Nothing in Andalucía is rushed, least of all food, and this ‘slow is best’ philosophy results in some of the world’s finest ingredients

From sun-ripened vegetables and fruit, to slowly maturing sherry in the solera and meat from pigs roaming sun-dappled pastures, Andalucía is the perfect destination for those in search of edible treasures.

Fresh produce

With so much sunshine there is incredible abundance in the Serranía. Wheat fields have made way for the vines that once dominated the land. Olive groves cover the stony hillsides. Oranges grow in profusion and quinces line the waysides. Orchards of almonds, chestnuts and walnuts thick with blossom, are dotted amongst the olive groves. Fields of coriander, edged with huge wild flowers, corncockles, aliums, blue bugloss and mallow lie to the north of us in the hills. Much can be grown here that you might not expect, avocados and persimmon, white mulberries, blackberries, pears and pomegranates. With this bounty of fresh produce available the Serranía is a real treat for foodies, from creative tapas to traditional specialities often found in some surprising places, it is no wonder that when looking for the best location to film ‘Jamie Does Spain’ Jamie Oliver chose Ronda. Be sure to try some of the local favourites such as salmorejo - better than gazpacho – or pasteles made by the nuns at the beautiful Carmelite convent of the Iglesia de Neustra Señora de la Merced. Other regional favourites include asparagus with scrambled eggs, fried aubergines in cane syrup, slow cooked ox cheek, tender stews of goat, rabbit or wild boar, ajoblanco – a chilled almond and garlic soup, gambas al pil pil – prawns with chili and garlic, a vast array of beautifully prepared grilled vegetables and of course, the ubiquitous olive.


Andalucia is the world’s largest producer of olive oil and its olives are some of the finest in the world. We have 200 trees that are just 16 years old and produce a very modest 80 litres a year but we are surrounded by some incredibly old groves that have a much higher yield. There are several mills to press the fruit so no olive has to travel far, helping to preserve the quality and flavour of the oil.
You cannot go far in the Serranía without seeing acres of olive groves but nowhere pays tribute to their value as much as LA Organic Experience. Across the valley, just a few miles from Ronda, lies a new visitor attraction, an homage to the humble olive. Part of the LA Organic brand, and designed by Phillippe Starck, this is an immersive, cultural experience that has only recently opened. A one hour tour will take you from the greenhouse to the organic vegetable garden, through an olive arboretum, past a young vineyard, to the tiniest C19th chapel and through a traditional olive grove. Tours are available every day and in several languages. We had a private tour before they opened in 2018 and this promised to be a great attraction for all those who appreciate organic cultivation and produce.

Jamón Iberico de bellota

There is jamón serrano, there is jamón Iberico and then there is jamón Iberico de bellota. Hand cut from a three year aged leg of a black Iberian pig that has been free to roam in traditional pasture, dehesa, feasting on nothing but sweet and nutty holm oak acorns, this is as good as it gets. Traditionally served on a warm plate to allow the fat, high in oleic acid, to melt and soften, jamón Iberico de bellota does not come cheap. Those who hand slice this delicacy are known as cortadores and ham cutting competitions are fiercely fought. Perfect with a glass of fino, there is nothing rushed about jamón Iberico de bellota so take time to enjoy this delicacy and if you are buying some to take home you better not be in a hurry one thing you need to know about this delicacy is that it is never rushed – slow food at its finest.


If the light, zesty, almost salty flavours of manzanilla are up your street then you should make the trip to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cádiz province. If you arrive at the end of May you might even be in time for the Feria de la Manzanilla. Situated at the mouth of the Guadalquivir, and opposite the Doñana National Park, Sanlúcar is a small town with a pretty square, Plaza Del Cabildo, hosting a selection of tapas bars providing a little something to go with your sherry. Casa Balbino serves excellent, crispy tortillas de camarones and fresh seafood at a great price. The waiters write nothing down but memorise your order no matter how busy it gets.
Head inland to the sherry capital itself, Jerez de la Frontera, and book yourself in for an unforgettable sherry tasting at the magical Bodegas Tradición where you can try Fino, Oloroso, Paolo Cortado, Amontillado and Pedro Ximinez. This is a bewitching bodega with magnificent cellars, an impressive art collection including Goya, El Greco and Velasquez and an absolutely stunning archive, cataloguing centuries of the sherry maker’s art. There are many sherry bodegas, some of them sprawling factories but this is an absolute gem: The best.


The payoya goat provides the milk for the famous local payoyo cheese, a pale, rich, slightly tangy cheese served in many restaurants in and around Ronda. Mixed with the rich milk of Grazalema sheep, payoyo has earned itself a reputation as one of the finest cheeses in Spain. Local slow tourism company, Entrelenguas, offer tours to an organic goat farm where you can get up close and personal with the goats and even make your own cheese.
Spanish cheeses are categorised as fresco (not aged), semi curado (aged for up to four months) and curado (aged for over four months). Served alone, with membrillo or sun dried raisins or with toasted Andalucian almonds and a sherry vinegar reduction, the goat and sheep cheeses on offer in the Serranía are absolutely delicious. Local bodega, Finca La Melonera, pays homage to the payoya goat with their lovely ‘Payoya Negra’, packed with black fruit flavours, this red pairs well with queso curado.

Pick your own

A very loose, seasonal guide to what’s growing in the garden and wild in the hills

March - May - tender spring leaves from the wild herbs and those in the garden; apple mint, thyme, lime thyme, rosemary and bay.
June - wild fennel growing in the garden and the edges of the lanes.
July - you might be lucky enough to catch a few summer tomatoes if previous guests haven’t beaten you to it. Nothing compares to fruit ripened on the vine.
August - sweet, golden grapes dangling in heavy bunches along the south terrace.
September - fresh walnuts that have ripened and fallen from the trees.
October - quince to make sticky membrillo to eat with cheese or sliced quince in syrup to go on porridge and pancakes.
November - the olives will be ready for harvesting but you will have to brine the eating olives to enjoy them.
December - January - the first of the olive oil will be ready to try, green-gold, grassy, peppery and delicious!

The bounty of the garden is there for you to enjoy – help yourselves.