The Charms of Spain’s Cave Houses Reply

Spanish cave house

Lesley Gillilan writes for–Architectural historian Dr Greg Stevenson has a nose for a good buy. The founder of holiday cottage company Under the Thatch, he began by buying and restoring semi-derelict farm cottages in west Wales. When he was priced out of Wales, he moved on to projects in Ireland, followed by others in Poland. Now he’s buying houses in Spain. Not any old houses, but cave houses, or casas cuevas – each one a Hobbit-like warren of underground rooms, with rock-cut windows peeking out of cliffs and chimneys poking out of grassy roofs.


Explore the Flavours of Spain with This Experts’ Menu Reply

chicken chilindron Spain

Lucy Waverman writes for the Globe and–Madrid Fusion is an intense, innovative symposium that takes place every year in the Spanish capital. Iconic Spanish and international chefs – South American chefs were part of the mix this year – take the stage to discuss new trends while performing mind-blowing cooking demos. And gastro indulgence was everywhere. I ate fat, rich anchovies and mountains of Iberian and serrano ham.

One of the major topics I found most intriguing was making vegetables the focal point of dishes. (A small amount of protein is often included.) 


The Spanish Spy with 29 Names Reply

Juan Pujol superspy

British author reveals all about Spanish spy who was WW2 hero in both Nazi Germany and Britain

Western, Juan Pujol was possibly the greatest double agent in history. He was awarded the Iron Cross by Hitler and was made an MBE by Britain. To MI5 he was known as Garbo. To the Abwehr – German military intelligence – he was Alaric. Pujol also went by Rags the Indian poet, Mrs Gerbers, Stanley the Welsh Nationalist, and 24 other names. Now his story is being retold by a west Dorset-based crime novelist.


Can Roca Goes on the Road Reply

Celler Can Roca

World’s Top Restaurant to Visit Houston

Greg Morago writes for the Houston Post, April 16, 2014–The Roca brothers – international culinary superstars and owners of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, which holds the distinction of being the world’s best restaurant – are set to rock Houston. BBVA Compass will bring the Rocas (chef Joan Roca, sommelier Josep Roca and pastry chef Jordi Roca) to Houston in August as the first stop of the Roca & Roll World Tour 2014, a partnership between the restaurant and parent company Spanish bank BBVA. Details of the tour will be announced by BBVA Compass on May 19 in Houston with Joan Roca, the eldest of the brothers and co-founder of the restaurant, in attendance. More…

Culinary Trendmapping the Mediterranean Rim Reply

roasted sardines Mediterranean

January 16, 2014–Maggie Hennessy, writing for Food says, “Foods from the Mediterranean Rim have been growing in popularity since at least the mid-1990s, reinforced by Americans’ seemingly insatiable appetite for flavors from Italy, Spain and Greece.”

She goes on to comment on the two-way influence this trend in its maximum expression–the Mediterranean diet–has on  “chefs and food manufacturers.” That’s funny, as we thought one of the secrets of the Med diet was to shun manufactured food. It seems that our adoption of new food sensations is a five-step process. It’s an interesting concept.


Spanish Gastro-Tourism Breaks Record Reply

Spanish scallops sauce

From, February 24, 2014–Gastronomy has become the new ‘goose that lays golden eggs’ of the Spanish economy, and hundreds of young chefs are filling cooking schools, turning gastronomy into a mainstay of the Spanish brand attracting 7.4 million international tourists in 2013 alone. This is 32% more, with an average per person spending of 1,170 euros, according to figures from Turespaña. Gastronomy is important to figure in among the factors affecting the satisfaction of international tourists who visit our country, especially in some destinations, according to the most recent Habitur report conducted by the Institute of Touristic Studies (the IET). More…

You’ve Heard About It, Now Watch It Reply

Hemingway Spanish Earth

The Spanish Earth

The film, made during the height of the Spanish Civil War, was directed by Joris Ivens, written by John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway, with music composed by Marc Blitzstein and Virgil Thomson. Although the film’s credits state that it was narrated by Orson Welles, it is actually Ernest Hemingway who narrates the film. In December 1936, several literary figures, including Lillian Hellman, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Dorothy Parker, and Archibald MacLeish, formed and funded a company they named Contemporary Historians, Inc. to back a film project proposed by Ivens. Hellman and MacLeish collaborated on the story. Ernest Hemingway was a major contributor as well.


Five Must-Visit Hideaways in Spain Reply

alcazar segovia spain

The Herald, March 26, 2014–So you’ve danced the night away in Barcelona, joined the crowd of football fans in Madrid and travelled back in history in Valencia. Think you’re done with Spain? Think again. Here are five Spanish hidden hideaways, courtesy of the tour gurus at Contiki.

It’s hard not to fall in love with San Sebastian. The charming city is situated on the Bay of Biscay, making it a perfect summer getaway location and ideal place to unwind. Stroll through the streets of the old town, wander along the sand for sunset or sink your teeth into some authentic paella, tapas or even some fresh seafood. The back streets of San Sebastian are home to some of the best local restaurants.


Francisco de Zurbarán Had a Hollywood Sense of Drama Reply

Zurbaran Agnus Dei

Zurbarán: Master of Spain’s Golden Age, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, until 25 May, April 5, 2014–It seems suitable that just round the corner from the Zurbarán exhibition at the Palais des Beaux Arts is the Musée Magritte. Surrealism was in the air of 20th-century Belgium, just as much as it was in the atmosphere of Spain. And of course in many cases its leading figures — Buñuel, Dalí, René Magritte — were lapsed Catholics.


Hot On the Heels of History in Cuenca Reply

Cuenca Spain

Ben Roussel writes for Travel, March 20, 2014–As far as day trips from Madrid, it doesn’t get much easier than the medieval town of Cuenca. This past fall, while traveling in Spain’s capital, I spent a day in Cuenca, 105 miles east of Madrid and a simple, hourlong ride on the Madrid-to-Valencia AVE (Alta Velocidad Espanola) bullet train. Cuenca is a small city in La Mancha region that dates back to the eighth century, when Muslim invaders, recognizing its strategic location overlooking the gorges of the Jucar and Huecar rivers, began erecting the first Cuencan settlement.