Every year I travel from Palm Beach, Florida, where I write a food and entertaining column for the Palm Beach Daily News, to Arenales, the 6,000-acre cortijo (farm) where I grew up, just outside of Seville, Spain. In Palm Beach, I lead a blissful existence with my husband and our three boys, one that's full of sun and beaches, sandals and pareos. When I return to Arenales, I pull on faded blue jeans and riding boots and head out to the olive groves and bullring to reconnect with my Spanish roots.
My favorite time to visit is in the spring, which I think is the most beautiful time of year in Andalucía. The season begins early, in February or March. Knee-high stalks of alfalfa cover the rolling green meadows, wild purple irises dot the pastures, and the air is sweet with the aroma of orange blossoms. Storks land on our roof as they migrate from Africa, pink flamingos dip their long legs in our reservoir, and wild partridge share the fields with sheep, goats and horses.
The farmhouse at Arenales, which has been in my family for generations, was originally constructed on the foundation of a first-century Moorish silo. After a fire destroyed the place in 1923, my grandparents rebuilt it in a typical Andalusian style, with yellow and red stucco walls that enclose a series of courtyards.