From the snow of the mountains to the tropical climate of the coast, Granada has a wide climatic diversity in its mountains, valleys and plains. We select ten of the best products made in this land, many of them included under the brand Sabor Granada.
We taste a production that includes gin, chocolates, cheeses, oils, wines, beers and even spicy sauces and biscuits in the shape of arabesques inspired by La Alhambra.
American essence for the most local piquancy
Sierra Nevada Sauces and spices · Cenes de la Vega
A priori, it is difficult to think that Cenes de la Vega will host a plantation of some of the hottest chili peppers in the world. But for five years, this town in Granada is the headquarters of the company Sierra Nevada Sauces and Spices, launched by Carlos Carvajal, who soon after being born moved to California with his family. There, being a university student, he launched a hot sauce company with a friend .”And since then I have stayed in the world of gastronomy,” he says.
Seven years ago he decided to return to Spain due to family circumstances. A lover of spicy food, he realized that there were hardly any good sauces in the market, so he decided to create this company together with his local partner, Miguel Cortés.
Today they cultivate more than 44,000 plants of peppers in Cenes de la Vega, Sevilla and Motril (in this case in the greenhouse, which will allow them to maintain production throughout the year), a figure they intend to multiply by three next year.For the elaboration of its dozen varieties of sauces and up to 14 dressings, they also use local and organic products, such as mango, papaya or cherimoya from the tropical coast, as well as garlic or onion from the orchards of Granada. They also offer the option of buying fresh chili peppers and, if that’s not enough, they make a spicy beer called Infierno.
The best secret about Gin
Zari Gin · Albolote
A pharmacist by profession, Patricia Gijón had as one of her hobbies the elaboration of gin for her own consumption. She made it in her kitchen , with a small alembic of three liters and with a more than interesting result.This made her present it to Ginmotive, an international contest of artisan gins. It was May 2016 and she was surprised when, weeks later, she received a call from the organization: “I had won the first prize”, she recalls. “It was what gave me the final push to take this project forward,” says the granadina.
At that time he had the support of the Joaquin Alonso Distilleries, where they let her work with a 500-liter still. She spent all summer working her formula so that the result was the same as she had at home and, finally, in October of that same year she launched the first version of Gin-Zari .
It is a gin with two types of alcohols, four distillations and nine botanicals: juniper, orange, lemon, lime, cardamom, coriander, angelica, ginger … “and one that is kept secret”. Soft with shades, this gin has 91 points in the distillates section of the Peñín Guide .
It hasn’t been easy for her to be a prophet in his land, but it is sold throughout Spain and even in countries like Germany. It is made on demand, so there is no fixed production. And for those who want to try it, they just have to go through their web page to get in touch with Patricia and place an order.
Devour The Alhambra
Vanilla Flower · Alfácar ·
Margarita Núñez has managed to get anyone to take a piece of the Alhambra in their suitcase. And that, also, they can eat it. This grenadine makes handmade cookies whose forms are based on the thousand and one arabesques of this monument.A job she does thanks to her good work in the kitchen and, also, to her studies as a technical architect.
Flor de Vanilla, her company, was born almost by chance in 2014. Convinced of the excess of sugar from the sweets of the supermarket, it was customary to make her own homemade version. One day, one of her children told him that, during his participation in the summer school of the Alhambra, he would receive a visit from the director of the Patronato del Monumento. And Margarita thought it could be a nice touch to give her some biscuits inspired by the Nasrid palace. Six months later he received a surprising call : the team of the Board of the Alhambra and Generalife proposed her to commercialize her cookies.
“The crisis had closed the doors in my profession, but this opened a window for me and I did not even think about it,” she says. Today she makes her cookies with the help of 3d printers and many hours of analysis for the development of each mold.And, later, the production is baked in a workshop in Alfácar.
In these years she has given time to expand her ideas with cookies based on El Alcázar de Sevilla and there are many institutions, companies and private customers who ask for personalized products. “There are no limits,” says Núñez, who has coined the term repostectura , merging the two disciplines she dominates, to define her sweet work.
Beers with the best mountain taste
Cervezas Alpujarra · Órgiva
Granada has traditionally been a land of beer and, for a few years, has also added itself to the trend of craft beer. The Alpujarra beer are is a good example of this.It is made in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, specifically in the municipality of Órgiva, which serves as a gateway to the Alpujarra of Granada.
Its ideologist, master brewer and owner is Aurelio Blanco, who after two years making beer at home decided to convert his hobby into a profession .His passion for the Alpujarra region made the first step be to register the name and, from there, he produced his first beer.
Today, there are already six varieties that make up its catalog, although there are others that, on the basis of certain parties or moments of the season, go on the market throughout the year in a timely manner. Annual production is close to 20 hectoliters , thanks to a very traditional process that takes place in a small Órgiva workshop.
Immersed now in a process of renewal and growth, the different varieties of Cervezas Alpujarra are already well established in a local market where there are also other craft brands .In fact, very close, in Lanjarón, the Lánchar beers are produced and to the south, in Padul, the so-called Mammooth. Further on, next to the port of La Ragua, the Nazarí beers are based. All of them are examples of rich beers with all the flavor of Granada.
Goat milk as the protagonist
Artisanal cheeses ‘The RRR’ · Maracena
Livestock farmers since the beginning, at the end of the last century the Rivas family decided to start a cheese factory in their land, Maracena. It was in 1991 when Roberto Rivas Ruiz and his wife embarked on the elaboration of this product thanks to the milk of a small herd of goats they had.They say that the beginnings of the artisan cheese factory The RRR were not easy, but little by little they expanded their catalog of products with different varieties of cured cheese.
After the death of the founder, it is the son of Roberto Rivas who took charge of the family firm and who began to research on traditional local recipes to create different cheeses.
Today, the RRR elaborates six types of cheeses with goat’s milk: tender, semi-cured, raw milk, with aromatic herbs and even one of long maturity called ‘Pata negra’, as well as one of the most interesting ones, called Kingdom of Granada, which mixes milk from cow and goat.These products have garnered more than twenty awards in recent years in national and international competitions, demonstrating their good work.
Chocolates with a thousand flavors
Chocolates Abuela Ili · Pampaneira
With flavors such as merengada milk, raspberry, lime, mango, dulce de leche, cookies or goat’s milk, with dried figs and almonds, spicy chili … The diversity is almost infinite in Chocolates Abuela Ili. It is the proposal of the Argentine Mauricio Riera , who started his chocolate business with his family in the municipality of Laroles.In his first years the situation of the company did not work well until, years later, his brother helped him put his own shop in Pampaneira, a much more touristy town.
He was 30 years old and began practically alone to start up the chocolate factory, until little by little he built up a staff that exceeds ten people , a figure that doubles in the high season.Today there are stores in Granada, Capileira and Lanjarón and, although it has 150 varieties of chocolates, today they have about 70 black, white and milk chocolates. The variety is so attractive that it is not difficult to find its customers puzzled in front of its shelves. The solution, perhaps, is to try them all.
Tea liquor, vodka and ronmiel
Joaquín Alonso Distilleries · Atarfe
Sueños de la Alhambra is the name of a book. Also the one of an extraordinary guitar piece. Now, in addition, it is A tea liqueur , made by hand and combining natural alcohols such as black tea.It is one of the most striking products of the Joaquín Alonso Distilleries, a company located in Atarfe.
With more than 70 years of history, this firm born in 1944 is managed today by the third generation of the family that has known how to adapt its products to the 21st century and has expanded its catalog of products.In addition to other liqueurs of lemon, chocolate or even flavored lollipop, anise, vodkas, cocktails and even ronmiel are also distilled in their facilities, in addition to different soft drinks without alcohol. Without forgetting gin such as the so-called Bruni Collin’s, which won two gold medals in summer last year in the prestigious international SIP Awards 2017.
Olive oils with personality
To speak of olive oils in any corner of Andalusia is to speak of quality. And the province of Granada is not far behind. Zajarí oils, made from a variety of native olives called Lucio, are protected by the denomination of origin Poniente de Granada. Municipalities such as Moclín or Íllora are the starting point for this ecological oil that emerges from ancient olive trees .The early harvesting of the olive and its immediate cold milling guarantee its quality.
On the other hand, the O-Med oils, with the Picual and Arbequina varieties as origin, accumulate national and international awards for this company based in the town of Ácula, just 30 kilometers from the capital. Vinegars, salt and yuzu oil are other products of this firm.And another one of the most exquisite oils are the so-called Authentic Oils, made in two estates of Guadahortuna, in the limits of the provinces of Granada and Jaén.
There, at a thousand meters of altitude, the olive trees fight against the intense cold to offer small but high quality productions with varieties such as the Royal de Cazorla and Ernezuelo de Jaén. They are only three examples of the great oils of Granada.
Natural and ecological wines
About 6,000 hectares of vineyards, a score of wineries and proposals with a lot of personality are the ingredients used to make the wines under the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Vinos de Granada. White, rosé, red, sparkling and naturally sweet wines are born from Señorío de Nevada wineries, which celebrates in 2018 the twentieth anniversary of its first uncorking. It was in 1998 when they opened the first bottle and since then this winery, located in Villamena, next to the Valle de Lecrín, has not stopped growing.
A little further up is the Barranco Oscuro winery, in the heart of La Contraviesa .There, the Valenzuela family manages a dozen hectares of vineyards at an altitude of around 1,300 meters with which it produces natural wines. Garnata, Borgoñón Garnet, Varetúo, La Familia or El Pino Rojo are just some of the names of their wines, which in large part are exported to the United States .And closer to the Sierra Nevada, on the outskirts of Dólar, on the road to El Pozico, the Méndez Moya winery stands out, where organic wines from just over a decade ago are produced. Beyond, Dominio Buenavista, Los Barrancos, Cuatro Vientos and many other grenadine wineries to keep an eye on.
Unique flavors for dehydrated fruits and vegetables
La Frubense · Benalúa
The wide variety of climates in Granada allows the province to produce a wide variety of products. However, their flavor and quality is missed when the season passes. One way to have them available throughout the year is to dehydrate them and, for this, the signature La Frubense offers an important range of fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and dried preserves.
Among the tastiest is the mango or lemon , but there are also other fruits such as persimmon and vegetables such as peppers, eggplants, pumpkins or tomatoes, all from organic crops.The firm was born in Benalúa in 2005 and, since then, it has managed to get its products to half the planet.
If you are in Granada and want to taste some of these products as you learn about Granada’s rich culture and history, join our Taste of Granada Food Tour !
English version of the article “Diez productos artesanales y sorprendentes con sabor a Granada ” written by Nacho Sánchez for www.eldiario.es on 09/02/2018