of them have one star except the first, Maralba, who has two.

In the gastro chapter, the wine universe takes on special importance, with visits to wineries and vineyards on foot, by bike or 4×4, museums, exhibitions, festivals, tastings, contests and experiences for all audiences. Under this umbrella, Rutas del Vino de Castilla-La Mancha or the Wine Routes of Castilla-La Mancha offer the largest vineyard in the world, with 473,000 hectares, 50% of the total area of Spain. From them come references such as Finca Antigua Crianza Único, the Pago de la Jaraba 2018. Among the best in the world with ecological certification is the Ulterior Parcela 17 Graciano 2016, valued with 95 points in the Decanter contest. The La Mancha Wine Route discovers the heritage of this region that evokes the figures of Cervantes and Don Quixote, present in towns such as Alcázar de San Juan, Campo de Criptana, Socuéllamos, El Toboso, Tomelloso and Villarrobledo. Regarding the Valdepeñas, it is full of wineries, large and small, in the urban area or in the countryside, which combine tradition and modernity.

And for reference for my biking readers, Spain is tops for this and of course even I have done it even if many years back. This is more for the real aficionado! At least read the book!  Sergio Fernández Tolosa, author of the book “España en bicicleta or Spain by bicycle. 101 rutas ciclistas imprescindibles “ or 101 essential cycling routes (ed. GeoPlaneta), which has just gone on sale. The 35 main itineraries, unpublished and that have been created especially for this guide, add up to more than 7,300 kilometers! If cultural heritage appeals to you, it tells   you to go to Uncastillo, in the Cinco Villas region, to see its Romanesque churches , make the Vía de la Plata or the Cistercian Route. If you like volcanic landscapes, Lanzarote and La Graciosa are paradise. If you want to emulate the greats of cycling, the return to Las Ubiñas, with an ascent to Angliru included, or any of the routes that we propose through the Pyrenees are the perfect plan.

And something wonderful I use all the time even today! Extra Virgin Olive Oil!!!

In an extra virgin olive oil, the following will also be considered, among other aspects: legal quality, organoleptic quality (gastronomic-culinary), nutritional quality (health), therapeutic quality, differentiated quality (DOP) and also quality related to practical aspects of product use (type of container, price, etc.). Extra virgin olive oil must be fruity, that is, smell the fruit from which it comes, without making a sensory description of it, and must not have defects, which, from a technical point of view, is implemented as a median of defects equal to zero. Like any food that comes from the field, the quality of virgin oils will be influenced by agronomic factors, such as the variety of olives, cultural practices in the field, and the ecosystem in which the olive grove is located, and could even extend to collection and transport to the mill. Do not forget the processes related to obtaining the oil at the mill, and also those related to conservation, packaging and the degree of freshness.

Although all seem to have a common origin in wild olive or olive, there is great diversity and each olive will give it its own personality, always mediated by the ecosystem in which it is implanted. In Spain they deserve to be mentioned among others: arbequina, empeltre, mallorquina, picual, picudo, hojiblanca, cornicabra, manzanilla cacereña, farga, lechín from Granada, verdial from Vélez Málaga, verdial from Badajoz, blanqueta and morrut and for mesa manzanilla from Sevilla y Gordal from Seville as well as the Manzanilla from Cáceres.  Outside of Spain; in Portugal: galega, cobrançosa, cordovil and verdeal; in Italy: frantoio, lecchino, moraiolo, carolea, pendolino, coratina and taggiasca; in Greece: koroneiki, adramitini, mastoidis, valanolia, and konservolia and kalamata are highly valued for table; in France: picholine from Languedoc; and in the other Mediterranean countries: in Turkey: memecik and ayvalik; in Syria: sorani and zaity; in Morocco: Moroccan picholine; in Tunisia: chemlali from Sfax and chetoui.

For there to be a Denominacion de Origin Protegida or protected denomination of origin (DOP) the following requirements must be met: 1. Existence of a perfectly delimited region, place, region or locality. 2. Defined cultivation practices and the existence of an adequate raw material. 3. Uniform production methods of the highest quality virgin oil. In Spain, currently most DOPs only cover extra virgin olive oils.

In April 2020, Spain had 29 D.O.P. distributed as follows:

In Andalusia (12): Baena, Sierra de Segura, Priego de Córdoba, Sierra Mágina, Sierra de Cazorla, Montes de Granada, Poniente de Granada, Sierra de Cádiz, Antequera, Steppe Oil, Montoro-Adamuz, Lucena. In Catalonia (5): Les Garrigues, Siurana, Terra Alta Oil, Baix Ebre-Montsià Oil, Oil from l ‘Empordá or Olí de l’ Empordá. In Extremadura (2): Gata-Hurdes, Monterrubio Oil.   In Castilla-La Mancha (4): Montes de Toledo, Campo de Montiel Oil, La Alcarria Oil, Campo de Calatrava. In Aragon (2): Oil from Bajo Aragón, Sierra del Moncayo. In the Balearic Islands (1): Mallorca oil. In La Rioja (1): La Rioja oil. In Valencia (1): Valencian Community Oil.  In Navarra (1): Oil from Navarra. In addition, the two IGP, currently in the process of resolution in the European Union, as follows: Ibiza Oil and Jaén Oil, the latter a very good producing area and mention that will include other Jaén areas such as Campiñas de Jaén or Jaén Sierra Sur that preceded it. Love it Extra Virgin Olive Oil! From Spain ,the best!

And the arts are suffering too. The Madrid Art Triangle, made up of the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía museums, have experienced a sharp fall in June 2020 due to the reduced capacity and social distancing measures adopted to combat the pandemic.

The most pronounced fall is that of the Reina Sofía, which from June 6 to 30 of this year has had 13,133 visitors at its main headquarters, where the “Guernica” and the bulk of its collection is housed, while the same period in 2019 had 113,779 visitors. The museum reopened on June 6 with only part of its route, which houses the most important pieces, such as the central work of Picasso, and other reference rooms, such as those dedicated to Dalí. It has been adding spaces to its tour in recent weeks. The Prado has also gone from receiving 295,285 visitors in June 2019 (full month), to receiving 41,358 visitors from June 6 to 30. The gallery has reopened only a quarter of its length and has done so with “«Reencuentro»”, a unique exhibition that brings together its most important works. Last, Monday, it has announced that it is expanding its capacity from 1,800 visitors a day to 2,500, which will allow the exhibition to be seen by more people.   The Thyssen-Bornemisza is the one that falls the least. Unlike the other two, the museum reopened all of its facilities, albeit with reduced capacity as indicated by the government’s de-escalation program. Of the 63,378 visitors it received in June 2019, it has now received 25,079 (from June 6 to 30). This sharp fall is influenced, on the one hand, by the dry braking of international tourism, which in the case of the three museums accounts for more than half of its visitors, but also that of national tourism, which until the state of alarm ended June 22nd could not be reactivated and is still of little importance.

And another tradition to see in Spain that is hurting from the pandemic. “Of each and every one of the members of the Lidia Livestock Association (AGL), which is made up of more than 350 farms, with a total of more than 47,200 fighting bulls registered in the Genealogical Book. Understanding and suffering as mine, because I also have, such brutal economic losses. And I have also shared the sadness of having to make the tough decision to send bulls and steers to the slaughterhouse as the only way out. ? In view of everything that is happening, I think the time has come for the rest of the actors who live for and for the show to step forward. We need a large dose of imagination and courage to, maintaining the basic historical pillars of bullfighting, propose an adaptation to current times. Structural adaptation of the show, of values, of culture, of aesthetics, of the economy, etc. I understand that it must be a project made by specialist technicians, the best, who represent all sectors, and when I say all I say all: ranchers, slaughterers, bullfighters, bullfighters, silver bullfighters, picadores, businessmen, swordmen, doctors, veterinarians, owners of stable or portable bullrings, bullfighting schools, etc. But I repeat, made by specialists, all together yes, leaving aside personalisms and prejudices that have always given such a bad result. United and working side by side.” This a translation by yours truly from a speech by Víctor Huertas Vega BS Veterinary , cattle rancher of lidia bulls and president of the Asociación de Ganaderías de Lidia (AGL).

In better standing we have: The legendary stamp of Victorino Martín already has the date of his first “postcovid” bullfight: on August 15,at Herrera del Duque. Victorino has not had to send any bull to the slaughterhouse, although “he says have made more haste in the usual waste of cows and males; his is highly valued and the selection is very clear. In the town of Herrera del Duque, they will report on the sextet of the A crowned Manuel Escribano, José Garrido and Juan Silva “Juanito”, in a celebration organized by the businessman Joaquín Domínguez and that has been presented this morning at the Parador de Mérida. In Mérida, the Matilla house has closed two posters with the usual figures, with a luxurious combination in homage to Borja Domecq. Friday, August 28, homage to Borja Domecq with bulls from Jandilla for Morante de la Puebla, El Juli and José María Manzanares; Saturday 29, bulls by García Jiménez for Enrique Ponce, El Fandi and Miguel Ángel Perera. And the feast goes on!!

And there you go folks a bit of news blending as the situation goes. We will need to have patience but we will get out ok at the end; best wishes to all my readers!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

July 8, 2020

Jerez de la Frontera: Alcàzar!!!

And looking over my previous posts on my beloved Spain, found out did several on the sherry wines but not on the monument. And of course, one is very important there so cannot believe it when not written about it. Let me tell you now a bit on the Alcàzar of Jerez de la Frontera!

Here we are again with a piece of my beloved Spain. This is deep Spain, in fact when visitors comes to Spain or hear about it, what they really see / hear is Andalucia. Not bad to wandered around Spain, as we say Spain is everything under the sun ::)

Jerez de la Frontera is the most populated province of Cádiz in Andalusia. It is 6 km from El Puerto de Santa María, 12 km from the Atlantic Ocean and 85 km from the Strait of Gibraltar. The city is one of the 6 towns that make up the Bahía de Cádiz-Jerez metropolitan area, a polynuclear urban agglomeration formed by the towns of Cádiz, Chiclana de la Frontera, Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto Real, El Puerto de Santa María and San Fernando located in the Bay of Cádiz.

The Discovery of America and the Conquest of Granada, in 1492, made Jerez one of the most prosperous cities in Andalusia thanks to trade and its proximity to the ports of Sevilla and Cádiz. In fact, the strategic situation of the city made king Felipe II consider building a navigable estuary so that ships could get from the city’s jetty in El Portal to the city through the Guadalete river and that the city was included among the 480 cities of the world that are part of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum. (It was an editorial project conceived as a complement to Abraham Ortelius’ world atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), which became the most complete collection of panoramic views, plans and commentaries textual of cities published during the Modern Age.)

The one I like to tell you here is the Alcàzar ,old arab fortress and inside of it has the Palacio de Villavicencio and a hidden camera; as well as the ramparts walls with pieces of it on several streets, open or encrusted in buildings today. Need to tell you Jerez de la Frontera, means Jerez at the frontier as this was the name given to towns conquered by the Catholic kings army marching thru liberating it from muslim rule and after conquest and stop the area became the frontier between the two worlds. Hence, Jerez de la Frontera was a frontier town.

The Alcázar de Jerez de la Frontera, is a group of fortified buildings of Almohad origin ,probably the 12C, being the oldest Almohad building on the Iberian peninsula, to which later palatial baroque buildings were added, and which is one of the main monuments of the city; It is located in the corner of the wall that surrounded the city, next to the Alameda Vieja. It is considered one of the few examples of Almohad architecture that exists in the Iberian Peninsula.

Jerez de la Frontera

In the middle of the 11C, Jerez swore allegiance to the Banu Jizrun of the Taifa kingdom of Arcos. It is precisely to this time that the first architectural remains located in the fortress belong, although these are reduced to a few foundations, made with stones locked with mud. In the 12C, in response to the authority of the Almoravids, Jerez proclaimed an independent taifa under the government of Abul Gamar ibn Garrun, king of Ronda. From 1146 he swore allegiance to the Almohads, who will take control of Al Andalus (Andalucia) in their fight against the Christians of the north. Most of the Islamic buildings that remain in the quarterdeck belong to this stage, which lasts until 1248, when Jerez declared himself a vassal of the Kingdom of Castilla, reigning in this Fernando III El Santo. Between 1248 and 1255, the Alcàzar will remain in the hands of its Muslim governor, named Aben Obeit in Christian literary sources, until Jerez is besieged by the Castilians, and the Alcazar is conquered. However, in 1264 the Muslims of Jerez rebelled against Christian rule, entering the quarterdeck and passing the entire Christian garrison to the knife! king Alfonso X reacts against the revolt, besieging the city for five months, in 1264. As a result of this siege, Jerez surrenders to the Castilian troops, all the Islamic inhabitants of the city being expelled, who sought refuge in nearby towns or emigrated to Africa.

From the original Islamic fortress, the doors, the mosque, the Arab baths, the octagonal tower and the Pavilion of the patio of Doña Blanca de Borbón are preserved. From later stages, the Torre del Homenaje 15C, and the Baroque palace of Villavicencio and the Molino de Aceite or Oil mill  18C stand out. Partially surrounded by the large Alameda Vieja, the imposing Torre Octagonal or octagonal tower stands out with its presence, with its characteristic Almohad double curb, as well as the Torre del Homenaje de los Ponce de León. Later, a Renaissance facade replaced the old wall of passage to the Arab baths.

Jerez de la Frontera

The Mosque and the Arab Baths built by the Almohad sovereigns, this mosque is the only one that remains in the city of the eighteen that existed during the Islamic period. Its interior, now suitably restored, preserves, in addition to its classic horseshoe arches, the substantial parts for the Muslim rite, such as the minaret, the courtyard of ablutions, the prayer room and the mihrab, as well as an altar that reminds us that the first Christian Chapel of Santa María del Alcázar was created here. The Arab Baths keep the three classic rooms of this type of facility in very good condition. Built with sober solid and rough brick, starry skylights open in the domes of their ceilings, giving them the intimacy with which they were conceived. The Pabellon Real or royal pavilion has undergone archaeological excavations  being carried out.

Palacio de Villavicencio.  This stately palace was created by Don Lorenzo Fernández de Villavicencio, one of the first wardens of the city, and stands on one of its sides from the year 1664 on the remains of previous Arab buildings. It is a remarkable baroque palace that served as a residence for this and other city wardens and public representatives.  Inside it is housed what was saved from the pharmacy of the Municipal Pharmacy originally in the Convento de la Merced de Jerez de la Frontera. It is in perfect condition and completed with various furniture from the period 19C.

The Camera obscura or hidden camera, inside the main tower of the Palacio de Villavicencio, the tallest in the city. A simple set of lenses and mirrors with which you can see in real time and bird’s eye view of everything that happens at the moment in the streets and squares of the city; as well as the main monuments, church steeples and steeple and, roofs of palaces and mansions, and the distant farmland of the Jerez countryside.

Jardines or gardens in the Alcázar has several landscaped areas that include olive trees, cypresses and various flowers and fish ponds. Currently you can access much of the surface, leaving a small extension attached to finish completing. Attached to the mill building are the gardens of the old teatro Eslava which are used for cultural activities.
The Patio de Armas is the most spacious area of ​​the complex, the place where in times of Almohad rule the governor formed his troops. The main buildings of the Alcázar are arranged around this space, and it currently houses all kinds of social and cultural activities.

And now i feel better showing this wonderful complex that still needs to be seen fully. Hope you have enjoy this wonderful Alcàzar of Jerez de la Frontera!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and is a must are

The city of Jerez de la Frontera on the Alcàzar complex: City of Jerez on the Alcazar

The Jerez de la Frontera tourist office on the Alcàzar and especially the palace: Jerez tourist office on the Alcazar

The Cadiz province tourist office on Jerez de la FronteraCadiz province tourist office on Jerez de la Frontera

And remember, happy travels, good health, and  many cheers to all!!

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July 7, 2020

Jaca: Monasterio de Santa Cruz!

And here I am back in my beloved Spain! I have been coming here for years , initially as a stopping point between my trips from France to Spain over  Somport and Portalet; then we visit the city and even spent vacation time around the area. This is Jaca right facing the Pyrénées mountains! As you might know Spain is the No 2 most visited country in the world according to official tallies of the UN-WTO.

I have written several posts on it  ,but feel some is missing and I am trying to remedy this ommission of this wonderful quant city of Aragon. Let me tell you a bit more of Jaca on the Monasterio de Santa Cruz or the Holy Cross Monastery.

The Monasterio de Santa Cruz, where the daughter of a king of Aragon Ramiro I, Sancha was brough over from Santa Cruz de los Seros in 1622, been the best preserve romanesque tomb in Spain; the monastery itself was built from 1555.  The order of Benitas of sisters were in charge of the place before the reformation of 1730; the ceilings were painted al fresco in 1862.

Jaca

In 1555 the nuns of the Monasterio de Santa Cruz de la Serós (Sorores) moved to Jaca, at the behest of king Felipe II, building the monastery commonly called “de las Benitas”. The monastic complex has been extensively renovated, and the double ecclesial complex monopolizes its interest such as the original crypt and the temple of San Ginés. The underground Church of Santa María was known as that of San Salvador and is a room covered with a vault and which was decorated with Romanesque paintings.

The Church of San Ginés, or high church, was ceded to the nuns by the brotherhood of San Ginés in 1579. Only the Romanesque door remains of its origins, the whole Inside it has remained, for 450 years, the best full Romanesque tomb that has been preserved in the Iberian Peninsula. The famous sarcophagus of the Countess Doña Sancha, daughter of King Ramiro I of Aragon, brought to Jaca from Santa Cruz de los Serós in 1622.

Jaca

Currently the sarcophagus has been moved to one of the rooms of the Colegio de las Benedictinas, suitable to create a small museum in which in addition to being able to admire the tomb in all its splendor, it will be accompanied by eight panels of the Romanesque paintings of the Church of San Ginés, which until now were in the monastery’s private oratory and photos of the Renaissance cloister, closed to the public.The tomb is made of stone and on its sides it presents respectively a chrisom and a pair of opposite taps. On the back, chivalrous scenes are represented that look different. On the front is an allegory of the Countess’s soul represented by a naked girl carried by two angels to heaven. Two scenes of the deceased are presented on the sides as seated abbess and in a pontifical ceremony.

The Monasterio de Santa Cruz is located at the eastern end of the old town, attached to the only section of the old city wall, demolished at the beginning of the 20C. More on the monastery of the Holy Cross from the city of Jaca in Spanish which the above was translated: City of Jaca on the Monasterio de Santa Cruz

You have as usual by me some webpages for references on planning your trip here which is worth the detour.

The city of Jaca tourist office:

The Huesca Province tourist office on Jaca:

The Aragon region tourist office on Jaca:

Again, a wonderful monument in a nice old town area of beautiful Jaca, worth the detour to see the Monasterio of Santa Cruz or the Holy Cross Monastery. Hope you enjoy the tour

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 7, 2020

Jaca: The Seminario Diocesano !

And here I am back in my beloved Spain! I have been coming here for years , initially as a stopping point between my trips from France to Spain over  Somport and Portalet; then we visit the city and even spent vacation time around the area. This is Jaca right facing the Pyrénées mountains! As you might know Spain is the No 2 most visited country in the world according to official tallies of the UN-WTO.

I have written several posts on it  ,but feel some is missing and I am trying to remedy this ommission of this wonderful quant city of Aragon. Let me tell you a bit more of Jaca on the Seminario Diocesano or Diocesan Seminary.

The Seminario Diocesano or Diocesan Seminary was built during the third decade of the 20C, at an important moment for urban planning in Jaca. At that time, the City Council had decided to demolish the medieval wall to promote growth and meet the new needs of the city. This extension is known as El Ensanche (widening the suburbs), which, as in other cities such as Madrid or Barcelona, brings together in Jaca numerous buildings with high-quality modernist features, such as this former Diocesan Seminary.

Jaca seminario diocesano aug14

From 1610 different seminaries followed one another in the city of Jaca, but it was not until 1860 when the old Conciliar Seminary of the Immaculate Conception was officially inaugurated. This building was located on Calle del Carmen and was destroyed by a great fire in May 1924. That same year,a project for the construction of a new seminary, in the western area of the Ensanche, in a place that it allowed the Diocese to acquire large plots of land in a place close to the old city center.

The elevation of the Seminario Diocesano is made up of a ground floor and two floors in height. Its façade is divided into three large forward and raised bodies, between which two small transition elements are located, which provide the ensemble with continuity. The entire main façade is articulated on the basis of large openings framed by rectangular section pilasters, which run through the building in height. These openings are culminated by arches of very different making and proportions: lintels, semicircular, edging, panels, lowered and pointed, in mitre or pediment. This compositional alternation manages to give said façade a mobility and variety that contrasts powerfully with the uniformity of materials used in it. The new building was finally inaugurated in February 1926.

Jaca

More info on the Seminario Diocesano  translated above from the city of Jaca here: City of Jaca on the Seminario Diocesano

Some additional webpages as usual for reference on planning your trip here which is worth it are

The Jaca tourist office: Jaca tourist office

The Huesca Province tourist office on Jaca in Spanish: Huesca province tourist office on Jaca

The Aragon region tourist office on Jaca:  Aragon tourist office on jaca

And once again, there you go folks ,another wonderful architecturally and historical monument in beautiful Jaca and all easy on foot. Hope you enjoy the tour.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 7, 2020

Jaca: The Ermita de Sarsa !

And here I am back in my beloved Spain! I have been coming here for years , initially as a stopping point between my trips from France to Spain over  Somport and Portalet; then we visit the city and even spent vacation time around the area. This is Jaca right facing the Pyrénées mountains! As you might know Spain is the No 2 most visited country in the world according to official tallies of the UN-WTO.

I have written several posts on it  ,but feel some is missing and I am trying to remedy this ommission of this wonderful quant city of Aragon. Let me tell you a bit more of Jaca on the Ermita de Sarsa or hermitage.

The Ermita de Sarsa or hermitage were transferred here in 1972, to preserved the remains of the Hermitage of Sarsa, of Romanesque origin. The original location was in Villar de Sarsa, an ancient town located on the slopes of the Peña Oroel. The hermitage was the parish church of this town, which was abandoned around 1970. To avoid ruining the temple, it was decided to move it to Jaca, and thus preserve it.

Jaca

The Ermita de Sarsa belongs to the model of the small rural Romanesque churches, being able to date back to the second half of the 12C, quite possibly in the final years of that century. Its plant presents a single rectangular nave that would originally be covered with a two-sided wooden roof, which has not been preserved. The head is made up of a very little highlighted presbytery, covered with a barrel vault and a semicircular apse covered with a quarter sphere vault. In the center of the apse a small semi-circular arched window opens and double spill that would let the light pass into the interior of the temple. The walls are built in ashlar, with sandstone from the area, and are barely decorated, except for a bevelled impost that runs through the interior.

The access door opens at the foot of the Ermita de Sarsa, in a small front body crowned by figurative modillions, on a non-preserved rested eave. It presents three semicircular archivolts, of which the exterior and interior are smooth and the central one is decorated with three rows of jaqueas balls that denote the influence that the decoration of the Jaca Cathedral had on all the temples of Jacetania area. The archivolts get down by means of a straight impost in two jambs where, despite the erosion, several figurines and palmettes are still visible.

More information translated from the city of Jaca on the Ermita de Sarsa in Spanish here: City of Jaca on the Ermita de Sarsa

Some further webpages for reference on Jaca are

The Jaca tourist officeJaca tourist office

The Huesca province tourist office in Spanish on Jaca: Huesca province tourist office on Jaca

The Aragon region tourist office on JacaAragon region tourist office on Jaca

Another wonderful architectural and historical building of beautiful Jaca. Hope you enjoy the tour.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 6, 2020

Jaca: Puente de San Miguel!

And here I am back in my beloved Spain! I have been coming here for years , initially as a stopping point between my trips from France to Spain over  Somport and Portalet; then we visit the city and even spent vacation time around the area. This is Jaca right facing the Pyrénées mountains! As you might know Spain is the No 2 most visited country in the world according to official tallies of the UN-WTO.

I have written several posts on it  ,but feel some is missing and I am trying to remedy this ommission of this wonderful quant city of Aragon. Let me tell you a bit more of Jaca on the Puente de San Miguel or St Michael’s bridge.

This is the area behind the Paseo de la Constitucion, that takes you to the Puente de San Miguel or bridge in the back.

jaca

The Puente de San Miguel is one of the few medieval bridges that are preserved in the Aragonese Pyrenees and due to its monumentality, strategic location and good state of conservation, it turns out to be one of the most significant hydraulic works in Alto Aragón. Despite the fact that the exact date of its construction is unknown, it is generally accepted that, due to its appearance and structure, the bridge is from the low medieval period c 15C, although some authors propose to advance its chronology.

The introduction of the pointed arch brought more geometric possibilities to the medieval builder compared to his Roman predecessors. The geometric flexibility of the ogival shape means that the vaults can start from the same base as the pilasters, which provides a very important improvement in their stability. The bridge has an asymmetric elevation, since it directly supports the highest and most solid right bank, while on the left, lower, it rests directly on the river terrace itself. It shows a double-sided profile, typical of medieval bridges, and a pointed central arch, with a masonry thread, which saves the main channel. Two other smaller arches function as spillways, in case of avenues. Its structure is reinforced by two cutwaters located between the arches. The San Miguel bridge is 96 meters long and the arrow of its main bow reaches 17 meters. The vault has a masonry thread with cleanly oriented segments and is completed with two smaller arches and cut holes between them. The set is finished with a soft donkey back.

Translation of the city of Jaca in Spanish of Puente de San Miguel here: City of Jaca on Puente de San Miguel

I must say the views from the bridge are spectacular especially on a clear day seeing all the way to the Pyrénées mountains. It should be very romantic at night…. Hope you enjoy the brief introduction to the Puente de San Miguel bridge of Jaca.

As usual by me for easy reference some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The Jaca tourist office: Jaca tourist office

Huesca Province tourist office in Spanish:  Huesca province tourist office

Aragon region tourist office: Aragon tourist office

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 6, 2020

Jaca: Bodegas Langa!

And here I am back in my beloved Spain! I have been coming here for years , initially as a stopping point between my trips from France to Spain over  Somport and Portalet; then we visit the city and even spent vacation time around the area. This is Jaca right facing the Pyrénées mountains! As you might know Spain is the No 2 most visited country in the world according to official tallies of the UN-WTO.

I have written several posts on it , including one on restaurants ,but feel this wonderful shopping place is missing, and I am trying to remedy this ommission of this wonderful quant city of Aragon. Let me tell you a bit more of Jaca on Bodegas Langa.

We had some goodies for later and wines from Somontano like the Enate again at Bodegas Langa, Plaza de San Pedro, no 5. Lots of canned gourmet goodies like ham Teruel, cheeses of Roncal, and wines of Lalanne as well. Great, happy ::) Also, in the area behind the back door of the Cathedral of Jaca!

Jaca plaza san pedro bodegas langa aug14

The Bodegas Langa is located in the historic center of Jaca, in front of the Cathedral and on the ground floor of a building from the end of the 19C; in this old warehouse dedicated to selling bulk wines since 1930, which has evolved according to current demand and that all kinds of spirits can be purchased, both national and imported and artisans from the area.

Jaca

Although the most important chapter is that of wines, giving priority to those of Aragon, those of Somontano and the most important designations of origin of the country such as Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Navarra, Priorato, Rías Baixas, Txakoli, Cavas and Champagnes, etc.  In the food section they offer: Teruel ham, Bajo Aragón oils, Roncal cheese, asparagus from Navarra. Great selection of Stuffed Peppers. Wide assortment of meat preserves, pâtés, anchovies from Santoña and specialties from the Rías Gallegas. All this made in an artisanal way.

You can find out more on their official webpage for the store in Jaca here: Bodegas Langa in Jaca

However, the family is all over and indeed have a great winery in Calatayud near Zaragoza.  Their story goes as this:

It all began in 1867 when the family of Mariano Langa Gallego after returning from the war in Cuba in 1898  (that led to Cuban independance) developed the business but it was after the follow up of the family in Juan Langa Mariscal that a winery business often from others took place. In 1940 Sebastian Langa Langa conserving wineries in Morata de Jiloca,Calatayud and Jaca with a big business with France.  By 1967 Juan Jose Langa Fuentes and sister Maria Teresa Langa Fuentes gave the most important push to the business in its history installing the bottling company in 1954 and founding in 1989 the DOP Calatayud (Denominacion de origen protegida) ,and recognised as historic bodega by DOCAVA (the regulatory org of sparkling wines). Today Juan and Cesar Langa Gonzalez fifth generation of the family keeps along the 150 years of history of Bodegas Langa.

More of the winery in Calatayud in English here: Bodegas Langa Calatayud

Some further reading on the wines of Aragon

The DOP Calatayud on its wines in English: DOP Calatayud wines

As I have a diploma on Spanish wines from ICEX ( Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade) is the international window of Spanish wines Food and Wines from Spain on Calatayud: Food and Wines from Spain on DOP Calatayud

I will say from Calatayud the best is this Bodegas Langa, from Cariñena area have no favorites, from Somontano, have Enate and Laus. And from Campo de Borja have Borsao and Bodegas Aragonesas. OF course these are my choices.

Hope you enjoy the wine and gourmet tour of Jaca and do come in, worth the detour I said. Enjoy it.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

July 5, 2020

Walks in Jaca!!!

And here I am back in my beloved Spain! I have been coming here for years , initially as a stopping point between my trips from France to Spain over  Somport and Portalet; then we visit the city and even spent vacation time around the area. This is Jaca right facing the Pyrénées mountains! As you might know Spain is the No 2 most visited country in the world according to official tallies of the UN-WTO.

I have written several posts on it  ,but feel some is missing and I am trying to remedy this ommission of this wonderful quant city of Aragon. Let me tell you a bit more of Jaca on the Plaza Ripa and Paseo de la  Constitucion.

The Plaza Ripa or square Ripa in Jaca, Province of Huesca in the autonomous region of Aragon is very nice and central. We got into town by the road N330 coming from France by car, you hit immediately the boulevard facing the Ciudadela or citadel or castle of San Pedro on your right hand side, impressive fortified castle and what a way to enter a city! (see post!!).   I parked by the parking Turismo on Plaza Ripa across is the bus station and to the right is the Cathedral right in city center secured underground parking all day.

Jaca

Here was the cemetery of San Nicolás, now Plaza Ripa!. The Plaza Ripa is named after Don Manuel Ripa Romero, mayor of Jaca, and provincial deputy in 1900.

There are great walks all over the city from here. Not far is the wonderful Cathedral (see post) and the museu Diocesano of romantic arts, as well as the tourist office. If you want to take public transport , well the bus terminal is right here too! The parking underground is wonderful and easy in and out. A wonderful spot with a great market.

Jaca plaza ripa aug14

This summer as usually the case, the Jaca Pirineos Markets will be present in the Plaza Ripa every Sunday from June 28 to August 30. With a clear commitment to local products. As a novelty, agri-food producers will have for sale, in all stalls, a basket with products from each of them, for 45 or 50 euros, depending on quality. The products are from the Val Minuta winery, Repostarte, Carlina Cheeses, Miel de Oz, Mead Guerrero and Chesitas, in addition to other culinary proposals, such as those from an association. Artisans will also sell lots of products, on their assigned days. In this case, you can find costume jewelry, jewelry, soaps and watercolors, among other items. A plastic artist from the Jacarte Association will join them. This is ongoing for several summers now and should be available this year. More from City of Jaca in Spanish here: City of Jaca on the market at Plaza Ripa

There is a beautiful Paseo de la Constitución with nice children playground, and music kiosk , many libraries or book stores are here and an open air book market with stands as well. This is wonderful and only about 500 meters from Plaza Ripa above, so all you need is do the walking and see all of Jaca before your eyes, and what of views it has.

Jaca

Jaca

In 1888, and in view of the increase in population during the summer season, the idea arose to create a new promenade in Jaca. The works for its construction began in 1903, and the first 600 plants were donated by the Marquis de la Cadena. In 1923 it was expanded with the acquisition by the town council of several more plots on the left bank, and around it stately houses began to emerge, mainly owned by the Zaragoza bourgeoisie. Inside, there are some fifty species among plants and trees, firs, birches, holly, linden, elm, yew , etc. In 1992, it was renamed Paseo de la Constitución and today, without losing an iota of its charm and beauty, it has been modernized with a wi-fi area, summer library or playground. It is especially in this season when it is a magnificent place to relax in the shade of the trees, and cool off in the freshness provided by the fountains. In no case can you miss the wood carvings with mythological motifs that are on the trunks of several dry acacia trees. In the Paseo de la Constitución you will find the sculpture entitled “La Amistad” or the friendship ;donated by the city’s Casino. It represents two figures in a friendly attitude made of wrought iron. More from the city of Jaca here: City of Jaca on paseo de la constitucion

For reference the Jaca tourist office in English here: Jaca tourist office

Huesca province tourist office in Spanish on Jaca: Huesca province on Jaca

Region of Aragon tourist office on Jaca in English: Aragon tourist office on Jaca

And there you go folks, Jaca is wonderful a great getaway with the marvelous face of the Pyrénées. The walking amongt beautiful architecture full of history is marvelous. Hope you have enjoy the walk.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 23, 2020

Some news from Spain XCII

And back at you with my now regular series, Some news from Spain. The places we love are slowly getting back on even if painful losses are incur and many remained almost empty. Let me bring you the latest tidbits from my beloved Spain.

Something going on all over now, but an old tragedy that seems not to go away. However, the looting, destruction,and defacing of monument dear to many is not right. No cause will win by it to the contrary more differences. My five cents on the matter. Cervantes and Fray Junípero have nothing to do, much less Voltaire and Roosevelt. The wave of vandalism against statues in public spaces (and the removal of some sculptures and murals in institutions) in the context of protests against racial discrimination and the imprint of slavery, only responds to a simplistic and reductive logic. The attack against Cervantes ,a slave himself when he was held captive in Algiers  carried out in the Golden Gate Park of San Francisco has been the last straw, and has caused the rejection of institutions and personalities in the media and networks. The Royal Academy of History and the Fine Arts of San Fernando will address this issue in their next meetings.

And another serious matter, not to be taken lighly in my Spain. Bullfighters and fans crowd the Las Ventas esplanade in defense of bullfighting reading the manifesto the bullfighter and director of the Bullfighting Center of the Community of Madrid, bullfighting is the industry that reports the most money in fiscal terms to the State in terms of ticket sales, around 500 million euros in the last decade. One out of every ten Spaniards goes to a bullring every year, the same period in which more than 15,000 popular celebrations are celebrated in the streets and towns of our country. The act, in which a minute of silence has been observed, has concluded with the reading of the manifesto that has been common in the other thirty Spanish cities. During the march, numerous bullfighters have been seen such as Diego Urdiales, Emilio de Justo, Fernando Robleño, Julio Aparicio, Frascuelo, David Luguillano, Alberto Lamelas, Uceda Leal, El Fundi, Ortega Cano, Curro Vázquez, Adrien Salenc, Joaquín Galdós , Sergio Aguilar, Agustín Serrano, Chapurra, Rafael de Julia, Ignacio Olmos, Villita, Amor Rodríguez or the rejoneador Leonardo Hernández, among others. All attendees have put the finishing touch to the march by going around the Las Ventas arena, on the outside, and claiming for the last time, as the banner said, “Bullfighting is culture”. In Spain it is ,your choice to go see it or not as in any free country.

And now a new book on one that definitively enjoyed all Latin cultures even if not one.A new book is out 2020 ,and I got it, not read it all yet but fascinating. I will start with the title first, «Hemingway en otoño» or Hemingway in Autumn/Fall by Andrea Di Robilant ; essay and translation by Susana Carrale. Editor: Hatari! Books, 319 pages retail for 36 euros in Spain. Been so intricate related to the history of countries all dear to me and in which I carry a passport, Spain, Cuba, USA, and France. The Nobel Prize came to him in 1954, when many thought he was a finished writer. But the publication of The Old Man and the Sea (1953 from Cojimar Havana ,Cuba) stirred the old lion and returned to the lists of the best-selling books and to the columns of the most demanding literary critics, even, sometimes even rigorous, since a year later he was awarded what, even today, is considered by Andrea Di Robilant’s book the highest literary award . The book is published in an edition exquisitely cared for by Hatari! Books, with an excellent translation by Susana Carral and illustrated with a series of complementary photographs of the events that are narrated, is a moving story of the years that elapsed between 1948, the trip he undertook to Venice with his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, and 1961, the year the author of Paris is a Moveable Feast   committed suicide. Meanwhile he entertains himself, with trips to Paris, stays at the Ritz; Venice, and its wonderful Gritti hotel, hours and hours at the Venetian Harry’s Bar, witty dinners and unbeatable wines, mornings of eternal crazy conversation, duck hunts, the fights between Einaudi and Mondadori to acquire the rights to their editions in Italian, then return to Finca Vigía (his farm near Havana, Cuba now nationalised) , items sold for thousands of dollars, safaris in Africa (and serious injuries that will have fatal consequences), return to Pamplona, encounter with Dominguín and Ordóñez, and the running of the bulls, and with Ava Gardner in Madrid, his curious relationship of deep friendship with Marlene Dietrich. The roster of characters is endless stories forking. They all know him, they all chase him. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir visit Havana and pay homage to him. Whatever the reader’s opinion about Hemingway’s excess and the value, or not, that he grants to his literary and journalistic work, Di Robilant has written one of the most exciting and definitive portraits of an author from the first half of the 20C, a faithful reflection of his time, his miseries and his greatness, that one can read without, in the end, understanding that a good part of a time of wine, roses and literature was melancholy left behind. Indeed a wonderful book on an icon of our times, Ernest Hemingway!

And something Mr Hemingway would vote for it and so do I!  Spain, is the country with the most bars and restaurants in the world, and have asked to make them a World Heritage Site. The Together for Hospitality platform, made up of the most prominent groups in the sector, requests that these establishments be declared Heritage as Spain is the country with the most bars and restaurants per person in the world: one for every 175 inhabitants, totaling 277,539 gastronomic establishments, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE). The business organization Hospitality of Spain, the Association of Manufacturers and Distributors Companies (AECOC) and the Spanish Federation of Food and Beverage Industries (FIAB), which represent the main pillars of the country’s hospitality industry, are responsible for the candidacy, as they themselves have expressed in a statement. Spain with 48 tangible and intangible assets recognized so far, such as the Alhambra, the Mediterranean diet, flamenco or the Fallas, is the third country in the world, behind China and Italy, with the highest Heritages. As for cities, Spain has 15 with that title, from Alcalá de Henares to Úbeda, passing through Córdoba, Salamanca and Santiago de Compostela. In addition, they ensure that significant events in the history of Spain have taken place in the counter of a bar, such as the drafting of the Spanish Constitution. On the other hand, many writers, musicians and comedians took their first steps in local restaurants. In short, they are very much ours. Indeed, no questions here, Spain is everything under the Sun!

The Prado Museum reopens last June 6. And the Prado National Museum has implemented a protocol whose consequences will not go unnoticed by visitors, whom they thank in advance for their understanding and collaboration. Those who visit the Prado Museum until September 13 will not be able to visit all its rooms, but those they visit will provide a unique experience. For this, a spectacular installation has been conceived in the Galería Central or central gallery and adjacent rooms, an emblematic space that, due to its architectural characteristics, guarantees compliance with the recommendations of the health authorities and procures a safe visit model for the public and employees. The montage, made up of 249 works, follows a preferably chronological order, from the 15C to the dawn of the 20C, but given its exceptional nature, it dilutes the traditional distribution by national schools and proposes dialogues between authors and paintings separated by geography and weather; associations that tell us about influences, admiration and rivalries and point out the deeply self-referential nature of the Prado Museum collections. Any time is worth seeing the Prado Museum!

Three centuries ago, the first stone of the Sabatini building was placed in that lusterless corner through which the workers with helmet and mask now come and go. Today it houses the Reina Sofía museum, but it opened as a hospital in 1788, shortly after the death of its promoter, king Carlos III. Around that corner, the art center that would change four years later into a national museum also began operating in 1986, based in the imposing illustrated construction that languished for decades after having served the city during the worst of the Spanish Civil War. Thirty years later, work has begun to recover for the public those vaulted spaces, destined since 1992 to easements such as carpentry, reprography or storage of office supplies and the publication service. The Reina Sofia museum’s collection includes around 30,000 works (1,000 of them on display) from the end of the 19C and currently; 1700 sculptures, 3600 drawings, 4100 paintings and 4,230 Photographs. As well as other Installations, decorative arts, architecture, videos and cinema. Th new space at the AO floor has a project that will allow two things: add to the permanent collection 21 new rooms (about 2,000 square meters) and resolve Sabatini’s coexistence with the Jean Nouvel expansion inaugurated in 2005. To go from one building to another, two mastodons separated by more than two centuries that turn their backs with disdain, the visitor now has to climb a floor, which has added during these 15 years more ingredients to the proverbial disorientation that the visitor feels hopelessly in the Reina Sofía Museum. Now you can go directly from the ground level of Nouvel to the -1 of Sabatini, which gives continuity and fluidity to the route. The reception facilities, such as the box office, the luggage room or the information desk, will also be improved. The golden triangle of arts gets better in my Madrid.

The Palacio de Liria and the Palacio de las Dueñas reopen June 23 (today) in Madrid and Sevilla respectively. A novelty at the Palacio de Liria. You will be able to admire for the first time the only work by the French artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres located in Spain: “Felipe V imposing the Golden Fleece on the Duke of Berwick”. It is a programmatic commission to one of the most important artists of the time, with which the Duke Carlos Miguel wanted to commemorate the most important events and characters in his family: from the Álvarez de Toledo family, with the 3rd Duke Don Fernando, and of Stuart ancestors with the first duke of Berwick. In the Palacio de Liria, it is also preserved with a sketch of the same painting made in 1817. It was a gift that the author himself made in gratitude to Mr. Poublon, attorney for the 14th Duke, who was the intermediary in commissioning the painting. The drawing has an autograph dedication from the artist. It is important to highlight the painting’s own value and its sketch, since it represents a fundamental moment in the History of the House of Alba, when the Marshal of Berwick, ancestor of the current duke, is awarded the Gold Fleece decoration and receives the duchies of Liria and Jérica, where the name of the palace comes from. Indeed gorgeous architecture and history here!

A ‘traviata’ without hugs to reopen the Teatro Real with security measures to resume its functions on July 1, 2020. It was the first rehearsal of La Traviata, Verdi’s opera with which the theater will reopen its doors to the public, after four months of closure. Many workers at the theatre slipped into the orchestra room to witness that little historical moment. When Luisotti raised the baton and the first bars of the play’s most popular overture were heard, few were able to hold back their tears as they hummed the tune. Never before had there been such a long silence in that place. In the absence of scenery, all the limelight will fall on the music and voices of the four different casts that will perform the 27 performances scheduled between July 1 and 29. Five traviatas will alternate (Marina Rebeka, Ruth Iniesta, Ekaterina Bakanova, Lana Kos and Lisette Oropesa) and four alfredos (Michael Fabiano, Ivan Magrì, Matthew Polenzani and Ismael Jordi). Behold, the Royal Theater will be back!

Artemisia Gentileschi, from forgotten painter to feminist icon. The date marked on the calendar was April 4. That day an exhibition, finally postponed by the health crisis, should have opened at the National Gallery in London, dedicated to Artemisia Gentileschi, the 17C Italian painter. Born in a country marked by antiquity by great figures of painting, who do not overshadow her, she has become from the last third of the 20C and to this day a media artist, especially by the feminist trend of art history , who has presented her as a victim of men and whose art would emerge, Freudian, as revenge for the violence against her in her adolescence. She is the only female artist of Western culture that has attracted the interest of novelists and filmmakers, and there have been several works that have dealt with her life, rather than her art, trying to find answers to the mystery that the painter continues to embody in the present.

Since 1630 she lived, with her two living daughters, of the five she had had, in the rich and important Naples, an artistic center where this skillful entrepreneur husband founded a workshop that competed with the best artists in the city, such as Ribera or Stanzione, and co-orders of important employers. Among others, the viceroy of Spain, who had three of her works and commissioned for king Felipe IV “The Birth of Saint John the Baptist “. The painting hangs, for a few days, in the Prado Museum, which has included it in her new exhibition tour, Reunion, until September 13. The artist is certainly in the current times and not only because she is an icon of feminism, but because she died, possibly, according to the latest hypotheses, in the terrible plague epidemic that struck Naples in 1656. More than half of the population disappeared and among the victims were some of the most important artists in the city, such as Bernardo Cavallino or Stanzione, a friend and collaborator of Artemisia. However, there is no news of her, although according to a document from 1654 she was still alive that year. Her name does not appear among the artists killed in the epidemic and perhaps she should be searched among the more than 40,000 skulls that lie in the Neapolitan cemetery of Fontanella. An inscription on the Neapolitan Church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, destroyed in WWII, perhaps indicated the location of her tomb: Hei Artemisia or “Here Artemisia”, even though late-century news reported it 18C, surely imagined. To be found!

And last but not least, another memorable building of my youth. I used to come here and walk, play a lot on Plaza de España overlook by this huge building heights higher at the times. Built at a time when Spain was so impoverished (and I lived it at the end) that it did not have enough iron, so isolated that it could not be bought outside and so paid for by itself that it thought that it did not need it, the Edificio España (see post) or Spain building is a monument to the autarchy that was built with only reinforced concrete, the latter characteristic that makes it unique. After its acquisition by the Mallorcan hotel group Riu, which has carried out a complete refurbishment of the entire building, it houses the four-star Hotel Riu Plaza España, with 589 rooms and 17 meeting rooms. The hotel also has a gastrobar in the reception, two restaurants and a skybar distributed over the two upper floors, 26 (covered) and 27, with a large terrace of 500 square meters. The outdoor swimming pool, open only in summer, is on the 21st floor. Indeed an emblematic building of my old Spain, and glad now protected with the hotel.  By Calle de la Princesa overlooking the Plaza de España.

And there you go folks, another dandy in my dandy Madrid, hope you have enjoy the news……and my Spain.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 18, 2020

Cheeses anyone? For the love of cheeses!!

Ok so written plenty on wines, and not on my other love cheeses. Again, my fault, this is a big omission. However, as the saying goes , better late than never. Therefore, here is my first post on cheeses, an introduction, more will be coming, promise.

I have chosen an overview on the cheeses of France and Spain. My two worlds and two heavy hitters in the world of cheeses. However, first a very brief overview of a broad subject; cheese comes from…

Although it seems the legend, or the story, or both together, tell us about a Sumerian shepherd of sheep, or goats, or both, back there around 5000 BC, who kept a part of the freshly milked milk from his herd in a container that was neither more nor less than the stuffed stomach of one of his animals. Legend does not say it, but it was the fourth stomach, called abomasum or, more commonly, curdling. Therefore, there is nothing more to add: white and abomasums … CHEESE. I affirm- that the first cheese in history -or legend if you prefer was a mixed coagulation cheese with a marked lactic tendency. Well, something like the increasingly well-known goat rollers ,and there are also sheep that we have the possibility to taste without thinking that they necessarily come from beyond the Pyrenees. The truth is that cheese, as an efficient and effective way of preserving milk, was the first known dairy product that transcended borders and civilizations, a true economic and cultural engine that over time has only improved and improved its condition.It is not an exaggeration to say that a good way , but not the only way , to get to know a region, a country and its people is through its cheeses (amen) Read all about it in the book by Bronween Percival in her book ‘Reinventing the wheel’.

It is worth noting (bragging here…) that the principle of heat treatment in the food industry is due to a humble French pastry chef named Nicolas Appert of Chalons-en-Champagne who applied it to hermetically packed plant and animal foods in glass containers , thus solving one of the most serious and pressing supply problems of the Napoleonic army, which is why even today he is considered the father of the canning industry. But it had to be another Frenchman, Louis Pasteur of Dôle who, interpreting the concept of Mr Appert , who died without knowing why he had achieved such success would first apply it to wine , then in beer; and later in milk (pasteurisation).

Today, where cheeses for family consumption in their origins, with the Camembert or Brie in France as ‘primus inter pares’ of an overwhelming family of fresh and soft and semi-hard cheeses, have experienced sustained growth underpinned by the third pillar of the revolution industrial applied to food: cold storage. Thus, today the cheese world moves between mega factories with state-of-the-art equipment and hardware / software, with increasingly deep and developed raw material and process standardization concepts and small cheese factories where the milk produced by the cattlerancher themselves and following practices as ancient as the grandparents of our grandparents’ grandparents … and grandmothers. And, between both extremes, all the possibilities and realities that have been and will be. Take it from me get the cattlerancher’s cheeses and raw milk, simply the best!

Now, lets go to Spain, shall we!

There are 26 cheeses in Spain with denomination of origins, they are listed in Spanish here: Ceres Spain on Cheeses of Spain

You can read more information in Spanish on all of them including my favorites below:

The Manchego cheese is one of the most famous in Spain and in all of Europe. These cheeses are known worldwide and historically have won numerous gastronomic awards for their quality and inimitable flavor. Manchego cheese is made from the milk of La Mancha sheep and has a minimum cure of 30 days and a maximum maturity of 2 years. These cheeses, if you have not yet tried them, are usually characterized by having a hard crust and free of plastics, a firm and compact paste and with a color that varies from white to ivory yellow. This is Castilla La Mancha autonomous region of the kingdom of Spain! I buy when there or from a Spanish own store in Paris, Cap Hispania already written on it in my blog.

Huete

Then , there are others nice ones such as:

Torta del Casar of Cáceres, is a cheese made using traditional methods based on raw sheep’s milk, from controlled livestock, vegetable rennet and salt.

Idiazábal from Navarra-País Vasco, a cheese made from Latxa and Carranzana sheep’s milk, unmixed and unpasteurized. The production and processing area for milk and cheese is the Basque Country and Navarra, except for the municipalities that make up the Roncal Valley.

Cabrales of Asturias, is a natural cheese, handcrafted by the farmers themselves, with raw cow’s milk or with a mixture of two or three kinds of milk: cow, sheep and goat.

Grazalema of Cádiz, is one of the most sought-after cheeses. It is made with milk from Merino sheep and Payoya breed goats, which are indigenous to the Sierra de Grazalema. It is a cylindrical cheese, with a weight that ranges between 1.5 and 2.5 kilos. It has a firm texture and an intense, fatty and slightly spicy flavor.

The San Simón de Costa from Lugo, Galicia, is a smoked cheese made from cow’s milk from the Rubia Gallega, Parda Alpina, Frisona and crossbreeds. It has a characteristic shape, intermediate between top and bullet, ending in the upper part in a beak.

And in my adopted country of France!

From the Cheese guide to follow or le guide du fromage you can see France has over 10K name cheeses. The webpage is here in French; Le Guide du Fromage of France

The types varied according to the definition and can go to over 400 different types and 45 have AOC by France or AOP by the EU; 6 have geographical designations or IGP and 6 others have red labels or label rouge.The Association of French terroir cheese have a webpage in English to tell you more about the cheeses better than I here: Fromages de Terroirs of France

Some of my favorites from France are of course my sentimental Brie de Meaux, the king of cheeses, or the cheese of kings Vienna congress 1815! This have written a couple of post already in my blog.

The Brie de Meaux is done on a covering crusted in hormones of the cow’s milk ,soft and fondant, it has a flowery smell and it is delicious alone or with bread or an apple or even with honey. It takes about 25 liters of milk for 3,5 kg of cheese in a round form. It was first given credit to be created in the Abbey of Notre Dame de Jouarre about 17 kms from Meaux. However, the best is still around the town of Meaux and Jouarre.

meaux

And then, there are others in no particular rank.

The Coulommiers is a soft, unpressed and uncooked cow’s milk cheese, composed of 45 to 50% fat from Coulommiers, related to Brie, even if it has not been produced in the city since long time.

The famous Camembert of Normandy, I have it sometimes in raw milk from La Fromagerie d’Eugénie done in Languidic,  (very near me), Morbihan breton. Yes one of those cheeses that as long as the process is maintain can be made anywhere. These folks here makes it good.

languidic

The Crémeux du Mont-Saint-Michel or creamy cheese is a soft cheese from Normandy with a floral rind and made with raw whole milk from Normandy cows. The Crémeux du Mont-Saint-Michel is enriched with cream from a local farmer, and if you have the patience to wait for it to mature perfectly, it will be tasty creamy.

The Pont l’Évêque is a soft, cow-milk cheese with a floral rind that can be brushed or washed. It is made in Normandy. Its name comes from the town of Pont-l’Évêque located between Lisieux and Deauville in the heart of the Auge region.

The Deauville is a partially skimmed, soft pasteurized cow’s milk cheese with a washed rind. It is produced by the Houssaye cheese dairy located in the town of Saint-Pierre-en-Auge (formerly called Boissey) in the Calvados department in Normandy.

The Ossau-Iraty is an appellation of origin designating an uncooked pressed sheep’s milk cheese made in the departments of Pyrénées-Atlantiques and some towns of Hautes-Pyrénées. The cheese comes from the Basque Country and Béarn, the Ossau-Iraty appellation originates from the Midi d’Ossau peak and the Iraty forest.

The Timanoix is an uncooked pressed pasteurized cow’s milk cheese, ripened with nut liqueur and made in the Trappist tradition. It is handcrafted by the monks of Timadeuc Abbey, located in Bréhan, in Morbihan, in the Brittany region. The local favorite.

The Sainte-Maure de Touraine is a raw (my take) and whole goat’s milk cheese, with a mainly lactic soft paste and a natural and ashy rind, produced in several towns of the department of Indre-et-Loire and some towns of the departments of l ‘Indre and Loir-et-Cher in the Centre-Val de Loire region.

The Selles-sur-Cher is a whole, raw milk cheese from a soft goat cheese with a flower-rind crust made with vegetable charcoal. It is from the village of the same name, Selles-sur-Cher, located in the department of Loir-et-Cher in the Centre-Val de Loire region.

selles sur cher

The Valençay is a berrichon goat cheese, done in a pyramid mold, and from the Centre-Val de Loire region.

The Cabri de Touraine is made from raw, whole goat milk, soft cheese and a floral, ashy rind, made by the Cloche d’Or cheese dairy located in Pont-de-Ruan in the department of Indre-et-Loire in the Centre-Val de Loire region.

The Chaource is made from raw (my take) or pasteurized cow’s milk, with a soft paste and a floral rind, originating in the town of the same name, located in the department of Aube in the Grand-Est region.

There you go , of course, bear in mind the above are just my favorites out of thousands! The taste and feel is so varied there is a cheese for everyone as in wines. However, hope you try one of the above, there are sublimes! Enjoy the cheeses of France and Spain.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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