Archive for the Jaen Province Category

Jaen Province – Andújar – Places to Eat and Swim

Posted in Andalusia, Andújar, Jaen Province, Spain with tags , , , , on December 4, 2015 by gannet39

I found it pretty hard to eat well here unfortunately. There are plenty of tapas bars selling good honest fare in the centre but all the (supposedly) better quality places seemed to be closed or out of town, either in the countryside around or off the motorway, so you’d really need a car to get to them.

I did find a couple of places that were okay though. You can find them on this Google map, along with several places I didn’t get to.

Cayetano (Intermediate B+), 10 Calle Corredera San Bartolomé

A bit of a trek from the hotel (about thirty minutes’ walk) but worth it for the huge salads they serve (B+). The one in the picture was a half portion believe it or not and it only cost €4.50.

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The region is famous for its game dishes so I decided to try Carne de Monte which is deer meat slow cooked with oregano I think. I’m not usually a fan of venison but this was pretty tasty (B+).

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I came back one evening and had their intriguing Berenjenas con Salmorejo, deep fried slices of aubergine with the thick bread soup and diced ham on top, but sadly I wasn’t impressed (C). Perhaps the day time chef is better.

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Los Naranjos (Intermediate B), 4 Calle Guadalupe (an alley off the west side of Plaza de la Constitucion)

‘The Orange Trees’ was recommended by one of the local teachers. It’s a plain and simple place that basically one large room with some tables outside in the alley. The waiters are super-efficient and the food is decent. I had Gambas al Ajillo (B) and a huge plate of codfish croquetas (B).

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El Mercao (Intermediate B), Plaza de la Constitucion

A popular bar off the main square. I had a decent menu del dia here which included the famous Flamequin, involving deep fried ham and cheese (B).

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I also went to La Columna, a cafe bar at 15 Calle Emperador Trajano, www.copaytapa.com. It was very busy with lots of locals but I don’t remember being impressed by the food (C) even if I don’t remember what I had. It was very cheap though.

There are of course lots of other tapas bars around town. Bar Rincon Andaluz at 4 Calle Hoyo seems very popular although their specialty is snails which I don’t get on with anymore.

I think it must have been snail season as just about every bar was selling them and literally everyone seemed to be eating them.

The municipal sports centre, the Polideportivo Municipal de Andújar at Calle Egido del Puente, has a large outdoor pool which would be very welcome in the summer heat if you have a day off. It was closed when I was there in April, despite the weather being quite warm, because it wasn’t officially summer as yet. Red tape, don’t you just love it.

Jaen Province – Andújar – Stuff to See

Posted in Andalusia, Andújar, Jaen Province, Spain with tags , , , , , , on December 3, 2015 by gannet39

Andújar is a historical town of about 40,000 in the province of Jaen, about forty minutes on the train from the regional capital.

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First impressions were not good as work put me up at the unremarkable Hotel del Val on a retail park about twenty minutes’ walk from the old centre, but I don’t mind a bit of a walk so that was ok.

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Most of the town is new build although it has retained the original Medieval street plan in the centre. The maze of streets take a bit of getting used to.

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Here’s my Google map to help you.

There are some old buildings still standing though. Some of the walls of the original Almohad (Moorish) citadel and the odd watchtower still remain. This one was refaced in the fifteenth century to include the city’s coat of arms.

The heart of the town is Plaza de Espania, and its extension Plaza Constitucion, which are separated by this arch.

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Here you’ll find the Ayuntemiento (town hall) and the Iglesia de San Miguel with its sturdy tower.

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The worn stone carvings on the ancient doorway of the church depict some interesting figures.

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Next to the church is a memorial to a local priest martyred in the sixteenth century and the Fuente Barroca, a baroque fountain (built in 1739) that’s seen better days.

A couple of streets away is Iglesia Santa Maria la Major which houses an original El Greco, although it was never open when I walked by.

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Next to it is the Torre de Reloj, a clock tower which is a symbol of the city.

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On one side of the tower is an impressive imperial shield, which incorporates the coats of arms of the Trastámara and the Habsburgs on the right, and the Avis, the lineages of Emperor Charles V and his wife Isabel of Portugal, on the left. A stone sundial sits next to the shield.

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Currently, the tower houses the Tourist Information Office of Andujar. The tower houses the tourist information on the ground floor (open 9.00 to 14.00 Tuesday to Saturday, and also 16.30 to 19.00 Tuesday to Friday).

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On the other side of Iglesia Santa Maria is this Neogothic chapel, built in 1925.

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Also of interest is the Palacio de los Ninos with its unusual statues of two South American Indians on its front aspect.

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The Archaeology museum is located in the cellar which is supposed to be very impressive (open 9.00 to 14.00 Tuesday to Friday, and also 12.30 to 19.00 Saturday to Sunday), although again I wasn’t free at the right time to go.

Various other old town houses are dotted around with their impressive thick wooden doors.

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On the front wall of Palacio de los Perez de Vargas y Gormaz (aka La Casa de las Argollas) you can see four iron rings with little heads wearing hats. The tourist blurb said that these were put up after the Esqilache Uprising when Spaniards rose up against one of the king’s ministers who had decreed that long capes and broad brimmed hats were to be forbidden as they were associated with criminality, a bit like our modern day hoodies.

The town was celebrating the Pilgrimage of the Virgen de la Cabeza, which is held on the last Sunday of the month of April. Horses are decorated and displayed in the town centre.

The image of the Virgin is displayed everywhere.

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Please see the next post for places to eat.

Jaen – Ciudad Nueva – Carretera de Madrid

Posted in Andalusia, Carretera de Madrid, Ciudad Nuevo, Jaen, Jaen Province, Spain with tags , on December 2, 2015 by gannet39

My employer puts us up at the Hotel Infanta Cristina www.hotelinfantacristina.com on Carretera de Madrid, in the newest part of town.

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It’s handy for the train station (max ten minute’s walk) but the neighbourhood it’s in is pretty sterile and there are no good bars or restaurants nearby that I know of.

Personally I like a bit of exercise before I eat so I always walk up the long hill most of the city is located on to one of the tapas areas I mention in my other posts.

The hotel itself is supposed to be the best in town, but that’s not saying much as there is a dearth of good hotels according to Lonely Planet. It’s tolerable but the rooms are quite dingy and the walls are a bit thin. On the other hand the breakfast is usually quite comprehensive and the hotel tapas bar seems to be relatively popular should you not want to go out.

Outside the front door of the hotel on Carretera de Madrid is the ghostly spectacle of the brand new tram tracks, although you won’t see any trams on them. A teacher later told me that the city had run out of money after the 2008 financial crash and had never got round to buying them. A shame as it would be a good way to get up the hill!

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In recent years Jaen has become a destination for food tourism, especially oleotourists as this is the ‘world capital of olive oil’. This is the city’s gastronomic website which has news of special events and a list of places to eat.

It’s only when you leave Jaen by car or train that you got a true understanding of why the area is so well-known for olives. All you will see out of the window is olive trees for hour after hour (video here), a slightly unsettling monoculture with no other kind of vegetable life in sight. According to the Olive Oil Times Jaen province produces 45% of the Spanish total and 20% of the world total, an incredible statistic!

If you can’t face climbing the hill to Casa Paco to buy your olive oil (see Paseo de la Estacion post) then Carniceria Almaden at 7 Calle Manuel Caballero Venzalá is just two blocks from the hotel and also has a good selection of local produce. I like to load up on quality oils and almonds to take home.

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You can find the shops on my Google map of Jaen that shows all the places mentioned in all these posts, and more.

Jaen – Ciudad Vieja – Tapas off Calle Maestra

Posted in Andalusia, Calle Maestra, Ciudad Vieja, Jaen, Jaen Province, Spain with tags , , , , , on December 1, 2015 by gannet39

Jaen is very famous for its Renaissance-style Cathedral. Like most other cathedrals in southern Spain, the Catedral de Jaén was built on the site of the ancient mosque.

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I find it quite ugly personally except for some of the frescoes on the façade which have some interesting details. Please click on the images to get a better view.

When it comes to tapas, many of the Jiennenses seem to favour the bars in the old town, especially those on the streets just below and along from the cathedral square Plaza Santa Maria. Many of them are hidden in small alleys that are hard to find but I’ll do my best to describe where they are. My Google map might help you too.

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Calle Maestra is the old merchant’s street that starts in the north west corner of the plaza. The first building on the street is this quirky little place on a corner in the cathedral square. It was being renovated in 2015 so hopefully next time I’m in town I can have a nosey inside.

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La Pena Flamenca (Intermediate B), 11 Calle Maestra

A pretty tiled bar that’s nice for a drink although I haven’t tried the food.

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There is a large back room where flamenco shows are held.

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Casa Gorron (Elementary A), 7 Calle del Consuelo (second alley on the right off Calle Maestra), www.tabernagorrion.es

This is an old school taperia, the second oldest in town (1888) beloved by two of my culinary heroes; Sam & Sam Clarke from Moro.

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Their local olives are great, as you’d expect. As is Andalusian tradition, you get them, and other little tidbits, free every time you order a drink. The house tipple is a thirty year old wine that is unique to the bar.

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I wasn’t able to try the Ajilimole the Sams rave about in this Guardian article but I did enjoy the Judias con Perdiz, aka white beans with partridge (B+).

As you can see in the photo your bill is chalked up on the wooden bar.

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Tasca de los Amigos (Elementary A), 10 Calle Bernardo López (third alley on the right off Calle Maestra)

Rough and ready with no charm in terms of décor but very popular with the locals, probably because it’s very good value. Their free tapas are a bit better and more varied than elsewhere too in my opinion.

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La Manchega (Intermediate A), 8 Calle Bernardo López (third alley on the right off Calle Maestra, back entrance on both Calle Arco del Consuelo)

This is the oldest taperia in Jaen, since 1886, so two years older than its neighbour Casa Gorron. Good, simple tapas and atmosphere in spades. There’s a restaurant downstairs too which I need to try.

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Bar La Barra (Intermediate B+), 7 Calle Cerón (at the end of the alleys, parallel street to Calle Maestra)

Not as old as the others but their collection of quirky paraphernalia makes the bar quite atmospheric. The free tapas I got here were some excellent pork scratchings (A) and some moist black pudding (B+). They also have their own homemade vermouth.

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So a great little area for a tapeo (tapas crawl).

Jaen – Ciudad Vieja – Food & Drink around Plaza del Pósito

Posted in Andalusia, Ciudad Vieja, Jaen, Jaen Province, Plaza del Pósito, Spain with tags , , on November 30, 2015 by gannet39

Plaza del Pósito is a pleasant little square in the newer part of the old town, just before you get up to the cathedral area.

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There are several bars and taperias around the plaza and in nearby squares. My favourite is…

El Pato Rojo (Elementary A) 12 Calle Bernabé Soriano

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‘The Red Duck’ is a boisterous marisqueria that’s buzzing at the weekends (you ‘ll be lucky to get a seat).

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I come here in the week when I want to eat seafood. The quality is very good.

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Dean Bar (Intermediate B), 2 Plaza Dean Mazas (next square down the hill)

I like the music here (soul, funk) so I sometimes drop in for a night cap. You can sit out on their terrace in the square too.

They have a selection of about thirty rums and twenty gins but only two Spanish brandies, which is a good indication of current drinking trends in Spain.

El Abujelo at 8 Calle Hurtado (the parallel street to Calle Bernabé Soriano) seems to be the late bar to go to.

The prettiest house I’ve seen in Jaen backs onto the square and has its front door on Calle Bernabé Soriano.

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Jaen – Ciudad Nueva – Places for Food around Paseo de la Estacion

Posted in Andalusia, Ciudad Nuevo, Jaen, Jaen Province, Paseo de la Estacion, Spain with tags , , , on November 29, 2015 by gannet39

The ‘new town’ isn’t officially an area but for the purposes of this post it’s the more modern part of town, on the lower slopes of the hill. In particular I mean the two roughly parallel main streets, Paseo de la Estacion and Avenida de Madrid, and their offshoots.

Here’s my Google map of Jaen that shows all the places mentioned in all these posts, and a few more besides. The best place to eat around Paseo de la Estacion, or anywhere in town, is Casa Antonio which gets its own post.

As Jaen has such a good rep for quality ingredients, a visit to the local deli for take home treats is a must. The most famous one in town is Casa Paco.

They have two locations, one at 7 Plaza de los Jardinillos (opposite the main post office), and the second at 12 Paseo de la Estacion, both of which are very well stocked with local goodies.

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I always pick up a couple of local prize-winning olive oils here. The Paseo de la Estacion shop usually have a display of the best eight local oils on a special shelf.

I’d loved to have taken a big batch of the actual olives home too but one of the kind ladies said that the plastic tubs would explode in my baggage at an altitude!

Casa Paco are also known for their crisps which they bag on the premises. www.patatascasapaco.com The toasted almonds are a good buy as well.

Meson Rio Chico (Intermediate B), 12 Calle Nueva

A small friendly place recommended by Frommers, although without a star rating.

I came here on my first night and had my first experience of the famous local olives. These tasty specimens were fairly typical of what every restaurant provided. They’re definitely the longest olives I’ve ever seen!

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The tasting menu looked like a good deal so I gave it a whirl. It consisted of…

Hojaldre Relleno de Guacamole, Salmon y Delicia de Pina (puff pastry stuffed with guacamole and salmon with a pineapple sauce).

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Tosta de Cremoso de Patata con Crujiente de Lomo de Orza y Reduccion P.X. (creamy potato with a crispy fillet of orza and a reduction of Pedro Ximenez sherry).

Timbal de Veruditas de Temporada y Queso de Cabra Caramelizado, Tomate y Albahaca (a timbale of seasonal veg and caramelized goat cheese, tomato and basil).

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Lomito de Atun en Cama de Ajos Tiernos, Pasas y Crema de Citrico (loin of tuna with tender garlic, raisins and citrus flavoured cream). I remember I wasn’t too keen on this combination.

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Carrillada Iberica en Salsa de Esparragos Trigueros (beef cheeks in wild asparagus sauce) was tasty but didn’t look like much.

To drink I had a bottle of Campo Ameno, Syrah Barrica from the local Tierra de la Sierra Sur de Jaen IGP. Judging from the pattern on the bottle, this was made by the same people as the excellent Marques de Campomena I had at the parador.

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Finally, Tarta ‘Puro Chocolate’ con Dulce de Natillas y Frutos Rojos (‘pure chocolate’ tart with sweet custard and red fruits) which I had with a glass of PX.

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This is a cheaper place than Casa Antonio with similar ambitions but not quite achieving them (B/C). I’d definitely go again though.

Casa Vincent (Intermediate B), 3 Calle del Cristo Rey, Tel. 953 232 222, Closed Sunday eve and Monday

A Frommers one star suggestion, this is reputed to be one of the best places in town. It’s old school and a bit formal with a dark wood interior and bulls heads on the walls.

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If you are interested in the Moorish influence on local cuisine, this would be a good place to come, although the ‘typical local dishes’ I requested were just interesting and not particularly amazing. I’m sure if you stick to more standard orders you’d score it higher than I did.

As well as the usual olives, some excellent toasted almonds were put in front of me as soon as I sat down.

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For the first tapa I had cardoons with egg, a dish of Moorish origin, which came sizzling on a plate in a beautifully carved wooden tray. It looked better than it tasted (C).

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I also had artichocke hearts with ham (B) and some pork with chips and gravy which I wasn’t particularly keen on (C+).

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This was washed down with another decent (B) local red called ‘Glosa’ from the Sierra de Sur Jaen IGP.

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Finally a shot of Crema de Café (B) made by the same Castillo de Jaen brand who also made the Anis I had at the parador.

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Service was friendly from the younger English-speaking guy but the older chap (the owner?) didn’t want to try to understand my Spanish. I would come back but again give me Casa Antonio over this traditional place any time.

La Verja (Low Intermediate B+), 56 Paseo de la Estacion, at the bottom of the hill

A good place for simple home-cooked local dishes near the school I was working at. There’s nothing fancy about the food or the surroundings.

I had a menu-del-dia type lunch here twice and enjoyed it both times. The lentil soup, mixed salad and rabbit with garlic all stick in my mind as being good (B+). Can’t remember how much the bills came to but it was definitely very cheap.

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Jaen – Ciudad Nueva – Paseo de la Estacion – Casa Antonio

Posted in Andalusia, Ciudad Nuevo, Jaen, Jaen Province, Paseo de la Estacion, Spain with tags on November 28, 2015 by gannet39

I like this restaurant so much that it gets a post to itself. It is the best place in town.

Casa Antonio (Advanced A), 3 Calle Fermin Palma, Tel. 953 270 262, www.casantonio.es, closed Sunday evening and Monday

Chef Pedro Sánchez uses high quality local and international ingredients for innovative presentations. I like to treat myself to the Menú Degustación which includes two appetizers, five entrees, a fish and a meat course and two desserts. The current price is €52, less than €5 a dish, which is great value given what you get.

In 2015 I started with a chilled glass of Oloroso and some fantastic olives (A).

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And I tried a couple of their wonderful local olive oils (A) with the bread.

I followed this with Pan, Aciete y Chocolate (bread, oil and chocolate), a mainstay of the menu (B+).

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I told the owner I wanted to try local wines and he suggested a bottle of Eclo which was very good (B+).

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This was followed by a couple of dishes utilizing I think the famous prawns from nearby Huelva. First prawns with yellow chilli (A).

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And then a red prawn in a broth (B).

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Then Ajo Blanco de Coco, Pina, Albahaca (coconut, pineapple, basil); an innovative take on a classic local soup, another mainstay (A).

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The asparagus in a mayonnaise based sauce with trout roe was very subtle (C).

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The Presa Iberica, smoked pork with a caper sauce, had heaps of flavor (A).

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Then I think some roast suckling pig.

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Then a tasty segment of Butifarra de Pichón (pigeon?) sausage. I love this Catalan sausage, just wish there’d been more of it (B+).

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Melon with sorbet and crystalised basil was a good cleanser but didn’t have much flavor (C).

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On the other hand the delicate bread-pudding like dessert was fantastic (A).

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It went very well with a glass of excellent Malaga Muscat (A).

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Also a complementary flask of very lemony homemade limocello, which was nice but not as strong as the Italian version (B).

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They have quite a collection of Spanish brandies here, about thirty in all, about ten of which I hadn’t tried. I took pot luck and went for the 1885 Gran Reserva Malaga which was fine but not amazing (B).

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As always, I left a very happy bunny.

And here is my review from 2013:

The tasting menu was only €47 for about 12 different plates, not including a couple of little extras not pictured. These were:

Pan, Aciete y Chocolate (bread, oil and chocolate); an unusual combination that works.

Trufas de Perdiz Escabechada, Foie Tartufo (truffles of pickled partridge and foie) and Croqueta de Trufa y Parmesano (truffle and Parmesan croquette), served with root vegetable crisps.

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Ajo Blanco de Coco, Pina, Albahaca (a local cold almond soup, not garlic as you might think, with coconut milk, pineapple and basil).

Yema, Trufa, Patata (a whole poached egg rather than just a yolk and grated white truffle, I think on a bed of potato puree). So delicious.

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Ensalada de Perdiz de Campo y su Escabeche Emulsionado (country partridge salad with a marinade emulsion). In Spain escabeche is a vinegar marinade which I’m not particularly fond of but I didn’t notice it here.

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Morrococo, Cocido Mareao. I know the former is a local chickpea mash sometimes referred to as Jaen hummus! Cocido is a stew but I’m not sure what ‘mareao’ refers to. Either it’s leftover stew that in this case has been mashed into the chickpeas, or it’s the stock from boiling the stew ingredients which is sometimes eaten as a separate soup, as is probably what they’ve done here.

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Papada, Anguila, Mango-Pasion (possible pork jowl with Anguilla eel and mango something).

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El Pez (Segun Lonja) or fish of the day depending on market availability. Not sure what fish it was but it looks like bream or bass.

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Cordero Segureño, Naranja, Cardamomo (local Segureña lamb with orange and cardamom).

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This might be Melon, Ginebra, Manzanilla al Limon (melon, ginger and apple with lemon) as per menu but the photo doesn’t really match the description.

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There was definitely apple in this dessert though.

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Last of all I was given some complimentary chocs at the end and this strange milky digestif which was nice but again I don’t recall what it was exactly.

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All the wines I had here were excellent. I sampled two Ribera del Duero reds (the Matarromera crizanza and a young wine by AC), a Rioja (Bai Gorri 2007) and a local red Marcelino Serrano from the Sierra de la Sur de Jaen IGP.

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With a dessert I also had a glass of Moscatel de Alejandria, an ancient grape.

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An excellent meal at a very reasonable price.

And a couple of other reviews of my first meals at Casa Antonio:

One of the highlights for me is trying their local olive oils. The flavours are unlike any oils I’d tasted before and a couple are luminous green in colour!

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On my first ever visit I started with a small bowl of salmorejo, my favourite cold soup.

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After this I had Espaldilla de Cordero Segureno con Pure de Patata y Ajo Morado (Shoulder of Segureño Lamb with Potato Puree and Purple Garlic).

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And to finish some aged Manchego cheese. It could have done with some membrillo but it was still good.

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On the next occasion, Arroz Negro de Calamares su Alioli (rice made with squid and its ink with an accompanying sauce of emulsified garlic and oil).

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Can’t remember all the wines I tried, but they were very good.

Followed by Cochinillo Lechal en Dos Tiempos, Cebolleta a la Naranja y Cardamomo (twice-cooked (?) suckling piglet with chives, orange and cardamom).

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Not quite sure what this apple and cream creation was called but it was very nice.

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Suffice to say my stomach is always singing when I leave this place!

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