In central Spains Castilla-La Mancha, where Cervantes set the fictional journeys of Don Quixote, food is taken seriously. Manchego cheese, garlic and superior shepherds style game stews take centre stage, but saffron is the ingredient most ingrained in the community. At the Saffron Rose Fiesta, held since 1963, there is a Grinding of Peace and Love ceremony at a 16th-century windmill, and competitive separation of crimson saffron threads from the purple crocus flowers. Saffron goes well in a surprisingly large number of dishes, from custard tarts to aioli, and the festival is a good excuse to explore them all.
Stay: Centrally locatedHostal Restaurante San Poul (doubles from 48 room-only)
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