It’s that prized white garlic from Spain. And in dear España, ajo is a cook’s best friend. The cloves are finer and the aroma and taste more intense. It is a prized condiment grown in the tiny village of Chinchón, some 50 kilometers southeast of Madrid.




Ajos (Garlic) : A Cook’s Best Friend


The Iglesia towers over the Plaza mayor of Chinchón. Be sure to climb up to the Iglesia for a panoramic view of the entire pueblo.



Took the green La Veloz 337 Bus off Conde de Casal Metro Station. It’s easy to spot those green buses from the corner. Bus 337 bound for Valdelaguna takes you to Chinchón in less than an hour. Don’t fret once the bus drives out to “provincia” away from the “ciudad”. Before long, you’d zigzag along hills and reach the “pueblo”. The driver will let you off in the Convento which is just a 5-7 minute walk to the Plaza Mayor.




The Bus 337 (La Veloz) drops you off , then picks you up on a spot with this view.


A short uphill climb from the Plaza Mayor to the Iglesia and Torre del Reloj.



This picturesque village is quiet, off-the-beaten path, but certainly teeming with history and culture. Its grace matched by charming old ladies who’d chat with you like there’s no tomorrow. Old men unmindful of time, seated by a bench between the Clock Tower and Church, overlooking the pueblo. No need for maps. The locals are eager to give you tips — check out Goya’s house, the Ermita de San Roque and San Anton, try the coffee with the local anisette liquor and the pan (bread) con anis. Or just walk leisurely along the narrow streets lined with apartments with wooden balconies and joined by arches as the alleys spill into Plaza Mayor.




Around the Plaza is the ayuntamiento (Town hall), many tabernas and panaderias with different shapes and designs of bread tainted with anis!


The town hall of Chinchón.



One charming old lady convinced me to buy 5 breads from her. Anti-crisis, she kept saying, in that distinct, forceful Spanish intonation. She made my day! Claiming a seat in one of the tabernas around the plaza, I munched on my pan con anis with cafe con…… What else, anis! Chinchón is famous for its anis as much as its ajos. In fact they have separate garlic and anis festivals in this quaint village.




Torre del Reloj. Clock Tower.


Many houses are adorned with this red patch with an image of the Infant Jesus. I find the locals here more religious, more spiritual, more kind and welcoming.



No wonder Goya was enchanted with Chinchón. His brother lived here where he is the local priest. The house is very near the residence of the Duchess of Alba who allegedly posed for his Maja — naked or otherwise — portraits. Apart from Goya, there’s Orson Welles who loved Chinchón so much he asked that his ashes be buried here. What drew these 2 great men to Chinchón?




Next time, I’d try this Taberna near goya’s crib.


Walking around, I counted off just 5 tourists.



I wonder. As for me…. I think I had my monthly dose of anise in a single afternoon, and it’s threatening to give me a migraine. Could be the anisetto liquour in my cafe cortado or maybe the pan con anis I bought from the local panaderia. 🙂