Costa Blanca, Spain
VIVA ESPANA! Our first stop was the Costa Blanca region of Spain. Our 8 hour journey was our longest stretch yet! Normally this would have felt painful, but it was made very much enjoyable by the surprising landscape we encountered and the catchy Spanish tunes on the radio. When you imagine Spain, beautiful beaches, white-washed buildings and palm trees come to mind, but little do many people know that behind many of its resorts lay a parched landscape with little to no vegetation present, and enormous rocky mountains.
Upon arriving closer to the coast, we expected for the landscape to flatten out, but to our surprise this wasn’t the case. Once we arrived in the town of Altea, the coastline sat directly in front of these Rocky Mountains bringing a view that encapsulates the best of both worlds.
Altea is a stunning white washed town in the Alicante region of Spain. It's best known for its old town that is perched on top of a hill with sweeping views of the aqua blue ocean and surrounding towns. We headed for the old town by walking up the steep and winding roads that lead to the glorious tiled roof church at the top of the hill. Each turn offered beautiful architecture, cute boutique shops, delicious tapas and friendly locals. After working up an appetite, we sat in a restaurant in the main square listening to the church bells ring on the hour and ordered some local favourites to try. We decided on a Gazpacho soup and various tapas to share. Who knew soup could be so refreshing on such a hot summer’s day! I was so impressed by this chilled summer soup that I was inspired to create this recipe with a HealthyTree twist. See recipe below.
After polishing off yet another amazing meal, we got speaking to the restaurant owner about our travels and were recommended to visit the quaint village of Finestratt during our stay. The next day we hired a scooter and set off into the mountains with the agenda of Orange grove spotting in the village of Finestratt. After being snap happy at all the beautiful scenery around us, we stopped to sample one of these lush looking oranges for ourselves. As I approached one of the many trees, one virtually dropped into the palm of my hand and felt heavily ripe. I have to say that it was the juiciest and sweetest orange I have ever tasted, and definitely set a standard for me! We ventured into the heart of the village and feasted on some garlic prawns and freshly baked crusty bread (See below for a HealthyTree variation on this delicious dish.) We then strolled through Finestratt's narrow streets lined with colourful houses, flower pots, and local cats lazing in the mid-day sun.
Turmeric Prawns Recipe:
Large Prawns peeled
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves
3 Tbsp TheHealthyTree Turmeric Powder
¼ tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper
2 ½ Tbsp Butter
½ cup of fresh Coriander Leaves
½ cup of fresh Coriander Leaves
1. Cook prawns in a large pot of boiling salted water until opaque, about 30 seconds. Transfer to paper towel – lined baking sheet and let drain.
2. Combine oil, garlic, lime juice, turmeric, salt and pepper and optional chilli in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Set aside.
3. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add turmeric-lime sauce; cook for about 2 minutes. Add prawns, toss gently, and simmer until cooked through (about 5 minutes).
4. Top with coriander and green onion.
After learning much about the Costa Blanca, we hoped back into our van and continued our travels north to the town of Fontellas, where we visited an Olive Oil Mill. The 'Artajo' mill was campervan friendly and invited us to stay within their property and join their free tour around their mill in the morning. We camped up amongst their olive groves, with a view overlooking a cute pond with ducks and lush gardens. We kicked the next day off with a tour around their mill and a tasting of their olive oil that they served on freshly baked crusty bread and a glass of Rose wine... delish! Our guide explained the differences between the oils and how they achieve their different tastes during production. They offered a selection of sweet to bitter oils and explained that once they extract the olive pits, instead of disposing of them as waste, they instead use it as burning fuel to generate energy for the Mill... talk about efficiency! This proves the saying of "one man's trash is another man’s biofuel". After the tour ended, we were encouraged to walk around their beautiful gardens and explore on our own. We left the mill full of knowledge and appreciation of the craft of olive oil making.