Traveling through a land through its gastronomy reveals much more to us than the pure delight of enjoying. Going in search of gastronomy implies discovering new landscapes, producers, ways of living, traditions, the character of a people, their love for the land. Our motorhome is the perfect means to arrive, enjoy and bring us some of the products of the land.
In the interior of Castellón there are authentic jewels, and some towns of the Alt Maestrat have made these products one of their main assets. Now in autumn those flavors are more valued.
Far from the big names that come to mind for all of us, there are small treasures still protected from the masses and that offer an enjoyment that feeds not only the taste and the body, but also the soul. Welcome to Alt Maestrat and its gastronomy.
A good place to start is Catí. The treasure of the Master. This medieval town is also a land of grazing and cheese tradition. The goat and sheep milk cheeses from these lands are among the best in international competitions. The Catí Livestock Cooperative is responsible for making and marketing these Alt Maestrat jewels.
The varied flora of the area is said to be responsible for the good quality of their milk. The varieties of cheeses that they make with these milks leave products such as Pell Cabra, Panyoleta Suau, Romero Cabra Leche Cruda and a variety of organic cheeses that have earned them first prize in the World Cheese Awards and the International Organic Cheese Award, among others. .
Just outside the village, there is another jewel of the land that is well known throughout the region. Producers such as Turrones Blasco, who have been making nougat and marzipan in an artisanal way since 1915, give Catí the honor of being the flagship of the Alt Maestrat nougat. It is the paradise of gourmands who value raw materials. The caramelized almonds, the marzipan, bread and figs, Cádiz bread, glory cakes, yolk cakes, shortbread and the delicious fondat walnuts with cinnamon are some of the reasons why it will be difficult for us to leave Catí.
If we spend a few hours in Benassal, we also have jewels to take with us. The elegant Benassal and its spas offer us, how could it be otherwise, products worthy of a gourmet. The water, the pure essence of life, and the truffle, the earth's diamond in the rough.
Benassal mineral water comes from the Fuente En Segures spring. A birth of water that the minerals filter and offer a very special water. Benassal water has had the mineral-medicinal water label since 1928, nothing more and nothing less.
Apart from being able to enjoy a few days at the spa, thanks to marketing we can take home this gift of nature. Both in gourmet and standard and family formats.
The other jewel of Benassal is its black truffles for the great Michelin stars for more than half a century. The mountains of Benassal have kept this black diamond in their bowels for centuries. Before it was not well known at a popular level, only in haute cuisine, but now these mushrooms from the oaks and holm oaks of Benassal have achieved popular fame.
Some farmers like Demetrio Ferrando is one of the promoters of truffle farming in the area and now, his three daughters are the ones who have taken over and offer quality truffles beyond our borders.
And if Culla is proud of its architecture, it can also be proud of its producers. The romantic Culla could not offer us two products so related to love. The honey that sweetens the senses and the bread, that symbol that feeds families and hearts.
Since 1880 beekeepers have been known in Culla, in those hives, before cylindrical cork that were transported with the mules at night. Beekeepers like the Miel y Sabor de Culla family already transported their hives to places like Teruel and Benicassim to collect the best thyme and orange blossom honey.
The ways of working have changed, but the love that this land has for its bees has not. The result? Some excellent honeys, the fruit of love for nature.
If we add to this a wonderful bread, with several bakeries in the region, the day can be perfect. Luis Moliner's office is a good example.
If there is a town that can be considered a pantry, it is Albocasser. Apart from its rich cultural heritage, Albocasser also delights us with three jewels of products. Its olive groves are famous. Castellón is a land of ancient olive trees and in Albocasser there is approximately 20 percent of olive cultivation. An extra virgin oil that its inhabitants began to produce in a cooperative, with traditional methods and that has served to promote rural tourism and prevent the depopulation of the area.
Plus there are their wines. Within the PGI Castelló and the Sant Mateu wine region, Albocasser wines. They are easy, generous and perfect wines for afternoons in the garden and chat. Because life must be lived with quality.
And in that gathering they cannot miss some good almonds. Because if there is any product for which Albocasser has been known since time immemorial, it is the almond. El Maestrat is a land of nuts, and Albocasser, of almonds. They have their own fair, the Fira de l'Ametla, to publicize this high-quality product.
Something similar happens with the lambs of Ares. This gastronomic adventure through Alt Maestrat ends in Ares del Maestrat, one of the most beautiful villages with the richest heritage in the Valencian Community. Lamb breeding is ancient in Ares, and the mountain and its flora produce very good rabbits.
With these two claims, coming to visit Ares becomes even more pleasant. The rich and aromatic pastures that grow here make these two varieties of meat a sublime and healthy product where they exist. The rabbit with snails is one of the most demanded dishes in the town, and the lamb chops with aioli are not far behind. Although the ways to eat and taste these two meats in Ares seem infinite.