So ....... we arrived at the hotel. Our first encounter was very disappointing - I remember wanting to drive on. The hotel is in the centre of an industrial estate on the outskirts of town and the facade is not at all appealing, it looks like something that time has forgotten. Ripped and water stained curtains adorn the windows flanking the main entrance and the lobby is dark with a mishmash of furniture. Leaving our bags in the car (in the event of a speedy retreat), we advanced to the reception desk cautiously. The young man was very welcoming and cheerful, so we checked in, feeling a little more encouraged, and took the ancient lift which creaked its way up to the second floor. The rooms were 'ok' - functional and clean. To the delight of the teenagers, WIFI was available so all was good with the world.
The main reason for returning, apart from the excellent service we received, was the most delicious and generous plates of 'Jamon Iberico' that we had enjoyed on our first visit. And there was another BIG plus - a shop - my favourite kind of shop, better to me than any other kind of shop - a shop specialising in hams of the region, along with other scrumptious products like chorizos, salamis, sausages, pates and a variety of local cheeses,wines, olive oils, olives, paprikas, stuffed peppers and much much more. The smell was sensational and I could ramble for ages. The 'senhor' was knowledgeable and helpful and imparted a lot of information about the black pigs from which the ham is produced. I learned that the best ham is the 'Bellota', meaning 'acorns' which form pigs' staple diet. This meat is salted and hung for longer than the less expensive varieties. The meat is darker than the meat of Serrano which is more pink in colour. I left more knowledgeable and with lots of goodies and a promise that we would visit again on our journey home. How fabulous to have such a treat to look forward to at the end of a holiday!
We enjoyed our simple meal, all feasting on plates of this very special ham accompanied by rustic bread, a deliciously fresh tomato and onion salad and ........ chips. How could we not have chips - sometimes the boys are a good excuse! The wine was good too.