Wednesday, 25 August 2010

as bruxias, sos del rey católico

view over Sos rooftops to the countryside below

In June 2010, Jonas and I travelled between San Sebastian and Barcelona, and decided to stay for a few days in a tiny town in the heart of Aragón: Sos del Rey Católico.

Sos is one of the most enchanting medieval hill villages I have ever seen. As one astute travel writer observed, “if this village was in Tuscany is would be overrun by hordes of tourists”. But since it’s hidden deep in the dusty hills of Aragón, we made up two of the five visitors there. Yes, five!

the many doors of Sos

I discovered it by pure chance, by searching Google Images for “beautiful medieval village spain”. When I stumbled across some photos of Sos, my mind was made up.

Once I had picked our location, I easily found the most wonderful hotel for us to stay in: El Sueño de Virila.

our terrace, with views over the hills
It was located in the heart of the former Jewish quarter, and has once been a synagogue and during the 16th century a manor house. Our wonderful hostess, Farnes, told us how they’d fallen in love with the village and then with the building and so loving restored it.

When they’d first bought it, the site had been filled with tonnes and tonnes of rubble, and Farnes and her husband took on each room one by one to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the renovation. Now, the villa is immaculate and across four floors guests can enjoy a garden, terrace, dining room, bar, living room and library.

Our room had doors opening onto the terrace, and Jonas and I spent quiet hours reading, drinking local wine and looking out over the green hills.

door to our room from the terrace, bonus hammock!

We stayed in Sos for two nights and ate lunch and dinner at As Bruixas over four meals, such was the quality of food they had to offer. In the end, we tried almost everything on the menu and thoroughly enjoying the local Argonese specialties.

As Bruixas means The Witches and it’s run by two lovely women: Amaia Roldán and Visi Domínguez. In their medieval building, they run a small hotel (three rooms), bar and restaurant trussed up in the decor and style of the 1970s. The venue is kooky and funky, and completed unexpected from the tiny stone street.

Visi is a published food writer/chef and her impressive and economical menu focuses on the local produce of the Aragón region.

Visi and Amaia host a couple of videos on You Tube too, where you can see the hotel and restaurant for yourself (note: it's all in Spanish).

Ensalada de Cebolla y Pimientos Asados con Anchoas y Vinagreta de Tomate €7.70
Salad of onion, grilled peppers, anchovies and tomato vinaigrette
Ensalada de Codorniz Escabechada €7.70
Salad of vinegar marinated quail
Revuelto de Verduras y Virutas de Pato €7.90
Omelette of greens and shaved duck
Risotto de Hongo Negro con Queso de Cabra €8.10
Risotto of black mushroom and goats cheese
Ensalada de Patata Confitada y Puerro Aliñada con Vinagreta de Aceituna de Aragón €7.70
Salad of confit potatoes and marinated leeks with a Aragonese black olive vinaigrette
Ajoarriero de Bacalao € 13.90
Stew of garlic, tomato, peppers and salt cod
Cochinillo Asado con Manzana €14.20
Roasted boar with apples
Ternasco Asado con Patatas (Cordero DO.Aragón) €14.20
Roasted lamb with potatoes
Tarta de Cuajada con Chocolate Caliente € 4.10
Pudding of ewe’s milk curd (or junket) and hot chocolate sauce
Sloe-flavoured liqueur digestif served chilled or on ice

To be in such a tiny village and eat so well without paying a fortune, it was a fantastic experience. I really salute those two women and the superb food they cook.

To get to Sos, we took a bus from San Sebastian to Pamplona, and then another onto Sanguesa where Farnes picked us up and drove us the final distance. As we neared, the village rose out of the hills, crowning the highest peak with golden hued stone.


Sos in all its glory
Sos is such a captivating place. Once you are surrounded by the warm stone walls and streets, it’s so tenderly quiet. It was a wonderful, peaceful break on our journey between the indulgence of San Sebastian and festivities of Barcelona.

I highly recommend you visit too!

the tower, up close and surrounded by wild flowers

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