WHEN Jamie Oliver looked for the perfect place to film a documentary on Spanish food, one would have expected him to have chosen a city like Bilbao, or perhaps Barcelona.
But the celebrity chef plumped for somewhere altogether different; Ronda, in the heart of Andalucia.
While at first this might seem a strange choice, for someone who has lived in the town for six years it makes perfect sense.
Ronda, quite simply, has been on the up for the last few years.
The third most visited place in Andalucia, after Sevilla and Granada, the town though is no longer just a destination for day-trippers from the Costa del Sol.
Over the last few years it has become increasingly popular for lovers of good food and stylish hotels, as well as nature, walking and outdoor pursuits.
Much of this is to do with the excellent range of superb fresh ingredients that come from its nearby sierras.
In particular the hams and chorizos from nearby Montejaque and Arriate are famed, while the superb goats and sheep cheeses from nearby Grazalema (Payoyo) and Cuevas del Becerro (Rey Cabra) are served in the top restaurants in Madrid and even in the UK.
Food was one of the main reasons why British Prime Minister, David Cameron chose Ronda as a holiday destination last year.
He also spent his time hiking, canoeing and horse riding.
It is also why Fatboy Slim and Zoe Ball came for a week of R&R, why Janet Street Porter comes walking here and why the sister of Trinny Woodall , from TV programme What Not to Wear, owns a house here.
On top of this, Piers Morgan came to the town to film part of a documentary, arriving just days after racing drivers Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill had been testing cars at the nearby Ascari race track.
The Britain’s Got Talent host noted in particular his surprise at the area’s “striking beauty”.
But it is the quality of food and wines in the area that has really been of note in recent years.
Celebrity chef Jean Christophe Novelli regularly comes to Ronda and has bought and sold at least two houses in the town.
The former Hell’s Kitchen star, 47, told the Olive Press that he was looking to acquire one of the old town houses right on the Tajo.
“I want to buy something with a view of the famous bridge,” he said. “I want to wake up and look out at the gorge and the amazing view. One day I am going to live in Ronda.”
He continued; “I have fallen in love with the town. It is not just the location. The cooking is amazing. Let’s face it, all the proper tomatoes, wild herbs growing all around you, the olive oil and wine are incredible – as well as the wonderful local people. Even the water is unique!”