The restaurant closes for the winter from Monday 28th October and re-opens 1st April 2020.
Our self-catering cottages remain available throughout this time and full details are contained on other pages of this website.
The restaurant closes for the winter from Monday 28th October and re-opens 1st April 2020.
Our self-catering cottages remain available throughout this time and full details are contained on other pages of this website.
Rutas de los Olivos Milenarios de Periana
We have written before about Periana Gold the verdial type olive oil produced in the village cooperative and it will interest walkers and lovers of the countryside to see that three new walking routes around the olive groves have been established.
These walks are designed to show off some of the district’s ancient trees, one of which is thought to be over 1500 years old. Several others exceed a thousand years and all have been calculated by measuring the girth of the trunk one and a half metres from the ground. Each metre is thought to equal between 200 and 250 years. The oldest to be seen on the walk is known as “El Chato” with a girth of 7.4 metres. Various other wonderful specimens to be seen are known as “The snail”, “The shelf” and “Box Office” all names describing the shape of the trees.
The three routes vary in length and will take between 1.25 and 2.00 hours. The olive oil cooperative are offering guided tours or you may walk independently using maps provided, a link is here. You will see that the routes can be walked separately or joined together for a much longer hike.
The closest route to Cantueso is called “Ruta Cortijo Blanco – Rio Seco” and is 6.3 Km long and should take 1 3/4 hours. In fact Cantueso is along the route so you may start and finish here and no doubt need a cooling drink at the end ? Please make sure that you go prepared for walking in warm weather with proper shoes and plenty of water.
The cooperativo has also produced a special limited batch of Millennium oil using olives from the ancient trees. It can along with several other types be purchased from the cooperative shop in Periana.
For more information on walking in Axarquia see our website walking page here.
And if you are interested to read more about Periana’s Olive oil please see our previous blog here.
All of us at Cantueso are animal lovers and as long as your pets are well behaved we can allow them in our cottages and on the restaurant terrace. We would invite you to look at these well behaved dogs who have the best of table manners.
In case you are now feeling hungry look at our complete menu here.
On Saturday 2nd August 2014 the 12th Peaches Festival will once again be held in Periana. Unlike last year when due to economic restrictions it was held alongside the August festival, it will once again be a stand alone event.
During the day there will be the usual stalls and amusements set up along the main street with various free tastings, and a medieval market. There will also be the popular cookery competition; dishes for which should of course contain Peaches.
Later there will be an on stage Festival of Rock & Roll, with various tribute acts and then music with Dj’s until the early hours.
In previous years more than 5000 people came to the village and this year is bound to be just as lively. A stroll around the streets filled with the scent of peaches is bound to get your taste buds moving and suitable food and refreshment stalls will be available.
A little Peach History: It is thought that a resident brought the first seedling to Periana after a visit to Argentina 200 years ago and it thrived in the wonderful climate and fertile land. As the crop developed it was taken to neighbouring villages on the backs of donkeys and eventually became popular with buyers from Murcia and surrounding provinces. However it was not until the last half of the 20th century that the crop came to prominence being appreciated for its taste, aromatic scent, soft velvet skin, colour and culinary versatility and by the 70’s a good year would yield as much as 4 million kilos.
Sadly as so often happens in agriculture, the crops were affected by pests and several years of drought which led to a steady decline in production. This continued until about ten years ago when market demand encouraged growers to plant more trees and the municipality started to promote peaches once again. Hence this year is the twelth in which the village and visitors will get to party the night away.
If you have time come up and visit us at Restaurante Cantueso where Carmen our chef is sure to produce some very tempting dishes, and whatever you do, don’t forget to buy a box of these special fruits to take home before you leave.
For many years we have extolled the virtues of Cantueso as a base for walking and associated pastimes such as birding or photography, and to aid less experienced walkers we have our own route guides. Below we are pleased to include a report by Derek Polley on his walking and birding in Axarquia following his third stay at Cantueso during April.
Derek had previously been here with another group from Northern Ireland on a couple of occasions and thought it would suit his church walking group, so booked the complete complex. Derek explains: “This is purely a walking group, although walks are planned round lunch, and coffee on the way home. We have been called an eating group which does occasional walks!! My birding just happens as we walk although I have been known to pick a route where I know there will be good birds!”
Birding around Cantueso
As well as the birds which can be seen in or around the site itself, there are also a number of possibilities in the immediate area, and further possibilities if you are prepared to drive for an hour to an hour and a half. There is also the Guadalhorce Reserve in Malaga which is only five minutes from the airport.
The birds seen in and around Cantueso itself have been seen either in April or September. Obviously some of them are summer migrants and will only be seen from April to September, others are resident and can be seen all year round.
Residents include Collared dove, Blackbird, Sardinian warbler, Great tit, Blue tit, Spotless starling House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Serin and Goldfinch. Crested lark is the default lark in the area but do not rule out Thekla’s lark which occurs as well.
Summer visitors include Cuckoo, Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, House Martin, Swallow, Red-rumped swallow, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Woodchat shrike
In summer it is usual to see eagles and other birds of prey from Cantueso. These occasionally hunt the valleys on either side of the complex. Expect to see Bonelli’s eagle, Short toed eagle, Booted eagle, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel in season. Griffon vulture is a possibility as well.
The walk along the old railway line to Ventas La Zaffaraya can also be productive. As well as common residents you can expect to see Griffon vulture, red-billed chough, black wheatear, stonechat, corn bunting, raven, peregrine, and in spring and autumn migration anything may turn up. I have seen spotted flycatcher, redstart, whitethroat, golden oriole and turtle dove.
Cross the valley to Alcaucin and walk up the valley into the mountains to the nature reserve and you will find many of the above species as well as Jay, Coal tit, Crag martin, Great spotted woodpecker, Alpine accentor and Wood pigeon.
El Torcal is an hour’s drive to the North-west (see also.) As well as spectacular limestone scenery it has a good range of birds including Griffon vulture, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Rock bunting, Blue rock thrush, Black redstart, Sub-alpine warbler and Melodious warbler. Another thirty minutes North to Antequera brings you close to the breeding flamingo colony at Fuente de Piedra lagoon. A lot of what you will see there depends on time of year and water levels, but it is worth a visit if you are in the area.
Cross the valley to Alcaucin and walk up the valley into the mountains to the nature reserve and you will find many of the above species as well as Jay, Coal tit, Crag martin, Great spotted woodpecker, Alpine accentor and Wood pigeon.
El Torcal is an hour’s drive to the North-west (see also.) As well as spectacular limestone scenery it has a good range of birds including Griffon vulture, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Rock bunting, Blue rock thrush, Black redstart, Sub-alpine warbler and Melodious warbler. Another thirty minutes North to Antequera brings you close to the breeding flamingo colony at Fuente de Piedra lagoon. A lot of what you will see there depends on time of year and water levels, but it is worth a visit if you are in the area." El Torcal, so much more to see than just birds!
If you are flying in and out of Malaga the Guadalhorce reserve is only 5 minutes drive from the airport. It is well worth a couple of hours en route to Periana, or leave early and check it out before you drop the car off. It has a wide variety of wetland species and is a migratory stopover in spring and autumn. The list of species is long and varied and includes White-headed duck, Kingfisher, Marsh harrier, Yellow legged gulls, Black winged stilt, Glossy ibis, herons, egrets, ducks, waders and terns – including Gull billed. The reserve is good for breeding warblers including Zitting cistacolas. In summer it is very hot, there is very little shade, and if water levels are low there will be fewer species. However in April, May and September anything can turn up on migration to and from the Straits of Gibraltar. Google Guadalhorce and you will find a lot of trip reports with a lot of stunning birds, including a feral flock of Monk Parakeets.
All photos courtesy Derek Polley
Preparations for summer seemed to be dogged by bad weather and our refurbishing of the pool at Cantueso Cottages has only just been completed. This 12,000 € project is going to put a stop to water leaks which have plagued us for the last few years being both wasteful and expensive. Many leak tests and other investigations were carried out but in the end we decided the only solution was to completely reline the pool and this has been done by Clima Pool Centre from Nerja, one of whom had the unenviable job of working up to his chest in cold water for much of the time. Now it is finished we have a brighter blue colour and a non slip children’s shallow area. And as I write the weather is giving us some glorious days. Take a look at our webcam and see for yourself.
Another part of our complex to get the winter upgrade treatment has been the crazy golf area where we now boast a large 14ft trampoline, sand table and swings with much needed shade so that mum can sit and watch the little ones at play.
Lovers of Paella will know that you need that most important spice, saffron, to give it the distinctive deep yellow colour and most critically the taste to die for. However what is less well known is that despite Spain being one of the largest growers of the saffron crocus from which it comes, they cannot keep up with demand.
In La Mancha where it was first introduced by the Moors, whole families have for centuries grown, harvested and sold this sought after spice. As with olive growing it is a family business that involves dedication and tradition not to mention patience. Imagine how long it must take to strip the stigmas from the crocus flower with it needing 250,000 flowers to yield 1 kilo of threads. At this point it is worth 3000€ per kilo.
In La Mancha they can only produce 1500 kilos per year and yet exports from Spain are about 190,000 kilos. An amazing mismatch that can only be explained by the import of Iranian, Moroccan and Greek produce. The growers of La Mancha are quick to point out that the largest exporters are the regions of Valencia and Murcia where saffron is not even grown. Often these inferior products contain more than just the stigma and tests have even found a completely different spice such as cardamom being present. It is claimed that lower quality foreign imports make up the difference with adulterated product being commonly sold as Spanish (apparently it is within the EU laws to label it as such).
Cooks who want the best should look for saffron with the official “Genuine La Mancha Saffron” label.
At Restaurante Cantueso we only cook Paella to order after 24 hours notice as it cannot be prepared in advance without losing lots of delicate flavours. In a previous blog post we detailed the great influence that the Moors have had on Spanish culture, architecture, agriculture and of course cuisine. See “Sugar the lost crop in Periana”
We are often asked for advice about driving to Spain and one of the main questions is whether it is better to use the Ferries or go through the Channel Tunnel and which is cheaper.
An example of our own trip to the UK last month will help to clarify some points. Periana to Colchester is a trip of 1400 miles going through the Tunnel and 700 if using the ferry from Santander or Bilbao to Portsmouth. Using the ferry means that you can drive to Santander from Periana in one day of hard driving, mostly motorways which are excellent and we managed the 550 miles in 9 hours plus a couple of stops. The ferry departed the next day so a night in the town was necessary.
Not really a hardship as Santander has some excellent fish restaurants including El Serbal a Michelin starred place that must surely be the cheapest in Europe. Lunch menu 35€ or 8 course tasting menu with wine for each course 85€, no service charge or extras for seven sorts of bread, water, appetisers etc. And when did you last get a glass of wine for 3.60€ apart from Cantueso J
The Brittany Ferry takes about 23 hours, with comfortable cabins and good restaurants as you would expect from a French boat. They describe it as a cruise and certainly their flagship the Pont-aven has all the facilities you would expect on a cruise.
Depending on the day and time you travel the journey can be one night or two, and things have improved so much in recent years that even travelling with pets is possible. There are pet friendly cabins or kennels and an exercise area on deck.
So far as costs go it was on this occasion about the same as going through France where the tolls are high and of course the extra mileage means a lot more fuel and usually two nights in hotels. Much depends on how much time you have and whether you wish to make it a leisurely drive or a sprint.
We shall make the return journey in February and that will be even easier and cheaper as there is a ferry leaving Portsmouth at 10.30 a.m. which arrives in Spain the next morning at 09.30 a.m. meaning no need for hotels just one night on the boat and the drive down to Periana.
On balance: the ferry saves time, can be cheaper (particularly if you book a reclining seat rather than a cabin!) and much more relaxing start or finish to your holiday. I particularly like the booking website for Brittany Ferries because you can go online and change your route, timings, accommodation etc. at any time before travelling without cost penalties. Makes a change after the cheapie airlines rip-off the customer policies.
Any minus points? Not really but remember the Bay of Biscay can be lumpy in winter J
So I think Eliza Doolittle was mistaken as we are certainly not on the plains of Spain.
Last weekend Periana experienced the most rain for years with over 6 inches falling in a couple of days. In one period of four hours a quarter of the annual rainfall came down. More like a waterfall than rain and there was lots of damage to roads and low lying properties.
Fortunately despite the access road to Cantueso being unmade we escaped reasonably well and the main problem for the village was the blocking of the main road. As you can see from the photos there were rock falls and mudslides near the newly constructed “Mirador” which is on the left as you approach the village.
You can see a graph of the lake levels here. and then select La Vinuela from the drop down box. The line going almost vertically is the current level and is a good indication of the speed with which the water levels rose. Another interesting weather source is one we have mentioned before run by local man Harry Happe. His site www.malagaweather.com is one of only two in Spain that does manual forecasting rather than computer predictions. His site is a mine of weather information and even has links to a tracking chart that shows live flight arrivals to Malaga airport. And when you get bored with aeroplanes you can also see a similar chart tracking ship movements along the coast.
Final note for those of you, who like me work in “old money”, where the Spanish sites predict rainfall in litres per square meter this equals 1 millimetre. Therefore 25 l per sq/m = 1 inch.
All photos by kind permission of the Periana blog http://www.perianaypedanias.com/
Do you suffer from: respiratory problems, asthma, high blood pressure, anaemia, fatigue, rheumatism, liver disease or even intellectual exhaustion? Well if you do, there is help available through the magical properties of honey. It is claimed that different types of honey have a variety of medicinal properties and the main types in Málaga include: Orange blossom, Lavender, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Chestnut and even Avocado. And whilst we offer no guarantees regarding the efficacy of these claims ): we do recommend this as a day out from Cantueso, especially if you have children.
The recently opened museum is a little off the beaten track, tucked away in a back street of Colmenar, but well worth the effort to see and learn about honey. A good starting point is the 15 minute film in several languages which introduces the visitor to the beekeeper’s world, charting its history going back 8000 years, and describing the complex work of the bee. You can then wander around the museum which has lots of interactive displays, exhibits and finally a shop which sells honey, beeswax, soap and other associated products.
The museum has been set up by the Beekeeper’s Association of Málaga who proudly display the eight types of honey which have been awarded their “Seal of Quality.”
Einstein it seems noted the importance of bees and is quoted at the museum as having said:
“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”
It is a good thought provoking quote even though it seems he never said it!!!
Tuesday – Friday: 10am – 2pm and 3pm – 6pm. Monday: closed
Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 2pm Guided visits: by appointment
Entry 2€ or Guided visit: 6€ Gift pack included with the visit
Almost two years ago one of our customers, Iain Turnbull, was taken ill during his meal and we had to take care of him until the ambulance arrived. Fortunately one of our staff has worked with the ambulance service and was able to make him comfortable and collected background information in Spanish for when the paramedics arrived.
Since returning to the UK Iain has not been able to get back to his regular work and during his convalescence he started to paint for the first time. The painting shown above, was painted from memory and shows just how talented he is. We were thrilled to receive it and Iain jokes that it is best viewed from the floor looking up, a reference to what must have seemed like hours while he waited for the ambulance.
Never shy to extol the virtues of Restaurante Cantueso and the view we have just secured a premier advertising site at our local garage near lake Vinuela. It is the only petrol station for miles around so we know that it will be seen by lots of people as they leave, and we just hope they keep driving up to Periana to see us.
We should know better than to tempt fate by writing about the mild weather this winter as Mother nature has a way of reminding us who is in charge, and this last week she sent us very low temperatures and high winds. So much so, that the early blossom on our trees and shrubs now have been blackened by frost and Periana’s town fountain had a great display of icicles.
On Mount Maromo there is snow at the very top and this makes for spectacular sunsets and one this week can be seen in our photo above which was captured from the Restaurante Cantueso webcam. During winter months the webcam struggles to cope with the low orbiting sun as it faces South and for much of the day sun shines directly onto the lens. The Malaga Weather website uses our picture alongside their own and it makes an interesting comparison as their camera faces West. You can compare them here.
We have had the most wonderful three or four weeks in Periana with unseasonally high temperatures of up to 74° F (23° C) and no rain. Diners at our restaurant have been able to eat on the terrace every lunchtime and enjoy the views over Lake Viñuela. At the same time last year we had eight inches (200mm) of rain in one week!
Periana is very much a farming area and the three hundred or so families that grow olives have had beautiful weather for the harvest, which runs from November to March, but unfortunately lack of rain means the fruit is much smaller than normal. And considering they only get one crop and hence one pay day each year it matters.
The trees and shrubs are so confused that they are flowering about a month earlier than usual. These pictures were taken a week ago at Cantueso and we fear that a frost this month will upset things for the real spring.
The self-styled Longsufferers’, a walking group from Northern Ireland has spent a week at Cantueso for a second time. The group is comprised of retirees who nonetheless undertook a number of quite extensive walks in the Periana region. “Peter the Walker” as we know him, says: “Members see Cantueso as offering classic walks with stunning views direct from the doorstep, the flexibility of having individual and group-prepared meals as well as the restaurant service, combined drives and walks within a reasonable distance and a great pool to unwind in after the exertion!” Peter also told us that a number of the group combined their week at Cantueso with stays further afield including Seville, Cordoba and Granada.
Many other visitors to Cantueso enjoy our prepared route guides and we all have Peter to thank for his kindness in preparing them. We hope to add to them in the future.
Please also see our web page giving more details about this area of Axarquia and other walking links.
A much asked question from visitors to Spain is what about medical care if I need it? The good news is that medical services in Spain are usually very good and in Periana there is a clinic which will treat visitors during the week if they have a “European Health Insurance card.” A little further away is a clinic in the village of Viñuela which is open 24 hours seven days each week. It also will see card holders free of charge and you will get the same treatment as locals. In general medicines are cheaper than in the UK and many common types are available without prescription from a pharmacy. If they are prescribed following a visit to a doctor you will be charged up to 40% of the cost. Dental treatment is not generally available through the state system.
European Health Insurance Card
The EHIC is available free of charge from the NHS website and is valid for five years. As it is just that long since they replaced the old E111 many of you may have one that needs replacing. When going on line to the NHS site make sure it is not one of the many sites which offer an express service for a fee. They are not official sites.
Whilst the Ehic is your first line of cover you should not forget to take out travel insurance which will offer much more help when serious accidents occur. If for example you need repatriation or have to go to a private hospital which will not accept the Ehic.
Please see also our website for more information regarding travelling around Axarquia.
Or so said that famous moaner Michael Winner in his column in the Sunday Times last week. He went on to say the reason was because they thought the view was enough, and then continued in familiar style to slag off Min Jiang the restaurant on top of The Royal Garden Hotel in London.
We cannot comment on the London restaurant but we certainly don't agree with his tar them all approach. We add below a photo taken a month ago at Restaurante Cantueso just so that Mr Winner might see what a good restaurant view really looks like. Pity he cannot visit Periana and sample some of Carmen's cooking as he might then agree that there are always exceptions to any rant :)
Summer Menu and Drinks at Restaurante Cantueso.
We have just introduced our summer à la carte menu and will again also be offering some special seasonal drinks in addition to our usual wine list.
Carmen our chef has created a new summer menu combining some old favourites with new seasonal dishes and intends to offer a daily special starter, main course, and dessert. She has also revised our popular six-course tasting menu.
And of course it wouldn't be summer without a few special drinks. Pimm's of course, and now that Sherry is a trendy drink again, we will try to tempt you with the likes of Rebujito a cocktail of chilled dry sherry mixed with soda or Seven-up: an ideal thirst quencher for the weary traveller and typically popular at Spanish ferias.
Sherry known in Spain as Jerez, has of course been popular in Britain for centuries and in the main it was British families such as Sandeman, Osborne and Byass that in the 18th century cornered the market producing a high octane wine (typically 15-20%) which is fortified with brandy. It can only legally be described as sherry if it is produced in the “sherry triangle” of southern Andalucía.
In the past sherry has been known as a drink for weddings or funerals and of course Christmas wouldn't be the same if aunty didn't have a glass or two of Bristol Cream, but now there has been a strong revival with wine lovers discovering the likes of manzanillas, finos, palo cortados, amontillados, and olorosos. A different taste for every occasion and every meal. Maybe in the past you have tried Pedro Ximenez poured over ice cream, or a crisp well-chilled fino with olives or tapas. Fino and manzanilla are perfect accompaniments to Spanish food and soups of many styles. The two can be used interchangeably in cooking and are well suited to steaming mussels and other shellfish, or as an ingredient in soups.
No matter whether you enjoy sherry in food or by the glass there are many varieties to delight your palate and we hope to see you soon relaxing in Periana with a glass of fino or maybe two :)
The Pimm's we, and most bars use, is Pimm's No 1 Cup, and those of us with good memories may remember seeing other numbers in years gone by.
There were six Pimm's products, all of which are fruit cups but only Cups No 1, 3 and 6 are still available at present. The essential difference among them is the base alcohol used to produce them:
Pimm's No. 1 Cup is based on gin and can be served both on ice or in cocktails.
Pimm's No. 2 Cup was based on Scotch Whisky. Currently phased out.
Pimm's No. 3 Cup is based on brandy. Phased out, but a version infused with spices and orange peel marketed as Pimm's Winter Cup is now seasonally available.
Pimm's No. 4 Cup was based on rum. Currently phased out.
Pimm's No. 5 Cup was based on rye whisky. Currently phased out.
Pimm's No. 6 Cup is based on vodka. It is still produced, but in small quantities.
an Andalusian Gardener’s Delight
Cordoba the one time capital of Moorish Spain rates high on the things to do list of most tourists and whatever time of year you visit there is always much to see. Top of the list is the architectural wonder the Mezquita-Catedral (Mosque Cathedral). However during May there is the Patio Festival which gives us a unique opportunity to step into private homes and to see marvellous displays of plants and flowers in private gardens and patios. You cannot help but marvel at the variety of the decorations and plants, at a time when the geraniums, roses, carnations and other flowers are in full bloom.
For travellers in search of authentic experiences, this tradition is ideal. Cordoba's streets and plazas are a delight to explore, but the city's private houses--many hundreds of years old--shelter beautiful little corners which are waiting to be discovered.
Cordoba's patios capture the essence of Andalusia in a tiny space, isolated from the rush and hurry of modern life and whilst they open in the first week of May many displays remain during the rest of the summer.
Our photos were taken two weeks ago after a very severe winter and will no doubt continue to flourish with better weather. From Cantueso in Periana it takes about 2 hours by car and is an easy drive.
Not many years ago people going on holiday wanted peace and quiet declaring that they didn't want the intrusion of TV, however times change and we have found that nowadays satellite TV with plenty of channels is a must and at Cantueso we provide English and Spanish TV and Radio in all cottages.
Three years ago, as the world moved on, we provided Wi Fi access around the restaurant for the use of visitors. This has proved popular but now with the increase in usage particularly from the ubiquitous I Phone we have had to created Wi Fi hotspots around each cottage. The aim is to allow guests Internet access from the comfort of their holiday home. It is still available on the restaurant terrace and free to all customers.
Many people are surprised at how complicated Internet connections can be in Spain and ours is no exception. The signal is received from a nearby mountain and bounces onto three more peaks before going down to a ground station in Malaga and then by cable to Madrid. Normally all works well but in thundestorms we can experience "drop outs."
The Ruis family from Utrecht in Holland returned last week to collect their prize of a free Lunch having been placed first in the 2008 competition. The competition was held during the year and any photo taken in or around Cantueso was eligible for entry. It was very nice to see them again and to meet their latest arrival, Ike. All the original entries can still be seen here.
Most visitors to the Costa del Sol will have a vague idea that there was a Moorish presence in Spain at some time in the past, and are attracted to tourist destinations such as Cordoba and Granada which have some of the most stunning Moorish architecture to be seen anywhere in Europe. The Alhambra Palace in Granada is in fact the most visited tourist attraction in Spain.
As we will see later there was much more to the Moorish invasion than just architecture and anyone travelling the roads around Periana some fifty years ago would have noticed the remaining sugar plantations started by the Moors over one thousand years before, and which until the middle of the last century was a valuable part of the local economy. Plantations were established all along the Costa del Sol and as far inland as Periana, further inland the temperatures were too low and there was insufficient water supplies. There were several sugar mills along the coast notably in Motril and Torre del Mar, but today all that is left of the latter is a chimney. This refinery was for many years owned by the Larios family (of gin fame) and they were able to make not only sugar but also rum and honey. We at Restaurante Cantueso still use Caña de Miel (Cane Honey) and find it popular on such dishes as aubergines in batter.
When sugar was first available in Spain it was in fact a luxury item and only consumed by the well off. It became so important that a special sugar tax was levied and for centuries it provided vital revenue for the Kingdom of Granada.
Originally the canes produced around Periana were carried on mules but in later years transported to the mill via the little narrow gauge railway described in a previous blog. In the centuries following its introduction into Spain explorers who visited Madeira and later the Caribbean found even better climates for sugar cane and (forgive the pun) they were sowing the seeds of their own industry's destruction. Then with the introduction of sugar beet, the urban development of land linked to tourism, and increased cultivation costs the end of Spanish production became a reality.
In 711 AD, a tribe of newly converted Muslims from North Africa crossed the straits of Gibraltar and invaded Spain. Known as The Moors, they went on to build a rich and powerful society.
Its capital, Cordoba, was the largest and most civilised city in Europe, with hospitals, over 30 libraries and a public infrastructure years ahead of anything in Northern Europe at the time.
Amongst the many things that were introduced to Europe by Muslims at this time were: a huge body of classical Greek texts that had been lost to the rest of Europe for centuries (kick-starting the Renaissance); mathematics and the "arabic"numbers we use today; advanced astronomy and medical practices; fine dining; the concept of romantic love; paper; deodorant; and even sugar cane. Scholars from all over Europe went to Cordoba to study and help with the translation of forgotten Greek texts.
Much of this rediscovered mathematical knowledge was put to good use in buildings such as the Alhambra Palace and the Great Mosque of Cordoba, where the beautiful elevations we see today were based upon ratios used before in the building of Greek temples. In particular the formula: one to the square root of two was used. This is the ratio which gives balance and symmetry to rectangular elevations. A modern example of this ratio is A4 paper which when folded in half retains the original length to width proportions. And for motor enthusiasts just observe the Rolls Royce radiator grille of the original models, it too has these classical proportions.
The occupation didn't create the rigid, fundamentalist Islam of some people's imaginations, but a progressive, sensitive and intellectually curious culture. But when the society collapsed, Spain was fanatically re-Christianised; almost every trace of seven centuries of Islamic rule was ruthlessly removed.
With little resistance the Moors occupied and ruled most of the Iberian peninsular including today's Portugal and even as far North as Poitier in France. This area was called Al Andalus (The land of the vandals). Gradually after some seven hundred years the northern tribes, which were Catholic, moved South re- capturing the land until only the province of Granada was left.
In 1490 the King and Queen of Spain were able to re-take Granada and this marked the start of the Spanish Inquisition and the forced conversion of the remaining Moors to Catholicism. Eventually due to many Muslims secretly worshipping Islam, they were finally expelled having to leave the country without any possessions. More than a quarter of a million left most going to North Africa.
See also our posting about Banos de Vilo the Moorish sulphur baths close to Cantueso.
There is something comforting knowing that somewhere in Spain our old cooking oil, long after it cooked your calamari, is running someone's car.
Increasing oil prices and Middle East tensions make biodiesel fuel increasingly important as it is so environmentally friendly, renewable and above all cheap. And when converting old cooking oil it makes even more economic sense.
For some years it has been a geeks' paradise with “home brewing” DIY biodiesel kits costing a few hundred Euros, and as long as they could find sufficient used chip fat they had a fuel for their cars costing a few cents per litre.
More recently commercial operators have entered the market and will not only produce biodiesel from waste oil but also deal with unwanted by-products previously a problem for home producers. For Cantueso, this means our old sunflower oil is now converted into fuel and we have a supply of soaps, hand and floor cleaners all from the glycerin that is the main by-product of the process and someone somewhere drives down the Autovia on Cantueso biodiesel :)
At Cantueso Cottages and Restaurante we are often asked by visitors to recommend a beach and always found it difficult to offer adequate information due to the numerous possibilities along this part of the Costa del Sol.
Now thanks to our front of house manager Jo Mitchell's hard work during the last few months, we have her own personal recommendations for some of the many beaches between Malaga and Nerja. Her illustrated guide runs to over twenty pages and will be available to visitors staying at Cantueso Cottages.
Jo is a sun worshipper and spends much of her free time on the beach and writes from first hand experience. She includes a wealth of information on each beach and will guide you to: lively beaches, those ideal for children, secret coves, the best beach-side bars and restaurants, or even a nudist beach.
See also the 14 pages of "Things to do" on our website.
No doubt many readers will be as confused, as we sometimes are, regarding how Axarquia, Costa del Sol and Andalusia all fit together.
Andalusia is a Spanish Autonomous Community with regional government and has the greatest number of inhabitants of any region. It is sometimes called the Lake District of Spain having over 300 lakes and reservoirs. See our blog on Lake Viñuela.
It has a benign climate boasting 3000 hours of sun per year, with many kilometres of golden sandy beaches and those beautiful natural ports which have made it a safe haven for navigators for centuries past, and now plays host to many thousands of tourists from all over the world.
COSTA DEL SOL
Within Andalusia is the COSTA DEL SOL (The Sunshine Coast). It is that part of the Southern coastline of Spain which stretches from Gibraltar in the West, to Almeria in the
East. The Northern boundaries are not always easily defined and here in Periana we are sometimes said to be “Inland” Costa del Sol.
Axarquia is a district (comarca) within Andalusia. It stretches from Malaga to Nerja along the coast and inland as far as Alfarnate hence we title Jo's beach guide La Axarquia (Costa del Sol East).
Imagine the scene, a Thomas the Tank Engine locomotive and rolling stock that would have looked at home in an American western, rolling through the hills of Periana surrounded by billowing white clouds of steam. In the last century this was a common sight as there was a narrow gauge railway linking Vélez Málaga, Periana and Ventas de Zafarraya. It surprises visitors to Cantueso that the unmade road as you approach the complex is in fact the old railway track.
In about 1905 just after Málaga had installed electric trams and the need for more sophisticated transport increased, The Suburban Railway Company was set up, funded with 4 million Pesetas from the Bank of Antwerp in Belgium. The company received various concessions to build and run lines from Málaga and along the coast. The grand scheme envisaged a network linking Málaga with cities such as Granada, Seville, Almeria and Gibraltar. The line from Málaga to Vélez was routed close to the sea and is said to have been a wonderfully scenic journey which, after Almayate, continued through agricultural scenery dominated by sugar cane. Like the railway we have sadly lost the sugar cane plantations, more of which we will write in a future blog.
The Vélez to Periana line was started in 1911 and opened in 1914 less than two months before the outbreak of the First World War. Work was halted and the line was only completed in 1921. The line which was 31 km long had a planned extension from Zafarraya to Alhama but due to the poor economic climate was never built.
The route particularly the stretch from Periana to Ventas de Zafarraya had some serious inclines and Swiss engineers were involved in the design of a rack system to enable the trains to climb to 1000m above sea level. This part of the route was truly alpine, often encountering seriously bad weather, and it is a tribute to those early engineers that the route never in forty years of service encountered any serious accidents. At its peak over 500 people were employed on the railway and there were stations at Vélez Málaga, Periana, Ventas de Zafarraya with halts at Trapiche, La Viñuela and Matanza.
The demise of this railway and many others like it has been put down to several factors, both economic and social. After the civil war (1936-1939) and the Second World War, the railway was in much demand carrying loads of sugar cane and other crops to and from the coast, but slowly the introduction of cars and buses lead to a loss of passengers and freight. Then came the increase in tourism, with a concomitant migration of people from the villages to the coast, and the need to fund many projects along the Costa del Sol, led to a lack of capital spending on the railway. Eventually what should have been a franchise until 2015, was wound up by Royal Decree in 1959. The railway closed the next year and the tracks were removed. After less than fifty years, a form of transport that had replaced the mule trains of old was itself displaced by “progress.” As fuel costs make travel ever more expensive one can only imagine what could now be made of a scenic railway passing through some of the most attractive landscapes in Spain.
As mentioned above, the old track is now the access road to Cantueso Cottages and Restaurante Cantueso. As you leave Periana and turn right onto the unmade road, the building with a yellow wall on the left is the old station. It is now used occasionally in summer as a boarding school. In the other direction the track also provides a spectacular walk from Periana to Ventas de Zafarraya, a walk of some 11 miles.
Just before you turn into the drive at Cantueso the old railway track carries on and after a mile comes out onto the Periana-Puente don Manuel road just below the Perimetal factory. Not to be driven in winter after heavy rain!
At Cantueso we have a guide available for the Ventas de Zafarraya walk with maps directions and photos.
See also our “Things to do section.”
From almost any part of Periana and the surrounding hills you look down on the spectacular scene of Lake Viñuela a man-made reservoir containing 170 million cubic meters of water and covering 700 hectares of land. Obviously the content varies with rainfall and since the very low levels of 2009 the reservoir has built up much better reserves. An interesting graph of current and past levels can be seen here.
The reservoir was originally muted in the 19th century but only became a viable scheme in the 1980's and was achieved by damming the River Guaro. This river and its many tributaries fill the reservoir and it provides potable water and irrigation for many hectares of arable land around the lake. Fortunately before the flooding of the valley, excavations of various Neolithic and old Roman sites were undertaken and many of the artefacts found can be seen in Málaga museum.
The lake takes its name from the nearby village of La Viñuela which overlooks the valley. It was originally a sleepy hamlet on one of the many routes up from the coast heading towards Granada, and provided a watering stop for the thirsty muleteers. The old bar is still open and nowadays serves local workers and tourists.
A very pleasant trip can be made driving around the lake, noting as you go the eagles that soar above the lake and the many small birds along the shore. There are many interesting detours and refreshment stops to be made at the villages en route. These include: Canillas de Aceituno, Alcaucin, Periana, Riogordo, Comares, and Benamorgosa. At the Southern end of the lake there is a very attractive picnic spot with tables and barbecues for public use. A similar picnic area is also to be found below Periana where the River Guaro enters the lake.
The lake is well stocked with fish (Carp, Trout and Bass) and sailing is allowed but only with non-motorised craft. Fishing licences are required and need to be obtained in Málaga with lots of bureaucratic hoops to jump through and not really practical for short visits. Some people say you need to take an examination before being granted a licence but the Costa del Sol tourist office says otherwise.
The department for more information is:
Provincial Delegation of Agriculture and Fishing in Málaga.
Avenida Aurora, 47
Tlf: +34 951 038 200
The following site gives more details on fishing in the lake but you are advised to check the latest situation with the office above.
For further information regarding the villages that surround Cantueso please see the “Things to do” section of our website. You can also check the current view on the live webcam at Restaurante Cantueso.
The animal stories at Cantueso do sometimes have a happy ending and you may remember we were looking for a home for “Ginge” a marmalade cat who had taken up residence.
At Cantueso we have 10 self catering cottages as well as a restaurant and Ginge had made many friends from all over the world, but sadly none packed him in their cases. He was so friendly and popular that he was in danger of becoming overweight. And after being “sorted out” by the vet one customer at the restaurant offered to take him and give him a new home in Caleta some 35 k away, but Ginge was back in Periana just over 24 hours later! Motorways and rivers it would seem could be taken in his stride. After this and another attempt at re-homing we reluctantly paid a rescue centre PAD in Mijas to take him.
Now a year on and they have just told us he has at last found a home in Germany. We don't think he will walk back from there! Well done PAD. This follows a previous cooperation with PAD when we had to re-home the last of a litter of seven pups raised at Cantueso by a stray dog. One puppy also went to Germany and another to Finland. We still get a Christmas card from that one :)
Some of you may also have read about the floods in December which swept through the kennels and cattery and sadly some animals were drowned. A link is given here so that any animal lovers out there who might like to support the excellent work they do can get more details.
On one of those days with a few hours to spare you might consider visiting the old Moorish sulphur baths at Baños de Vilo (Baths of Vilo) which are about three kilometres outside Periana.
The baths are sometimes described as Arab, Moorish or Roman and no-one knows for sure how old they are. Certainly they were in use during the latter half of the 18th century and fulfilled the Koranic obligations for Muslims which obliges them to wash before prayer. I n the 18th and 19th centuries visitors were the nobility and high society from all over Spain.
The medicinal properties of the spring water also attracted many people with skin problems and the brave can still bathe in the water which is a constant 21 degrees centigrade all year round. This temperature is about four degrees above the average for the area and means the baths can be classified as thermal. The underground supply constantly refreshes the pool and its sulphurous smell can be observed from quite a distance. Recent studies have shown the waters to contain: sulphites, chloride, calcium, sodium and magnesium and has a flow rate of .3l/sec.
The baths and associated buildings fell into disrepair in the last century and it was only after the purchase of the property by the Periana Council, about twenty years ago that repairs were undertaken.
The authorities in Andalusia now promote these type of baths under the name “Thermaland” and have decreed that they will “work towards promoting the touristic exploitation of mineral and thermal springs, and to renovate other abandoned baths.”
Thermaland was funded with 200,000€, 90% of which came from an EU grant. The grant was designed to take advantage of growing health tourism in Europe and has enabled the baths and other buildings at Vilo to be renovated.
The hamlet of Baños de Vilo is attractive particularly in springtime with the surrounding land covered with wild flowers and a short detour will bring you to Guaro the source of the river of the same name. The river Guaro is important for the area in that it is the main supply for Lake Viñuela which dominates most views of the valley surrounding Periana.
After a narrow entrance into the village of Guaro the road opens out and there is plenty of parking near the source of the river. A noisy waterfall at the base of the mountain wall directs the water flow down the river to the lake below.
There is one restaurant in this otherwise sleepy village where you can obtain refreshment and enjoy wonderful views of the valley.
To find the baths from Cantueso go to the village, turn right at the roundabout and then take the road towards Mondron. Just after leaving the village boundary there is a fork in the road and it is best to keep left signed to Mondron. After a short while you will see the turning right to Baños de Vilo which is signed, but not very prominently. You will then find the baths on the left after a short while. The road is quite wide at this point and parking on the road is possible. To also visit the village of Guaro continue up hill and follow signs, about three kilometres more.
For other trips around Periana see the “Things to Do” pages on our website.
Spring is upon us and in some parts of Andalusia seems to be slightly earlier than usual. Here in Periana we already have a good display of Almond blossom and many plants are showing their appreciation of some really warm days. Not only does our climate attract birds but the migratory route across the straights of Gibraltar funnels many species to the area. In Spain there are over 500 recorded species and about 270 of these breed whilst here.
Serious birders will head for the area around Tarifa or Doñana and hope to see Andalusian and Iberian specialities such as: Spanish imperial eagles, Andalucian hemipode, glossy ibis, spoonbills, whiteheaded duck, red knobbed coot etc etc. The list is endless and there is of course the added bonus of travelling in areas of outstanding beauty with impressive cultural and historic heritage. The sweeping plains, salty marshes, evergreen forests, wild olive trees, oaks and firs together with unusual flora and fauna ensure a steady stream of visitors. (Both feathered and plain varieties).
The main crossing point is Tarifa just 14km wide which doesn't seem much even for small birds such as swallows which in any event migrate thousands of miles. However 15% of the birds attempting the crossing perish each year and this has a knock-on effect for other countries further down the migratory route. In any year you may see some of the following species using this highway: Cuckoos, black storks, white storks, red kites, ospreys, honey buzzards, hen harriers, snipe, oystercatchers, avocets, puffins, bee-eaters, gulls, wheatears and many many more.
The best time for birdwatching is before the heat of summer and many visitors like to combine walking with birdwatching and photography. The hills and mountain ranges around Cantueso in Periana is ideal walking country, with walks of every degree of difficulty, from a family amble to more serious assault courses up Mount Maroma.
Last February we hosted over three thousand flamingos on Lake Viñuela just below us, they were no doubt en route to join their friends on Laguna de Fuente de Piedra a little further north. This famous lagoon is about an hours drive away on the A45 near Antequera and has the largest breeding colony of great flamingos in Europe. Eight to 12,000 pairs and many other species such as: gull billed tern, slender billed gull, kentish plover and montagu's harrier all breed here. Best to visit before June as the water tends to dry up in the heat of summer.
Please also see our website section on walking, photography and birdwatching.
Websites and books for further reading:
“Birdwatching on Spain's Southern Coast" by John R. Butler
Now is the time to harvest Algarrobo beans in Periana and men can be seen in the olive groves beating the beans with long poles so that they fall onto nets spread under the trees.
The Tree with Three Names: The Algarrobo trees (also known as Carob or Locust trees) typically grow amongst the olives and produce a long brown pod which has traditionally been used to make chocolate substitute and for animal feed. However in recent years it has become a valuable crop because it can be turned into E410, Carob Gum, also known as Locust Bean Gum which is used as the ingredient that makes soft scoop ice cream, soft.
When in the bible it said that St John was in the desert and ate locusts, fortunately he was not eating the grasshopper variety but the sweet tasting Carob pods.
Closer to home we can roast the pods then grind them into a powder using a food processor or coffee grinder and then use in cooking anywhere where chocolate powder is called for. And if you are really desperate you can also chew them just as children did in the UK during the war when starved of real sweets.
Carob also has therapeutic uses. It is known to halt serious cases of diarrhea in adults, infants, and animals. Use 1 tablespoon of carob power in a cup of liquid, or make a paste of carob powder and water. It is also known to help with nausea, vomiting, and upset stomachs. One French physician even claims to have successfully reversed kidney failure with Carob.
Carob is a chocolate lovers delight as it is not only delicious, but low in fat and calories, caffeine-free, and lacks the health risks of chocolate. So next time you wander around Periana and see those large evergreen trees with large brown pods why not try one, or if you prefer buy some powder at a health food store it will help you, and our local farmers. As yet at Restaurante Cantueso we have not added it to our menu but you never know.
Accidents and other unforeseen happenings are not the first thing on your mind when planning a holiday but nagging doubts often linger particularly when you have young children.
Pool safety is top of most parents' list and after looking at figures published by ROSPA on child drownings when on holiday, deservedly so. In France the problem has been tackled with swingeing penalties for pool owner's who do not comply with the law to make all pools secure for young children.
The fine for owners who do not comply is 45,000€ for private pools and up to 225,000€ for shared pools. There are suggestions that these same laws will be adopted by other countries including Spain but let us be under no illusions, simply complying with the law doesn't guarantee safety.
There are five main types of protection: rigid pool shelters, covers, electronic perimeter alarms, immersion alarms, and fencing. Covers create work putting them on and off and tend to be left off. Perimeter alarms give only marginally more notice of a child crossing the beam before falling in than electronic alarms, which only work when a person falls into the water. If no-one is nearby to assist, they are rendered useless. Fencing with self-closing gates tend to work best but as with any safety measure, cannot be assumed to be foolproof. Vigilance by parents is essential.
ROSPA point out that drownings on holiday tend to happen more frequently at the beginning and end of the holiday. Why is not obvious, but maybe influenced by the inquisitiveness of children on arrival and parents being busy packing before leaving.
Swimming pools are not the only danger on holiday, and like at home there are always potential problems around the house and gardens.
Here at Cantueso Cottages in Periana, Spain we have taken steps to minimise dangers not only with a high specification pool fence but have also adapted some of our cottages to make them more child friendly with stair gates where needed, bed guards, electric socket protectors, elimination of dangerous chemicals, and enclosed terraces to enable toddlers to play within a secure area. More about this on our toddlers page.
Travel companies have been curiously slow to catch on to the needs of travellers and all too few give you a search option of “secure pool” but if you look around you can normally find one that does.
An excellent NHS website regarding summer safety for children can be found here:
“Summer is a great time for children to get out and experience the world around them,” says Peter Cornall, head of leisure safety at RoSPA. “You do need to be aware of safety issues, but this isn't a reason to stop children enjoying activities.”
The website emphasises, as we all should, the importance of letting children have fun and not to get too obsessed with being as safe as possible, rather than as safe as necessary.
A short video of the Pool fencing at Cantueso can be seen here.
We would welcome your comments and advice
A wonderful day out from Cantueso in Periana is a visit to the tiny village of Riofrio (cold river) about 45 minutes drive away, and a Mecca for lovers of caviare or if your pocket won't stretch that far, to a plate of trout. There are fourteen restaurants within the village of only 300 inhabitants and they are host to over 400,000 visitors each year, all thanks to the well stocked river and local fish farm.
There has been trout fishing in the river recorded for hundreds of years but it was not until 1964 when an enterprising family came in search of the perfect waters for their fish farm that the full potential of this natural resource was realized. The cold, fast flowing water comes down from the Sierra Nevada and provides an ideal place to grow not only brown trout (500,000 kilos each year) but also Mediterranean Sturgeon. They normally have 98,000 sturgeon in their pools, separated by age rather than size, all thriving in the most perfect environmental conditions.
Riofrio caviare can be found all over the world in Michelin starred restaurants or corner shops for the wealthy such as Fortnum and Mason's. There, Cold River Caviare retails at £50 for a 30g tin half the price of wild beluga which is becoming much more difficult to find. But why so expensive if it is farmed?
At Riofrio they are proud to be the first and possibly the only certified organic sturgeon farm in the world. They have shunned the use hormone supplements in the fish diet, preferring to let them grow naturally and more slowly. In this business patience certainly must be a virtue as sturgeon only mature between the ages of 15 and 20. Up until the age of about nine the females cannot be told apart from the males. At maturity the females will weigh around 30kg and will yield maybe 4.5kg of roe
When the fish are thought to be ready to spawn the “farmers” use modern ultrasound scanner technology to check. Harvesting the eggs too early will result in dry eggs which have not yet absorbed the crucial fat from the fish's body. Too late and they may lack definition and structure. When seen to be ready the fish is then sacrificed in what is almost a surgical procedure. After being stunned the fish is operated on by one of the staff who dressed in suitable surgeon like attire removes the eggs. Millions of them for further refining and washing in salted spring water. Finally the caviare is placed into tins and allowed to mature like a good wine for three to six months.
At Riofrio they are also keen to explain that they use every part of the sturgeon: the flesh is smoked, marinated or tinned; the oil goes to the pharmaceutical industry and is used in cosmetics and food supplements; and even the grey skin finds use in Italian handbags.
How to find Riofrio.
The village is just two minutes from the A92 motorway which runs from Malaga to Granada. From Periana you take the road towards Mondron A7204 and shortly after passing the olive oil factory above Mondron there is a right turn signed to Alfanarte. Follow this along a pretty but winding road. Through Venta del Rayo (watch out for massive speed bumps) and just before the motorway you will see a left turn signed to Riofrio. It is easy to miss as the biggest sign is that of a hotel but if you do end up on the motorway go in the direction of Malaga and take the first exit to Riofrio.
If you are staying with us at Cantueso Cottages ask for a map.
When to go?
If you avoid July and August you will not find it crowded, and in autumn and winter it is still very attractive with walks along the river and surrounding area well worth doing. The temperature however is always several degrees colder than the coast, in fact last week when I came by at 8 o'clock in the morning it was zero degrees, so take a coat.
Even in winter there are still several restaurants open and you will be amazed at how many ways there are to present trout if you don't fancy caviare.
There are many stories told about this hamlet, mostly apocryphal, and all involving terrible deeds during the civil war. Some will tell you, the inhabitants were rounded up and shot or that they were involved with feeding the bandits in the surrounding hills and because of this the roofs of their houses were removed to prevent anyone living there.
The fight against the bandits went on for many years and to avoid the residents being able to provide shelter or sustenance they were put under much pressure by the Guardia Civil. They were in fact finally forced out by a decree which only allowed them to be there during the daytime. This meant living in a nearby village such as Frigiliana and walking to and from El Acebuchal every day and as there was no motorised transport back then, totally impracticable. All the inhabitants finally left in 1949 and the cottages quickly became derelict and in many cases roofless. Spanish people in recent years have called the hamlet “Pueblo el Fantasmas” or village of ghosts, due to the 50 or so years that it was deserted and derelict.
The hamlet has a history stretching back to the 17th century and as you first approach it is hard to see why anyone would wish to build a house in the bottom of a ravine, partly shaded and with such sloping terrain as to make you walk permanently with one foot higher than the other. However, as so often is the case, man sees opportunities and subsistence farming was possible with a few animals grazing on the hillsides above the cluster of cottages and vegetables grown on the slopes. There was also an inn in El Acebuchal where the mule trains would pause on their journeys from the neighbouring villages of Torrox, Frigiliana, and Nerja up into the Granada region carrying fish, fruit and vegetables. These same mule tracks nowadays provide excellent walking routes and you will constantly be surprised, coming across old abandoned farms with trees still producing fruit just waiting to be picked for the refreshment of the weary traveller.
After the civil war ended, there were a few feeble attempts to re-settle but it was not until 1998 that one of the original families was able to renovate a house in which to live. This was Virtudes and Antonio “El Zumbo” the parents of the present owner of the bar, Antonio Garcia Sanchez, which has also been restored. Since this first renovation there have been many others no doubt speeded up by the arrival of mains electricity in 2003. The little church has also been sympathetically restored and the first Mass for 50 years was held in 2005. The hamlet which is divided into an upper and lower cluster now has smart looking reformed cottages some offering accommodation for visitors.
To visit El Acebuchal you can either drive down a mainly un-made track, or walk. Driving is straightforward as you leave Frigiliana towards Torrox, after about two kilometres, look for a right turn with a wooden sign to El Acebuchal. The road from here is a mixture of asphalt or unmade. At times it becomes quite narrow and passing can be difficult. Thankfully traffic is very light and you may get the whole way without passing another vehicle. Once you arrive it is possible to find parking just past the bar near the church.
The area around El Acebuchal is a walkers paradise with a walk to Puerto Blanquillo which starts along the ravine as you enter the hamlet. It is a walk of about 4 km, climbing up to an altitude of 800 m. El Acebuchal is at 500 m.
In the other direction you have the opportunity to walk from Acebuchal to Cómpeta a distance of 13 km. The return trip will take you about 5 hours so only for the fit. A good compromise is to have a car drop the walkers off at either El Acebuchal or Cómpeta and then drive round for the pick up.
Whichever walk you choose the sights are amazing with flora and fauna to get your cameras clicking. There are plenty of birds to see at the appropriate times as the area is on a migratory route.
The bar/restaurant does have a sign saying roast goat, suckling pig etc are available by prior order. It is closed on Mondays and there have been reports that the opening times can be a little haphazard.
If you are staying with us at Cantueso Cottages we can help you with directions and would always suggest it is worth calling in to the bookshop “Pasatiempo” in Torre del Mar as they have an excellent selection of routes covering our area.
Please also see our “Walking in Axarquia” pages of our website.
A dream holiday shouldn't turn into a nightmare. We all know the scene, standing in line waiting to check in at the airport and wondering if your cases are overweight. For years the lies of your bathroom scales were acceptable but now you fear those extra kilos could soon turn into pounds sterling. Then you run the gauntlet past a crone with fried hair that looks determined to make you pay for her hangover. As David Jason once remarked: “Did she get her money back from the charm school?”
With low-cost airlines trying every trick in the book to make sure your holiday costs more, they have been reducing baggage allowances, even cutting down on the odd carrier bag and one quietly reduced the hand luggage sizes so that you would have to check it in and pay a penalty. And as if that is not bad enough consider that in July or August with one well known “low-cost” carrier, a case of 23 kilos would cost you £180!
This is no way to start a holiday and especially with babies and children, so we thought we would try and help families cut down on extra luggage by providing many more items to save you packing them. Not just the usual high chairs, buggies and cots but also essentials such as sterilisers, baby baths, changing mats, blenders, baby alarms, potties, toys, booster seats, books and so on. Just as importantly we have tried to make the cottages at Cantueso more child friendly and have enclosed the terraces on some and paved them so that toddlers can be kept in sight whilst they play safely with toys provided. Inside we have also had a safety survey to ensure that there are stair gates where required and that all electrical items and plug sockets are guarded and of course there are no dangerous items or harmful chemicals stored under the kitchen sink.
If you would like to know more about our child-friendly self catering cottages please see here.
No this is not a sequel to the best selling book by Chris Stewart, Driving over Lemons but our way of drawing attention to the odd times we live in.
Around us at Cantueso this autumn we have the sight of grapes withering on the vine, figs rotting on the floor underneath the trees and yes pomegranates on the side of the road. Food for free but nobody seems bothered. Just look too at the Spanish supermarkets that sell Israeli oranges and imported lemons from the Americas and yet they grow well here. Yes, we know that fruit is not always in season, but with the all year round varieties of lemon grown in Spain, there can be no excuse. It is even more strange to find that buying blueberries in Spain is difficult but if you buy them in the UK, the country of origin on the pack is Spain. Maybe it is our fault as consumers and we really should only buy things in season.
The fruit Hand Grenade
A Pomegranate is of course called Granada in Spanish and the city that takes its name from the fruit also has it as part of the city's coat of arms. In Spanish it is also the word for a grenade, and when you see the ripe fruit bursting open, packed with hundreds of tiny red seeds it is easy to see why.
In the lanes and byways around Cantueso here in Periana there are many bushes growing wild and at this time of year spilling their fruit onto the roadside. Take a walk and enjoy.
In recent years much has been written about the health giving properties of the fruit, no doubt in part, promoted by the fruit juice manufacturers but there seems to be a consensus that it really is one of the “super fruits.”
Some of the claims:
One pomegranate contains tons of nutrition… and best of all, it’s low in calories. In just one pomegranate fruit there is around 100 calories and only about 25g of sugar. But that’s only the beginning of the nutrition pomegranate provides:a great source of potassium
more antioxidants compared to other juices and even wine!
vitamin B and Vitamin C
great source of fibre
helps prevent heart disease
keeps your immune system in top notch conditions
prevents build-up of material in your arteries
There are many drinks and even foods that are made with the pomegranate and it is now becoming more commercialized and can be found in supermarkets in a variety of forms. The most popular is pomegranate juice but there are also pomegranate jellies, pomegranate wine, and even pomegranate salad dressing.
Unfortunately the commercial growth of Pomegranates has been largely left to America (after the Spanish introduced it) and Africa. However for those of us that live around Periana it is easy to grow as the climate is ideal, and you could expect a crop after about four years. If you are a visitor or can't wait, just be nice to your neighbours!
Definitely not, because although in the village the shops and businesses do not normally speak more than a few words of English you will certainly get by. But and it is a big but, you will certainly get lots of fun out of your visit if you try a few words, and out in the campo if you meet a local they will almost certainly not speak English. So why not try a few words and a little sign language, it goes a long way and you will find the local people very friendly and appreciative of your efforts.
If you do decide to try and learn a few words the first thing to remember is that there are different versions of Spanish. The main language of Spain is Castilian and you could say this is the equivalent of the Queen's English with the local dialect (Andaluce) being compared to a broad Scots accent or Geordie. There are other regional languages in Spain such as Catalan which is spoken around Barcelona and Basque spoken in the extreme north. You need to learn Castilian. Most Spanish courses you will find in the shops will be this version but sometimes in the discount bookshops they will have discounted courses that are often teaching South American Spanish.
If you do decide to have a go there are many cheap beginners courses on Cd's. Ideal for playing in the car or at home for a few weeks before your holiday. They all give you the basics of pronunciation, phrases and numbers.
Look out for the BBC Quick Start Spanish about £10 or The Michel Thomas Language Builder course, about £15. The latter has a unique way of teaching without lots of grammar or writing things down, and you will be in good company as it seems to have been the choice of celebrities, politicians and major companies.
Maybe you can also splash out on a small dictionary but whatever happens you should pack the Rough Guide Dictionary and Phrase Book (£4.99) it is invaluable.
After you have arrived jump in and try out your phrases it will be fun and your confidence will slowly build. At our restaurante and for guests in Cantueso Cottages we have a rule; that we always try to answer in whatever language the visitor uses. But down on the Coast the opposite is the rule with shops and restaurants all having English speaking staff, which can be very irritating, because when you try out a few words of Spanish the reply usually comes back in English making you wish you had not tried.
When David Beckham went to Real Madrid the Open University had 1700 more people signing up for Spanish that year. Beckham went from strength to strength with the language and is no doubt proud that his first sending off was for telling the ref he was “hijo de puta” the son of a whore!
If you fancy a great day out in Malaga why not try our tapas tour? We know that many of you enjoy tapas at Restaurante Cantueso and thought that when staying in Periana you might like to visit some great and quaint bars in Malaga that serve equally delicious tapas. Some of the bars boast a menu of over one hundred different tapas. We have sampled a few bars and there are many more to be explored. Beware however of the bars with menu boards outside in many languages. They tend to be tourist traps.
The first thing you must do is appoint a non-drinking driver or get a taxi, as it can be a little alcoholic. Tapas tasting is thirsty work.
We recommend that you start about midday and expect to take three or four hours.
The starting point is in the Alameda Principal opposite the train station. There is El Corte Ingles the large store on this side of the road and plenty of nearby parking.
Start to walk up the Alameda Principal (turn left with your back to the store) and cross the bridge and as you pass the flower stalls in the centre of the road look out for no 18 which is the oldest bar in Malaga called, La Antigua Casa de Guardia. Stop for a drink and notice they chalk your bill on the counter in front of you, and make sure you don’t move along when it is time to pay or you may get your neighbours. They specialise in sweet Malaga wines but other drinks are available. They also serve shellfish but save yourself for later, as it gets better.
Continue to walk up Alameda and you will come to a pedestrianised street called Marques de Larios. This is the start of the tour. Up the street after a few yards on the left is a smaller street called Calle Marin Garcia. In front of you is Lo Gueno a very small bar. Get a drink and a tapas or two. Cheese and ham are their specialities.
Next continue up Larios and almost at the top, on the right, is a small street called Calle Moreno Monroy. Towards the end is my favourite bar called Orellano. Here you order a drink and you will get the first small tapas free. You will see many others on display and you should order one, two or even three more with maybe a glass of wine or two. You don’t pay until you leave but no need to panic, as it is not expensive. One tapas to try is Tortillitas de Camerones (shrimp tortillas). Often this is so popular that you have to stand outside.
Now you are getting the hang of it move to our next favourite. See street plan if you have one or ask for Molina Larios. The bar is called La Rabana. It is a newish building with tables inside made from old barrels, or sit outside if warm enough. Their tapas is good and they also have a bar menu with Camembert cheese or ham croquettes and Serrano ham platters. There is also an excellent restaurant up stairs if you are really hungry. The house wine is very good as are the loos!
After this stop and if you are still hungry or thirsty find some more bars of your own, but if coffee and cakes are fancied we have a final stop.
Go back to Marques de Larios and there is a lovely coffee shop called Lepanto about half way up on the right. Muchos calories.
Enjoy! and let us know how you get on.
You will find a street plan here.
Many people are surprised to learn that Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil and a typical harvest can yield almost a million tonnes, of which almost half comes from our Axarquia region.
Much of this is extra virgin olive oil, which is basically the juice of the pressed olives with the water removed. It is the highest grade and to qualify its acidity level must be less than 1%.
The village of Periana is surrounded by olive groves where the Verdial variety is grown producing an oil of the highest quality. The climate, soil, method of cultivation, and production processes all go to create “oro verde” or green gold. A golden yellow oil with intense bouquet and sweet fruity flavour, gentle on the palate, ideal as a dressing or for cooking.
The Periana Olive Oil Cooperative is situated in the centre of the village and has over 800 families as members who in turn look after over 300,000, centuries old, olive trees. We at Restaurante Cantueso are proud to be members of this organisation
Periana Gold has been awarded many accolades from around the world and continues to be milled at low temperatures via a mechanical process and without the use of any chemical additives. Tours of the factory are possible and there is a small shop selling olive oil and associated products. Their website may be seen here.
Being close to the growing areas means that the olives can be transported to the mill in very short time, thus helping to keep the acidity down. Olives are a labour intensive crop with little assistance from mechanical aids. Whole families are engaged from the very young to grandparents all helping at different times in the growing cycle.
It is of course an unusual occupation in that there is only one “pay day” each year and then much depends on world prices, as this is nowadays an internationally traded commodity. Sadly the straightened times we live in have affected Spain’s olive growers with prices falling by as much as 25% last year. Over production and falling demand are blamed for this drop.
Arriving in Malaga province by air, you cannot fail to notice the vast areas of olives covering not only the flat lands but also the most severe slopes and always with never ending lines and geometric patterns. The thousand-year-old tree is at the heart of the provinces industry and also provides the key ingredient for Malaga’s distinctive cuisine.
Olive trees are well chronicled in the bible, Greek legends and elsewhere. It was of course an olive branch in the mouth of a dove that told Noah the flood was over, and winners at the Olympic games are crowned with a wreath of olive leaves. The Olive is the longest living tree known and can be up to a thousand years old, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that they live on sap from April to October. The harvest is normally between November and April.
In a similar way to the fig tree, olives seem to thrive when planted in between rocks or with their roots constrained, which considering the terrain in our valley is just as well.
In October it is a good time to make pickled or seasoned olives. The green fruit is not yet ready for the oil factory but can be “sweetened” to make the familiar tasty appetiser often given as tapas in bars. In years gone by stuffed and pitted olives were prepared by hand, but now one machine can do in an hour what previously took ten women a whole day.
Green Olives Andalucian style.
Take a quantity of olives and beat them with a tenderiser mallet or rolling pin. The idea is to break the skin to allow the alpechin to escape. This is a watery liquid and if it remains the olives will be acidic. Soak the broken fruit in a bowl of water for eight to ten days changing the water every day. When they are soft they can be stored in salt water, vinegar or olive oil ready to receive a marinade later.
Produce a marinade as follows:
Mix garlic, salt, oregano, ground pepper, red pepper and oranges and after straining the water add the marinade with fresh water sufficient to just cover the olives. Leave for a few days to absorb the flavour of the marinade. Quantities? Guesswork, according to how pickled you like your olives. A starting point is to make several strengths of marinade and then have a tasting session after a week or two.
Store with marinade and water liquid in glass preserving or recycled jars.
In the event that you don’t get around to preserving your own olives we at Restaurante Cantueso still sell boxes of marinated black olives.
We are often asked what Cantueso means and there are two explanations. Firstly it is the name given to Spanish or French lavender (Lavandula stoechas) as shown in our picture. This is magnified and the real size is very similar to a normal lavender. It is common in Mediterranean countries and can become troublesome as it grows fast in the wild.
The second explanation is that Cantueso is a liquor made in the Spanish province of Alicante. It is obtained from the distillation of Thyme flowers, and is typically 25% to 35% alcohol and very sweet. It is normally taken after meals as a stomach tonic.
And for lovers of honey the Cantueso lavender makes a great treat.
Unless you are of a certain age or a fan of Tony Hancock my feeble attempt at a joke will have passed you by, so we will start again.
What's the Weather like in Periana?
That's better, and let me say straight away our favourite weather site is Meteo Malaga. It is run by a German fellow called Harry Happe who has a weather station situated high above the Eastern end of Lake Vinuela. The site is special for many reasons not least of which is the accuracy of forecasts. Harry claims to be the only site in Southern Spain, with the exception of a USAF base, that does manual forecasts. The others are computer generated. The site has received almost two and a half million visitors since 2003.
At first sight Meteo Malaga might seem overwhelming as it provides so much content. Want to know what the geomagnetic field is doing; check the bushfire index; want to see what shipping is passing along the coastline, just log on and you can see it all and much besides. It will even show you the name of the ship and where bound. Not too sure what this has to do with weather but it is great fun.
More serious stuff is there too and the three day forecast is the most useful to most of us. Harry told me recently that due to the various climatic influences in our little corner of the world it is virtually impossible to do accurate forecasts for more than three days. Other sites which we give below will offer up to fifteen day forecasts!
Another offering from this site is a “severe weather warning” and it can be sent to you via e-mail. It is free to register. Weather statistics and even a graph showing the water levels of the lake can be accessed and last but not least, Harry has a webcam looking westward down the lake and just below this picture is one from Cantueso's own webcam. Ours looks South and it is interesting to see the difference the angle and direction of the sun can make to the two pictures.
On our website we also have seasonal data for rainfall and temperatures.
So what can you expect in Periana in Spring?
A wondeful time to be in Andalusia. Highs of between 18 to 22C, and lows of 11 to 15C. Spring flowers in the hills and perfect temperatures for walking, birdwatching and of course photography.
...and in Summer
You can normally sunbathe and swim almost every day from June to September. Virtually no rain and daily highs of about 35C and nightly lows of 15C.
….and in Winter
Mixture of beautiful clear, sunny days, with some overcast but warm days. Evenings noticeably cooler. Starts to rain late September or early October, and can be heavy but rarely lasts more than a day or two. Daily highs about 20C and nightly lows around 10C. A pullover needed in the day and a jacket at night.
Below is an interesting chart showing how the weather is in a typical year. This is for 2009 as later statistics are incomplete. You can see the original and other years her