An Andalusian Experience

 

Duel of Culinary Maestros
Creative food with flair in Ronda, the birthplace of bullfighting.

Chefs in RondaRonda is famous as one of the top travel sights in southern Spain. It has a wealth of monuments, such as the spectacular bridge spanning its 360 ft. gorge, in addition to Roman and Moorish remains. It is the birthplace of bullfighting, home to the great 18th-century matador Pedro Romero, and its bullring is one of the oldest and most attractive in Spain. It is in the heart of the Serrania de Ronda, a short distance from some of Andalusia’s most scenic nature areas: the Sierra de las Nieves, the Grazalema park, and the cork forest of Los Alcornocales.

Yes, Ronda always had a lot going for it... except, until recently, sufficient hotel capacity to entice visitors to grant it more than a day trip.
All that has changed. Today Ronda is a travel destination in its own right and a convenient base for exploring the surrounding region. The catalyst was the opening in 1994 of the Ronda Parador, which was something of a watershed in Spain’s historical hotel network for its daring architecture. The classical facade of its old town hall conceals a modern interior of striking design. Ronda’s hotel capacity has further increased with the opening of several new hotels since.
Ronda’s parador also acquired an enviable reputation for good food, thanks to the skill of its chef, Jose Gomez. The Jaen-born chef, who has previously worked in several of the parador network’s establishments, has recovered traditional dishes such as the green Ronda-style gazpacho, made with peppers, adapting them to the tastes of modern times, much in the same way as the building itself combines old and new. Dishes such as the classic rabo de toro (bull’s tails) take on a whole new dimension here.

Since mid-1998, Gomez has had a serious challenger in Sergio Lopez. Born in Ronda, this chef started his career in the prestigious La Meridiana restaurant of Marbella, and after working in top establishments in northern Spain returned to his home town to open El Tragabuches, Ronda’s newest restaurant. Few establishments have earned critical acclaim as quickly as this one, and in 1998 Gomez was named Spain’s Young Chef of the Year, thanks to creations such as Ronda cocido stew with pigeons and foie gras, or thyme ice-cream which, like Gomez’s cuisine, combine traditional ingredients with modern flair. The gastronomic menu at El Tragabuches (five courses plus two desserts) is a meal to be remembered.

CONTACTS
Ronda Tourism Office - Plaza de España 1, 29400 Ronda (Malaga) Spain. Tel. 34 952 871 272.

Nearest airport: Malaga (60 miles, 100 km)

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Copyright © 2000 An Andalusian Experience. Text by Mark Little. Photography by J. D. Dallet  - A Freelance Spain production

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Copyright © 2000-2006 Mark and David Little & J.D. Dallet