I love the month of June in Vejer. June and September are probably my favourite months. The weather is glorious, brilliant bright sunshine, the bluest of skies and a cooling breeze. There’s always a cooling breeze high on the hilltop. Guests often walk into the coolness of Casa Alegre and say ”Thank goodness you have air con!”. But I don’t – it’s just the cooling breeze and the fact the walls of the house are 2 feet thick. It was built to withstand the heat as aircon wasn’t an option hundreds of years ago. Every house on the hill used to have a donkey – I have a shopping trolley! The hard working donkeys needed a cool shelter, out of the sun. The donkey stable was probably the coolest within the ancient Andalucían patio home. Here, the donkey stable is now the store room. Thankfully, the teaching kitchen is always cool – even at the height of summer. It’s incredible but it’s true!
Another wonderful thing about June is the abundance of yummy local produce. Actually, without sounding too smug I hope, we have something yummy happening every month here. 12 months of changing food seasons. If it’s not grown locally or in Spain, you won’t find it in the market here. There are a few exceptions though. Grapes will come from South America and Oranges from South Africa when they are not in season here. Our Strawberry season is about to come to an end. That will be it, no more Strawberries will be seen until next Jan/Feb when the season beings again. But the Cherries have arrived. Something wonderful goes but there’s always something just as good arriving to take away the pain.
So, lunch today – no class – home alone, I indulged in a plate of paradise. It was so simple and made using the freshest of local goodies.Tomatoes and new season’s sweet onion from Conil . Dried Oregano from La Muela. Organic lettuce and beans from Santa Lucia. Gently toasted pine nuts from the forests around Barbate. Jamón de Recebo bought in Palomita. Sherry Vinegar from Barbadillo and EVO Oil from Ronda. I failed with the salt – Maldon Sea Salt – it’s all I use, apart from cooking salt.
I often wonder, when people think about coming cooking in Spain, have they any idea just how spectacular the local produce is going to be? It is the very best and will leave you brimming with contentment. From the spectacular breakfasts of tostada con tomate to a simple tomato salad at lunch time. Ode to a Tomato will follow …