Gastronomy & Wine in Frailes, Sierra Sur de Jaen

With weeks rushing by we're now hurtling into spring, my favourite season and I realise it's three weeks since I popped over the hills of the Sierra Sur de Jaen, my home into the neighbouring small town of Frailes. As the crow flies it would have been much quicker but as the name suggests - Sierra is a mountain range and the long and winding road that led me to Frailes took over an hour - but an hour of beautiful scenery and peace. Hardly a car on the road, several Land Rovers in the olive groves but little sign of life. That's the glorious area I live in. I do know I'm lucky.

Fuensanta to Castillo de Locubin Road

Frailes, you may have heard of it before and wondering why, was the home of Michael Jacobs author of  'Factory of Light' amongst many other works. His widow still retains their home in the tiny whitewashed town. Tiny it may be but the people are big-hearted and generous and it was my pleasure to join a group of Spanish bloggers (all young enough to be my children) and explore the lovely town and meet some of its characters on this XX Jornada Vinícola y Gastronómica de Frailes or XX Wine & Gastronomy Day.

Michael Jacob's House and Tiny Chapel
I arrived in  Frailes, a town I'd only visited once before, and decided to stop at the first bar with parking that I saw for coffee before contacting the group to meet them. So on ordering coffee I contacted Rafa Frias from the blog Viajes con Humor, native of Frailes and guess what? I'd only chosen the same bar, a good omen for the day to come. So taking three steps out the back and I met up with the group of bloggers, two I'd met before others new to me.

Our first stop was the Plaza del Nacimiento, the spring water source with crystal clear drinking water straight from the surrounding mountains and feeding the once hub and women of the town's meeting place, the old wash-house. An impromptu act of drunken flirting and serenading from Rafa's father (and his mother) created much amusement.

With around 18 fountains around the town, the tinkling of water, tiny cascades and drinking fountains surrounds our wander through pretty, flower-filled narrow streets.

But my favourite part of all was the tiny, white-fronted, flower-dotted cavehouse. Both inside and out was charming, an almost life-size doll's house.

But to the main reason of the day - the gastronomy fiesta local wine and cheese, there is both a winery and cheese factory from where you can buy their products on the entrance to the town. Our first sample was a home-made offering from a charming couple whose local esparto crafts were on display and his own wine, not on display but  produced along with plastic beakers for a decent-sized sample!

I would have bought some if it was for sale and not personal consumption! A very good start to the sampling session and fabulous handmade creations too!

At last to the marquees and feeding time of the 3,000!

Locally prepared sausages, chorizos and black puddings of colours I'd not seen before, great cheeses and a great local red.

Followed by a real mountain dish for those cold, hungry workers - white bean stew, a huge plate of cooked over the coals pork and three different pastries all made with extra virgen olive oil for the dessert I couldn't possibly manage. An amazing achievement for a town of around 1,000 people, a great atmosphere and lots of fun. Look out for me at the 21st festival in April next year, I'm sure to be there.

You can of course sample Frailes and its cheese and wine any time of year, it's a lovely place to explore. 

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