We originally met Matilde and Rik in Morocco. They told us they ran a small, independent camp site, La Campina, at Santaella, south west of Cordoba. We decided to pay them a surprise visit and, as luck would have it, we arrived on the dot of beer o’clock. After a few drinks, accompanied by Matilde’s home made olives, they showed us to our pitch amongst the ancient olive trees. That evening Rik lit the log burner and Matilde produced an impromptu supper of soup followed by chorizo, tortilla, chicken wings and salad with fresh pineapple and cream for desert and plenty of their lovely local wine.
The following day Matilde gave us a tour of the local area followed by tapas in a local restaurant with Rik and her mother and father. The main crop in the area was olives – to produce olive oil but some olives were processed to be eaten whole. The area was famous for its dulce de membrillo, a type of quince paste. They also grew wheat, garlic, vegetables, grape vines and, surprisingly, cotton. We visited Laguna de Tiscar, a secluded lake along a long dirt track where we watched a flock of about seventy beautiful pink flamingos feeding in the shallows of the lake. We stopped at a local bodega and tasted a special local wine, made from grapes that had been left in the sun to dry, like raisins, before being made into wine. The result was sweet and delicious, wonderful as a digestif after a meal. We bought a couple of bottles, as well the local olive oil and some black garlic which, we were told, was a great delicacy, created by heating the garlic in a humid oven.
We learnt how to tell the difference between sweet and bitter oranges. Matilde said that the fruit on the orange trees lining the streets were mainly bitter oranges and the council came and picked the oranges and threw them away before they had a chance to fall on the ground and make a squashy mess. I had just missed the Seville orange season in the UK so decided to pick some of their bitter oranges to take home to make marmalade. Not sure whether they are quite the same thing, but worth a try.