There is something poetic about the Las Alpujarras countryside; it rolls and cavorts into the distance, never fully coming into focus as the low winter sun struggles to bring light to all its shallow clefts. It made me think of Laurie Lee every time I stepped out of my pepper drying loft apartment at Las Chimeneas.
The hypnotic terrain proved an ideal location for a week of learning Moro cookery that was sprinkled with a few local culinary tips and garnished with fine wine and long walks through silvery olive groves.
On paper Inntravels’ Moro cooking and walking package sounded like an idyllic prospect… and the reality didn’t disappoint.
Room with a View
It’s almost impossible not to sigh when faced with an early morning vista that meanders lazily across hill and dale and towns tucked into the hillside. The object on the corner of the buildings around us presumably gave Las Chimeneas, where we stayed, its name.
A Garden of Goodies
It’s Show Time Folks
Tom Ryalls – Chef, Moro cooking expert and all round nice guy with a deep, deep well of patience. Tom’s a natural and very funny teacher which should mean that we can reproduce the recipes he shared pretty well.
And be able to produce delicious tapas treats that look like this.
As well as the myriad of colours and flavours that characterise Tom’s North African mezes – these had the tastebuds rolling over and waving the flag of surrender they were so indescribably good.
As I Walked Out
To compliment the delicious food, the area around Mairena has equally scrumptious countryside in which to walk off the long lunches. There’s something about strolling through dappled olive groves that awakens the internal poet – but I won’t ruin the scene by reciting any bad poetry.
The Moorish connection is unmistakeable in the Alhambra in Granada which had us double-taking to make sure we hadn’t entered some weird time travel tunnel and had been whooshed back to the Medersa Ben Youseff in Marrakech.
Our charming base in Mairena, Las Chimeneas felt like it covered a little corner of the village. A stroll out in the morning involved saying holas to various cats and our toothless, smiling neighbour. The first place I’ve been in a long, long time where I had absolutely no urge whatsoever to lock the door when we went out. Tom Ryalls very kindly provided a bit of contrast in this scene of our homely, higgledy piggledy base.
When Tom had time off from showing us how to make delectable dishes, local cook Soledad took over the reins, producing a surprising range of traditional meals that she’d perked up with some modern touches. This migas was quite the most unusual concoction I’ve had in a long time. This is it before it went all anarchic with the addition of grapes, melon and hot chocolate.
At the End of the Day
What can you say about ending the day with a view like this? The golden folds in the land look as warm and comforting as an eiderdown on a cool night. It is simply a dreamy sunset scene that warms the cockles of the heart. Totally captivating.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites plus lots of other things. Follow Jack on Google+