The kitchen garden and summer picnics

The month to reap the benefits of our 'huerta', which in a good year is full of wonderful organic produce, not enough to last through the summer but it's a start. The produce ripens quickly as the temperature soars and each day it's a pleasure to gather for the restaurant kitchen.

fountainhead in june

The views from the hotel gradually change, the spring flowers fade, the hillsides grow pale and only the olive and almond trees flourish.

fountainhead picnic

It is also a great time to take a walk with a picnic, sit under the shade of an ancient tree, gaze out to sea or up at the sky, in a relaxing, connected kind of way.

Back in the kitchen garden the courgettes are flowering and for a few days each year these are on the menu, stuffed with a herb mousseline and served with the lightly grilled young vegetables.

vine tomatoes

When the tomatoes ripen in the sun they are so full of flavour we eat them like a sweet fruit. They are impossible to resist lightly crushed, drizzled with olive oil, a flake of salt on rustic bread - a good Spanish breakfast.

Part of the pleasure of cooking for me is to use the whole food, to be creative and to get the most out of every part. We use these young beet tops in salads, the bright purple stems of the older leaves are trimmed and gently sautéed, the bulbs are eaten raw, oven baked, steamed and pureed or thinly sliced, deep fried in olive oil.

fountainhead herbs

We harvest many of the herbs and flowers in June particularly the woody ones like rosemary and thyme, which are now in perfect condition. The plants are green and thriving, later in the summer their colour fades in the relentless heat and they struggle as the soil dries up.

spanish fig

The big fig at the top of the hill is also ready, dropping 'brevas', its small first crop of very large sweet juicy fruit. They are highly valued and in the market in Malaga they are sold in paper cones. We served these with fresh cheese, sprigs of rosemary and extra virgin olive oil.

wild quince

This delicate pink flower is from the wild quince, we have just a few bushes scattered along the 'agua vadas' - the hill water gullies, where their roots run deep. They bear fruit a few months later and immediately continue the cycle again.

garlic

Garlic is traditionally harvested on the 23rd which is the day of San Juan. The night of San Juan is a local festival most often held on the beach, our nearest being at Torre del Mar. Families and friends picnic into the early hours, they light fires, jump over them in order to be cleansed and purified, bathe at midnight and dance to live music until dawn.

mulberry basket

We don't yet have a mulberry tree on site but I have fond memories of the one in my parent's garden in England and of picking blackberries from the hedgerows. Here, wild blackberries grow but they rarely get enough water to ripen and shrivel up. Unlike these mulberries which were a gift from Julia, our masseuse.

Sitting in the parched, dried up grasses amongst wild oats and the scorched debris of the summer sun these vivid green leaves (from the bulb of the Drimia maritima) burst through.

One July, a secret wedding overlooking the Mountain View.