~ruta de los pueblos blanchos~

December 28th, 2008

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A friend who knows us well advised that we skip all on our itinerary and simply head to Andalucía and check out, among other things, the White Villages. The region is fat with olive, orange and cork groves, the landscape scrubby, the architecture and food a lovely blend of Spanish and Moroccan. In hindsight I might have planned a slow crawl around this area’s Sierra Nevada mountains and three coastlines, plus a short trip to Tangiers. But then we would never have seen Northern Spain, which was utterly gorgeous as well.

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The finest of the White Villages we saw is the hilltop perched Arcos de la Frontera. The view was amazing–click on picture below to expand. Any Spanish town with de la Frontera tacked on the backend indicates a place once on the the frontier between Moorish and Christian regions of Spain.

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In the picture that opens this post, I am admiring the Church of Santa María, a Christian structure built atop a Moorish mosque. The marble inlaid circle once provided exorcisms, and is still visited by Sufis in a kind of pilgrimage every November, tho someone has rather rudely added a water drain right in the middle.

What clever gal says no to a little cleansing of evil spirits, especially when it is followed by a sultana, the most heavenly macaroon imaginable? We literally followed our noses to the tiny Las Doce Campanas bakery, where coffee and sweets were found.

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The cookie quest continued, as I had heard one could purchase them from the nuns at the last remaining convent here. The first time we passed by the door was closed, but we made a return visit and yay! open!

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1. ring the bell. 2. make cookie desires known to a nun who observes you through the one-way mirror 3. when she spins the revolving door to reveal today’s selections, choose the best pinenut cookies on earth. 4. place money in the spot the cookies occupied. 5. ponder the giggle that comes from behind that mirror.

Also purchased was a small bag of dried Fabes de la Granja white runner beans, famous for their buttery texture and ability to absorb the complex flavors of chorizo and broth. Oddly enough, I cooked them just today (this is a back-posted entry long overdue) and I have never made a more delish pot of beans, ever. You could think it’s hype, I’m here to tell you it’s not.

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