We sailed into La Gomera on a balmy winters evening, and berthed in the marina of San Sebastian de la Gomera, the capital. It is one of smallest islands in the Canarias archipelago, home to only 22000 people.
Like the other islands, it is volcanic in origin and is very mountainous, with the upper slopes being covered in a lush laurel rain forest. It is incredible to go from sea level to the highest point, Alto de Garajonay (1,487m) and witness the temperature drop considerably, with the warm clear skies replaced by constant mist and clouds in this temperate subtropical forest.
It feels like you have been transported to a different world in a matter of minutes.
As you travel around the island at different altitudes you discover a vast array of microclimates supporting vineyards, banana groves, orchards, palm trees, and a lush variety of home grown tropical fruits and organic vegetables, cultivated by local farmers.
Although the island is now officially "Spanish," it was originally home to an indigenous people known as the "guanches" who had inhabited the island for over a thousand years but in the 15th century suffered the same fate as most aboriginal people when the european colonists came a knocking, and were almost wiped out by the conquering forces, but their unique whistled language "Silbo Gomero" still exists today, as does their staple food "Gofio" a type of toasted flour made from barley originally, but now made from wheat, or corn as well, and is found in restaurants throughout La Gomera, served as a thick porridge, known as Escaldon and is used in desserts such as Gofio mousse. (More on this later!)
After the conquest of the guanches, in 1492, the sailor and explorer Christopher Columbus made his last stop at the island to reprovision his ships supplies with fresh food and water, before making his transatlantic crossing and visited the island three times more.
After several days on the Island I can see why he stopped there. It is a wonderful place, filled with delicious tropical ingredients and friendly people.
It was here that we discovered their two best secrets - gofio and miel de Palma, both relatively unknown outside of the Canary Islands, but both were so unique in a world where we are used to being offered the same products day after day by the supermarkets