A LAND OF CHEESE

Just a bit of history

The Canary Islands is a land of cheese. In 1341, the excellent quality of our cheese was already mentioned in the Boccaccio manuscript, an ancient historical proof about the very first settlers of the Canary Islands. Later, during the XVII and XVIII centuries, Canary cheese was exported to Europe with the wine we made here. Today we produce cheese on every single island and have 5 Protected Designation of Origin cheeses: Queso Majorero, of the island of Fuerteventura; Queso Palmero, of the island of La Palma, and Quesos Flor de Guía, de Quesos Media Flor and Quesos de Guía of the Northeast of Gran Canaria.

Canary cheese is well known by all canarians, specially these ones:

  • Queso Fresco de Valsequillo: fresh cheese.
  • Queso Ahumado de La Palma: smoked cheese.
  • Queso Ahumado de El Hierro: half-creamy smoked cheese also known as queso herreño.
  • Queso Majorero al Pimentón: semi-hard or hard cheese from Fuerteventura with paprika cover.
  • Queso Duro al Gofio: hard or cured cheese with gofio cover.
  • Queso de Flor de Guía: semi-hard cheese from vegetable curdling.

What makes special the Canary cheese is the geographical variety, the unique genetic of our goats and what and how the livestock feed.

In the Canary Islands, cheese is made in a quesería (cheese-maker), a family business traditionally connected to livestock farming where goats are the most common animals. However, cheese made only from cow or sheep milk is rare. We use to make cheese from a combination of goat, cow and sheep milk.

Cheese: which and when

The Canary fresh cheese is a perfect starter, but you can also have it for breakfast with a slice of dulce de guayaba (guava paste) on it. Yummy! You can easly find queso fresco in any supermarket, for example: Queso Fresco de Valsequillo, Queso Fresco de San Mateo or Queso Fresco Lomo Gallego.

For lunch or dinner or as an enyesque (canary word for tapa) you can taste a queso semi-duro (semi-hard), a queso duro (hard-cheese) or a queso ahumado (smoked cheese). The queso ahumado is often fried and served with marmelade or mojo verde. These cheeses can be also easly found in any supermarket: Quesos Maxorata (semi-ard, hard cheese from Fuerteventura), Quesos El Pastor Isleño (cured cheese), Quesos El Herreño (smoked cheese from El Hierro),

Remember, Canary Islands is a land of cheese and our cheeses are world class 2018.

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Huerto de las Flores, a place of exuberance and peace

A long, long time ago, hundreds of seeds and plant slips traveled from all over the world to reach Agaete, in the north of Gran Canaria. Here they found a place of exuberance and peace, a new land to embrace, the Huerto de las Flores, a botanical garden created by the De Armas family, and one of the most beautiful gardens in the Canary Islands.

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The Huerto de las Flores is located in the Valle de Agaete and it is one of my favorite places. The exuberance of its trees and flowers calls us to a realm of peace and stillness. Certainly, this is a magical location inviting us to sit and meditate peacefully, to inhabit time without haste.

In the last century, Francisco de Armas, the owner of the garden, used to organize literary happenings in this garden where the poets Tomás Morales, Domingo Rivero, and Alonso Quesada encouraged the gathering and the exchange of ideas.

Obtenida de http://arancanarias.blogspot.com/2010/09/lezcano-y-los-poetas-de-latertulia-del.html

Tertulia en el Huerto de las Flores

Whenever I come here I have the feeling that the whole world stops in the Huerto de las Flores. Then I can hear nature’s delicate music emanating from the roots of the trees, this invitation of nature to close my eyes and look from that inner dimension. It is easy to stay here, walking, discovering all the plants in here or just to sit down while the silence that visits and embraces us.  Alone, or in the company of our beloved ones, this is garden will touch us, and the children, without a doubt, will take away an indelible memory. The Huerto de las Flores can be visited all year long but I recommend being attentive to the flowering months to enjoy a really moving spectacle.

 

More information:

About the Huerto de las Flores

7 curious facts about the Huerto de Las Flores

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Handmade Tours: the experience of sustainable tourism

It’s been now four years since Handmade Tours took off. Since then, I have learned a lot, improved many things and grown as a person. Back in those years, I didn’t know how to run a business, and the idea of these tours you can now enjoy was just a baby. It changed a few times since then but I finally met the soul of Handmade Tours: support local business, offer a real experience to my guests.

Handmade Tours embraces the idea of sustainable and responsible tourism. This point of view is continuously pushing forward my project. Caring about my producers helps me to keep a good relationship with them, and share this motto: take small steps to make bigger changes.

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I only work 100% Gran Canaria local producers and offer 100% Gran Canaria local products. Because of that, I feel now so lucky after all these wonderful years. I really feel so fortunate because local producers share with me their satisfaction with my guests, travelers that show real interest in their local reality and products. This is a mutual trust relationship arising from one single fact: local producers set the tour price themselves.

Sometimes the producers and I have to agree on a middle term, and we do it so that we can both gain equallyThe payment is made on the same day of the tour and, in many cases, I pay in advanced an amount previously agreed. This is a significant change if compared with the old system where they only got paid according to commissions. Now, they call me. We talk about those new companies, companies interested in settling visits with them, but trying to set a price unilaterally.

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Above all, I value the kindness they share with my guests and me, their precious time. In every tour, they show the processes and explain the needs of their products’ harvesting. It makes my guests really happy, and I am also proud because I know I’m collaborating with them to create a new source of income, a brand new understanding of their traditional work, a value that my discerning guests do appreciate.

Sustainable tourism is happening, and it is great! Meet now our local producers and people, feel the love they feel for their jobs and their island, let them warmly welcome you, as we do to friends; experience our traditions, our local products, our favorite places within the small and beautiful extension of Gran Canaria, dressed with surprising microclimates.

Handmade Tours, the unexpected experience of Gran Canaria. Come with me!

 

 

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Viticulture/territory

Vineyards in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria has a Surface of 1.560 km². Pretty small, right? It is a volcano island about 5km deep in the Atlantic Ocean to 1949m above the sea. This means if you are willing to buy a land here, you are going to buy a piece of mountain. How do you work your land to make the best of the climate and soil? How do you make a slope of mountain into a vineyard?

It is now when I confess I strong believe wine makers are crazy! With all respect and love but, do you know how much hard work is in the bottle of wine you are about to drink? I like to compare it with Christmas dinner. Mothers spend days grocery shopping, cooking, decorating, serving… And here comes the family and all gone in an hour! Well, wine making takes longer and is harder!

Video: Harvest in August

At the picture and video post you can see a vineyard located in a gorgeous valley at north west Gran Canaria. This amazing place has its own microclimate, which makes a very stressful harvest. Summer can get hotter in this valley, much hotter than only a few minutes away by the coast. For that reason they have to come up with an idea to protect the grapes from this heat. It is cooler underneath and it feels like nirvana 😉 They produce last harvest 40.000 bottles whites and reds. Pretty small, right?

More I’m learning about wine making in the Canary Island, more I understand I will probably need dozens of life of to learn it all… Do not miss the change to visit the wineries at Gran Canaria, wine tasting or walk the vineyards. It is an amazing adventure!

Want to know more? Leave your comments and follow me at Facebook, Instagram or here!!

 

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Happiness: Yes to all

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FELIPE: HANDPICKING OLIVES

I was so tired last night when I got home. After eleven hours out of my house I had a terrible headache. Sometimes it happens after many hours driving. So I headed to the shower and I started thinking about the people I work with everyday. So damn happy people, I thought. And about 90% of them are women. It’s all smiles!

They are happy while working, and they always say yes. I’m a very picky person when I’m working 😉 Always the best for my guests. And these stunning persons are always laughing and saying yes.

 

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LOLI (left) HOMEMADE CHEESEMAKER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is leaving in the countryside of Gran Canaria. Those are my tours. My happiness. So this take me to think about the quality of the products you find and are made in this gorgeous island. Gastronomy is key from the land. And our welcoming producers are happy to have you at their land, where they proudly introduce you to their toughs days.

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SANTIAGO’S (right) COFFEE PLANTATION

 

Why those products are so amazing?? There’s love spread everywhere and people shine around. And do not take me wrong. You don’t have to hire me. Go on your own, find them, write me! I’ll be glad to share my little treasures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ALOE VERA PLANTATION

Gran Canaria gastronomy is still unknown, but It’s there and It’s delightful.
ASK FOR IT. EAT IT!

 

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Vintage is taking off

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Again Gran Canaria is leading the vintage this year. Our wonderful microclimate has made our grapes ready to harvest.

You shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit and taste some of our great wines. All of them homemade with Gran Canaria DOP (Protected designation of origin).

To get the best sense of Gran Canaria, do not hesitate to drive to the heart of the island and north west side. But do not forget to taste it all. Gastronomy is the key! 🙂

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Figs, olive trees, cactus, palms all over the place and the volcanic soil!

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I was told that their wines wouldn’t be probably so distinguishe2016-07-11 15.49.25d without the volcanic soil 😉

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MY SECRET TREASURES – AGAETE

My secrets… They are no longer mine as I’m sharing them with you all!! So here’s my tip if you are a bouncy traveller looking for adventures on your own.

AGAETE is a fish village at north Gran Canaria, quiet & very local. A nice place to try Papas arrugadas con mojo rojo (Wrinkled potatoes in red mojo sauce) or Gofio escaldado. Gofio is one of our most popular ingredients in the Canary Island and made out of sweet toasted corn with fish soup! 🙂

Aside from its gastronomy, I want to highlight my favourite spots in this village. As starters, I need you to know that there’s three important places within this Village. The fish village named Puerto de las Nieves and located by the coast, Agaete pueblo (The village), and right above the Village and heading the mountains you’ll find the Valley of Agaete (Valle de Agaete)

ITINERARY.-

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Top view in the Valley.

1. The Valley: Drive to the end of the Valley. Once you reach the last bus stop on the road by Casa Esperanza Centro de Rehabilitación keep driving up. A few slope curves and you’ll reach a point of view. It has a bench for you to seat, have a look from the top of the mountains and listening to the wind while relaxing. It is the perfect spot for you to realize about the immensity of Tamadaba cliffs and the spectacular views of the Valley.

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Archeological Park of Maipés

2. On your way down to the Village, on your left hand side and right before the road reach the Village,  you can already see the Archeological park of Maipés. It is easy to see as there’s only volcanic brownish stones. An aborigine cemetery with 700 hundreds tombs in the middle of this Valley while worthy to visit. 3€ to enter and informative panels for visitors. Do not miss it!

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El huerto de las Flores

3. Agaete Village has a very local 5 sense walk. Let your self get lost in the streets of this quiet place and ask for El huerto de las flores. With its own family story, this gorgeous garden with more than 100 tropical species, keeps a lot of treasures. Find your way to the garden and have a cup of Agaete’s homemade coffee. Antonio, the man in charge of this magic beverage, has opened a cafeteria right there and you can taste one of Agaete’s coffee brands. Did you know in Valle de Agaete grows the one and only artisanal coffee in Europe?? 🙂

3. Puerto de las Nieves is your last stop. During summer time you have to wait until 21pm to see the sunset. Find the sea walk and get to the natural swimming pools of Agaete. If you are having a clear day at the horizon you will see a sunset more than virtuous! The nobility of Tenerife island will turn into a stunning huge shadow with the second biggest volcano in the world, El Teide pointing the sky. Also you can have a nice swimm…

Please do not miss Agaete even though you don’t feel for my tips! And If you feel hungry and by the church of Agaete, ask for El Perola bar. A very very fine local bar with family traditional food. Her mother is usually in the kitchen cooking 😉

‘GOFIO ESCALDADO’ RECIPE

IMG_20150703_120623Remember:

EAT well – TRAVEL often! 

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