Photography: Jane Mitchell (Foodografa)
In the distance, we spotted them — the windmills of Consuegra, like giants peering over the vast fields of La Mancha. All at once, they conjured images of a certain questing knight-errant named Don Quixote and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza.
Together with my trusty foodventure crew, we took a day trip and drove to the town of Consuegra in Toledo, about an hour’s drive from Madrid.
Far from slaying giants, our quest was to appease our gigantic appetites – for among these windmills lies a fabled Gastromolino, a quaint little restaurant inside the 16th century Caballero del Verde Gabán windmill. This is the only restaurant in the world within a still functioning windmill!
Up a winding staircase amidst curious photographs and sketches, we were pleasantly surprised to discover a cozy, candlelit space where we could ensconce ourselves within the stone walls and indulge in exquisite Manchego cheeses and local wine from the vineyards of La Mancha.
Gastromolino offers a seasonal menu based on the local produce available. I highly recommend the degustación or tasting menu (for a very affordable 14eu per person!) that comes with Spanish jamón iberico paired with sparkling local white wine from La Mancha, three kinds of cured and semi-cured Manchego cheese, one of which was dipped in locally produced olive oil, served with an incredible Alaferlay tempranillo (black grape variety) crianza wine.
After the tasting venture, we stopped by next door to check out a still fully functioning windmill, which uses wind power to grind wheat grain. Outside, men pulled on ropes attached to the windmill’s sails to rotate the dome according to the wind’s direction. Inside, a guide showed us how flour was produced through this ingenious medieval mechanism.
Sunsets and saffron
At sunset, our eyes were treated to a visual feast as the medieval Castle of Consuegra lit up to play with the colours of the sweeping saffron fields by the setting sun.
Overall, Consuegra was such a gorgeous, unexpected surprise which I highly recommend to travellers looking a different day trip beyond the Toledo tourist trap. I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t expecting much – after living in Spain for 12 years, I sometimes get the “estar ahí y hacerlo” – been there, done that affliction, which is why Consuegra was such a beautiful, welcome treat.
I should also mention that this day was fitting celebration for officially attaining Spanish citizenship just a few weeks ago. Coming to this special place with good friends to relish Spanish literature, food and wine made me feel fully grateful to be living in this fascinating country.
Editorial content is all my own.