We find ourselves with the possibility of having Christmas holidays In New Zealand. Something quite surprising here is that and we thought about traveling to the southern hemisphere, looking for a warmer Christmas, but not sun and beach. And it occurred to us that it could be a great destination amidst nearly virgin nature and the very interesting Maori culture.

Arriving in New Zealand is not easy and it has cost us about 20 hours. We flew to Bangkok, then from Bangkok to Sydney and, finally from Sydney to Christchurch, where we arrived at 3:30 pm after getting on and off the same plane in Bangkok and Sydney.

We had rented a car and as the agency do not have office at the airport, we had to call them to come and pick us up. It was easy, because as soon as we leave with our luggage there is a tourist information office. There they told us where the cabins were and then where we had to wait for the bus that would come to pick us up from the rental company.

A few minutes later they came to pick us up and took us to the office. Our car was quite old, that is, 10 years old, with cassette tape and everything, but in general with good looks or so we thought. So, we went to the hotel, and just when we arrived it started to rain. We were very tired, but we had to buy and dine. So after the shower we head to the street. We approached one for dinner, but it was full and there was a lot of noise. So we went to an Irish restaurant across the street. After dinner we go to sleep.

Honeymoon in New Zealand in December

Day 2

After sleeping a lot of hours we have risen like new and today the day is much better than yesterday. But it turns out that our phone company does not have agreements in New Zealand. So we do not have the possibility to call. Taking into account that we have an old car, we do not want to go without a cell phone. We buy a prepaid card with voice and data until the balance was exhausted. Luckily we did not have to use it to communicate faults, but we did have to check something online on the move or call somewhere to say we were arriving later.

So we are ready to truly begin our visit to the city. To begin the visit we went to Cathedral Square, to visit the center of Christchurch a bit. Christchurch was founded by the Anglican Church in 1850. The lands on which it settled were previously given to the British bourgeoisie, because they did not want a disorderly city like the colonies in other countries, but a clean and elegant British city. In a short time it became a prosperous city thanks to the wool trade.

We arrived in this area through a commercial area and we are surprised that, although it is Christmas, it does not look like here. Then we will discover that the Christmas decoration on the streets of New Zealand is practically nonexistent.

This area was either not affected by the earthquakes or rebuilt because a few blocks away there were areas where the debris had not even been removed. The truth is that, although years have passed since the earthquake that shook the city, it is still to be rebuilt and the feeling it gave us was sadness. There are many empty lots, although they have invented many ways to fill them.

We crossed the river Avon to go to see the Restart Mall, which is made up of painted containers of colors. It is where the merchants of the affected areas have been located, and which gives a very particular and modern image of the city.

Just opposite, there is a peculiar monument, the 185 Empty Chairs in which we can sit, take pictures. Also, showing a great imagination, they have built a new cardboard cathedral, designed by a Japanese architect. They have also been able to fill the lots with murals and bring some sheep to the city.

Once the Christchurch tour finished we took the car to do the 220 km that separate us from Lake Tekapo. We stopped to eat at a brewery in Geraldine, which had a very cool cafeteria, where we ate very well. In New Zealand a lot of beer is made, although without a doubt the star is Speight's in its many varieties, but it is convenient to try each one in the regions.

During the trip we began to enjoy the typical landscapes of New Zealand, with the Alps in the background and the first lupins. Once at Lake Tekapo we climb to the top of Mount John through a very closed pine forest. From here we cannot see the lake until we reach the top, where there is an astronomical observatory with spectacular views of Lake Tekapo. The turquoise color is spectacular. Also the views of Lake Alexandrina and the tops of the Alps are well worth it.

Although we had planned to go down the path that goes next to the lake we could not, since we had spent a lot of time in Christchurch and we did not have time. Also, at the top it was so nice and the views were so beautiful that we stayed for a long time.

After this we went back through the woods to the Church of the Good Shepherd, right next to the lake, built in 1935. The road to Mount Cook goes, in its first half, close to Lake Pukaki, from where we can see spectacular views of Mt. Cook or Aoraki which with 3754 m is the highest mountain in New Zealand.

From Tekapo to our hotel, it takes an hour and a quarter. We arrived there at around 8:15 pm and the hotel lady told us that it was too late to have dinner. We went directly, practically without leaving the luggage, to have dinner at a restaurant. They took a lot of time to serve us, but the views from the cafeteria were impressive. After this, with batteries charged to see so much beautiful scenery, we went to bed.

In southern rich breakfast muffins of Antequera are known for its tradition, but are easy to find throughout the region. Andalusian muffins have soft crumb, seasoned with butter from Iberian pigs. In Scottish cuisine we found something similar, the Scot Baps. They are soft, tender and very floury buns traditionally taken with stuffed egg and bacon breakfast or grilled tenderloin. It is prepared with a mixture of 50% water and milk and sprinkled liberally with flour before baking. In some recipes also they include lard in their composition.

I spent so many years searching in vain for a particular type of muffins that I thought that did not really exist. In my strange role of Indiana Jones I have scoured muffins on every vacation for more than 5 years. I've tried dozens of muffins on the Costa del Sol and none has convinced me.

At ten o'clock at night, calm disappears. At that time, the facilities of a small company on the outskirts of Antequera become a hotbed. There, a team works lovingly prepared to maintain one of the greatest traditions of their city. It's time to stick their hands in the dough and produce the most famous rolls of Andalusia muffins.
The scene happens every night except Saturday at the San Roque oven.

Flour, yeast, water and salt are the ingredients for some muffins that this family takes from the 50s of last century . Natural fermentation for about four hours (depending on ambient temperature) and oven cooking stove make each unit acquires perfect characteristics. And at six o'clock, freshly baked muffins begin to get into Antequera, where is almost 95 percent of production.

Muffin images

Muffin tradition in the city of El Torcal goes back several centuries. In fact, a few years ago a reference was found in a report chapter of the Archives of Antequera, 1775, in which approval was granted to a baker to knead French bread and muffins. Today, manufacturing has evolved and in most cases is produced industrially, with exceptions as Horno San Roque.

One by one, with hands and much love of the family and a team of workers make every night hundreds of muffins. Everything is handmade. The secret is in the dough and the wood oven is essential.

Muffin is recognizable by fluffiness, texture, flavor and, among other things, by their appearance: no two alike, either in form or in cooking. From there, the varieties of Antequera muffins are multipleBecause in the city almost every bakery produces their own. There are also several companies engaged in the manufacture of this local product, most linked to the family stops itself and the original oven Street San Roque, although each of processed differently.

Yes, all start from the same ingredients but muffins differ greatly from each other according to the number and variety of flour, baking form or type of fermentation. Therefore, it is easy to find many differences when taking these breads in the city of El Torcal. Although other Andalusian cities are known for their muffins taste like Écija in the province of Sevilla or wait in Cadiz.

In Andalusia , the most common is to take it with olive oil extra virgin, crushed tomatoes and serrano ham, but there are also those who prefer just butter and jam or homemade pate smeared. Woodstoves, traditional processing and unique flavors. We're going south in search of Andalusian muffins. A bread with only four ingredients but that is a whole universe of possibilities. We enter Malaga, Seville and Cadiz to find families that produce and learn its secrets. And, of course, we eat with the best local ingredients. Do you not smell of freshly baked bread?

In the 50s of last century, Juan Paradas elaborated muffins for different bakeries in Antequera. In 1957 he established his own kiln in San Roque. At that time, it was a luxury, since most of the population could barely buy a small loaf of bread. Gradually, most local bakers stopped making muffins, but John kept it alive.

The use of good flour, drawing hand, natural fermentation (for up to four hours) and cooking in an exceptional traditional oven stove are some secrets. A craft formula which is also the reason that 95 percent of the production stays in Antequera. Maybe that's why the texture, fluffiness and taste are so characteristic, as its rhomboid shape. Without forgetting its bark, with greater presence because of the flames that also color each unit erratically.

It is difficult (and even unnecessary) to decide where is the best muffin in Andalusia, but is worth the search as an excuse to travel through Andalusia. There are families, styles and interpretations and ways of understanding bread in various places. The muffin is a good example, with notable differences in just a few meters and separate ovens with striking similarities in kilometric distances. There are references of processing in Antequera that reach the eighteenth century, although each person consider theirs are best.

If you do not happen to live on the beaches of Zahara, a good decision is to divert to the north of the province of Cadiz in search of the beautiful White Towns of Andalusia. There await shady alleys, lime facades, colorful pots and original beauty as well as muffins. All its bakeries produce these breads.

In the 70s of last century, this county had five bakeries and a flour mill. For such a small town with only 4,000 inhabitants, it had so much competition. They can also be taken with Iberian pork and even dare with sausage from a copper with tomato.

To complete a round the world trip of muffin, we return to the region of Antequera to pass through Archidona, where it is common to make them circular. It is worth making a final stop in Villanueva del Trabuco, a village of 5,000 inhabitants surrounded by nature and some amazing limestone mountains 30 kilometers from Antequera.

Along the way they have been some other bakeries where you can know the secrets to make good this bread, but there is a storm that is approaching. So there is reason to return to Andalusia or to continue discovering their relatives in Badajoz, Galicia and other lands from the country. Any reason is good for traveling.
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