Spend a Day in a Spanish Farmhouse Kitchen
Maria Teresa Fernandez Olmedo, or Mayte, runs her cooking days from the 17th century farmhouse, or cortijo, that her grandfather bought last century and where she now lives with her family. If I say that it’s in district 10 of Málaga city then the setting might not sound very rustic to you, but that’s because you haven’t seen it.
Puerto de la Torre, as the district is also known, is surprisingly rural given that it lies just a 15 minute drive from the city, and the little valley in which the cortijo sits is particularly sheltered – not a single other property in sight, just the sloped olive groves behind the old house and the rolling Málaga countryside in front.
Closer to the rear of the house a little orchard of fruit trees – avocado, fig, mandarin, orange, lemon and pomegranate as well as olives – is where Mayte takes her guests (usually small groups of six or fewer) after a welcoming coffee with some homemade bread and jam, to pick the oranges they will slice together and top with spring onion and bacalao (salted cod) for a classic malagueña salad.
They’ll work together around the bench in her bright, sunny kitchen – peeling prawns and almonds, chopping tomatoes and onions and picking at a local cheese while they do it, dressed with the fig jam that Mayte makes and sipping at a wine or beer to lubricate the chatter.
The resulting dishes vary with the seasons and range from paellas and fidueás to tortilla de patata and albondiguillas (small meatballs Málaga style), with starters like the orange salad, a green bean salad, ajo blanco (a cold almond and garlic soup) and many more, all prepared without pretension in the traditional way.
Meals are taken in front of a large picture window that frames the olive groves and the most important ingredient is never forgotten – the sobremesa, or idle time spent sitting at the table and putting the world to rights over a coffee or more wine.
Though not a cookery class as such, guests will pick up some excellent tips. Above all though, the day will offer a glimpse of the Spanish table and its timeless customs, a peep inside a Spain hidden even from many Spaniards and a golden opportunity for visitors to Málaga’s beaches to try something different and unforgettable.
Mayte can be contacted via www.acookingday.com
Spaghetti al Pomodoro is his signature dish.
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