Tortilla Española – Finca Buenvino

by Jenn on October 17, 2013

in Featured Posts,Gluten Free,Photography

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Wow, what a week. Last week we traveled to sunny Andalucía, Spain, to La Sierra de Aracena for a week-long getaway and food photography workshop (this Autumn has been the season of workshops for me – first Amsterdam, and now Spain!) with Tim Clinch. We stayed at Finca Buenvino, a gorgeous countryside B&B run by Sam and Jeannie Chesterton, who provided such great company, food, and hospitality. And spending five days learning from Tim was amazing – not only was he an excellent instructor but also a charismatic tour guide of some of the best that the area around Aracena has to offer. Suffice it to say, it was both an extremely relaxing and transformative week for me, and I think this experience will affect my entire outlook on how I approach photography from here on out.

But first, let’s talk about this amazing tortilla that Jeannie whipped up for lunch for us on the first day!

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One of the awesome things about Finca Buenvino is not only is it a B&B, but part farm as well – there’s a vegetable garden that’s larger than my entire home  and the land is dotted with fruit trees, oak trees plump with ripening acorns and of course numerous cork trees, a vibrant red after being stripped of their bark.   Bright orange-yolked eggs come fresh from the chickens, while onions grow to the size of grapefruits. The simplicity of the tortilla comes from the fact that it is made from just potatoes, eggs, garlic, onion and olive oil, allowing each of these very local ingredients to sing to their full potential – and as an added bonus, it’s naturally gluten free! (which means you might find us making a version of this soon here at home…).

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And when we weren’t traveling about the countryside visiting the shore town of Isla Cristina, the mines of Rio Tinto or the characteristic white-washed villages that dot the hills of the Sierra de Aracena, we were relaxing with a glass of wine or sherry in hand, enjoying the beauty of Finca Buenvino and the surrounding scenery. What could be more refreshing than watching the sunset looking out over those beautiful hills?

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So what did I take away from this week? Many many things. Tim said a lot of things that really resonated with me.  His philosophy was that “you’ll never become a better food photographer until you become a better photographer”. This means learning more from the historical greats of photography and still-life painters, as well as for me personally it means gathering a little bit more confidence and courage to go up and ask people to take their photo and seize the opportunity to tell the entire story of food – to use still life, portraits, textures, landscape, travel, etc., all aspects of photography. That food photography extends well beyond the styled shot, and that I can bridge my two loves of both food and landscape photography together by also capturing the intersection of food with culture and place. I learned that if I relax a bit and shut off the analytical science part of my mind, I do a much better job at seeing in a creative and artistic way. In fact, I was even encouraged to jump out of manual mode once in a while and use aperture priority mode – and you know what? It turns out the modern digital camera really is perfectly capable of metering and picking an appropriate exposure. Who knew? ;)

I also learned that food doesn’t have to be styled to look great in camera – much food is most beautiful just as it is, in its natural state.   The tortilla pic above? Sure we did a styled table shot, and it was a nice photo and all; but the capture of the entire lunch spread on the green picnic table in the dappled light while the first tortilla slice was being served ended up being the better image to really show it off. And this story about a tortilla is just as much also a story about Finca Buenvino and Jeannie and the love  she puts into everything she cooks, which was more than evident when we sat down and enjoyed each meal at the table all together.  Which – speaking of Jeannie’s cooking, I know we will be sure to be the first in line for the release of their upcoming book, The Buenvino Cookbook: Recipes from our Farmhouse in Spain, set to come out Spring of 2014!

I’m sure there is more to say, but I will leave it at that for now.  Expect more photos of Spain soon!

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Chelsie October 18, 2013 at 12:32 am

Oh these are gorgeous! And now I’m hungry! Lol!

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Jenn October 18, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Thanks so much Chelsie!

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Brad Gelfond October 18, 2013 at 12:33 am

The tortilla espanola looks great, couldn’t seem to find the recipe. Also, I looked on Dario’s site and couldn’t find that gnocchi recipe,either. Both look great and I’d love to make!!!! Thanks.

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Jenn October 18, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Thanks – no I didn’t post the recipe – I don’t have Jeannie’s recipe actually, but I think it may appear in their upcoming cookbook…

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April October 18, 2013 at 1:13 am

Oh please please please share the recipe! So beautiful… the pictures, not the food :) Although it’s gorgeous as well! Thank you for the great post!

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Jenn October 18, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I hope the food is beautiful too, I certainly thought it was :) See my comment above to Brad about the recipe…

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Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.) October 18, 2013 at 1:30 am

Yay Jenn – I just saw quick “Hello from Spain” tweet and I hoped you were enjoying! I am SO glad you made it to see Tim and you’re right – SO much to take away from his workshops. The photos here are lovely (as usual) and I can definitely see the “Tim-fluence” (i.e. the whole story, not just the dish). My experience has definitely affected “my entire outlook on how I approach photography” too. Can’t wait to see more photos!

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 3:07 am

Thanks Mardi, it was an awesome week, thanks so much for recommending Tim’s workshop to me!

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Deidra October 18, 2013 at 3:00 am

Simply stunning, each and every one!

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 3:17 am

Thanks so much!

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Ashley Vos October 18, 2013 at 5:05 am

Dang girl, you know how to make food look GOOOOOOD.

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 3:17 am

aww thanks!!

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Jo October 18, 2013 at 7:35 am

Beautiful capture! And I hear you about going out of your comfort in approaching people. If there are any remedies for that please let me know!

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 3:22 am

Thanks! Just be friendly and upfront, I’m going to practice this a bit more :)

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JJ - 84thand3rd October 18, 2013 at 10:06 am

What a gorgeous location and that tortilla sounds so simple and perfect!

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 3:23 am

Thanks JJ, it really was lovely!

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Samantha Sinchek Photography October 18, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Your photos ALWAYS make me want to eat and travel! Beautiful work!

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 3:23 am

Oh thanks so much!!

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Barbara | Creative Culinary October 18, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I love the photos Jenn; it shows your capabilities go way beyond just food photography and I hope you continue to show us more of your travel experiences. I’m jealous of the time you had with someone to discuss the creative aspects of photography…at some point we all need to move beyond the technical and be reminded to just do.

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 3:25 am

Thanks so much Barb, and yes I definitely will post more :)

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Margaret@KitchenFrau October 19, 2013 at 12:19 am

So beautiful (your pictures and the place). Would love to go there some day.

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 3:27 am

Thank you! It’s a gorgeous area, we definitely want to return :)

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Joey October 19, 2013 at 2:51 am

Gorgeous photos! That location is so amazing!

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 3:28 am

Thanks so much! :)

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Toni | Boulder Locavore October 19, 2013 at 3:12 am

Gorgeous Jenn! It sounds like an extraordinary experience and you certainly convey it in your beautiful photos.

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 3:29 am

Thanks so much Toni! It was a fantastic week!

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Michelle Petersen October 19, 2013 at 7:04 am

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!!! I love all the photos, of the food, but also the place, the wine glass, etc. I love that they tell the story of the place and people behind the food. Well done Jenn!

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Jenn October 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Thanks so much Michelle!

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Jeanne @ Cooksister October 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm

aaah, Spain… especially Andalucia. One of my favourite places on earth! What a glorious post – both for the photos that make me want to go there immediately (oh, that pool…) but also for the insights you share. One of the things that I love most about your work is that you are not purely a food photographer, but that your landscape photography also takes my breath away. Like you, I wish I could more often have the confidence to ask the person making or selling the food if I could take their photo as food is nothing without its context – I’ve travelled with somebody who is outstanding at this. He charms people within minutes and they are practically begging him to take their photo, and he does it with sincerity. Watching him at work was like watching a clasically trained dancer or gymnast – he’s sooooo good with people.

Unlike you, I need to knuckle down and actually learn the technicalities sometimes… Other than learning to shoot on manual as soon as I got my first DSLR, I always learn just as much as I need to get by: I have a tripod that I sort of know how to use; I have a flash that I sort of know how to use; I have barely scratched the surface of Photoshop… mea culpa!!

Such an inspiring post – can’t wait to see more of your trip!

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Jenn November 10, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Thanks so much Jeanne!

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Jill December 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Beautiful, beautiful images and great advice! The shot of the tortilla slice really is the money shot for me. Now I must make a tortilla. Thank you!

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