Cadiz – Casco Antiguo – Eating and Drinking
As I only had two nights I didn’t have the time to go to all the places I wanted to, but I tried!
Casa Tino (Intermediate) 25 Calle de la Rosa
I arrived here with typical English punctuality just before they were due to open but the chef was late so I waited out on the street with the staff for about quarter of an hour. I was willing to hang around because I’d read that this was the best place in town to come for Ortiguillas Fritas (fried sea anemones, a local speciality) but was told it would take a fair while before the kitchen would be ready. I wanted to go to El Faro below so I just had an octopus salad, which was excellent (B+), and hit the road, after a free chupito by way of apology. Next time.
El Faro (Advanced A), 15 Calle San Félix, www.elfarodecadiz.com
I absolutely love this place. I ate in the busy tapas bar (standing only) but they also have a restaurant next door that I must try next time. I met a few people in the tapas bar, firstly Martin and Irene and later Julia and Eduardo, who were very friendly and we soon got chatting.
The food was sublime. The Tartar de Atún Rojo de Almadraba con Huevas de Trucha (Bluefin tuna tartare with trout roe), was fantastic (A+). The taste of the super-fresh Bluefin transported me straight back to Japan, especially as it had been mixed with wasabi peas, olive oil and I think lime juice and served with Kikkoman soya sauce and pickled ginger on the side. I jokingly asked if they had chopsticks and was promptly presented with a pair! I think that any place that expects to serve tuna to Japanese people is going to be pretty good.
Cadiz is very famous for its seafood, particularly the Bluefin tuna (hence the Japanese visitors) so I wanted to believe this experience could not be surpassed. However Julia and Eduardo informed me that the Campero restaurant in Barbate has the best tuna ever! The perfect time to eat it is in May when several local towns celebrate their tuna festivals.
The tuna (including mine according to the name of the dish) are caught by means of the Almadraba, an ancient Moorish or possibly Phonecian method of sustainable fishing. The tuna swim into the centre of a maze-like net where they can be selectively harvested by the fishermen. The same method is also practised in Sicily and Sardinia where it’s known as the Mattanza.
Next I was served Erizos Rellonos; a sea urchin (erizo translates as hedgehog!) on ice that had also been tossed in a little soya sauce, and garnished with a few trout eggs (A+). ¡Que rico!
The Croquetas de Bechamel y Verduras con Salsa de Tomate Casero (bechamel and vegetable croquettes with a homemade tomato sauce) were fine examples of the genre (A+).
The Albóndigas de Chocos (cuttlefish) were also top notch (A).
The Tortillitas de Camarones de Salinas (B+) were the best I’d had so far (see my post on San Fernando). ‘Salinas’ refers I think to the saline river estuary where these tiny shrimp are caught.
I finally got to try Ortiguillas Fritas after being disappointed at Casa Tino. They were interesting but I have yet to be completely won over (B).
As you can imagine, this wasn’t a cheap experience (€58) but then what price happiness? El Faro had help me achieve perfect contentment, a very rare condition. All the waiters were great, particularly the young guy who mainly served me, so I bunged them a sizable tip. I really need to come back here one day.
As I mentioned in my previous carnival post, John took me to several great tapas bars. Unfortunately I don’t recall the names but hopefully he’ll read this and remind me.
The first one was a marisqueria just a few blocks south of my hotel, on the south side of a side street off the beach front Avenida Fernandez Ladreda.
Upon arrival we got this complementary, typically Andalusian, tapa of Zanahorías Aliñadas, carrots marinated in a paste of garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika and cider vinegar and served with olive oil. Must make this dish at home, recipe here.
They had a good selection of prawns (my favourite seafood) including Quisquillas (small shrimp) and Gambas Blancas (white prawns) but I went for a plate of Langostinos Tigre (tiger prawns, actually shrimps!?) which were very good (B+).
This seems an opportune moment to discuss the differences between these very similar crustaceans. Although in English we use the names ‘prawn’ and ‘shrimp’ almost interchangeably they are in fact two different species (the physical differences are explained here). In Spanish, a gamba is a prawn whereas langostinos and camarons (also known as quisquillas or esquilas) are types of shrimp. The Spanish terms vary geographically as well, just as ‘shrimp’ (US) and ‘prawn’ (UK) do.
I also got to try a cream version of Orujo (Galician aguardiente) which I’d never had before (B+).
After meeting up with John’s friend Mario, we walked the streets for a while taking in the carnival atmosphere. Mario bought me a couple of cones from a street stall; one of Mojama (dried tuna jerky) and another of the tiny prawns they use in the tortellitas.
We ended up in another tapas bar in town (forgotten which sorry!) where we were served some spicy chorizo and some other unphotogenic but totally delicious sausages.
We also had a portion of Chicharrónes (pork scratchings), which both I and John thought were always rendered but evidently not. Perhaps it can be just another name for pork belly. Anyway, they was delicious (A).
In another bar we had some Lupin beans )on the left in the picture), another first for me. I’d seen them many times before as they seem to be a popular drinking snack in Spain but didn’t know what they are called. You have to bite through and discard the thick skin to get at the bean inside. Definitely a good accompaniment (A) for the rum shots we were drinking!
These are a couple of places I really wanted to go to but didn’t have time:
Casa Manteca, 66 Calle Corralón
As famous but a bit down market from El Faro, the atmospheric looking ‘Lard Bar’ was so full every time I passed that I didn’t even bother to try to get in. I’ll be there as soon as it opens next time.
Mercado Central, Plaza Libertad, www.cadiz.es
I raced here as soon as I got into town but they were closing by the time I found it. The displays of seafood must be fantastic. I particularly wanted to try a sushi stall I’d heard about, which is either in or near the market.
A pity I didn’t get in to these places but it’s always good to save somewhere for next time, and there most definitely will be a next time.
I stayed at the Hotel Puerta Tierra (Intermediate) 34 Avenida Andalucía www.hotelesmonte.com which is about twenty minutes walk from the far end of the old town. I can’t tell you much more about it as I was hardly there but it was fine as I recall.