In Andalusia there is a high quality and varied cuisine, it is a land of magnificent crops and excellent local products and to safeguard all these requirements, southern Spain has several designations of origin (DO), controls that ensure that the best of their food come to our table, example of this are the “mantecados” and “polvorones” (typical Christmas sweets from Andalusia), Granada honey, Malaga wine or the tropical fruit of the Axarquía. Producers who are eligible for the designation of origin undertake to maintain excellent quality while preserving traditional methods of growing or obtaining the product. In this way consumers enjoy the best of each place. At the same time there are different badges that make us easily recognize these foods. If you spend this Christmas in Andalusia do not hesitate for a second to try some of these wonders and even take some copies to share with your friends. Any gifts better than a good bottle of wine or olive oil?
One of the most characteristic examples of high quality taken to the wine terrain is found in the province of Huelva. The Regulatory Council only grants the qualification of wines under the Denomination of Origin “Condado de Huelva” (Huelva County) to those who use the appropriate techniques both in the handling of the grapes, the grape juice and the wine as in the control of the fermentation and the process of conservation and production. All of this while safeguarding the traditional characteristics of the wines of the County and with the ultimate goal of obtaining wines that are distinguished by their highest quality. This involves 17 municipalities that occupy 6.000 hectares and from which it is woth noting the Condado Pálido wine and the Condado Viejo wine.
Already in the province of Cadiz we find the Denominations of Origin “Jerez-Xérès-Sherry” and “Manzanilla – Sanlúcar de Barrameda”. Diversity is undoubtedly one of the distinctive features of the identity of the Sherry: fine, fragrant and muscat, among others. Here you can taste different varieties such as Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso, Muscat, Pale Cream or Pedro Ximénez. The famous Manzanilla de Sanlúcar has its own Denomination of Origin.
If, however, you visit the province of Malaga, what you have to do is to sample their wines with Denomination of Origin. The area of the Malaga Wine Production is composed by 67 municipalities located in five geographic production areas that are Axarquía, Malaga Mountains, North, Manilva and the Mountainous area of Ronda. Málaga Dulce, Lágrima and Pedro Ximénez are the most popular varieties. All of them are made in the traditional way.
Finally, in this particular route of the finest wines of Andalucia, we must not overlook the Montilla–Moriles Denomination of Origin, wines from southern Córdoba. Their high quality is reflected in their varieties of Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cortado, Raya, Pedro Ximénez and Muscat.
The Protected Denomination of Origin Jamón de Huelva is the name recognized by the European Union, which designates, protects and serves to certify the origin and quality of the hams from Iberian pigs reared and fattened released in pastures and processed in natural cellars of the people of Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche. Who has not heard about the Jabugo ham? The emblem of the Spanish Gastronomy has its greatest stronghold in this place and with this label. On your visit to Huelva you can make the best blend of products with Denomination of Origin, a glass of wine from the County with a good ham tapa.
3. Huétor-Tajar Asparagus
A little further West of the region is the province of Córdoba and the Denomination of Origin of Los Pedroches. Centuries-old oaks and cork and gall oaks to a lesser extent are the raw material to feed the Iberian pigs that roam freely in these parts and that later give rise to the hams in this area. Another delicacy that you cannot miss.
Already in the province of Granada, in the Alpujarra, is the Denomination of Origin of the Trevélez Ham, quality attributable to its climate, which makes the Granada town a ‘pantry’ where the hams are cured naturally.
The Denomination of Origin of the Huétor Tájar Asparagus ensures that the quality of this product remains intact year after year. This small municipality of Granada is located in the fertile valley of Granada, area that is traversed by the Genil River. This area presents an extreme Continental Mediterranean climate, ideal for the production of green asparagus. These asparagus have a bittersweet taste and a deep aroma; they have been grown since the beginning of the XXth Century.
4. Olive Oil
The richness and variety of the Andalucian oils is reflected in the recognition of twelve Protected Denominations of Origin (PDO), each of them with its own characteristics. So, if we divide by provinces we find: Cádiz (PDO Sierra de Cádiz); Córdoba (PDO Baena, PDO Montoro-Adamuz, PDO Priego de Cordoba and PDO Lucena Oil); Granada (PDO Poniente de Granada and PDO Montes de Granada); Jaén (PDO Sierra de Cazorla, PDO Sierra Magina, PDO Sierra de Segura); in Málaga (PDO Antequera); and in Seville (PDO Estepa).
One of the peculiarities that stand out about the Andalucian oil production is undoubtedly the weight that the extra virgin olive oil is acquiring, in a joint commitment to offer a great quality and preserve all of the healthy and natural properties of the olives from which it comes, as the extra virgin olive oil is only subjected to mechanical extraction processes.
The olives are picked directly from the tree at their optimum ripeness and are ground in a maximum period of 48 hours, to ensure that the quality the olive has in the olive tree is maintained throughout the process. The extra virgin olive oil is stored in the cellar, in stainless steel or metallic deposits lined inside with inert materials to not alter its properties. The manufacturing process is completely natural, without any chemical treatment or additives. Both the production and the elaboration of extra virgin olive oils with Protected Denomination of Origin must be made within the territory of the Denomination.
Most of the brandy consumed in Spain comes from Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María. The wine that is used comes from the palomino grape and once it is distilled, it ages in pots (called boots) made of American oak with a capacity between 250 and 600 liters.
A very important aspect is that these boots have had to age Sherry wine for at least three years. And given the wide variety of wines, according to the previous contents of the boot, the Brandy will acquire totally different characteristics depending on the color, taste or smell. Within the Denomination of Origin Sherry brandy; Solera, Solera Reserva and Solera Gran Reserva stand out.
Sherry Vinegar has its own Denomination of Origin and is produced in the triangle formed by Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María. The secret of the unique character and extraordinary quality of the Sherry Vinegar lies in its distinguished origin. Sherry Vinegar receives its unique personality from the Sherry Wines, noble wines par excellence, of which it inherits unbeatable qualities and nuances. It is, therefore, the region known as Marco de Jerez, where these unique wines are made, the place of origin of Sherry Vinegar.
There are two best known types of vinegar. On the one hand Sherry Vinegar with an age of about six months and on the other, the Reserve Sherry Vinegar with more than two years. Both have an intense aroma and flavor and acidity over 5%. Feel free to spice up your salads with this quality product and enjoy its qualities.
Malaga raisins is a Protected Denomination of Origin for the raisins produced in the province which conform to the requirements established by the Regulatory Council. The raisins are obtained by the natural dehydration of the berries of the vitisvinifera variety of grape, until the obtaining of a state that allows its conservation. The denomination of origin covers raisins produced in the Axarquía region and the sub region of the western coast.
The drying of the grapes is done on raisin racks, which are surfaces where the grapes are extended for their raisining, oriented at noon with a minimum inclination of 8%, provided with an awning and support to prevent the rain and the dew. Once the bunches are dry, they can be picked manually, through the labor known as ‘picking’. All this tradition gives the product an exquisite quality that after the palate greatly appreciates.
8. Granada´s honey
The province of Granada is an important area of beekeeping production, so much that it has one of the only two honeys with Protected Designations of Origin of Spain. And it is that thanks to the richness of the flora of the Natural Parks of Granada (Sierra Nevada, Sierra de Baza, Sierra de Huétor, Sierra de Castril and Sierras de Tejeda, Alhama and Almijara) confer unique and unique characteristics to the honey that they occur in this region.
‘Granada´s honey’ is a totally natural food, to which no additive or preservative is added. It is also very energetic and digestive and improves muscle recovery, so it is recommended for athletes and children. It also has numerous beneficial properties for people suffering from heart problems, rheumatism and arthritis, insomnia, and of course, colds and respiratory diseases.
Also, this honey is used in many typical dishes of traditional Granada cuisine, such as honey onions, honey eggplants, ribs with honey, chicken with almonds and honey, partridge with honey or flakes
9. Álora olives
Aloreña is the first Spanish table olive with Protected Designation of Origin and is therefore one of the most particular and most relevant products within the agrifood of Malaga.
This product is so special because most of the producers are small family farms which facilitates the traceability of the product. Although the real secret of its success is the seasoning, which is based on a natural brine that makes it a totally traditional product, characteristic and differentiated from the rest of the table olives, as the consumer can see the different natural dressings that have been used in the dressing: red pepper, garlic, thyme and fennel.
10. Custard apples from Costa Tropical
On Costa del Sol, in the municipalities of southern Granada and Malaga, there are excellent climatic conditions that allow the production of tropical fruits. Among all of them, custard apple stands out.
On Costa del Sol, in the municipalities of southern Granada and Malaga, there is much more than a spectacular landscape and unparalleled natural wealth, this land enjoys a subtropical climate that makes it the ideal location for fruit growing like the Avocado, Mango, and among all of them, the custard apple stands out.
11. Estepa´s Mantecados and polvorones
In Estepa, people have been making shortbread for more than a century, and they have a great reputation. But what is a shortbread? This delicious pastry product is a kneading with lard with a wide variety of different flavourings. Its quality, delicacy and artisan workmanship is the characteristics of those made in Antequera and Estepa. Although Estepa was the first one to produce them industrially.
WHERE TO STAY
Fuerte Hoteles is the best option to stay if you visit the south of Spain. The chain has facilities where you can enjoy, in addition to its services, the best of each point of Andalusian geography. Its more than 60 years of experience are the best guarantees to devote your time to discover every corner and to taste the high quality of its products. Marbella, Grazalema or Torrox are some of the enclaves where you can find these incredible accommodations.