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Editor'S Choice - 2020

The recipe for happiness exists and is in Almería

The Spanish Capital of Gastronomy 2019 has the perfect ingredients to turn a simple getaway into the culinary journey of your life.

Views of the Almedina neighborhood from the Alcazaba of Almeria. © Getty Images

We travel to the easternmost capital of Andalusia to blow your teeth. An out of letter for one Almeria that seduces us with its excellent product, surprises us with its honest flavors and makes us fall in love with its simple presentation.

A film choice that is recommended to take at room temperature (it is one of the European regions with more hours of sunshine and less rainfall per year) and water with a Mediterranean sea (almost) intact with saltpeter, a wild beach in Danger of extinction.

INGREDIENTS OF KILOMETER 0

Almeria is known as the 'pantry of Europe' and it shows in the base of its kitchen. If your intensive farming model makes it possible for your fruits and vegetables to reach anywhere in the old continent, imagine how exquisite those raf tomatoes that remain in origin will be.

In Joaquin House (Real 111), where they have been selecting the best seasonal product of the province for more than 100 years, they are served cut, just like that, and with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Its grooved and greenish exterior appearance contrasts with the pink interior of its 'crunchy' pulp, An example of agricultural alchemy whose result is a sweet tomato of extraordinary and unrecognizable flavor (unrecognizable to those who live in large cities deprived of the authentic taste of 'real' fruit and vegetables).

This food house with the appearance of an old cellar, through which the The Ugly (Eli Wallach), The Bad (Lee Van Cleef) and, more recently, Fassbender's Handsome, The recommendations of the most awarded chefs in Almería are never lacking, although they are far from technical and presentation. They know how to recognize a good product, the one that makes the real difference on a plate, regardless of whether it is avant-garde or traditional.

Do not let Joaquín's seriote aspect intimidate you and let yourself be advised by his good eye and his experience, the one that pushes him to visit the Almería fish market every afternoon in search of the evening treasures of trawling. Some quibbles back and forth almost immaculate? Or maybe a pot squid cooked in oil?

Perfect flavor, imperfect appearance, at Casa Joaquín. © Marta Sahelices

Another alternative and ultrasensitive way to test the pans is in carpaccio. Fine sheets of raw crustacean that do not need any culinary artifice. Only your taste buds in communion with its soft texture and subtle flavor. Do not be surprised if you feel the urgent need to pronounce a (gastro) Amen.

You will find them in season at Casa Sevilla (Rueda López s / n), a central tavern where the list of hot and cold tapas that accompany the drink for free (as the Almeria protocol marks) overcomes the fingers of the hands, those that you are going to rewind after taking their melva with peppers, their garlic toast with crispy onion or their cuttlefish in their ink. Do not miss its star cover, which they created on the occasion of the Gastronomic Capital of Almeria.

Tapa made with Garrucha prawn in Casa Sevilla on the occasion of the Gastronomic Capital. © Casa Sevilla

FROM THE SEA TO THE TABLE

The fishing market of Almeria is the fourth in Andalusia, "with transactions worth five million euros for the sale of 1,321.79 tons," according to data from the Junta de Andalucía. Figure that exceeds eight million if we add the facilities of Roquetas de Mar, Carboneras, Adra and Garrucha, where one of the most coveted red prawns in the world comes from.

Repeat with me: "Prawn of Garrucha", a sonic, powerful and visual name for a flavor that will remain forever engraved in your taste memory. If I were you, I would take advantage of the situation that Almería in the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy would give me a good tribute and suck as many heads as you can, because once destiny and species become fashionable (I refer to the case of the prawn from Dénia) prices will be even more prohibitive.

You will discover these marine treasures embodied in La Barraquilla del Alquián (Playa del Alquián), a beach bar with a modest appearance and luxury fish and seafood. You choose it fresh directly from the glass showcase, it is weighed and, once cooked, they take it directly to the table. The prawns, crayfish and chopitos, ten, the coquinas, like pipes and potatoes to the poor, a surprise of humble appearance and strong flavor.

The gastronomic equation completes the sea views from the windows of the barracks and the small fishing boats anchored in the sand.

Tapas at the La Barraquilla del Alquián beach bar, on the Alquián beach. © The Alquian Barraquilla

THE HISTORY

The Alcazaba de Almería is not valued enough, an immense monumental complex that strongly embraces the hill of San Cristóbal on which it rests (has been there for more than a thousand years) and that in one of its three enclosures housed a small palatial city with public toilets, reservoirs, houses and even a palace.

This Andalusian fortress proves the importance that the Kingdom of the Taifa of Almeria acquired after the disintegration of the Caliphate of Cordoba at the beginning of the 11th century, a port and commercial prosperity inherited precisely from the Caliphate era, when it was considered the East Gate of Al-Andalus.

Too A fortress is its 17th-century cathedral, It is well worth a leisurely visit to understand the duality of its functions: one for worship and another to defend the city from the attack of the Berber pirates.

The Alcazaba of Almeria is the largest Arab fortress in Spain. © Getty Images

THE ENVIRONMENT

Last year, during the entire duration of the Gastronomic Capital of León, the lions had to endure as 'constructive' criticism that yes, that everything is delicious, but that "the city has no sea" (?). Well, for all these haters of how dry they can't stand being at the table without feeling the sea breeze on their face or the saltpeter in their mouth, Almeria is a marine slap in the form of coastlines and wild beaches.

Those of the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park deserve a report of pirates alone or another about hiking, including a gallery that visually collects the splendid beauty of its coves and sandy beaches.

If you want to live there an adventure of your own, tell the company ZonAktiva. Routes by boat, kayak, diving, climbing, canyoning ... choose what you choose takes advantage of the presence of Gustavo, its owner and expert in geotourism and ecotourism, to ask for the gold rush that was once lived in the Mining Park, due to the geological details of the Tabernas desert and for those stories of film shoots that bring more color, if possible, to a region of incalculable beauty.

Attention! Spoiler: apparently the seagulls from the famous scene of Indiana Jones and the last crusade shot in which Sean Connery scares them with an umbrella to get rid of a Nazi plane were actually docile doves.

THE HOTEL

Halfway between the city and the wild beaches of Cabo de Gata, right at the entrance of the natural park, is the Barceló Cabo de Gata, a four-star hotel In beachfront With endless views of the Mediterranean.

Do not be scared of their numbers (it has 230 spacious rooms), on the contrary, make yours those that reflect that it has 4,000 m2 of gardens. Large spaces to be scattered without feeling the presence of other travelers, that they may be eating under the glazed pergola of their Mare Nostrum restaurant, being pampered in one of the three treatment rooms of their U-Spa, with hydrotherapy circuit, or having a cocktail next to one of its four outdoor swimming pools (one of they heated).

Highlights your team, from his close and visionary director, Rafael J. Jiménez, who has seen in the Gastronomic Capital of Almeria a business opportunity that is already thinking about how to make more attractive with the project of a new infinity pool to add to the already complete facilities, even his experienced and perfectionist Guest Experience, Monica Quert Gomez, 'the' person you should not lose sight of.

She will be in charge of providing you with everything you need during your stay and He will recommend you every day the beach to which you should go depending on the weather, because yes, in Almería, sometimes, there is wind from Levante, something that should not worry you too much if we take into account that in its 217 km coastline there is shelter and fun for everyone.

Barceló Cabo de Gata, a four star beachfront where you can spread without feeling the presence of other travelers. © Barceló Cabo de Gata

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