The rain gods have relented and given us a glorious day of warm sunshine, bright and blinding as only the south of Spain can offer up. And thank goodness it came so conveniently the day I’d arranged to visit the photographer Sharon Minkoff ( friend of my theatre pal Eleanor Liddy). A thirty minute ferry ride across the Bay of Cadiz took me to El Puerto de Santa Maria. I’d been given an introduction – by email rather than those precious and important letters travellers relied on as in the novels of E.M. Forster. But, hey, how does it matter how I get my feet wet on foreign soil ( ironically on one of the only days so far my feet have actually been dry).
El Puerto de Santa Maria has lain quietly towards the northern end of the Bay of Cadiz for many hundreds of years. Columbus set sail from here to the ‘Indias’ on more than one occasion. The water well from which the 15th century sailors filled their ships before they discovered the Americas still stands, stone solid.
The winey smell of sherry aging in barrels wafts through the grills of glassless warehouses as Sharon leads us on a tour of the town’s quiet streets. It’s after 2 pm, the stores are shut for siesta, the townsfolk indoors preparing and eating their main meal of the day.
After a month of restaurant food it was bliss to be in Sharon’s kitchen sipping a cold cerveza while she cooked. On the rooftop patio we dawdled over lunch: black and green olives (both types cured by Sharon herself), aubergines cooked with onions and cilantro, fresh hand-made bread studded with walnuts, carrot and ginger soup, fresh mozzarella and spinach baked in phyllo pastry. Memories of wet feet and sodden clothes evaporated as quickly as the puddles between the cobbles in the streets.
Muchas gracias Sharon
Please enjoy Sharon’s gorgeous photos on her blog