Spain: Return to Benissa

I’m so lucky that my good friends Linda and George live in a beautiful part of Spain and invite me to stay with them often. It’s actually a couple of years since I was last here as the three of us had a holiday together in Istanbul last year. They live about halfway between Alicante and Valencia, in a small hamlet outside the town of Benissa. It’s fairly remote, with wonderful views, but close enough to the coast that we can drive down to the sea in about a quarter of an hour.

I flew into Alicante yesterday afternoon in eminently civilised fashion with BA who have recently opened a route here from Gatwick. From there I picked up a local bus to Benidorm – 45 minutes away – where Linda would pick me up for the final half hour drive further north. When we arrived at their home it didn’t take me long to change into my swimming costume and step into the lovely cool pool to refresh myself from hours of travel.

After a shower it was evening drinks by the pool – deliciously chilled cava, olives and almonds – before supper. Linda had made a wonderful fish stew: clams, monkfish and prawns in a gorgeous sauce including tomatoes, white wine, Pernod and thyme. It also included the small noodles that are used infideua – a Valencian noodle version of their famous paella – noodles instead of rice.

It was so delicious and a lovely meal, sitting outside in their covered terrace looking out across the beautiful, rugged landscape. For dessert, Linda had prepared some baked plums with a mascarpone and almond topping in red wine. Yummy!

I slept through until almost 9am, which is unheard of; I’m normally awake very early. I swam 20 lengths before breakfast. George had prepared some freshly squeezed orange juice from local Valenician oranges. Sweet and full of flavour, they are fantastic oranges. George – who plays saxophone – went off for a music group practice. Linda and I took things more gently before driving to Moraira on the coast; one of the closest towns and one I like a lot. She’d been told by friends of a good new cafe, Cafe Chic.

Our cortados came with delicious little cakes.

Then we went for a stroll and came across a wonderful shop: Hendrika & Co. Linda knew the owner and we chatted for a while and then looked round. It was beautifully laid out and full of lovely craft and art works, some antiques and paintings: elegant handbags that Rita designs herself and has made locally.

It’s the kind of delightful shop where your own taste matches the owner’s well and you’d like to buy everything. It’s probably as well I hadn’t driven here or I could have been tempted to buy lots! As it was, I gave Rita my card and asked to take a couple of photos for my blog. Oh, she said, I know you! I follow your blog. We had a lovely chat and it was so nice to meet her. I was really touched to find out that she’d been reading my blog regularly for a while. I explained it was my first day here but I’d try to go back again, and maybe buy some little thing that will fit in my bag, before I go home.

Back ‘home’ at Linda and George’s it was a lunch of delicious Spanish ham, sweet melon, cheese, bread and other salad things.

The view from the terrace is wonderful.

After that there was only one thing to do: siesta time. Time to relax – before heading into Benissa this evening to meet friends and go to a concert.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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