Very close to Granada, the city of the Alhambra, and bordering the romantic Alpujarras and the old Marquesado de Zenete, extends the region of Sierra Nevada, a beautiful alpine paradise, home to the highest peaks of the Peninsula. The heavy but tasty cuisine of Sierra Nevada, characterized by having remained faithful to traditional ingredients and recipes, is a tourist attraction all over the region. The low regional winter temperatures, the traditional agriculture and livestock prevailing in the area and the difficult access to many of its municipalities have been decisive in shaping its high calorie recipes. It can be defined as primarily a cuisine of casseroles, stews and soups, where meat also plays a major role. A good example is Grenadine and almond soup, bean and spinach stew, Maimones soup, (with fried garlic, bread and curded egg), and red pepper soup, (with sardines and dried red pepper, boiled, scraped and mashed), both typical of Cájar; crumb porridge and chickpeas and wheat soup.
In the heart of Andalucia is the region of Guadix and the Marquesado, consisting of a huge plateau and the mountains that surround it. Its characteristic cuisine is influenced by both Arabic and Christian culinary traditions and the cool local climate. The cuisine is simple and tasty, consisting of local products that are mixed and combined using very traditional recipes, passed down from generation to generation.
Each town has its typical dish. Garlic and ham soup in Lanjarón, trout with ham in Soportujar; Chestnut soup in Capileira; Rabbit stew in Busquístar, the Gypsy pot of Trevélez and Pampaneira, along with green pepper porridge, which is a typical dish of this last town; the burnt garlic porridge of Mecina Bombarón, ; partridge and rabbit marinated in garlic in Valor; liberal rice in Ugíjar; roasted pork head and spicy rabbit in Rubite, spicy flour porridge, bread crumbs, fried fish and potato stew in Cástaras.
Legumes such as lentils and chickpeas and vegetables, (like the ‘lenguaza’, a wild plant similar to spinach, typical of Píñar ), cereals, poultry, pork products and lamb, all accompanied by abundant virgin olive oil, (high quality Diezma), are used to prepare traditional dishes, stews, soups and roasts. Among the commonest and most popular dishes in the region are bread crumbs, (called ‘cortijeras’ in many villages, as it was the meal served the day before starting the harvesting at the fields), the hormigos, the andrajos (which differ from the previous ones in the use of hare and rabbit meat and food colouring), gurullos (masses of flour and water in the form of grains of rice), tarbinas or porridge. They may be accompanied by such diverse products as hare meat and rabbit with garlic, grapes, honey, tomatoes and green peppers, potatoes, paprika, etc.
Some of the best pigs in the province are bred in the Valley of Zalabí as involuntary protagonists of the "killing" that provides delicious sausages. Rounding out the local recipes is the Segureño lamb, (roasted and grilled in the mozarabic style), soups such as the ones made in Guadix, almond soup and garlic soup from Ferreira, and local creations like the ‘Encebollado’ from Albuñán and Alicún de Ortega, the ‘Sustentos’ of Lanteira and the buds of Guadix, (a potato stew with ribs, sausage and flour), and the chickpea patties of Beas de Guadix.
Ham. The king of dishes is the worldwide known Trevélez ham, cured by mountain air. It is the highest ham drying area in Europe. The traditional methods of salting, drying and curing used by artisans entitle them to be named "Naturally Cured." For decades the town of Trévelez has stood out for its ham production. The secret of such a delicious food product is in the positioning of the drying rooms in the ‘barrio alto” or Upper district of the town. The hams hang for months in open rooms where cold winds blow down from Sierra Nevada.
Cheese The local cheese is made from the goats’ milk available in the area thanks to the fact that in the Andalucian Sierras of "Contraviesa" and "Sierra Nevada" there is a tradition of extensive grazing and healthy livestock. The cheese produced can be fresh or aged and is classified between Extra Fat or Fatty.
Guadix and the Marquesado are also known for the artisan made cheese produced in many towns in the area. Some of the most famous cheeses are: the organic farmhouse cheeses from el Manzano in Campotéjar; Ferreira cheese, known as "The cheese cottage" or the ones from Diezma. This cheese is produced throughout the year, although the most abundant and best production period is in winter and spring. The raw material is goats’ milk, which is high in fat, very aromatic and with considerable density, mainly due to the grazing land in the area. The types of cheese can be classified by district.
Bakery is another important chapter in the cuisine of the area as each village has its typical cakes like Sponge cake, Torta Royal, Hojarasca donuts, Sweetened pumpkin, Almond soplillos, Anise donuts and Fried donuts. All of these products are made in Cádiar, Ugíjar and Válor. Cuajaos are cakes made with eggs, flour, almonds and sugar, Gingerbread cakes made with toasted almonds, bread and honey, from Murtas, Fig bread, from Turon, donuts and the Borrachillos, from Pampaneira, Tin cake, from Capileira, Chocolate donuts from Lanjarón and Peñásculos from Berchules. These are some of the most typical pastries of the region, all of them reflecting a great Moorish influence in their recipes, as virtually all the pastry traditions have been inherited from the Arabs. The local honey is just as famous and so are other confections.
Some of the typical dishes:
Hormigos. Migas Camperas.
Stew with chorizo, blood sausage, Served with chorizo, blood sausage and
bacon, green pepper and garlic. Bacon.
Paprika Soup. Remojón. Made with sardines, garlic, almonds, A typical dish made with cod, orange, black
roast tomatoes and peppers. olives , eggs and chives.
Potato Stew Alpujarreña Soup.
Potatoes made in low heated oil with Made with fried bread, boiled egg, almonds,
Garlic and green peppers garlic and ham.
Pickled Partridge.Tortilla Sacromonte
Stewed with oil, white wine, onion, With eggs, brains, truffles, sausage,
Parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Ham and peppers.
Garlic Choto Alpujarreña Trout.
Cooked with garlic, bread, almonds, From theTrévelez river and cooked with
chorizo, peppers and white wine. ham.
Fig Bread. Almond Soplillos.
Prepared with figs, anise, almonds, With sugar, eggs and almonds.
sugar and cinnamon.
All this wide variety of cuisine can be irrigated with good alpujarreño wines: wines from the coast, from La Contraviesa, from Albuñol and from Albondón. From family vineyards in many cases, or wineries and cooperatives that distribute a select production throughout Andalucia. These wines are made from "white Jaén", "doggy", "garnacha", "Montu", PedroXimenez, "Tempranillo" and "vigriega"grapes. All the Alpujarras wines from vintage wines to young, fruity ones, from red wines to white and pink, are balanced and light and of superb quality.
Contraviesa is at the centre of a line of mountains that closes in the Alpujarras in the south, borders with Lújar to the west and with Gador in the east. It borders the Mediterranean coast of Granada and Almeria, between the lower valleys of the rivers Guadalfeo and Andarax.
Vineyards spread over the slopes of the Sierra de la Contraviesa, especially its southern slope, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the vines are grown on fairly high ground, reaching 1000 m. Although the peaks are worn, their slopes are rather steep, making it impossible to mechanize the vineyards. Organic viticulture is also being introduced.
Red, pink and white wines are made in Laujar de Andarax , the white wine being the one with the highest quality and was recently awarded designation as a local wine. The Laujar Valley wineries in Laujar de Andarax can boast having recently achieved the distinction of being the first area in Andalucía to produce, although not yet to commercialize, Cava.
In both areas there are exquisite red, white and pink or claret wines as they are sometimes called here. A few years ago the Contraviesa wines were awarded the designation ‘coast’ wines for all the wines made in the municipalities of Albondón, Albuñol, Almegíjar, Cádiar Cástaras, Jorairatar, Lobras, Murtas, Polopos, Rubite, Sorvilan, Torvizcón and Turon.
The rosé wine is the most traditional in the area. White wine made from the native Vigiriega grape is also very popular and there are documents that indicate it has been cultivated since 1807.
The authorised varieties are:
- White: Montua, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel, Jaén Blanca, Pedro Ximénez, Vijirego and Perruno.
- Red: Garnacha Tinta, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
The organoleptic characteristics of the different types of wine are:
Red: Bright cherry red colour, aromatic, low acidity and great body.
- White: Straw yellow, with fruity notes, soft and velvety to the palate.
- Rosé: Colour from pale pink to strawberry pink. Medium intensity, fine and fruity character.