You know with a title like that, I'm not writing about home (Aus)! Feliz año nuevo (Happy New Year)! I arrived back from my Spanish odyssey 3 days ago, jet lagged and delighted. And being such a sweltering day today, is just the icing on the cake (coming from 2 degree temps in some towns). Spain is such a culturally rich and varied country, I have loads to share with you. So buckle up and enjoy the piccies!
Today, I'm writing about the basilica in Ronda. A small town in the Andalucia region, 2 hours train ride out from Cordoba. A cathedral you say? Well yes, but stick with me a second! This place and town got some air time in Jamie Oliver's show Jamie Does... a few years back. In the Spain episode, he paid a visit to Ronda (the only 'white town' accessible by train). During his time there he went to this very cathedral and shared a lovely and cute foodie experience. I followed in his footsteps...
|Frontage: Iglesio Convento de la Merced. We were stoked to get a blue sky day. The palm trees really give it a summery feel, even in the middle of winter!|
Around the side of the main church (to the left when facing the front), there is a side entrance where nuns of the Carmelite order sell biscuits and pastries that they have made, with TLC. Apparently, this is quite a common practice in the area, and I find it intriguing! Nuns need to make a buck too!
|The shop display, a window shows what you are able to order and the revolving wooden 'window' (in fact, fully covered at all times but more on that in a sec)|
Being complete novices in the practice of convent biscuit pur-chasing (and Spanish for that matter), we were lucky to have a local couple in front of us so we could see how it was done. Much to our horror, quite a long banter in Spanish went on as the order was placed with what biscuits, the quantities and the payment total and you can't see who you are talking to. Apparently, they are an Order that choose not to show their faces...PANIC! In this instance, we wouldn't be able to point, use finger numbers or act out what we wanted. Double frick!
|Magdalena, anyone? Sort of like sweet muffins with a generous dusting of sugar on top. Yum!|
Lucky for us, the couple ahead of us did the introductions for us to the nun, so she wouldn't abandon her post by the window, leaving us floundering. This is roughly how the exchange went:
Nun: "No!" Sounded pretty good to me, but not a promising start :S
U: "Uno pastas teresitas eeeee...(how do they say um?) uno tortas de la virgen por favore" I'm pretty sure that was a complete abomination of Spanish grammar and all that but I've never learnt before! Ask me for french and I'd be a touch better
N: Proceeded to ask us in fairly rapid Spanish whether we wanted 1/4 or 1/2 a kilo. Uh oh, FAIL
U: "Si, si, si" On tenterhooks
N: Tells us the total and disappears off for a moment
U: Place money (who knows how much it was?) on turntable and begin to spin it around and voilà! Our two baggies of biscuits appear. "Gracias, mucho gracias!!!!" Like some miracle, we did it!
N: "Mucho gracias, adiós"
All: Much laughter all round, the relief!
And here we are :D
|A pastas teresita. These were deliciously addictive. I believe an almond shortbread type of biscuit, that is lovely and crumbly. Believe or not, I haven't bitten into this one yet :P They came in all sorts of weird and wacky shapes in the bag|
What felt like a mini victory was properly affirmed when we tasted these little beauties! The tortas de la virgen where thin, crispy discs dusted with sesame seeds, sugar and had a lovely aniseedy flavour. Very different to anything at home :) This was a completely memorable experience. Somehow we bumbled through and it definitely paid dividends!
|What. a. view. This was the main event, the bridge crossing the 100m gorge that Ronda is famous for. Shame about the massive diagonal shadow cast but nevertheless a feast for the eyes!|