Friday, 22 April 2011

The Farm Around Easter

The Easter weekend is here and it’s come after a month of weather in Asturias that has been mostly warm and dry. All this hot weather after the wetter winter months has made everything grow fast and brought the season forward. It’s a lovely time to walk around the farm and sense and feel this surge of growth.

Vibrant green growth around the hotel and on the farm

In the meadows the wild flowers are bursting into bloom producing a mosaic of colour stretching above a base of vibrant green. There are orchids galore on the farm and the Bee orchids, Province orchids, Early purples and Tongue Serapias are well into flower. Most of the trees and plants are awakening from their winter rest and just coming into flower, but others have been flowering for some time. The mighty white flower spikes of the Asphodels will soon becoming to an end leaving the flower stalk full of seed heads waiting to ripen and disperse their futures generations into the rocky ground.

Asphodels flowering amongst the rocks.

Early purple orchid

The pastures are lush and the grass is growing fast, far faster than the animals can eat. The sheep are loving all this rich food and getting fat in the process and this new grass helps the mothers produce lots of milk. All the lambs born just a couple of months ago are no longer tiny babies but are now rather sturdy creatures which look like a match for their mums.

Mother and not so small lamb.

With so much tender grass at the moment we have to be careful that horses don’t eat too much and get colic. We extend their grazing area a little at time so as to reduce the amount of new grass they can eat. Wednesday the goat is happy that there is new growth for her to pick through having got bored with the same old plants to graze during the winter.

The asturcon ponies

Wednesday the goat

We always think of eggs at Easter and our chickens are certainly laying lots of tasty eggs at the moment. The warmer weather and longer days is nature’s way of telling the chickens it’s a good time to lay. The chickens roam happily around the farm in search of all sorts to eat. No wonder our eggs are so tasty when you see the variety of food they eat; flower heads, different leaves, seeds, creepy crawlies and much more. The only problem at this time of year is that with so much growth there are more places for the chickens to hide outside and make nests. But what a lovely job at Easter; walking around the farm trying to find a chickens nest and eggs.

An Asturian chicken looking for a place to make a nest.

Happy Easter.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Cookery Workshop

Cheese and onion roulade.

For us the food we serve and eat is very important, as well being an enjoyable experience it reflects our philosophies and beliefs. We often say we serve a “Home Grown Cuisine,” and about 30% of the food we serve is produced on the hotel farm. This means we have constant access to really healthy fresh produce and it also means the cooking has to be adjusted to what is available and in season.

Practising how to make different types of bread with Samantha supervising.

and writing notes….

This weekend we held a cookery workshop where participants learnt how to handle the spontaneity and the art of cooking healthy seasonal food, organic and vegetarian as it is prepared in the restaurant of the Hotel Posada del Valle. In the hotel set we serve a vegetarian and meat option; the meat always comes from carefully selected local and sustainable organic producers, but in this workshop we decided to specialize on vegetarian dishes.

It wasn’t just the women who were hands on.

The cookery workshops are informal and hands-on, taught by Joann and Samantha they are normally bilingual, but on this occasion all the six participants were Spanish. We limit the number of participants to six so that everyone has a chance to participate fully.

Preparing a leek and cheese roulade.

The cold carrot roulade.

The emphasis on the course was spontaneity and adaptability, taking standard recipes and adapting them to the seasonal ingredients that are available. Roulades are a classic example, they are very versatile and once the basic technique has been learnt they can be served hot or cold, sweet or savoury, making use of the ingredients that are available. A hot leek and cheese roulade, a cold carrot roulade and a raspberry and cream roulade where the types of roulades made by everyone this time. Amongst other dishes, all the participants made their own bread with different combinations and types of flour as well as adding a range of ingredients such as seeds, olives or grated vegetables.

Joe demonstrating another recipe

Proudly showing her home made bread before baking it.

During the weekend there was plenty of opportunity to try the food they had prepared as well as other dishes typical of the cooking at Hotel Posada del Valle. All the participants left at midday today most taking small samples of some of the dishes they had prepared. By all accounts everyone had an enjoyable time. The next weekend Cookery workshop is at the end of September and there will also be a seven day course “The Way of Food” in the middle of October. For more information on courses and events at the hotel check our web page.

The vegetable garden at the hotel.


Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.