Saturday, April 30, 2016


I´ve been away from my kitchen for a few days. A friend and I took a driving trip through the Sierra de las Nieves (“mountains of the snows,” although the snow is all gone now) to the inland town of Ronda. After spring rains, wildflowers bloomed on rocky slopes and fields were vivid green with new wheat.

Ronda's landmark "New Bridge" (1793) spanning the tajo (gorge) that separates the old quarter of Ronda from the new city. On the right is the Parador Nacional, a hotel right on the edge of the tajo. The building was once the townhall.

Looking down from Ronda's cliffs to green fields and olive groves.

Sure sign of spring--bikers touring Spain after the motorcycle Gran Prix in Jerez de la Frontera. Jerez is over the mountains to the west of Ronda. A dozen of them stopped for lunch at the Mirador el Campillo in Ronda's Old Town.

Ibérico ham--what we had for lunch. Ibérico-breed pigs are raised in the Ronda area. Although they are not de bellota--finished on acorns--the hams and fresh pork are excellent.

Ronda also is known for its morcilla--blood sausage. Here the sliced sausage is scrambled with eggs and potatoes in a revuelto.
Skinny spring asparagus for a revuelto (scrambled eggs).
The menu on the wall? A fish and a mare depicted by prehistoric peoples in the La Pileta cave, a short distance from Ronda. These are reproductions of the drawings, recreated in the Ronda Museum which is in the Mondragón Palace, a building that dates from 1491, with astonishing views from the cliff's edge to the distant mountains.

From the Church of Espiritu Santo, at upper right, a path descends to Arab Baths where the Moorish town was situated (end of 13th century).

Path to the Arab Baths.

Thistles line the path.

Poppies and wildflowers along the path.

A different wild thistle. These are tagarninas ((Scolymus hispanicus). The prickly leaves are stripped away and the stems chopped to cook in a revuelto with eggs. In villages of the Serranía tagarninas go into a cocido with potatoes, chickpeas and pork. Tagarninas taste a little like artichokes, to which they are related.

A fine place for sundowners or a sunset dinner--Restaurant Abades Ronda, located right on the cliffside, behind the Plaza de Toros (bull fighting arena). The restaurant opened only a month ago and the staff is still working out a few kinks (the waiter's device didn't communicate to the kitchen, so one of our main dishes didn't arrive). But the food was fine and the setting spectacular.

An updated version of a traditional dish, rabo de toro or braised bull's tail. Ronda is a famous bull-fighting town. The meat is served atop truffled potatoes and topped with crisp purple potato chips. We enjoyed a bottle of a red wine from a winery within the Sierras de Málaga/Serranía de Ronda dominación. with our meal at Abades. There are some 16 wineries in the Ronda area, all of which can be visited with prior appointment.

Cock of the walk in the gardens of the small hotel where we stayed. Hotel Jardín de la Muralla is built against the old walls of Ronda. Rooms and terrace have views over surrounding countryside.

Pinsapo, a species of fir native to the Sierra de Grazalema and Sierra de las Nieves around Ronda, has been around since before the Ice Age. This specimen is in the garden at the Hotel Jardín de la Muralla.

Breakfast--a thick slab of toasted bread topped with extra virgin olive oil and grated fresh tomato and freshly-squeezed orange juice. Sunshine on the hotel's east-facing terrace. (Photo by D.Ellefson.)

A recipe with tagarninas (wild thistle) is here. A recipe for rabo de toro (bull's tail) is here.

Hotel Jardín de la Muralla

Restaurante Abades Ronda

Tourist office Ronda

Strutting his stuff in a courtyard of the Casa del Rey Moro (18th century). Steps from the garden descend to the bottom of the cliff where a mina, or spring, once provided town water.


  1. Super photo essay of a lovely region, Janet: thank you. I agree with you that Serrania de Ronda reds are lovely.

    1. JohnD: Glad you enjoyed the pics. I'm going to start buying Ronda wines more often--I've tended to pass them by as being more expensive than day-to-day Riojas or La Mancha wines. But, very definitely worth the price.