Archive for the Spain Category

Almeria – eating near the hotels in Los Molinos

Posted in Almeria, Almeria Province, Andalusia, Centro, Los Molinos, Spain with tags , , , , on March 24, 2019 by gannet39

This is a post primarily for my colleagues as the hotels we generally use aren’t in the Centro but a little way out in the barrio of Los Molinos.

Apologies for the lack of photos but nothing was particularly photogenic!

Hotel Tryp Indalo (Intermediate B), Avenida del Mediterráneo, www.melia.com

A fairly modern tourist hotel I stayed in in 2017 that’s about a twenty to twentyfive minute walk away from the Centro. Alternatively you can catch the #6 bus to the Catedral or the #1 to the Alcazaba from the bus stop outside the Jefatura over the road.

The name Indalo comes from a prehistoric magical symbol found in a cave near Almeria (info here).

The hotel itself is fine, nothing special, but better than the Hotel Vincci below. There’s a terrace on the roof with some broken sunbeds but little else in the way of facilities. It doesn’t have a restaurant but there’s a decent tapas bar nearby…

El Rincon de Basi (Intermediate B), 37 Travesia de San Luis

This is just two blocks up the hill from the Hotel Tryp Indalo, on the parallel street to the main road, so very handy if you can’t face going into town. It’s highly rated by the locals and was at #5 on Tripadvisor on my visit in 2017.

I had a couple of tapas but neither particularly impressed me. Service was pleasant and you can sit outside on the pavement terrace. I would go again but choose more carefully.

They have a second sister restaurant in town…

El Rincon de Basi Centro (Intermediate B), 12 Calle General Segura

This modern tapas bar is just opposite the Inlingua I was working at. I went for lunch and had a couple of decent but watery salads (B-), as is the Spanish way.

Hotel Vincci Mediterraneo (Intermediate C), 281 Avenida del Mediterraneo, www.vinccihoteles.com

This is where I stayed in 2014. Nice enough staff, except for one miserable guy in the breakfast room. It has spacious, basic rooms and is probably quite cheap, but it’s not very central and they fleece you for the internet. Maybe that’s changed since though.

Cadenas (Elementary B), 98 Haza de Acosta, closed Sunday.

Turn right out of the Hotel Vincci, turn second right down unsigned Calle Muro, turn right at the end and you’ll see this bar on the right in a block of small bars.

The easy option near the Hotel Vincci, this is a local tapas bar selling decent food. Get there soon after 8pm to guarantee a place on the terrace as it’s very popular. At lunchtime they only serve raciones.

I had the Patatas Bravas (pictured), Ensaladilla Rusa (boiled potato. tuna, mayo ), Carne con Salsa de Tomate (all B).

Bravas

So these were the options I tried when I was too tired to walk into town. You’ll be rewarded with much better food and atmosphere though if you can make it into the Centro.

A key to other posts on Almeria:

Traditional Tapas Bars in Town
Modern Tapas Bars in Town
Chilling at Zapillo Beach
Walking Around

My map is here.

A weekend in lovely Granada next.

Almeria – Chilling at Playa Zapillo

Posted in Almeria, Almeria Province, Andalusia, Neuva Almeria, Spain with tags , on March 23, 2019 by gannet39

There are a couple of very large beaches near the centre of town which is why Almeria is a major holiday destination, particularly for Spanish tourists. I’m told the best beaches, and nature, are up the coast at Caba de Gato, but I have never had the time nor the car to go. One day though.

Here are a couple of chiringuitos (beach bars specialising in seafood) at Playa del Zapillo that I’ve been to…

El Tio Pepe (Elementary B), Avanida Cabo de Gata

This was the hotel recommended beach shack down in Neuva Almeria, a good place to go on a Sunday when everywhere else will most likely be closed. The food is fine but nothing out of this world.

I just had a plate of Migas (B) with some perfectly grilled Sardinias (A) and several cervecas.

Migas and Sardinias

It takes ten minutes and €6 in a cab to get there from the Hotel Tryp Indalo (see next post), or you could take much longer on the bus. A sun lounger cost me €3.50 for the day.

In 2017 I arrived at El Tio Pepe a bit late at about 2pm (which is when most Spanish people eat lunch) and there was a queue of about twenty people ahead of me so I went to the next chiringuito down the beach where there were plenty of free tables…

Terraza del Mar (Intermediate C), 14 Calle Lopez Delgado

I think this place fancies itself as a bit posher than El Tio Pepe but I don’t rate it particularly highly.

I began with the Caballa; a loin of mackerel with local tomatoes (B).

The Lenguado however wasn’t great as a lot of the flesh was stuck to the backbone, perhaps a symptom of having been frozen until very recently (C).

And I do like my fried potatoes (no pic), the Patatas Alioli, to have a bit of colour (C).

The bottle of Castelo de Medina was very good though (B+) which cheered me up.

The Tarta de Queso was okay but nothing special (C+).

With an Orujo de Hierbas the final bill was €56.

After all this a snooze in the sun was in order. A ‘hamaca’ (hammock) here costs €5.

So treat yourself to a lazy day at the beach!

A key to other posts on Almeria:

Traditional Tapas Bars in Town
Modern Tapas Bars in Town
Eating near the Hotels
Walking Around

My map is here.

A post for my colleagues next…

Almeria – modern tapas bars in the Centro

Posted in Almeria, Almeria Province, Andalusia, Centro, Spain with tags , , on March 22, 2019 by gannet39

There are heaps of tapas bars in Almeria so I’ve had to break my posts down to make them more accessible. My last post about the tapas in the Centro was about the trad places, this one is about the more modern bars. As ever, it’s just my brief impression, not a guide.

Here are my other posts on Almeria:

Traditional Tapas Bars in the Centro
Modern Tapas Bars in the Centro
Chilling at Zapillo Beach
Eating near the Hotels
Walking Around

My map is here.

My, and everyone’s, favourite tapas bar is Casa Puga but this next place comes in a solid second…

La Mala (Intermediate A), 69 Calle Real

This hipster bar in Quatro Calles in the Centro is about thirty minutes’ walk from the Hotel Tryp Indalo where I was staying. It was my favourite place in town for food on my trip in June 2017 and at the time it was deservedly (for a change) the Tripadvisor #1 for its Cocina Creativa.

I went twice, once by myself and again with my colleague Sean and two of his local friends.

On both occasions I ordered the Tortilla con Trufa which was always knock out (A).

Don’t recall the name of the dish but it was great; thinly sliced, coiled courgettes tubes with parmesan cheese (B+).

The Entrana steak was a bit of an extra chewy cut (B+) but the Tuna Roja Tartar was really good (A).

We had a great bottle of Verdejo as well but foolishly I neglected to get the name. This Bai Gorri is a great Rioja though.

This is a great spot, definitely a top tip for food.

Continuing in order of preference…

Nuestra Tierra (Intermediate B+), 16 Calle Jovellanos, corner with Calle Marin, www.tabernanuestratierra.com

This bright, modern place has won a few Ruta de Tapas awards for the tapas below. You get one free when you buy a drink and pay a bit more, €1.60 when I was there, if you get extra ones. This is why drinks seem a bit expensive (€3.20 for a beer or €3.60 for a glass of wine).

The Bacalao Frito con Mahonesa Pil-Pil (A); chunks of battered, deep fried saltcod with mayo made with the oil from frying the cod and a sprinkle of chilli flakes, won second prize in the 2014 Ruta.

Also the Pasamar en Acietede Oliva; squid in a jar with olive oil and a black alioli made from squid ink was very good (B+). The year before I was there this tapa had won the won first prize in the 2016 Ruta.

The Crujiente de Morcilla; black pudding fritter with tomato jam, was just okay (B) although it won second prize in 2013.

Sadly though the Boladillos Jamon were not for me. A mash of potatoes with chunks of ham and garlic was strangely inedible (D).

I had a bit of a run in with the mardy waiter about this. I think uneaten unpleasant food shouldn’t be charged for and he did take it off the bill but without any grace. Also his tiny pouring of wine was considerably smaller than that of the person on the next table (a regular no doubt) which I made him remedy.

I’d go back for the Bacalao Frito and the Pasamar though. Total cost €11.50 which is very good for what I had.

El Vino en un Barco (Intermediate B+), 2 Calle Arco

This is a cool little bar on a side street off the Calle Real strip. I came for drinks I’d like to come back for tapas. They’re also known for their cocktails.

The waiter was really nice and friendly but I didn’t like the El Terrao red wine he recommended to me as being the best local wine. National classics like Rioja and Ribera might be a safer bet.

I stayed because they had my favourite rum; Diplomatico from Venezuela, which is sublime mixed with a bit of fresh lime juice.

A place I’d go back to for sure.

De Tal Palo (Intermediate B), 15 Calle Real, detalpaloalmeria.es

This big, modern, popular tapas bar used to be the (failed?) Museo de Aciete. I’m guessing that the large pieces of antique olive oil processing machinery they have on display were once some of the exhibits.

As elsewhere, you get a free tapa with every drink. I had another go at the local classic Patatas Pobre, ‘poverty potatoes’, aka greasy fried potatoes with a fried egg, but I’m still not a fan (C).

The Solomillo al Foie con Reduccion de PX sobre Camas de Patatas Paja, didn’t impress as much as I hoped either (B-).

I also had another glass of El Terrao , the same wine I’d had over the road at El Vino en un Barco which had been described as the best but again it really didn’t do anything for me (C).

Total bill for three tapas and two glasses of wine was €8.80. It wasn’t that bad, but I probably won’t be returning when there are so many other places to try.

To the beach next!

Almeria – traditional tapas bars in the Centro

Posted in Almeria, Almeria Province, Andalusia, Centro, Spain with tags , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2019 by gannet39

Over two trips I’ve spent a couple of weeks in Almeria so I’ve managed to get a bit of a handle on the dining scene. Almeria is a big tapas town so most of the places below are tapas bars but a few double as restaurants. As there are so many I’ve had to break them down into separate posts to make them more accessible. This one is on Traditional Tapas Bars in the Centro but there are others on…

Modern Tapas Bars in Town

Chilling at the Zapillo Beach

Eating near the Hotel

Walking Around

My map is here and a map of the barrios is here.

Out of all of the great tapas bars in town, I think this one is unmissable…

Casa Puga (Intermediate A+), 7 Calle Jovelllanos, www.barcasapuga.es GEM ALERT!

The most famous tapas bar in town, so of course it’s in all the guides, but for good reason…

It’s been around since 1870 and the atmospheric interior is covered with beautiful old ceramic tiles and pictures of days gone by.

Comedor

Three huge earthenware wine jars fill one end of the restaurant area while the old wooden bar is where most people choose to stand and talk.

Wine jars

Everything I ate here was superb. My first visit was with a friend on a Saturday night when we did well to get a seat as it was heaving inside and out. We had three plates of sliced Chorizo, Salchicha (A)…

Chorizo

…and Manchego Curado with toasted almonds (A)…

Old cheese

…along with a decent 2002 Rioja Crianza (A).

Ondarre 2002 Rerserva

We were the last ones in the place but our excellent waiter still came to fill our shot glasses with a second complimentary Pacharan, this one tasting more like cough medicine than usual (B).

I was working nearby the next day so came back for lunch where, after another complimentary slice of ‘queso viejo’ (matured Manchego) with toasted almonds, I got stuck into the fishy side of things. I had a plate of sublime creamy Pulpo a la Gallega, still warm octopus sprinkled with paprika and olive oil (A+). (Pic was blurry sorry).

Also a plate of Salmonetes (Red Mullet)…

Salmonetas

…and a mixed salad with Ventresca (belly tuna) (both A).

House salad

This went well with a glass of dry white Verdejo ‘Monasterio de Palazuelos’ from Rueda (B).

Palazuelos

To finish, the Tartita al Whisky looked worryingly different from other times I’d had it. Unlike previous occasions though this one was partly made with ice cream which was a winner (A).

Whisky tart

With this two glasses of sweet dessert wine, called simply Vino Dulce, made on the premises (A+).

Vino Dulce

I had the same old boy looking after me as the night before, which he did very well (thanks Juan). I was literally purring with contentment when I left.

Not far from Puga is the Alcazaba, the ancient fortress on the hill. There was no way I was going to make it up any kind of incline in the heat after that little lot, so it might be an idea to do the sightseeing before you eat.

Cow cart outside Puga

Casa Sevilla (Advanced B+), 14 Rueda Lopez, Galería Comercial Almericentro, www.casa-sevilla.com

This restaurant and tapas bar is the most famous high end place in town, perhaps because it’s one of the oldest (since 1958). In summer it’s best to sit outside in the terrace. I say ‘in’ because it’s in a tunnel but that’s okay because you catch a bit of a breeze. The waiters weren’t particularly friendly but they warmed up a bit with time.

I had the Berenjenas Fritas con Miel de Cana which has been on the menu since they opened. They were very nice (B+) if rather calorific. The aubergines are sliced thinly, battered and deep-fried. You get a bottle of cane sugar to pour over them. Must have a go at making this when I get home.

I was in the mood for meat so I had the Gallego Entrecote de Buey which I asked for ‘pocho hecho’. I should have said ‘jugoso’ as it wasn’t bloody at all but I still enjoyed it (B+) along with the skinny chips (B+). The salt looks like Maldon but it’s a local copy.

To go with it the Rincon Postrero Crianza, a Syrah Merlot blend which was okay (B).

A beer, a Torres 10 year old brandy (B) and the bread took the bill to just under €60. Expensive for Almeria but it was all good tackle.

Bodega Las Botas (Intermediate B+), 3 Calle Fructuoso Perez

This is another atmospheric old joint in the historic centre, tucked down a back street. It’s hard to find but worth it for the beautiful interior, packed with bullfighting memorabilia, including a couple of huge horned heads peering down at you from the wall.
Bull

You can also sit outside in the alleyway on some beautifully painted but very uncomfortable traditional chairs and tiny tables (hence the A minus).

As with all other places in Almeria, you immediately get a complimentary tapa on the house, in our case a plate of unshelled almonds and some fantastic ham on tomato bread (A).

Jamon

My choice of crinkly under-ripe Raf tomatoes (a local speciality) with raw garlic wasn’t the best (B-) as the huge plateful really needed something else to go with it.

Raf tomatoes

The house salad has lots of ingredients but was just ok (B).

There were some beautiful looking canapés on other tables as well. Service was just ok. One negative for me was that this is accordion player territory, but you may like music with your food.

Marisqueria Baviera (Intermediate B), 10 Calle Tenor Iribarne

This seafood specialist is the sister restaurant of Las Botas just around the corner. I had a hankering for some grilled prawns so I had a half dozen Gamba Blanca for €6 which, although very heavy on the salt, pressed the right buttons once I’d brushed it off (B). Not sure I’d come here for any other reason though.

Kiosco Amalia (Elementary B+), 10 Plaza Manuel Pérez García, www.facebook.com/KioskoAmalia

This street kiosk is a quite a famous spot in Almeria, popular with daytime customers and late night clubbers alike. They sell a local coffee drink called Café Americano which is made of milk, cinnamon, lemon rind and a dash of a cola cream liquer called Kola Cortails.

Sadly I didn’t find the right time to try one but instead I had another well known local drink, a Jabega de Menta, basically a slush puppy with a shot of Crème de Menthe, which is very thirst quenching on a hot day (A).

As you can see in the photo, Jerry Garcia is a regular here.

Bar Bahía de Palma (Intermediate B), 17 Calle Mariana

An old school bull fighting bar, plain and simple but with plenty of character. I found it a good place to meet locals and had a couple of good conversations with an old teacher and a young gypsy guy.

And a couple of places to avoid…

Parrilla Pasaje (Elementary C), 1 Calle Rueda López

This bar is famous for the Chérigan, a popular tapa served in many bars around the city. I was slightly disappointed to discover that it’s basically just a piece of toasted bread spread with aioli (or sometimes tomato) and a topping, such as tuna, cheese, tortilla, serrano ham, mackerel, quail egg, or in my case Jamon de York.

However, it did prompt me to find out why ham from my county in England is so popular in Spain. It turns out that in 1860, the cured hams produced by butcher Robert Burrow Atkinson, whose premises were on Blossom Street in York, became so popular that visiting customers exported the name and, in other British locations, they requested York-style cured ham. It is even mentioned by Auguste Escoffier in Le Guide Culinaire and in fact I have eaten it in Lyon (post here) with a Madeira wine sauce.

It seems the name Chérigan may be a corruption of “Sheriff”, perhaps from the Westerns that they film at the nearby Tabernas desert or possibly from the nickname of a bossy waiter (or chef, explanations vary) who once worked in the bar.

Bar Casa Joaquín (Intermediate C), 111 Calle Real

This historical tapas bar just down the road from La Mala (see next post) gets recommendations from both the Frommers and Michelin guides, perhaps because it has been around such a long time, although probably too long in my opinion. The first time I tried to go the waiter told me they opened at 21.00 which was too late for me. The second time I went for lunch at 13.15 which again was too early really but they were open and serving drinks and tapas so I went in.

My ‘Hola, buenas’ wasn’t even acknowledged which wasn’t a good start. I had two beers and two compliementary tapas; a Pisto which was good (B) and some boiled Squid which tasted okay at the time but which I think upset my plumbing later. I think it had been standing unrefridgerated for a bit too long. I wanted some of their excellent looking seafood out of the glass fridge but it wasn’t 2pm yet so I wasn’t allowed. Don’t think I’ll be going back. Miserable waiters and suspect food.

La Encina (Intermediate C), 16 Calle Marin

This place comes recommended by Michelin, Frommers and Repsol, perhaps because it’s in an old (not especially) atmospheric building containing a Moorish well. I might have chosen badly but I wasn’t impressed by the tapas I had in the front area. The restaurant at the back might be better.

This was my first try of Patatas Pobre, a classic local dish which I think just isn’t for me. The pale potatoes were edible (C), but only just. Don’t be put off though, you can get better elsewhere.

The Arroz Negro was a bit too oily for my taste (C) and the Croquetas failed to impress (C).

I asked for a local wine and was given a bottle called Carum which was undrinkable (D). They were nice enough to replace it with a glass of Ribera though (B).

Don’t think I’ll go again though as there are plenty of other places around.

Modern tapas bars next!

Almeria – walking around the Centro

Posted in Almeria, Almeria Province, Andalusia, Spain on March 20, 2019 by gannet39

I’ve been to Almería twice, in 2012 and 2017, and it’s grown on me more and more each time. While not exactly a stunner, the city does have a lot of historical buildings, and there’s a huge beach which is never a bad thing.

I’ve broken my posts down to make them more accessible. This one is about Walking Around, ie architecture, street art etc but here are some others:

Traditional Tapas Bars in the Centro
Modern Tapas Bars in the Centro
Chilling at Zapillo Beach
Eating near the Hotels

My Google map of the city is here and a map of the barrios is here.

Almería was founded by the Moors in 955AD. The Alacazaba on the hill is the second largest Arabic fortress in Andalusia.

It has been used as a set for Conan the Barbarian, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Never Say Never Again, and Wonder Woman.

I’ve never actually made it inside. On my first attempt I’d just eaten a huge lunch and couldn’t contemplate walking up a steep hill in the sun, and on my second try it was too early in the morning and they wouldn’t let me in. To be honest, friends tell me I’m not missing that much but I’d like to get inside one day just for the views.

Le Catedral in Plaza Vieja is much more accessible after a big lunch at nearby Casa Puga (see my post on Traditional Tapas Bars in the Centro).

In terms of architecture, there are a few Modernista buildings around. My favourite is the Edificio De Las Mariposas at 6 Puerta de Purchena. Video here.

The butterflies around the top are a lovely feature.

There are a couple more Modernista buildings over the road at 4 and 5 Puerta de Purchena.

They were designed in an Electic style that includes a variety of influences; Moorish as well as neoclassical European.

There’s another in Plaza Flores.

A statue of John Lennon is also in the same square.

The old train station is another example of Moderisme.

It was being renovated when I was there so I need to go back for a proper look at the details.

I adore this house at 31 Calle Juan del Olmo. Wish I knew more about it.

I stumbled across a couple more modern buildings that I liked.

Can’t remember where they are, sorry.

I tried looking for this one on Google street view but still can’t recall where it was, apologies again.

I’m also a fan of the Fuente de los Peces in Parque Nicolás Salmerón.

I’m sure I’ve seen a cartoon character that has similar features to this fish but I can’t think where.

They love a bit of topiary in Almeria. Many of the main streets are shaded by beautifully sculpted trees.

These trees are in Plaza Campoamor in the Centro Histórico just south of the Alcazar.

I was lucky to catch the beautiful climbing flowers in bloom.

The barrio is a nice area to walk around.

In terms of street art, I didn’t see much about, but I quite like these squiggly images.

Both are by the same artist I presume.

Here are a few other bits and pieces that caught my eye.

Time for some tapas…

Valencia – Ciutat Vella – La Seu – restaurants

Posted in Ciutat Vella, La Seu, Spain, Valencia, Valenciana Comunidad with tags , , , , on March 6, 2019 by gannet39

This post is about restaurants in La Seu, the area around the cathedral in the old town. I’ve also written separate posts on La Seu for tapas bars, stuff to see in the area, and drinking horchata. My map is here.

For some reason (ease of parking under Plaça de la Reina?), whenever I meet my local friends Angeles & Juan for a meal, it’s always at a restaurant in La Seu!

I review four very good restaurants below, in reverse chronological order. I’d go with La Lola if I had to choose, because they have tables outside.

From May 2017…

Seu Xerea (Advanced B+), 4 Calle Conde de Almodovar, seuxerea.com

Seu Xerea is owned by a British chef Steve Anderson. To my embarrassment he caught me eating olives with a fork while I was waiting for the others but thankfully he let me off for letting the side down!

Angeles, Juan and I all had the €49 Menu de Degustacion (four small plates, two mains, two desserts) and additional €28 wine matching (six 100ml glasses).

I was far too busy having fun to make any notes (the purpose of this blog is to entertain me when I’m by myself) so I can’t comment on which course or glass of wine was the best but I can tell you it was all very good.

Anderson is known for his Valencian Oyster with Almond and Iberian Pork Belly.

Next came Mediterranean Shrimp with Cucumber and Apple.

Something else not mentioned on the menu matched with a local white called Angosto.

Un-pasteurised Ricotta Gnocchi with Egg Yolk came with Casanova, a Ribeiro.

Roast Octopus with Spicy Chorizo Breadcrumbs came with Edetana, a white Garnacha/Viognier blend.

Fish of unknown type with Bouillabaisse Stock with a glass of Albarino called Ex Libris.

Roast Lamb with Chargrilled Red Pepper needed a glass of red Ribera del Duero called Valtravieso.

Strawberries with Pistachio and Cava went well with a Moscatel called Alambre.

Dark Chocolate Mousse with Cherries finished us off.

I’ll be back for the €35 tapas menu next time.

Seu Xerea is handily opposite Café de las Horas, a favourite bar of mine (see La Seu tapas bars post) so you could start or finish there.

Also in 2017 I came here for lunch…

Abadía d’Espí (High Intermediate B), 5 Plaça de l´Arquebisbe, www.abadiadespi.com

This is a posh place in quiet square. The service was good and the wine list is extensive. The food was fine if I recall (all B) but nothing stunning. It’s the weakest of the four in this post but still good.

To begin I had the Hatillo de Langostino y Queso Fresco, or langoustine and fresh cheese in a deep-fried bag of filo pastry. Hatillos seem to be a thing here as La Lola below does them as well.

I had the Arroz Meloso de Cortijo: Caldo de Cocido, Longanzina, Jamon, Panceta, Garbanzos or a wet ‘farmhouse’ paella made with stew broth, sausages, cured ham, bacon and chick peas.

To drink, a half-litre bottle of my old friend, Les Alcusses red wine for €10.50. The total cost was €30.85.

From September 2014…

La Salvaora (Advanced A), 19 Carrer de Calatrava, www.lasalvaora.com

I celebrated my birthday here with my friends Angeles, Juan, Karen and Nicky but I can’t remember much about it!

Five of us had the tasting menu which consisted of Braised White Asparagus with a Vinaigrette of Cherries, Tuna Tartar with Ginger and Peach, Turbot Stuffed with Aubergine in a Veloute of Langoustines, Confit of Iberico Pork with Mash and to finish, Yogurt with White Chocolate Cream, Tonka Beans and Red Fruits. All I remember about the food is that it was all very good!

Just a stones throw away from La Salvaora is the lovely Placa de Negret which is full of bars where you can sit outside. The most famous bar here is Cafe Negrito but it’s probably easier to get a seat at one of the other bars at busy times.

From June 2012…

La Lola (Intermediate B), 8 Calle de la Subida del Toledano, www.lalolarestaurante.com

You’ll find this friendly modern restaurant down a small back street next to the cathedral. I first came here on a warm summer evening at the suggestion of my dear old friend Angeles who is a local lass.

Although I’d been aware of the restaurant before, I’d mentally put myself off going because their greeters hustle for custom on the street; generally a turn off for me because it smacks of desperation. I realise now this was a little unfair because the food was absolutely fine (including the very reasonably priced set menu), it’s more that the place is a little hard to find.

In terms of the food, the Salmorejo was very tasty (A) and the attractive looking Goats Cheese starter was nice as well (B), as was the Bacalao with sauteed vegetables (B+). I can’t remember what we drank due to the fact I hadn’t seen Angie for about 5 years and we were having a good old chat! I remember it as a good place though, somewhere I’d definitely go back to.

Which I did in 2014 with Angie and her other half, Juan. Again the food was nicely presented and original but occasionally a bit hit and miss in terms of flavour. However I remember really liking the Meloso (wet paella) with snails, quail and mushrooms. Juan selected an excellent Merlot from Penedes to go with it.

A great spot that I would definitely like to go to again, which is true of all the restaurants in this post.

Valencia – Ciutat Vella – things to see in El Carme

Posted in Ciutat Vella, El Carme, Spain, Valencia, Valenciana Comunidad on March 5, 2019 by gannet39

At the end of Carrer de Quart, the continuation of Carrer dels Cavallers, you’ll find the Porta de Quart, one of only two remaining gates to the old town.

Guarding the approach from the river, on the north east side of El Carme, is the more impressive Porta de Serranos. You can pay to go up the towers to get a view.

I’ve made a separate post about Eating in El Carme. My map with everything on is here.

See also my separate post on Street Art in El Carme for other things to see in the barrio.

Valencia – Eixample – more places to eat in El Pla del Remei

Posted in Eixample, El Pla del Remei, Spain, Valencia, Valenciana Comunidad with tags , on March 4, 2019 by gannet39

As previously mentioned, the Eixample is the residential area just to the south of the medieval old town. It has three sub-districts, Gran Via, Ruzafa (see separate posts) and this one; El Pla del Remei. The El Mercado de Colon is also in this zone but I’ve given its own post. My map is here.

20140915_142540

Other than Habitual in El Mercado de Colon, there are a couple of other places to eat round here…

Casa Vela (Intermediate A), 26 Carrer D’Isabel la Catolica, www.restaurantecasavela.com, closed Sundays

A small but high quality tapas bar and deli, since 1908. They can seat about twenty at tables in the back.

I came at lunchtime for a mixed tuna salad which I couldn’t fault (A).

There is an extensive wine selection available.

Palace Fesol (Intermediate C), 7 Calle Hernan Cortes, www.palacefesol.com

This restaurant began by serving Fesoles (lima beans) to the urban poor in 1909 but it’s now a relatively posh restaurant.

They are famous for their rice dishes but I didn’t have anyone to share one with so I ordered something smaller.

To begin I had the Crujiente Relleno (crispy stuffing) on the recommendation of the nice waitress but unfortunately it was virtually flavourless (C) so I’m not sure what it was supposed to be stuffed with.

Next I had the Corvina con Verduras a la Plancha (sea bass with grilled veg) which tasted and looked a bit oily and dirty from the grill (C).

The Hoya de Castillo 2016, a Macabeo Merseguera blend, made things a bit better though (B-).

I’d give them another try if I had no other choice as they have a good reputation, but this experience wasn’t special by any means. There’s plenty more fish in the sea though (see my other Valencia posts).

Valencia – Eixample – Modernista architecture in El Pla del Real

Posted in El Pla del Real, Spain, Valencia, Valenciana Comunidad with tags , on March 3, 2019 by gannet39

El Pla del Real is the district due east of the old town, on the other side of the old Turia river bed.

The Palau de l’Exposició de València housed the Valencian Regional Exhibition of 1909. It was designed by the architect Francesc Mora i Berenguer in a Neogothic modernista style.

On the next block is the Art Nouveau Edificio de la Industria Lanera, now a Westin Hotel.

Just a few blocks away is the Museu de Belles Arts de València (technically in La Saidia). While I’m not a fan of the building, I do quite like this cornerstone.

See my and Mercado de Colon and Le Seu – Stuff to See posts for more Modernista architecture.

Valencia – Ciutat Vella – tapas bars around El Mercat

Posted in Ciutat Vella, El Mercat, Spain, Valencia, Valenciana Comunidad with tags , , , on March 2, 2019 by gannet39

Due to having too much content, I’ve made other El Mercat posts for La Lonja, Mercado Central and Other Stuff to See. My map is here.

The handiest place for tapas after visiting La Lonja is Escalones de la Lonja (Elementary B+) at 3 Calle Pere Compte, www.facebook.com. I can recommend their anchovies (B+)…

…and their croquetas (B).

Tasca Angel (Elementary B+) at 1 Carrer de la Puríssima, is a classic (since 1946) stand-up tapas bar just around the corner from La Lonja. It’s a tiny place and always full to bursting, so they appreciate it if you keep reusing your glasses. We tried the All i Pebre (chunks of eel in a garlic and pepper sauce) and while it was a good example of this dish, I’m still not a fan of eel (B-). The sardines and brochettes here are good though.

The famous La Pilareta aka Bar Pilar (Intermediate B+) at 13 Calle del Moro Zeit, is considered by many to be the best place in town to have Clochinas (Valencian Mussels). Clochinas are smaller and more yellow in colour than normal mussels and have more flavour. Both are on the menu so you can compare. I had them ‘al Vapor’ (steamed and served in a broth of, I think, garlic, bay leaves. black pepper and paprika) and they were great (B+).

The Calamari, fried in a very delicate batter were excellent as well, some of the best I’ve ever had (A).

The old chap in the pictures is showing us the gas powered machine that was used to refrigerate food in the old days.

Tyris On Tap (Intermediate B+), 6 Calle Taula de Canvis

This is a craft beer pub in a quiet square a little away from the market. The service is friendly and their home brewed Tyris beer is pretty decent (B+) for €4.50 a pint.

They have a small food menu as well and as I was bit peckish but not in the mood for a full meal, I tried something from their hot dog section.

The Campero is a sizable local sausage that comes with fried onion and hefty slabs of tasty pickled gherkin in a good bread bun. It’s messy but hits the spot (B+) and wasn’t too pricey at €8.50.

I visited in May 2017.

Shopping for Cheese in Spain

Posted in Centro, Goya, Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Salamanca, Spain with tags , on February 17, 2019 by gannet39

I was recently asked for advice on shopping for cheese in Spain so I thought I’d share my thoughts on here as well.

Cheese sellers will offer you samples if they see you looking, or you could ask:

‘I’d like to try…’
‘Me gustaría probar…’

In the first place, Spanish cheese can be divided into three main groups:

Fresco: fresh cheese which has not been cured or aged
Semi curado: semi-cured cheese which has been aged for two or three months
Curado: cured cheese that has been cured for upwards of 4 months

A cheese board might feature all three ages of the same cheese in which case they are best eaten in the order of age, youngest first, strongest last.

They can also be divided according to the animal which produces the milk.

Queso de…

Oveja: sheep
Vaca: cow
Cabra: goat
Or a blend (mezcla) of two or three of the above

The most famous national cheese is Manchego, a sheep’s cheese from La Mancha, which is usually what you will get on your hotel breakfast buffet. Manchego Curado is the best stuff.

Other famous Spanish cheeses are:

Cabarales, a blue cheese from Asturias (often just cow but the best is a cow, sheep and goat milk mix)

Torta del Casar from Extremadura (sheep)
Mahon from Menorca (cow)
Idiazabal from Navarra and the Basque country (sheep)

Here’s a more exhaustive list with links.

When it comes to buying you could say:

‘I want to buy two hundred grams of Manchego Curado’.
‘Quiero comprar doscientos gramos de Manchego Curado’.

100g: cien gramos
250g: un cuarto de kilo

If it’s a segment of a wheel and you want to transport it you can ask for it to be vacuum packed or ‘envasado’.

Spanish people eat cheese as a tapa or as a starter, and also as a dessert with thin slices of ‘membrillo’ or quince jelly.

Grilled goat’s cheese is nice with some fig jam or ‘mermelada de higos’.

Toasted almonds, Marcona are the best, go well with matured cheese.

Connoisseurs say it’s best to drink white wine with cheese as it won’t dominate the flavour, but personally I prefer to drink red with more powerful curados. Dry Fino or Oloroso sherry goes well with it too and Pedro Jimenez sweet sherry can be an amazingly good match with blue cheeses like Cabrales.

The two best places to buy cheese in Madrid are:

La Boulette is a stall in Mercado de La Paz www.laboulette.com
El Poncelet, a shop between Alonso Martinez and Colon www.poncelet.es

The former is less than 10 mins walk from the Hotel Goya and the latter around 15 mins.

Both are proud to say they have over 200 varieties in stock, and they do have many Spanish cheeses but a fair amount of their stock will be from abroad.

Please feel free to add tips and comments or to suggest other cheeses.

Happy cheese shopping 🙂

Madrid – Chamberi – Gabinoteca’s Cocina Creativa in Rios Rosas

Posted in Chamberi, Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Rios Rosas, Spain with tags on February 16, 2019 by gannet39

Rios Rosas is somewhat off the beaten tourist track but I don’t mind a bit of a walk if the food’s good. Of course you can take the train to the station of the same name.

This tapas bar is one of a few businesses using the same address on a curved street (unusual in urban Madrid) off a grid street, so it’ll be where you weren’t expecting it to be. Having Google maps helps with this, mine is here.

Gabinoteca (Intermediate B), 53 Calle Fidez. De la Hoz, www.lagabinoteca.com

Gabinoteca was a hot spot for Cocina Creativa when I visited in March 2017. It’s a big space but also very popular so if you go on a weekend night as I did, it’s probably best to reserve. I was offered a high table with a bar stool at the top of the flight of stairs as you go in but it really didn’t do anything for my vertigo so I asked to be seated elsewhere and was given a place at the bar instead.

My friendly server recommended a few things for me, starting with the Tapa de Vieiras a la plancha con Pimientos de Confitadesimos; a canapé with scallops au gratin bedded on a confit of red peppers, which was really tasty (A).

On the recommendation of a blog I read I ordered El Potito; a tapa of egg, potato and truffle, served in a Kilner jar, but I didn’t rate it as highly as my first order (B-).

The house ‘Laxas’ Albarino was just ordinary, as was the following glass of ‘Portia’ Ribera Crianza (both B) that I had with the next two dishes.

The Carrillera de Ternera (veal cheeks), usually a favourite, was unimpressive (B).

The Taco Pato involved a tray with pots of stewed duck (A), marinated red onion (A), guacamole (B) and fried onion (C).

The final bill came to a total of €34.59 which seemed fair.

So the food was slightly hit and miss but generally okay. However I wouldn’t go again unless I happened to be in the area.

Madrid – Cortes – Las Huertas – two meals to remember at Triciclo

Posted in Centro, Las Huertas, Las Letras (Cortes), Madrid, Madrid Comunidad, Spain with tags on February 15, 2019 by gannet39

Triciclo (High Intermediate A), 28 Calle Santa Maria, www.eltriciclo.es

As of Spring 2017 I’m very happy to say that Triciclo, located within my favourite tapas zone of Las Huertas (see my other post), is a new addition to my shortlist of essential places to eat in Madrid.

It was the place to be for the blogosphere when it opened in July 2013 but now things have calmed down it’s much easier to get in. You’ll still probably have to reserve at peak times though.

When I first came on a Thursday evening I had to squeeze into a tiny space at a raised table by the bar (my only gripe) but ended up liking the experience so much that I came back with a reservation for Saturday lunch and got a more comfortable seat in the pleasant dining room next door.

What made my experience so memorable was the superb service I received from Luis, the young sumelier (sommelier) who at only 26 is amazingly fluent in both English and wine.

On the first night I had the Menu Degustacion, seven dishes for €50, and the Maridaje (wine pairing); seven wines for €30, and it was worth every penny.

The bread and olives were excellent of course, as was the amuse bouche, whatever it was (A).

First off was a Fino from Bodega El Maestro Sierra which I really enjoyed (B+). In addition to producing great wine, the bodega is also notable for being run by a woman who took over thirty years ago when her husband died. Apparently this was very much frowned upon in traditional Andalucia.

I later procured a couple of bottles of this for my personal cellar.

The following descriptions are often incomplete as it was hard to keep up.

The first starter included some of the famous white prawns from Huelva which were paired with coconut milk, shichimi powder and trout eggs to superb effect.

This was paired with a stunning French white called Meursault. I later found out it costs around £40 a bottle but Luis had opened it for a table of the owner’s friends and very kindly given me a glass when he didn’t have to. I’ve since added one to my collection as it was superb (A+).

Whatever came next had a lot to compete with, but the mackerel did well (A).

It was matched with a Ribeiro called Finca Viñoa which had a subtle flavour and nose (B).

After this Alcachofas (B+); artichokes cooked on the plancha with a pil pil sauce, seaweed and Callos de Bacalao, the flotation bladders of cod, which are one of my favourite things to eat for their amazing flavour (A+).

Luis told me artichokes are usually best with sherry but he matched them with a favourite white of his called Artifice from Tenerife which had a very unusual petroleum-like taste(B).

After this; butter beans with clams and prawns (B).

This was matched with a Ribeira Sacra called Tolo do Xisto which had a medium nose and flavour (B+).

Next up, some Merluza (hake), which was very good (A).

The Gramona cava Luis served it with was also stunning (A) and I later bought some.

Apparently the bodega’s owner takes into consideration the astral biodynamic calendar to decide when he picks his grapes!

Then Mollejas; sweetbreads with beans (B+).

They went well with a glass of Scala dei Garnatxa from Priorat (B+), Spain’s finest red wine region.

To finish, Apple and Lychees (B+).

The best match for this was a slightly sweet wine; Moscatel de la Marina by Enrique Mendoza, which knocked my socks off (A). I later bought twelve bottles on the internet for my pop-up restaurant.

For a final digestif with my coffee I asked Luis for something special from the bar’s liqueur collection and I was given a glass of Don Papa; a new rum on the market from the Philippines. He advises cooling a drink with ice cubes but removing them with tongs before they start to melt too much.

Having loved my first experience so much, I came back for Saturday lunch, and Luis worked some more magic on me.

I’ve not graded them as I was too busy speaking to Luis but it was all superb again.

After an amuse bouche of I forget what…

…matched with a Manzanilla called Sacrista AB from Barbadillo…

… I restarted with the Tosta Atun.

And a rose called El Aprendiz from the DO Tierra de Leon.

Then a third portion of Ciervo (venison) decorated with salmon roe I think.

Matched with a glass of Llanos Negros ‘La Batista’; a Malvasia from La Palma.

Also a third of Esparragos, the season’s first crop of forced asparagus, arrived that day from Navarra.

And a glass of 2014 L’Equilibrista from Catalunya.

Then a third of Manitas; pig’s trotters, or as Luis called them pig’s hands.

The wine was called 30,000 Maravedies from Bodega Maranones near Madrid.

I don’t recall what was on the Taco Carri, sorry. Bet it was good though.

With this a 2013 Syrah called Toc Toc.

To finish, Nuestras Frutas, our fruits, which included kiwi, mandarin, red grape and cantaloupe melon was sublime.

And a final glass of 2012 MR Mountain Wine, a moscatel from Telmo Rodrigquez in Malaga.

This Maridaje of six wines only cost me €22, so I think Luis might have swung me a couple of favours, good egg that he is.

So the wheels came off my reviewing at the end but suffice to say I had two superb meals here and absolutely recommend Triciclo for lovers of fine food and wines.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – Food & Drink in the Old Town

Posted in Gran Canaria, Las Canarias, Las Palmas, Spain, Triana, Vegueta with tags , , , , on February 14, 2019 by gannet39

Please see my previous posts for things to see in Vegueta and Triana (the old town).

My Google map is here.

All the places below are handy for my colleagues staying at the Hotel Parque although the first restaurant is better for tourists seeking an idyllic spot. Everybody should visit the market.

Mercado de Vegueta (B+), Calle Pelota

This is a lovely market to walk around because the stall owners have put so much effort into their displays.

Does anyone know what these strange things are?

Casa Montesdeoca (Advanced B+), 10 Calle Montesdeoca, www.facebook.com

This is a higher end restaurant located in the large courtyard of a sixteenth century house in the old town. It’s not quite as stunning as their photos make it look but it is very pretty with an old well and lots of plants. It’s hard to believe the house was a ruin just a few years ago.

The tables have been placed under the courtyard porticoes and umbrellas in case of rain which was a distinct possibility when I was there in March.

The waiters, dressed in white tunics, are friendly and efficient. A soundtrack of Spanish guitar added to the relaxed atmosphere. The food is good and nicely presented but not amazing (B).

I had the Raviolis Rellenos.

And the Sama en Espejo de Trufas y Espuma de Frutas del Bosque, that is, a local fish with truffles and a foam of forest fruits.

With a bottle of Manto by La Geira, another volcanic dry Malvasia from Lanzarote, which was lovely.

The bill came to €60 which was par for the course I think.

El Herreno (Intermediate C), El Herreño Calle Mendizábal, 5 Calle Mendizábal, m.facebook.com

This is a big old place by the market with large dining rooms that were filled with big groups of locals when I went for lunch on a Saturday. It’s very cheap, which may account for its popularity, and the service is fast and efficient but not particularly friendly. It’s the Lonely Planet top pick for Las Palmas but for me the traditional food wasn’t good enough to warrant the rating.

I went for media raciones of three classic local dishes beginning with Ropa Vieja; originally a Cuban dish called ‘Old Rope’ which has bounced back to the Canaries due to their close ties with the Caribbean island. It can be made with different meats and even fish but was composed of chicken, potatoes and chick peas here. It was the only thing I polished off (B-).

Also Gofio Escaldo; a puree made of maize, originally a poor person’s dish, which I wasn’t too keen on and didn’t finish (C-).

Also a tasteless version of the local chick pea stew; Garbanzada made with carrot and only tiny pieces of jamon which was too plain to interest me and I left a lot of it (C). The version I had in La Dispensa (see my Isleta – Las Canteras post) was much tastier with the inclusion of chorizo and morcilla. With all this, a half bottle of Cune (B).

For dessert Mus de Gofio, a sweetened version of the maize puree I had above (B) and a Ron Miel brought the total to €30.

I have to say my poor old stomach wasn’t too happy digesting the food from here. Maybe I had too many chickpeas and too much maize but I think it was the quality of the cooking and ingredients that disagreed with me. It’s an experience that the budget traveller might enjoy, and there are plenty of other more common Spanish dishes on the menu besides my weird selection, but that said, I won’t be going back.

Pecado Ibérico (Low Intermediate B), 21 Calle Cebrian

This modern little breakfast place also doubles as a deli, a junk shop and a bar. I came for lunch but there was nothing lunchy on the menu so I had a wrap (erroneously called a Burrito) filled with cooked ham. It was cheap at €6.50 and included a juice and a coffee.

I’m guessing the place is run by a mum and her hipster son, neither of whom were particularly welcoming but they thawed slightly under my charm offensive.

I bought a jar of local honey here as well. It was a bit pricy at €9.90 but I was happy to pay that as it was very good (A).

El Modernista (Elementary A), Plaza de San Telmo

This is a café located in the lovely Modernista kiosk in the square opposite the Hotel Parque where I should have been staying.

I could look at this building all day. In need of a pit stop after a long walk, I had a Café Cortado, a small bottle of water and a double Ron Miel for €9.10.

And that my friends was the end of my eight days in Las Palmas.

Off to Madrid next!

Las Palmas de Gran Canarias – Historical Architecture in Vegueta

Posted in Gran Canaria, Las Canarias, Las Palmas, Spain, Vegueta with tags , , , , on February 13, 2019 by gannet39

Vegueta was the first neighbourhood of Las Palmas when it was founded in the late fifteenth century. It was declared a National Artistic Historic Site in 1973. Many of the principal civic institutions were located here.

At 1 Calle Colón you’ll find Casa de Colón www.casadecolon.com which used to be the governor house and also claims to be the temporary residence of Christopher Columbus before he sailed for the Americas.

Personally I’ve lost count of the number of cities that lay claim to his name (Genoa and Barcelona spring to mind). It’s now a museum about the Castillian conquest of the Canaries as well as Columbus and pre-columbine America. Entrance fee is 4€ for adults and it’s free the first weekend of the month.

Although the rest of the building is quite austere on the outside, the entrance door is stunning.

The characters seems as sharp as when they were first carved. Click on the pics to enlarge.

The rear entrance is also quite ornate.

The carved figures here seem slightly cruder and less sharp but more humourous.

In Plaza Santa Ana you can see the Catedral de Santa Ana. Although there was nothing inside that particularly impressed me, next time I go I’ll pay the 1,50€ to go up to the roof to enjoy the views which are supposed to be very good.

One of the buildings on the southern side of the square has some nice architectural features.

Plaza de Santo Domingo is a nice square with a pretty fountain.

Another building of note is the Teatro Perez Galdos at 1 Plaza Stagno www.teatroperezgaldos.es.

It seems quite austere from the outside but perhaps there’s more to like inside.

Eating in Vegueta next!

Las Palmas de Gran Canarias – Modern Architecture in Triana

Posted in Gran Canaria, Las Canarias, Las Palmas, Spain, Triana on February 12, 2019 by gannet39

Triana is the former merchants district in the old town. The adjoining neighbourhood of Vegueta (see nextpost) has governmental buildings dating back to medieval times whereas Triana has more recent residential buildings dating back to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Today it is one of the most important commercial areas in Las Palmas, particularly since the pedestrianisation of its main street Calle Triana. My map here.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my employer either uses the Hotel Astoria in Isleta or the Hotel Parque www.hparque.com in Triana in the old town. The Parque is preferred for logistical reasons as it’s next to the Estación de Guaguas (gua gua is the local name for a bus).

The hotel faces onto the Parque de San Telmo. In one corner of the square is the beautiful Art Deco kiosk (quiosco) which houses a café.

Nearby at 2 Calle Buenos Aires at Punto de Información Turística de San Telmo.

At one end of Plazoleta de Cairasco is the Art-Nouveau Gabinete Literario, constructed in 1842.

It was originally a theatre and later became a club, but nowadays it houses a literary society, as well as a restaurant and a cafe.

I only managed to snap a couple of shots inside before the concierge threw me out.

At 6 Calle Cano is the Casa Museo de Pérez Galdós www.casamuseoperezgaldos.com.

On Calle Pérez Galdós is the Modernista Palacete Querego Rodríguez Quegles.

At different times it has housed the Conservatory of Music, the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Government of the Canaries, the Direction of Universities and Research, and the Canary Academy of the Language and is now used as a cultural space.

If you sneak through the front door you can catch a glimpse of one of the beautiful stained glass windows.

Modernisme is my favourite style of architecture and this blue and white confection was my favourite building in the area.

This is another beautiful example of Modernisme.

And here’s another fine Modernista house on Calle Cano.

And there are many more, especially along Calle Triana. Click on the photos to expand them.

I also like more traditional Spanish houses with their balcones cerrados; enclosed balconies that regulate heat and noise from the street.

Some buildings have a Neo-Mudéjar (Moorish revival) features but they don’t seem to be as common as in other cities in southern Spain.

Plaza de las Ranas has a Neo-Mudéjar kiosk…

…and a nice statue with a fountain.

Plaza Alameda de Colon is another pleasant square.

There are a few examples of art deco around.

A more recent building is the Rationalist Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, built between 1932 and 1942, on the corner of the Bravo Murillo and Pérez Galdós streets.

And there is the odd Postmodern building in the neighbourhood but they are few and far between.

So Triana is an architectural paradise for building spotters. There’ll see some more in Vegueta, the oldest barrio, next.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – a walk through Ciudad Alta

Posted in Ciudad Alta, Gran Canaria, Las Canarias, Las Palmas, Spain with tags , on February 11, 2019 by gannet39

Ciudad Alta is the barrio on the hill between Isleta (see previous posts) and Triana (next post). One day I walked through the neighbourhood towards the old town along Paseo Chil (the main artery). My map is here.

This is where the well-heeled locals reside now that Triana, once the poshest part of town, has become an outdoor architectural museum.

There are some fantastic homes up here but I stopped taking photos of them after getting being told off by a security man. In the UK you can take pictures just about anywhere you like when you’re outside but it might be different in Spain. Better safe than sorry anyway.

However, I did get a few snaps of the wonderful Neo-Mudejar monster that is the Hotel Santa Caterina www.barcelo.com. Next time I come back I’ll try and get to the hotel’s Michelin starred restaurant.

The hotel overlooks the lovely Doramas Park (at 227 León y Castillo) which was designed by the British in the 19th century.

It’s an oasis of tranquility with all kinds of exotic plants and flowers that I had never seen before.

There are a few whacky statues and water features dotted about as well.

By way of contrast I also came across this brutalist staircase which I adore. Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder.

The lovely neighbourhood of Triana next!

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – Isleta – Eating and Drinking around La Puntilla

Posted in Gran Canaria, Isleta, La Puntilla, Las Canarias, Las Palmas, Spain with tags , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2019 by gannet39

La Puntilla is the area at the far north eastern end of Playa de Canteras. See also the previous post on places to eat around Playa de Canteras for the rest of the beach area. My map here.

The best place to go for tapas in Isleta is the old market, the Mercado del Puerto de la Luz at 76 Calle Albareda mercadodelpuerto.net, which has been renovated and turned over completely to tapas bars.

This first one was my favourite but the others were good too.

Skandi Tapas (Elementary B+), inside the market, is run by a lovely Swedish lady. She’s a former SAS airhostess so she knows a thing or two about hospitality. We had a tapa of Caballa Ahumada (smoked mackerel) with crispbread…

…and three different tapas of Salmon; smoked…

…marinaded (gravelaks) and in rolls with Polar Bread, a northern Swedish flatbread (recipe here) and served with a traditional mild mustard sauce.

All these scored an A with me but then I’m biased as I’m half Norwegian. It was really nice to have something different from the usual Spanish tapas. With three glasses of wine each the bill came to a reasonable €32.

At Cachuk (Elementary B+) there’s an Italian vibe with dishes like Mejillones Relleno alla Livornese.

My friend Tina and I also had the oysters…

… and a nice glass of Ribera del Duero.

At El Camaron (Elementary B) on the outside of the market we had some good grilled prawns and razor clams (B+). With two glasses of Albarino the bill came to €18.80.

Whereas La Barra del Puerto (Elementary B+), next door to El Camaron did some good octopus with a green mojo, made with coriander, recipe here.

As for restaurants…

La Marinera (Intermediate B+), Calle Alonso Ojeda, Plaza de la Puntilla

This is a big, famous restaurant on a promontory at the end of the strip in Puntilla.

It’s right next to the sea and has great views over the sea.

The food is good, the service less so.

The Canaries have a good rep for cheese I had a media of local Queso, both fresh and semi-cured, to begin (B+).

For the main; grilled Sama a common local fish you’ll see on many menus. Opinion seems to be divided as to whether it should be translated as Red Sea Bream or Pink Dentex but either way it’s a new one on me.

To finish, a stunning sweet called Polvetos de Uruguay which I raved about in the previous post (A). Again, it’s something you’ll see it on the menu of a lot of restaurants here.

With the dessert a shot of best quality Ron Miel, Canarian honey rum, by Aldea. The was my first experience of this nectar and I fell for it straight away (B+).

With a jarra (large beer) the bill came to just under €28, not too bad.

I would recommend coming here for the views and the food is good but you get the distinct impression that the grumpy waiters don’t like tourists. When I requested the Canarian classic grill dish called Casa Carmelo (as recommended at this restaurant by Culture Trip) I was told in a very patronising way that it had never been on the menu but when I finally found it (it’s a big menu) and proved him wrong, the waiter stopped serving me! I didn’t let his lack of professionalism bother me though and I still enjoyed myself here.

By the way, if you want to try Casa Carmelo, whatever it is, it’s served at a restaurant of the same name just a few doors away at 2 Paseo las Canteras, www.restaurantegrillcasacarmelo.com. Sadly I never got the time to go and give it a try.

Amigo Camilo (Intermediate C+), 1 La Caleta

A waterside restaurant in Puntilla that looks lovely from the outside but with plastic furniture and poor service once you get in.

The high parapet makes it hard to see the lovely view.

The exception was the friendly manager who took me to see their fresh fish display and helped me choose one.

I had a very nice grilled Sama again (see notes above) and media raciones (half portions) of Ensalada Mixta and the quintessential local dish Papas Arrugadas, new potatoes served with mojo (see above).

To drink, a Canarian volcanic wine, a dry Malvasia from Lanzarote, called Bermejo for €16 which was really nice(B+), as was every other local white I tasted.

To finish another glass of Ron Miel but an inferior version this time by Artemi called Indias (C).

The total bill came in at just over €42.

La Oliva (Intermediate B), 17 Prudencio Morales

Recommended by a blogger who reckoned they do the best Calamares Fritos locally.

With a G&T each the bill came to €23.50 which was a bit pricey but the Calamares were good (B+).

Ginger (Intermediate B+), 2 Paseo las Canteras

This was my friend Tina’s local as it’s very good for G&Ts (B+). Look at the size of those glasses!

A walk through the neighbourhood of Ciudad Alta to the old town next!

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – Playa de Las Canteras – Places to Eat and Drink

Posted in Gran Canaria, Isleta, Las Canarias, Las Palmas, Playa de Las Canteras, Spain with tags , , , , , , , on February 9, 2019 by gannet39

One thing that pleasantly surprised me about Las Palmas was how multicultural it was, as can be seen by the wide variety of restaurants from every region of Spain and every country in the former Spanish empire, as well as many other national cuisines. During my eight night stay I ate Canarian, Galician, Uruguayan, Peruvian, Swedish, Japanese, Korean and Indian food. Here are my favourites in order of preference.

Google map here.

See also the following post on places to eat around La Puntilla, the area at the northern end of the beach, including the market.

Novillo Precoz (High Intermediate A), 9 Calle Portugal, www.novilloprecoz.es

This was one of my favourites during my stay; a completely authentic, old school Uruguayan steak restaurant which has been around a long time judging by the age of the owner; a frail old lady guarding the till.

To begin a Chorizo Parrillero and a Morcilla sausage…

…followed by grilled Provelone.

For the main a medium rare Bife Ancho steak (A) with Papas Fritas (A) and a big Ensalada Mixta (B+).

On the waiter’s recommendation I had this with a local red wine called Caldera (B).

For dessert I again put myself in the hands of my helpful waiter who surprised me with a mixed dessert of Polvitos Uruguayos (a kind of cheesecake with a biscuit crumb base, whipped cream, filled with dulce de leche and topped with pieces of meringue) which in Uruguay is known as Polvitos de Novicia, paired with a Panqueque con Dulce de Leche which combined were heaven on a plate (A+), especially when supported by a glass of PX.

After this excellent meal I had to finish things properly with a balloon of Gran Duque de Alba brandy in a warmed glass (A).

The total came to a greedy €71 which I was happy to pay for such a comprehensive blowout.

Ribera del Rio Mino (Advanced B+), 21 Calle Olof Palme, www.riberadelriomino.com

This is a high end Galician restaurant recommended by Michelin and the Guia Repsol. It’s very popular with posh locals and I was lucky to get a seat at the bar for Sunday lunch, despite arriving early. Reservations definitely recommended at peak times.

My waiter at the bar was very hard-working but he should have had someone else on with him because he was often too busy to serve me as the place started to fill up.

I began with a media of Croquetas de la Casa (B+).

The Gambas a la Plancha were pricey at €21, but they were just what I wanted (B+).

With these I had three glasses of an excellent Albarino (A), called Altos de Torona, at €3 a glass.

For the next dishes I swapped to red which was more pricey at €4 a glass but the first glass of a Ribera del Duero called Pago de Valtarreña was totally worth the money (A).

However the subsequent glasses of Celeste and La Planta, both Riberas, were less so (B).

The Chistorra sausages with chips were good (B). However I felt the local Queso Duro (B+) was a bit pricey at €10.60 and the cheesecake (C) wasn’t worth €7.

But the glass of Carlos I brandy was good value at €6.40.

The total bill for this little lot came to €80. Many things were overpriced in my opinion but there were bargains to be had and I was glad to have experienced their top notch wines.

La Despensa (Low Intermediate B+), 8 Calle Diderot

A place to have Canarian food near the Hotel Astoria. I had the reasonably priced Menu Degustacion for €21 which scored a B overall. This kicked off with Tomates Aliñados, a dressed tomato salad…

… and continued with Garbanzada, a local chick pea stew. Next came a very unusual dish, particular to the Canaries, of Croquetas de Morcilla de Teror which contained sugar, ground almonds, raisins nutmeg and spearmint. While I love black pudding, I’m not sure if I’m a fan of this sweet version (C+) but it was interesting.

The meal concluded with Secreto Iberico, a pork cut with chips. Very good value and nice rustic food.

Bodegon Don Juan Pachichi (Elementary B), 51 Calle Martinez de Escobar

A very popular tapas bar located in an old garage! It has been around for 70+ years apparently. The food scores a B/C with me but the atmos is B+.

I had two glasses of mediocre red, some Queso Semi-Curado con Mojo (in the Canaries mojo means a ‘sauce’ containing olive oil, peppers, garlic, and paprika) and some Jamon Serrano.

Of note is the Chorizo al Inferno, which you get to grill yourself.

It’s fun to do but the results aren’t great and there’s a slight aftertaste of lighter fluid.

To finish; Pan Bizcocho a kind of local cake which I wasn’t too keen on (C-).

The final bill was €11.30 which is very reasonable. A fun place which I’d go to again.

Nomiya (Intermediate B+), 34 Calle Rafael Almeida

A bright, modern place selling Korean and Japanese food, run by Koreans, that has a strong local following. The waitresses were lovely and very efficient and hard working. Two of them were sisters who had lived in Manchester and Belfast but where currently sporting strong US accents as they attended the local American school.

One told me how much she missed the friendly people of Manchester who were quite different in their attitude towards people of other ethnicities in comparison to the Canarians who she felt weren’t very welcoming. Unfortunately I’d have to agree with her due to my general experience. Some locals (not all by any means) don’t seem to like foreigners much.

Anyway, about the food. I had a portion of Kimchi; pickled Chinese cabbage with chilli (B), Bibimbap, a hot rice dish (B+) and feeling greedy I followed up with Pa Jun, a seafood pancake (B).

With a couple of local Tropical beers (C+), the bill came to just over €25.

A good spot if you fancy a change from Spanish food.

Fuji (Intermediate B-), 56 Calle Fernando Guanarteme, www.restaurantefuji.es

Spain’s oldest Japanese restaurant apparently (founded in 1967), but as someone who lived in Japan for a while, I can’t say I was particularly impressed.

I had the Misoshiru (beanpaste soup), the Sashimi de Sama (a common local fish, raw)…

…and the Norimaki Variado (mixed seaweed rolls).

It was all perfectly edible but uninspiring and I was given a replacement for the tuna norimaki without being asked if it was okay, which it wasn’t.. With two Kirin lagers the bill came to €37.50.

Nawabi (Intermediate B), 7 Calle Jesus Ferrer Jimeno

A fairly posh Indian restaurant with tasty, authentic curries (B). Another good place for a change of cuisine.

La Bikina Cantina (Intermediate B), 63 Paseo de las Canteras

I had the Ceviche and a Margarita for €12.50. The ceviche wasn’t very nice C- but maybe other things on the menu are okay.

For more places to eat and drink in the area, seen my next post on La Puntilla.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – Isleta – Walking Around Playa de Las Canteras

Posted in Gran Canaria, Isleta, Las Canarias, Las Palmas, Playa de Las Canteras, Spain on February 8, 2019 by gannet39

This trip in March 2017 was the first time I’d ever been to the Canary Islands but they are definitely somewhere I’d like to visit again, ideally as a cheap escape from the miserable British winter. While not the hottest month by any means in the Canaries, the March weather was usually bright, sunny and warm most days.

Las Palmas is the capital on the biggest island, Gran Canaria and ranks as the tenth largest metropolitan area in Spain.

It’s famous for its urban beach, Playa de Las Canteras which runs for three kilometres along the city’s northern shore.

The neighbourhood is known as Isleta. Please see the two following posts for restaurant suggestions.

Webcam here. Google map here.

The shoreline street, Paseo Las Canteras makes for a very pleasant walk although it can be a bit windy at times.

This statue of a fisherman descaling fish was my landmark on the waterfront that told me to turn inland to my hotel, the Hotel Astoria, www.bullhotels.com. The Astoria, with its small poky rooms and a very mediocre breakfast, is not particularly recommendable but its location near the beach made it preferable to the usual hotel my employer uses; the Hotel Parque en Las Palmas, www.hparque.com which is better located for Veguera and Triana in the old town on the eastern side of the city (see later posts).

Veguera has some fantastic architecture (see future posts) but there are a few nice buildings around Las Canteras as well.

There are some examples of simple Art Deco…

… as well as some interesting post-modern designs…

…some of which have some lovely tiling…

…and others less so.

There’s much more architecture in later posts but Las Canteras restaurants are next.

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