Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Malaga’s Botanical Gardens

December1

We debated for a long while, whether we should take a day trip from Malaga to a village close by or spend our budget on something a little less draining on us all. Once again Sister #3 did her research and found that there were Bontanical gardens just on the outskirts of the city. We hailed a cab and were on our way.

This beautiful mosaic was just inside the gate, and we knew we were in for a special wander.

Here is some of the history of the gardens from their website. “The hacienda of La Concepción has its origin in the union of several farms located on the banks of the Guadalmedina River, north of the city of Malaga. With an agricultural vocation, there were crops of cereals, olive trees, almond trees, vines and, above all, citrus fruits. Its creators were the marquises of Casa Loring, Jorge Loring Oyarzábal and Amalia Heredia Livermore, both sons of well-known businessmen who came to the city in search of fortune. According to the jurist Rodríguez de Berlanga, the idea of making the garden came as a result of the visit to the palaces, villas, parks, haciendas and botanists that they met on their honeymoon, made throughout Europe seven years earlier. For the creation of the garden they had the help of a French gardener named Jacinto Chamoussent, who selected and acclimatized exotic plants, obtaining numerous awards for his work.”

“In 1911 La Concepción was sold to a couple from Bilbao formed by Rafael Echevarría and Amalia Echevarrieta, who expanded the garden with new areas such as the Arroyo de la Ninfa, the Avenida de Palmeras and the Mirador towards the city.”

“Once the Basque couple died, La Concepción passed into the hands of Amalia’s brother, Horacio Echevarrieta, who kept the hacienda in perfect condition until 1963, the year in which he died. From then on the estate went into open decline, with the abandonment by his heirs of its buildings and gardens.”

“The garden, recognized in 1943 as a “historical-artistic garden”, occupies 3.5 hectares. Its main value lies in its characteristic topography, its intact layout and the collection of subtropical flora it houses. Located on the side of a small mountain and with a landscape design, waterfalls, streams, fountains, stairways, greenhouses, large trees and old palm trees follow one another, the latter constitute one of the best existing collections in Europe.”

“This is called the Historic Viewpoint built by Rafael Echevarría around 1920, it is regionalist in style. From it you can see the cathedral, the castle and the mount of Gibralfaro, the mountains of Malaga, the sea in the background and the leafy grove of the Hacienda San José on the other side of the highway.”

“Of the more than 3,000 species present on the farm, there is an important monumental grove, with centenary specimens, where the ficus stand out, amidst magnolias, pines, cypresses and cedars, among others. There are also giant birds of paradise, bamboos, water lilies

and a unique climber that covers a huge arbor in iron of the nineteenth century.”

“This mansion was built as a recreational residence from the acquisition of the estate by Jorge Loring and Amalia Heredia in 1855. Built by the German architect August Orth, it is a classic style villa located on top of a hill from where you could see the entire estate and even the cathedral of Malaga and the sea. Its interior is organized around a central courtyard with marble fountain and double height with gallery, so that the rooms on the upper floor appear.”

“It had several rooms, billiard room, chapel, kitchens, cellar, numerous rooms and a celebrated library, where they gathered unpublished manuscripts, books of the fifteenth century, classic works and everything that was published related to the history of Malaga.”

Sister #2 and #3 appreciated the central courtyard as a spot to rest for just a bit.

I fell in love with Moorish tile when D and I visited the Alcazar in Seville a couple of years ago.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch in front of the house before making the descent back down.

With that, we were back at our starting point having enjoyed a jaunt in the country without leaving the city.

Kath’s quote: “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the (wo)man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. “-William Blake

Love never fails.

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Day Two, Part Three-Italian Food from Milan in Malaga

November30

When I am given the choice-Italian Cuisine wins every time. I love pasta only slightly less than potatoes but the other ingredients of garlic, lemon, basil, tomatoes, sway me every time. So it was, that when I got to choose the restaurant where we would dine that evening, I picked La Tagliatella.

We commenced with Prosecco Sangrias. Likely the best tasting and most refreshing Sangria I have ever had.

We started by sharing burrata y panzanella. A generous ball of buffalo mozzarella crowned the plate of taggiasca olive pate, marinated anchovies, pesto pearls and yellow confit tomatoes, all on a confit tomatoes base. We couldn’t get enough of the surprising anti pasta. I vowed that I would make it at home for our first dinner party but we haven’t managed to schedule one yet.

Sister #3 was over the moon with her choice of Lomo Cosenza, pork loin nestled onto Genoese focaccia with campanella pasta in a beautiful cosenza sauce. She vowed to make it at home her first chance and she did!

Sister #2 had carbonara on tagliatelle, I think that she had been expecting a traditional carbonara made with raw eggs, hard cheese, cured pork and black pepper. Instead, the pork appeared to be the thinnest slice of bacon-like ham you might ever have seen. It wasn’t incorporated into the eggs and cheese but was perched upon the bed of pasta. I think she enjoyed the noodles well enough even if she was not terribly impressed with the presentation.

I opted for a salad and was blown away by the cremoso di rullo di capra- mixed greens with goat cheese mousse, nutty croutons, parmigiano reggiano, pineapple, carmelized pumpkin seeds, confit tomatoes and tomato jam. I was in heaven!

We thought our handsome server was Spanish or perhaps Italian. Turns out he was Argentinian as I recall. He did a stellar job taking care of us and held his own as the restaurant filled up with other diners.

It had been a magical day topped off with delicious fare. What more could three sisters want?

Kath’s quote: “Italian food is seasonal. It is simple. It is nutritionally sound. It is flavorful. It is colorful. It’s all the things that make for a good eating experience, and it’s good for you.“-Lidia Bastianich

Love never fails.

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Malaga Day Three-Part Two, Churros Where Are You?

November28

Leaving the market after our amazing tapas lunch, we went in search of churros. Or perhaps it was another day, but it really didn’t matter when it was, the search for churros was ongoing. Sister #3 had researched where to enjoy the best churros in Malaga. Unfortunately, the place did not have extensive hours and we kept missing the opportunity to taste one of our favourite treats.

So we went home instead. Now don’t feel too disappointed for us, if we couldn’t have churros, we could still indulge in lovely olives from the market, an economical vino tinto which was just to my liking AND the best kettle chips I have tasted anywhere! Truffle flavoured of course.

As sisters we often get together for happy hour, whether it is at Lester Beach where Sister #2 lives, Isla Mujeres where Sister #3 and I visit every year, Prague or Malaga Spain.

Since we tried to eat only one meal out per day, we gathered round the dining room table for leftovers (once again, please do not feel sorry for us) of shrimp pasta and fettucine carbonara from the Italian restaurant we visited the evening prior.

Kath’s quote: “I cling to our love like saran wrap on leftovers. If you want to know when dinner will be ready, the answer is last night. We could make love, or we could simply reheat what we already had“. – Jarod Kintz

Love never fails.

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Day Three-Market Lunch in Malaga

November25

Breakfasts had been stellar in our Air BnB and this simple one was my favourite. Sister #3 grated a tomato on a cheese grater, adding just a smidge of olive oil and salt. She then toasted olive oil smeared baguettes which we subsequently rubbed with garlic cloves. We spooned a little of the tomatoes on the toast and voila! The Spaniards call them Tomato Bread and they are one dish I have managed to make since I got home!

The main entrance of the market is this imposing horseshoe archway in off-white marble, which is in fact the only remaining part of what was once a grand seven-arched shipyard – ataranzas in Arabic and old Castellano. A shipyard? In the middle of the city? Amazingly, even as late as the 18th century the sea reached right up to the present-day market, and fishermen sat alongside the south-facing wall of the building and cast their lines into the Malageñan waters.

From the market website: “From Moorish shipyard to market, Ataranzas underwent many transformations. Following the fall of the city to the Catholics in 1487, a convent was set on the site, but apparently the sound of the waves distracted the faithful from their prayers. More appropriately perhaps, the building was then turned into a huge military fort for storing weapons. Later, it became a hospital and even housed a medical school. Sadly, by the 19th century the original structure had largely fallen into disrepair and in 1868 the revolutionary government of the time ordered the remaining ruins to be demolished to make way for a modern and spacious market. The Nasrid arch was recovered thanks to the intervention of several members of the San Telmo Academy. It was completely dismantled, stone by stone, and rebuilt in its present location, as the main entrance to the new market in 1876 by the Cantabrian architect Joaquín de Rucoba who designed the market in neo-Arabic style, with slatted, arched windows and panels, but using the most modern of 19th century building materials: iron. it was inaugurated in 1879.”

I have been to Peak’s Market in Seattle, St Lawrence Market in Toronto, Marché de la Libération in Nice and Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem and I was blown away by the size and the food displays in Malaga’s market!

As you might imagine, we got hungry gazing at all of this delectable food, when we spied some tables on the sidewalk just outside the market. There was a gentleman valiantly trying to manage the order of the people waiting for tables. First, he said “Please stand over here. Oh, please move over here. You are behind these people; can you follow them?”

When it was finally our turn to snag a table, I was a bit stressed from being shuffled all over and wondered if the ordeal would be worth it.

After one sip of their refreshing sangria, I was convinced that this was indeed worth doing.

When we received our menus, we realized that almost everything they served was tapas style and we were delighted that we had the opportunity to regain our faith in Spanish tapas. Sister #3 and I are a little bit more adventurous than Sister #2 so we went ahead and ordered Pulpo a La Galleja (octopus in salt, paprika, and olive oil). They were pungent from the sea but tender at the same time. Loved them.

More to Sisters #2’s liking, we shared these gorgeous Gambas Plancha (grilled prawns)

and Berenjanas con miel (deep fried eggplant with honey),

as well as Alcachofas (artichokes). Both the eggplant and artichokes were lightly breaded and piping hot. The honey drizzle was a lovely idea as well as the sauce to dunk our artichokes. But try the latter sometime with hollandaise, you won’t be sorry.

Kath’s quote: “So I decided to be an artichoke: a little prickly on the outside with a big heart on the inside” – Ed Roberts

Love never fails.

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Day Two, Part 2-Flamenco & Boat Tour

November24

We may have put on some extra steps when searching for the Flamenco venue, but we were still too early for the show, so we popped into this bistro just around the corner to our destination. I loved the decor and the Pacifico was ice cold, so we were content.

Unfortunately, we were not permitted to take photos of the performance until the very end. I opted to take a video and unfortunately, I cannot post it here. So close your eyes and imagine this scene: the musician is stellar with his agile fingers flying all over his guitar. The singer’s voice is strong and mournful and even without understanding her words, I was moved by her lament. The dancer was the biggest surprise. No cassinettes or crinolines, she wore a simple “folk” dress and stomped around the stage in a vengeful manner. When she hiked up her skirts, the emphasis became almost sexual.

But our day was not over yet! We made our way back to the Harbour for a sunset cruise on the bay. From this vantage we could see the top of Alcazaba and learned that it is an old Moorish fortified palace which has stood guard over Malaga for nearly a thousand years. It is said that the impressive building is undoubtedly the finest surviving example of a Moorish citadel in Spain.

By contrast we soon came upon this whimsical art installation.

High end condos and shops created a half moon around the marina.

In the mid-upper photo, to the left of the middle palm tree you may see El Cubo. The close up of the coloured glass walls is above. Special art displays appear in this space on a rotating basis. The Cube was recently a stop on the Amazing Race.

The sun was just about to set as we boarded the boat. Do you notice that the Spanish skies aren’t particularly blue? I read about smog in Spain and found out that Malaga is moderately polluted.

The Three Sisters ready to leave the port. Could we look any happier?

I mentioned the sunset, I thought that these cranes looked like giraffes coming to a water hole to refresh themselves.

When we disembarked, I noticed the elevated series of lights above the city. That is the Alcazaba that I mentioned above.

We still had not stopped for dinner, so decided to choose between the restaurant offerings at the harbour. The sisters let me pick and I think that I surprised them with my choice.

Kath’s quote: “Travelling in the company of those we love is home in motion.”– Leigh Hunt

Love never fails.

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