[caption id="attachment_1391" align="alignleft" width="106" caption="Poster for the Vilafamés Fair."]
Just once in a while, despite thinking you know somewhere well, something jumps out and gives you a huge surprise! The Jornadas Gastronòmiques de Vilafamés was one of these. Normally these `Jornadas´ are held in local restaurants in a town and are a showcase for local cooking at reasonable prices and this was no exception with all the bars and restaurants displaying tables laid up for excited diners in the know. Unusually I think this is accompanied by a local fair in the market place in Vilafamés, a very pretty town about an hour North of Valencia with a ruined castle and set in a steep valley between mountain ranges.
I think I have been to Vilafamés five or six times this year, it is the home to Bodegas Mayo Garcia and Señorio de Vilafames, as well as having a local Co-op bodega as well. It also is home to the olive oil Co-op named after the local mountain peak of Penyagolosa.
From the town there are astounding views over the Plà de Vilafames and the vineyards it contains, in the narrow streets with their tall houses, some built into the stone of the mountainsides there is colour and a vibrancy which may well be due to the light.
[caption id="attachment_1395" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Discussing Sausages at Casa Marta."]
It was this colour which first surpised me on arrival at the fair. Our usual parking space in the towns main square was not available due to the marquee in which local bakers, butchers, sausage-makers, the olive oil co-op and Bodegas Mayo Garcia were showing their range of wines called Magnanimvs. Here also, local restaurants were displaying their menus and taking bookings for lunch or dinner.
Outside it was a very bright and warm December day, we have been enjoying an Autumn with daytime temperatures still around 18 degrees and so far without frosts. Inside the marquee, often drab and uninviting, the colours abounded on the various stalls.
We were to be tempted by Bunuelos and figs from the local housewives association served with a sweet rich Moscatel Vino de Licor.
In a corner one of the local butchers, Casa Marta, which also provides a take-away service, were displaying a huge range of sausages, white, black and red, blanquettes, longanizas, chorizos, botifarras, sobrasadas and morcillas, perro and artesan cheeses with rosemary, olives and in the traditional servilleta and tronchon shapes. From here we selected a sheeps cheese, `El Poble Benessal´semi-curado and from an artesan cheesemaker, a member of the Valencian Cheese Makers Association.
[caption id="attachment_1396" align="alignleft" width="112" caption="Selection of Breads and Cocas."]
From the next door bakers stall Forn de Pa Natural , we selected a bread weighing about a pound, crisp and fresh, to add to our emerging lunch. To this we added a generous portion of coca, like a pizza base but dressed with sardine, anchovy, red pepper, and aubergine slices.
At the nearby butchers stall of Maria Dolores (MD from the next village of St Joan del Moro) we admired another selection of sausages. Amongst the longanizas frescas was a range which to all intents and purposes could have been English. Thicker in style and with herbs and spices we could have had pork with wine, sobrasada, pork with roquefort, with garlic or other varieties! We selected pork with ajos-tiernos , young green garlic and a botifarra montaña with spices.
Next we called at the stall of Gabriel Mayo Garcia, a very good winemaker and selected some white Magnanimvs as well as the red `Gold top´-as well as sampling the Rosado and `Platinum Top´! These wines have all been reviewed following previous visits to the Bodega earlier in the year ( see archives). Wines should also have been available from both the Co-op, Bodegas Vilafamés, and Señorio de Vilafamés whose cavas and reds I particularly like, but despite advertising their presence neither were there.
[caption id="attachment_1397" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Moscatel, Vino de Licor at the Housewives Stall."]
Moving on we tried a sobrasada, quite mild, from Estela and some savoury tarts from Entrepans Paima, before stealing outside for a refreshing beer. Here the other bakery in the village, Rafael Galindo, was doing a roaring trade with his chocolate covered fruits. This bakery is renowned for its sweets and sweet tarts and we have visited it before to try almond based pastries!
Up the hill towards the Church and Castle, local shops were selling ceramic and other products. One of these shops is a local delicatessen `La Palera´. Every visit to the town has culminated here so far to buy a few bottles of the Vi dolç, a dark sweet syrup of figs pudding wine from long aged Tempranillo with pasification. Paco and Mari-Carmen sell quality wines from Castellon, dispense samples of their sweet wine and otherwise have good quality olive oil, honey, marmalades and tourist oriented goods! This time they were dispensing samples of a new white and rosado from their own grapes which they are now commercializing. The white is dry, from Malvasia, Merseguera and Moscatel and was light, fresh, dry, well-balanced with floral notes and apricots and a good finish. The rosado is onion skin in colour with nice viscocity. On the nose quite closed, it may have been a little over chilled but in the mouth was full of fruit, with an initial sweetness balanced by fresh acidity and lovely raspberry and strawberry flavours, quite full with a creamy long finish. From Tempranillo and , unusual in Castellon, Bobal.
[caption id="attachment_1398" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Outside La Palera."]
We strolled down the hill, had a coffee, this time avoiding the Carajillo de Ron, ( a lethal rum based coffee) for which the town is infamous and made our way back to the car. From here an hours drive home saw us cooking the sausages and laying out our impromptu lunch. I can only say these were amongst my favourite sausages from Valencia, the Botifarra spicy and peppery and the longaniza with its garlic....well, garlicky but not overso! Both had a wonderful texture and displayed no fat in the cooking......the coca of sardine was excellent with the bread base easy to eat and neither too oily nor dry. The bread was fresh, easy to carve and well....our next visit to Vilafamés will now have other motives than just visiting the bodegas!