Friday, 7 September 2012

Five things not to miss in Andalucia

Andalucia is great destination for a holiday or study break. There are many different attractions in the region: here is a list of our top five.

1) Seville Holy Week

Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is celebrated throughout Spain, and is the country’s most important religious festival. Nowhere is it more important than in the cities of Andalucia, with Seville’s celebrations being the most extravagant and popular. 

Processions organised by the city’s Catholic brotherhoods parade through the streets every night, carrying sculptures and wearing clothes that tell the story of the resurrection.

They are watched mostly in respectful silence. If you want to visit Seville for Holy Week, why not combine it with a language course at Clic Seville? Visit the Spanish courses department page for more information. Learning the Spanish language will really help you understand the festival.

2)   Jerez Horse Fair

Jerez is known for the incredible equestrian performances that take place at the Andalucian School of Equestrian Art. The Horse Fair, held every May, dates back around 500 years, when it was simply a place to buy and sell horses. Today it includes music, flamenco and partying until dawn. 

3)   Granada International Music and Dance Festival

Also known as the Granada Music Festival, this event has its roots in the court performances put on by local dancers and musicians at the Alhambra in the late nineteenth century. It has grown to become an incredible celebration of Spanish classical music and dance.

Performances are held at venues throughout the city in June and July. Many of them are open air, with the city as an atmospheric backdrop. Many others are held in the city’s many beautiful historic buildings, including the Alhambra. The festival attracts about 30,000 people each year.

4)   Cordoba May Crosses Festival

This is a religious festival celebrated in many towns and cities throughout the Spanish-speaking world. It has particular importance in Andalucia, and especially in Cordoba. The festival celebrates Saint Helen.

After converting to Christianity, Helen went on a search for the true cross, and found three crosses. She realised that the true cross would be able to perform miracles, and set about testing them, healing the sick in the process. She is celebrated at the festival with crosses made of spring flowers, flower- covered floats in procession, and music and dance events.

5)   Malaga Fair

The Malaga fair is held every August to celebrate the re-capturing of the city by Catholic kings in 1497, from its Moorish rulers. The first festival was held as a street procession, and grew to include bull-fighting, fireworks and more. 

Today’s festival is celebrated day and night, and today, with music and dancing, drinking and tapas in the streets and parks of the city. It combines tradition with modern Spain, attracting tourists and locals from across the Costa del Sol.

Useful links Calendar
A calendar of events in Andalucia. 

Travel and events in Spain. 

Official site of the Granada festival.

Spain on a Plate

If you can't go to Spain, bring Spain to your home, or more specifically, to your plate. We all know the tapas, these appetizers full of different flavours, but they require time and skills to make. But don't worry, there is an easier dish that anyone can do and that is as traditional: the Spanish omelette, also called tortilla.

All you need are some potatoes, some eggs and a large non-stick pan. However, to make this tortilla tastier, you should add some veg and if are not vegetarian, some kind of meat. For a real taste of Spain, choose some chorizo, but prawns or bacon are also an option.

First, you need to boil some potatoes, about 500g, with their skin on, until they are cooked but not too soft (we are not doing mash). Then, cool them while getting the rest ready.
Slice a couple of big onions and fry them in some extra virgin olive oil along with some chopped veg, peppers or mushrooms. If using chorizo, start frying it without oil and use the natural oil to fry the rest.

Once the potatoes are cold, peel them with a knife and roughly slice them. Add them to the pan and gently mix with the rest.

In a bowl, break between 4 and 6 eggs, whisk and season. Herbs such as parsley, rosemary, tarragon or basil add a great taste to a tortilla. Pour the onion and potato mix into the eggs and mix everything together.

In the pan (preferably clean), heat some olive oil until pipping. Pour the egg mix into the pan and flatten with a wooden spoon or a spatula. After a few seconds, shake the pan from left to right and back a few times to ensure the mix doesn't stick to the bottom.

Reduce the heat and cook for a few minutes. Once the inside looks solid, cover the pan with a plate or a board, and turn the tortilla on it. Return it to the pan so the other side will cook, or put the pan under a grill.
Serve hot or cold on a bed of salad, with some bread and a dash of olive oil. Buen provecho!

For more information about the tortilla, check this.