When was the last time you spent over three hours enjoying a meal? A meal that takes that long is more than just the food being savored. It’s giving one’s self over to the magic of your surroundings, drinking in the beauty of colors and feelings along with the heady deliciousness of local wine, and relaxing into the magic of the present moment, deeply aware of the company of yourself and others. I believe that experiences like this are magical. They don’t require a place, yet many times certain places contribute greatly to the magic of the experience. Such was the place where we experienced a magical time. It seemed to appear out of nowhere, yet the strong memories and evidence of pictures reminds me that it was very real.
Valdezufre is located near the beautiful town of Aracena. A parish is more the apt word for describing its small size and our visit there was to enjoy a mid-day meal at its Hotel Posada. After horseback riding with new friends, we were appropriately hungry and looking forward to a mid-day meal at the hotel’s restaurant.
The moment I stepped into the front lobby, I loved what I saw. A large drawing-room extended through glass doors to the right and to the left was a staircase leading to rooms on the second floor. Here was the front reception desk of dark antique wood. The ceilings were high and a hallway lined with a gilded mirror and flooded with natural light from window-paned french doors at the far end led us deeper into the home. Everything culminated into introducing this mansion as warm, welcoming home. Yet something seemed familiar about it to me.
After walking through the classy bar and dining area to step out onto the outdoor patio, I knew what was familiar to me. It felt like Italy here. Although we were deep in the local countryside of Andalucia, Spain, there was an energy of Italy all throughout this beautiful quaint hotel. Even the patio on this particular day looked and felt like Tuscany. Grape vine trellis’ intertwined themselves into a natural covering of the patio and since it was early January and they were bare, even more sunlight showered onto the patio. This and the view is what felt even more like Italy – opened wide before us in three directions was a view of nearby hills, gently rolling with thick forests. Beyond the patio railing was a lovely garden surrounding the swimming pool and lined with dark green hedges. Flowers were still poking out here and there and lemon trees throwing a splash of vibrant yellow onto the scene. It was intoxicating!
We sat comfortably in the wicker furniture to begin with wine, beer and olives while a main table was being prepared so we could eat outside on the patio. Sitting back I soaked it all in – the wonderful company of family, friends and lover enjoyed with the magical energy of two countries that I deeply adore, Spain and Italy. No wonder I was not surprised when I learned from the hotel manager that although he is Spaniard, he spent years living in Italy. How wonderful.
As we moved to the table now set for the meal, the sun only grew warmer, glowing directly in our faces from the scenic landscape view. Bottles of wine appeared and from there, what seemed to be a flow of courses of incredible food and drink that reminded me of the Greek fables of the Gods and mystical woodland fairies feasting. And a feast it was! We savored every morsel, enjoying everything tastes of everything and seeming to never get full, which was made possible by the kind and amazing manner in which we were served everything fresh in their orderly course.
It began with a platter of various speciality jamons from the local area. While I don’t remember the exact kinds, I believe there were types of high quality Iberico, Jamon Serrano, and Chorizo. From texture to taste, they were delicious beyond compare. Next followed artichokes that were steamed and sautéed, then drizzled lavishly with bits of lomo and generous amounts of local olive oil. The next plates were piping-hot portions of chocos, the locally known chunks of squid that are fresh from the nearby seafood town of Huelva and served lightly battered and fried. Throughout the courses, we sopped up sauces and bits with the help of the fresh bread. The main course then arrived – a lavish amount of freshly grilled Presa meat topping fresh, hand-cut potato wedges. It was lightly seasoned, enhancing the good quality of this locally raised meat.
As the sun began to set and the light outside grew dimmer, we brought our magical meal to a close with chupitos of liquor and fresh-brewed coffee for some of us. Although the coming evening was changing the colors of our lovely patio, we still felt at home. As we went inside to finish our coffees, still continuing to relax by settling into soft couches, I felt the energies of Spain and Italy still blending together. I didn’t want to go, yet I felt sure that I would be able to return and experience again the magic of this place.
A big thank you to the hotel manager for giving us such an amazing experience!
Enjoy more photos at my online album: The Magic of Valdezufre.