Last 25 April Mascarat celebrated their 11th edition of this gorgeous 4 hour walking route, from Benissa to Xalo, passing through Lliber, and taking in the localities where the Mistela dessert wine is typically made.
The starting point was Benissa, passing through cobbled streets and up to its fantastic overlook. Then on into the countryside where we found centuries old riu raus (traditional constructions like the one you can see in the photo below that were the centres of grape production), cultivated terraces dating back to Moorish times and the origins of region’s vineyards, and el Pla de las Viñas (the valley of the vines), a whole valley dedicated to wine making.
Once in Xalo, we had time to visit the ethnographic museum, its famous street market and, of course, winery, for a fantastic tasting of the wines of the region. There was only one thing left to do…enjoy the signature dish of this region.
Reflecting its Moorish origins, we tucked into a magnificent Couscous of the Marina Alta.
Don’t wait for the 12th edition to come around!
Come on, everyone loves cheese!
Last February our friends in Mascarat organised a gastro-outing to a small artisan dairy in Tibi, just half an hour from Alicante. This little place hides both a love story and the supplier of fine cheeses to the best restaurants in the province. Now we know where they come from! Lili’s goats!
During the visit, Lili, a Swiss woman married to Julian, the goatherd of Tibi, told us the story of the dairy from its beginnings and the secrets of cheesemaking. It looked so simple!
The workshop smelled of all kinds of aromatic herbs, and it was here where we tasted some truly fantastic goat cheese. A real experience!
By the way, if you want to collaborate, you can adopt one of Lili’s goats, like the cute little fellah in the picture below. Irresistable 😉
Despite living here, not many of us know much about the origins of Alicante. Fortunately, our friends in Mascarat had prepared something to help us fill in the gaps: a trail from MARQ, Aliante’s award winning archeological museum, to Lucentum, one of the most important archeological sites in the whole of the Valencia region.
After visiting the exhibits in the museum, we headed off across the Sierra Grossa and along the Alicante coastline to Lucentum, where a guided visit helped us to discover its secrets.
Perched on top of a grassy hill overlooking the sea and granted city status by the first Roman emperor, Augustus, the site manages to preserve what was once the whole city of Lucentum/Alicante (the city of light), 25000sq/m of urban life dating back as far as 500BC.
Occasionally used today as the atmospheric venue for concerts on hot summer nights, Lucentum – easily reached by tram in 10 minutes from the city centre – is well worth a visit if you feel like stepping back into the past and discovering one of Alicante’s hidden treasures.
For this occasion, our friends of Mascarat chose a cultural route through Novelda.
At only 35 km from Alicante and famous for its grapes and marble, Novelda has formed part of the European Modernism Route since 2007.
With Ula, our guide and friend, we climbed up the Castillo de la Mola and visited the chapel of Santa Magdalena, commonly known as the Little Sagrada Familia thanks to Gaudi’s influence on the Novelda architect Jose Sala. Once down in the town, Ula told us the story of the town matriarch, La Pichocha, and of her wish that her daughters should have the finest houses in town.
These houses are now the Modernist Museum and the Gomez Tortosa Cultural Centre, both of them genuine architectural gems.
Culturally satisfied, we whet our appetites on a fantastic craft beer tasting, seeing as Novelda is home to a small artisan brewery called Exulans. Each of the five we tried was better than the one before! And to finish, we headed to the renowned Novelda restaurant, Cucuch, to end the day with a fantastic ‘arroz a banda’.