The Come & Cook in Valencia Escape takes off!Tracy Ibberson
Rustic Escapes listen to our guests! It´s only a couple of months since one of our guests suggested we offer a cookery escape here in Valencia. Her family enjoyed our paella workshop so much that she asked whether we could teach her to cook other traditional valencian recipes. Team Rustic put our heads together and began to contact local chefs , farrmers and people who enjoy cooking in their homes to develop an escape especially for foodies. And we did it. You can see our ´Come & Cook in Valencia´escape on the web and this week I travelled down to the orange growing area of this lovely province, to Hort de Soriano, a beautiful valley just to the south of the city , for a taste of what we are going to offer our guests. One of our cookery days will take part in the ´Datilero´s (or Date farmers´) house. MaJose and Pepe Climent are the proud title holders of this hereditary title; they are known throughout the area as ´The Date Family´or ´Datileros´. Pepe´s father and his father before him were date farmers; clambering up into the palm trees to harvest the dates every autumn and delivering these into the arms of their wives. Pepe´s mother and grandmother before her, then cured and prepared the dates for sale. MaJose, Pepe´s wife spends every morning at the local market, in the run up to Christmas, selling the sweetened, golden fruit and wherever you go in the town the family is saluted as the ´Date´family ; loved and respected by the local community for the role they play in their local lives, carrying on the family tradition. Pepe´s nephew has learnt his uncle´s trade and cares for the palm tres thorughout the whole province, travelling at times a couple of hours away to care for trees. It is a specialist and sadly dying art; the farmers rely on the sales of dates, olives and oranges for their livelihood and suffer from the ever increasing produce imported by multinational companies and the continued lack of political support. It is a hard yet fulfilling life; both Majose and Pepe are justly proud of the role they play in their town and the traditional way of life they uphold. MaJose is also an excellent cook and has a beautiful outdoor kitchen at the farm, complete with a traditional wood burning oven and an open fire on which she prepares food every weekend for her extended family. MaJose has agreed to offer to teach our guests how to cook rice dishes on the open fire, ´arroz al horno´(a delicious oven rice with pork ribs, black sausages and chick peas) and ´Puchero´, a delicious and wholesome stew. This is served as a soup for the first course, with rice, closely followed by a platter full of vegetables, beef, hen and pork, all beautifully cooked overnight in the wood burning oven. Yummmmmm! Welcome to Team Rustic MaJose and Pepe!