15 April 2010
Hand made Spanish ceramics
Hand made Spanish ceramics. There's a lot more to Spanish ceramics than one might think... Here at Orce Serrano Hams we have continually been on the lookout for an artisan supplier of traditional ceramics, you know, one of those little back street shops that unless you knew was there would walk straight past and ultimately miss a real artisan experience. Little did we know that a day visiting the depot of our courier Nacex we would both find our supplier of some very exceptional ceramics and also visit one of oldest cave museums in Andalucia.
As with many things in rural Andalucia all good plans are thrown out the window to make way for alternative arrangements. Originaly we were having a day in the office catching up on the all important paperwork and trying to reduce a bank of 60+ recipes as well as organising a trip to a ham carving feria later in the year. A relaxing day in the office - not on your nelly!
The whole Spanish "day" began three ago weeks when the boss of Nacex (one of the most reliable couriers in Spain) sent a mini brochure from a business in Guadix that produces some of the finest serrano hams in the region. Interested we rang our man at Nacex "Rodrigo" to ask if there was anyone we should ask to speak to (not what you know its who you know). Turns out the jamon supplier was at a gourmet feria in Madrid but far be it from us to turn down a free coffee and tostada from a man who knows "many people".
Tostada devoured in a hotel that is owned by another guy who supplies cheese to Orce Serrano Hams we were thinking well what now? Remember the guy who makes the ceramics said Rodrigo, yes we replied, then lets go and see him. After driving through several back streets only negotiable through local knowledge we arrived in front of a seemingly normal shop/production premises that boasted plenty of terracotta.
Upon entering through the somewhat intrigueing doors I wish I had had the camera set up, a middle age man carefully striking away at a ceramic pot over a bench, almost head to toe in clay. The concentration on his face said it all. Looking to the right revealed rows and racks of ceramics from decorative pieces to the smallest tapas servers.
Juan Manuel, the maker of such things welcomes us and the camera into his establishment as well as Rodrigo who is by now in full Spanish swing talking about what we do, what we send to the UK and how interested we are in his ceramics. Now its one thing walking into a shop and eyeing up the whole array of products on offer but to see a old workbench covered in terracotta, sponges, tools and nearly finished pieces is quite another. Little be known to Juan Manuel the decision had more or less already been made to stock his items, it simply just doesn't come any better than this.
Like Orce, the town of Guadix is famous for its cave dwellings. You get the feeling though that Guadix although a bigger town has grasped the whole tourism angle much quicker than other neighbouring towns and villages. This became immediatly apparent looking at the ceramic cave novelties lined up row after row on the shelves, well finshed and very unique, you can tell Juan Manuel knows his supply and demand.
All became even clearer when after a bombardment of questions from us he suddenly asked "would you like to see the cave museum?" Of course we said yes thinking that this would be another excursion around the town but the museum was directly across the road only a few yards away from wher we had parked. It actually looked like a bar from the outside but upon entering you soon realised that it was in fact, an old cave full of Spanish antiques and of course a ceramic shop attached...
More on the cave museum later.
Elaborate pieces, these items are again hand made, its not until you get up close that you can fully appreciate the time and work that goes into something like this. Can't for the life of me remember what they are called but these pieces are traditional items from Gaudix town.
Less than 24 hours later our order of tapas bowls, olive servers, chupitos and quite a few other items arrived with Nacex. The new range is planned to go live for the end of April.