This year we had a group of culinary students and their professors from Taylor's University in Malaysia to take part in this exclusive experience. We took them from Valencia to Castilla-La Mancha for a two day tour during which they had the opportunity to taste the wines of Utiel-Requena (Valencia) and the quintessential Spanish delicacy, Manchego cheese. They also got to witness the panoramic views of central Spain, complete with the windmills of Don Quijote. But the star of the tour was the Saffron visit, and the activities that they had the opportunity to partake in surrounding the closed world of this fragrant spice. The activities included: a guided visit to the Saffron Museum where they learned about the history of the spice and its relationship with the land and the culture, they picked the flowers in a saffron field, they helped seperate the stems from the flowers, witnessed the drying of the spice, and discovered first hand the entire process from bulb to bottle of one of the most expensive spices in the world.
It was wonderful to be able to share this experience with these culinary students and their professors. Their energy and enthusiasm was palpable and they understood the uniqueness of the experience they were having, that only a few other people in the world have or will see, much less participate in. Coming to Spain and tasting paellas and visiting Barcelona is all well and good, but the chance to get into the heartland of Spain and discover the exquisite world of Saffron was a chance that most visitors to Spain will never experience. Mix in the chance to visit and taste authentic Manchego cheese (in Malaysia these kinds of cheeses are not an every day commodity), as well as experience the hospitality of the local restaurants who went out of their way to create a special menu of local delicacies for the group ... it all adds up to a couple of days of their trip which I hope will be unforgettable for them and that one day, when they are renowned chefs, they will look back at and remember as an inspiring experience that leaves the same smile on their faces that we have when we think of them and this tour.
The pleasure was ours, we wish you all the best!