Not even an hour has passed after leaving Seville but as we turn off the main road another enchanted world comes into view. It is still early morning and the sun has yet to dissipate the mist as we drive down the winding mountain road surrounded, as it is, by thick oak and chestnut woods.
And then there it is, the village of Alájar spread along the majestic valley like a red lizard lying in the sun. Alájar, arabic for stone, derives its name from an imposing stone promontory above the village that is crowned by the Peña de Arias Montero monastery. This idyllic village lies in one of the most beautiful valleys of the almost unknown natural park “Picos de Aroche y Sierra de Aracena”, 80 km northwest of Seville. Spared by mass tourism, this pearl of Andalusia is also home to “Jabugo ham”, one of the best hams in the world. The small black pigs with their long thin legs feed on the fallen acorns during the autumn and winter months.
You can taste these local delicacies on one of the many restaurants that prepare their dishes with the freshest seasonal ingredients that will leave your taste buds reeling.
Besides the fabulous ham try the Salmorejo (cold tomato soup) with slices of tuna sautéed in Jabugo lard. In autumn and spring wild mushroom dishes are accompanied by scrambled eggs with wild asparagus that are not to be missed. It is the combination of tastes of this simple cuisine that will delight the most knowledgeable gourmet.
Out and About Aracena:
Some places in Aracena are worth travelling just because of the food alone. We highlight a couple of our favourite places to eat that are sure to leave your taste buds reeling, plus where to buy the finest ham in the region.
Restaurante José Vicente
Mountain cuisine based on Iberian pork ham and meats as well as wild mushrooms of the area. It is advisable to book in advance.
Avenida de Andalucía, 53
Aracena – Huelva
Tel: +34 959128455
Casa El Padrino
Another excellent restaurant specialising in local cuisine using the best and freshest ingredients of the region.
Pl. Miguel Moya, 2
21340 Alájar – Huelva
Tel: +34 959 125 601
Traditional mountain cuisine with creative touches, using fresh produce from Sierra de Aracena and fruit and vegetables from the orchards surrounding Linares de la Sierra.
Linares de la Sierra – Huelva
Tel: +34 959 46 3717
El Rincón de Curro
Calle de Carretera, 3
Almonaster La Real – Huelva
Jabugo de Sánchez Romero Carvajal
The place to purchase the finest “Jamon” ham. Made from Noblanza purebred Iberian pigs and reared on the open range in Spanish woodlands on a diet of acorns.
Par del Condado – Huelva.
Where to stay in Aracena and Alajar:
Molino Rio Alájar
Finca Cabezo del Molino s/n
Alajar – Huelva
Hotel Convento de Aracena
C/ Jesus Maria 19
Aracena – Huelva