Retinto Beef Festival in Cadiz
The gastronomical festival of Retinto beef in Cadiz is a unique experience. They take place in the fall of each year, except for Vejer de la Frontera, which is in Spring. In Vejer they have as well a cattle competition as you can see in the photo. If you’re in one of the coastal villages of Cádiz province, you will see the excitement first-hand. But many people may ask – why is Retinto beef so important that it has festivals dedicated to it?
Retinto beef is an endemic cow breed of Spain, comprising 90% of the Spanish cattle in Southern and Western Spain. You can also find it in other parts of Spain, Portugal and some genetic heritage in Colombia, Nicaragua and Brazil. However, Retinto has recently started to be considered its own breed, as originally it was a mix of three endemic cows, an Andalusian, a Cadiz and an Extremadura cow. In fact, it now has its own warranty stamp, and there is a national association to ensure the quality and genetic heritage of the animal. Prehistorically all these cows came from a single species (Bos Taurus turdetanus), which came from the Middle East.
Cadiz province has the greatest abundance of Retinto cattle within Andalusia and the second most in Spain. They try to elevate and improve the way this species is seen, to the same level as other famous products from the area like Sherry or Atlantic Bluefin tuna. They are free ranged, feeding on the huge range of wild grasslands and Mediterranean forests all year. This is even easier in Cadiz due to the climatic stability and geographical situation. Only after the cow has reached its weight is when people can feed them with animal feed. Together with the Iberian pig they are symbols of sustainable production without impacting nature.
The history of this species goes way back. It has been included in myths since Greek times, when Hercules stole Retinto from Geryon giant. Some of the Egyptian hieroglyph showed this red cow with broad curved forward horns. This species has always influenced our lives, it was used for meat as well as to help in the farm for centuries and was also transported to America, giving birth to the American species.
The Retinto Route (Ruta Gastronómica del Retinto) is a festival that takes place annually in different villages around “La Janda”, a famous area for Retinto beef production in Cadiz. It is a big event and attracts people from different parts of Spain.
Zahara de los Atunes has been doing this festival for 9 years, this year from October 9th-13th. It will be happening at the same time as the Jazzahara October 11th-13th, what a perfect combination! Conil hosts the Retinto Route from November 30th – December 8th, 2019, in its 7th year. Vejer de la Frontera started at the same time as Conil de la Frontera, however they do it in April, and there is still no information for April 2020.
One of the highlights that brings so many people to these villages is the culinary masterpieces. There is a competition between the local bars and restaurants for the best Retinto dishes. Zahara de los Atunes will have around 30 bars competing.
The first day in Conil de la Frontera there will be 1000 tapas for 1.5€ to showcase some of the hundreds of ways to cook the Retinto beef.
If you want to visit the festival and don’t know where to start, just talk to us! Each village has their own different highlights and events happening. This is an event not to miss. If you’ll be in Cádiz during the month make sure to check any of the festivals of Retinto in Cadiz province