We enjoy many different types of lamb dishes and one of our favorites are lamb chops. Although they are delicious simply grilled with garlic and herbs, this one pot dinner is an excellent alternative. We used a tajine to cook the dish, but it could just as easily be entirely cooked in a skillet. Finishing the lamb chops in the rice and tomatoes keeps it moist and tender. Similar to cooking with wine, when cooking with olives it is always important to use an olive that you would eat on its own without adding it to a dish.
There are so many wonderful places to see in Southern Spain, so we have put together what we considered to be an ideal itinerary for visiting the region. We rented a car for the 2 weeks that we spent there, which is ideal as it is easy to get around and the highways are not very busy. Although we stayed at one central location so that we didn’t have to continuously pack and unpack, it could easily be done by going to each place individually.
Granada – You will want at least 2 days in Granada with the highlight of city being the Alhambra Palace. There are wonderful restaurants and plenty of quaint hotels to choose from. Situated near the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the city has breathtaking views. Although we only spent a couple of days in Granada, it is certainly worthy of more time if you have it available.
Malaga – We flew into this city and then immediately drove to our home-base in Estepona, but we made sure to come back and spend a day in the city later. You can also catch a high-speed train to Madrid if you want to see something other than Southern Spain. Sitting on the coast of the Mediterranean with a history that stretches back almost 3,000 years, it is certainly worth at least a couple of days during your time in the region. There are also several museums that are worth visiting in addition to the many sights around the city.
Marbella and Estepona – Basically the Spanish Riviera on the Costa Del Sol, you could easily spend two weeks just enjoying the beach, water activities, shopping, resorts, and award-winning restaurants. We stayed in Estepona, so after every day trip, we would return back to watch the sun set over the Mediterranean. Not a bad way to end a busy day of sightseeing. Even if you can’t spend a couple of weeks in these resort towns, you should at least plan on a couple of days to enjoy the beautiful beaches and eat some fresh seafood.
Benahavís – With only a single road that leads to this town in the mountains, it is a food lovers paradise. Even if you don’t spend a full day in the town, it is certainly worth visiting if you are in the Marbella area. It is quintessential Spain with a truly relaxed atmosphere and some of the best restaurants and wine that we had during our time in Spain.
Ronda – The bridge that spans the canyon is worth seeing from both above as well as below. There is also the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain within the city and there is a unique and historical bullfight that takes place in Ronda once a year. While in the area, it is certainly worthwhile to visit one of the many vineyards and olive farms for a tasting. We spent a day in Ronda and felt that we were able to get a true sense of the city, but you could certainly spend more time if you have it available.
Tangiers, Morocco – Although not in Spain, we would highly recommend taking a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to see this historic city. Being at the crossroads from Africa into Europe, Tangiers is a fascinating city with a cultural blend that is unique to Northern Africa. We hired a private tour guide so that we had transportation to get outside of the city, but it certainly isn’t necessary. Although we only spent a single day in Morocco, we would recommend getting a hotel and at least spending 2 days if your travels allow.
Gibraltar – Just seeing the Rock of Gibraltar and the fortress is worth making this part of your travel plans. Given that it is part of the United Kingdom, walking the streets of Gibraltar will make you feel like you are walking a street somewhere in England with all of the pubs, British flags, and fish and chips vendors. A day in the city is enough to take the tram up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar to see the amazing views as well as to walk through the city itself.
Seville – As the capital of Andalusia, it is certainly a highlight of any trip to Southern Spain. To truly get a sense of everything that this historic city has to offer, you will want to spend at least 3 days in Seville. With its historic cathedral, old town, Jewish quarter, and museums, there is much to see in the city. If you do drive to Seville, the narrow streets can be difficult to navigate. Be sure to enjoy some Iberico ham while you are in the city as it is truly delicious.
We certainly enjoyed our full two week adventure in Southern Spain and would highly recommend it to anyone traveling there. We visiting during November, which turned out to be ideal as far as temperatures go, but if you want to spend more time on the beach, then you should consider summer. If you do go during summer, expect the coast to be packed with visitors as many people from across Europe head to the beaches and resorts in the area.
Salmon is a wonderful fish to have throughout the year. It is strong enough to hold up to a variety of flavors, so we decided to do a variation of a sauce that we saw on a cooking show. We had so many similar style dishes when visiting the Mediterranean regions, we only wish that we could have been sitting on a beach while we ate. It is a combination of sweet and savory and can be used on a variety of proteins from chicken to other types of fish. Having salmon with a light and refreshing sauce such as this makes for a wonderful weeknight dinner or it can be dressed up for a special occasion. We decided to bake the salmon, but you could just as easily pan fry it if you would like to create a crispy skin. It certainly made for a wonderful meal and is something that we will likely make again and again. This recipe is for two, but can easily be adjusted to serve more.
1/2 lb Salmon – cut into 4 oz filets
1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar
2 tbsp Capers – rinsed
2 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Dried Dill
2 tbsp Dried Tarragon
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2/3 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Brush the flesh side of the salmon with olive oil and then sprinkle them with salt, pepper, the garlic powder, and a pinch of the dill and tarragon. Place skin side down on a pan that has been covered with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes for medium-well or cook to your desired temperature. In a blender, add the vinegar, honey, capers, and remaining dill and tarragon. Blend while slowly adding olive oil until it reaches the desired thickness (you may not use all of the olive oil). Remove the salmon from the oven and drizzle with the desired amount of sauce, about 2 to 3 tablespoons per filet.