A Spanish Gem

One of the joys of being in a different country is the ongoing voyage of discovery …

It goes without saying that travel will fill a great deal of time in discovering new places and historical sites, but two things that can be discovered on your doorstep are food and drink. Some people rave about Spanish cuisine, especially the cheap tapas often enjoyed at lunchtimes, but experience has found that one needs to select these dishes rather carefully. Generally speaking, cheap is the all-important word, so quality ingredients usually will be in short supply. Personally, I prefer more traditional dishes utilising fresh ingredients especially as there is an abundance of fruit and vegetables available when in season!

However, drink is another matter entirely. Obviously, there are copious amounts of wine available depending upon where you shop, with many Spanish stores only stocking wine from Spain. The wine is marketed by the region from which it originates rather than the more usual way of identifying it by grape. As is the case with all wines, there are good and bad ones, although price is not necessarily an indication of quality. To ensure an acceptable beverage, it is best to select wines that are identified by Denominaciōn de Origen which fairly equates to Appellation d’origine Contrôllée in France and Qualitātswein in Germany. A natural progression from wine is the liqueur, often regarded as a luxury, and one liqueur in Spain is no exception.

Cuarenta y Tres

Nestled within the historic city of Cartagena is a family-owned distillery making the liqueur known as 43 or Cuarenta y Tres! It is so-named as it is made from forty-three separate ingredients combining citrus fruits, herbs and spices all found in the Mediterranean. The exact recipe is a mystery and only three members of the Zamora family know the secret behind the liqueur. The special infusion process yields a rich golden liquid with tastes of honey, vanilla and caramel, although there are many varying descriptions of the actual taste. It is believed that the recipe was discovered by the Romans over 2000 years ago and it is verified that all the ingredients were commonplace in Spain at the time of the Roman Empire.

As with any liqueur, how one drinks it is an individual choice. Personally, I enjoy it served with ice but it needs to be consumed quite quickly before the ice dilutes it! Some enjoy Cuarenta y Tres as a traditional after-dinner drink with coffee whilst it is popular as a longer cocktail drink with the younger generation. One thing is certain though … this drink is a real gem, and with Cartagena being within easy reach, a tour of the distillery with free tasting is on the agenda! As for price, it isn’t exactly cheap and costs more than the likes of Cointreau, which. of course, is imported. The drink undoubtedly plays a very important part in the history and heritage of Spain.


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