Golden landscapes, marinating olives and the happy toad

As the summer fades, all life returns with every creature keen to let us know that they are here. Woodpeckers tap away having decided our Torii gate is easy pecking, the cuckoo's song once again feels like spring, the partridge families are out for a stroll, the bees are busy buzzing overhead and with a few drops of rain the two robins are back hopping along the fence of the vegetable garden.

olive branch

The eating olives are ready to harvest, hopefully fat, achieved only by a reasonable amount of rain, the previous winter. They're carefully picked by hand, no tapping of sticks so no bruising, there aren't too many but we have a few really good trees.

curing olives

The olives go straight to curing, usually done around the 12th, which is a national holiday. Each one is slit with a paring knife and put into a light brine solution (salt and water). They are kept weighted, fully immersed for three to six weeks. We taste them for bitterness and refresh the brine regularly.

When they taste the way we want we drain off the brine and set them aside in our special marinade, adding cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, fennel, wild herbs, pimenton and garlic.

wild fennel

At some point in October the fennel seeds are ready to gather. They have to be harvested before any rain and then dried and stored. We sell this as an infusion, it is an extremely good aid to digestion.

pink peppercorns

These pink peppercorns hang from the trees throughout late summer, they dry easily and store well in the dark. The pink outer casing can be rubbed off to reveal the white corn.

fountainhead sunset

October sunsets are often dramatic and fiery, more so than in mid-summer, the warm wind wafting evening clouds over the distant mountains.

The late summer Spanish pimentos are long and green but turn red and sweeten in the heat if left on the plant. They can be picked and left to sun dry, then ground (known as pimentón) which is used profusely in Spanish cooking. There are many varieties ranging from sweet and mild (dulce) to hot and spicy (picante) to the famous Pimentón ahumado de La Vera which has been smoked in a loft over oak.

The shepherd and his goats are a familiar sight on the distant hills. They roam year long and their milk is collected daily from the local farms to take to the la Quesería Montes de Málaga de Colmenar where it is made into cheese, primarily three types, fresco (fresh), semicurado (semi-cured) and curado (cured). The cheeses from this region are famous throughout Spain.

spanish toad

There are usually two toads, happy just before sunset, sometimes joined by a chorus of frogs overlooking the pond's edge. They stay with us until the rain comes and then slowly, somehow make their way back down to the river where they remain for the winter.

autumn landscape andalucia

Perfect late summer days, azure blue skies, cooler air enough to enjoy walking, hot enough to relax in the sun.