Archive for the Malaga Category

Not so marvellous Marbella

Posted in Andalusia, Malaga, Malaga Province, Marbella, Spain with tags , on January 6, 2015 by gannet39

In November 2013 I made my second visit to Marbella and stayed for a couple of nights. The first occasion was about 25 years earlier when I was working as a painter and decorator for a Liverpudlian club owner who was selling his flat there.

It hasn’t changed much, it’s still a high end resort for wealthy expats and is the kind of place I’d avoid like the plague if I had the choice. Even in the off season, the only language I heard being spoken on the streets was English, usually with an Essex accent. However someone was paying me to be here again so I made the best of it.

There are heaps of top notch restaurants all about town but I really couldn’t justify paying their extortionate prices. Many of them are on my Google map, along with the more reasonable places below. I remember this place on the edge of the sanitised old town as being fairly good value:

Marisqueria La Pesquera (Intermediate B+), www.lapesquera.com

20131114_195958 Mentioned in Frommers, albeit without a star rating, this place seems to be a bit of an institution amongst the indigenous locals. I sat out on the large enclosed terrace but there’s also a buzzy tapas bar at the back that you might prefer. As the name suggests they specialise in seafood.

My parrillada (mixed grill) was on the small side for €36 but the seafood was good (B+). Total cost with a bottle of white and a brandy was €63. Service was fine. It’s handy for a nice stroll in the narrow streets of the tiny old town afterwards.

Chowka (Intermediate B-), 11 Bulevard Principe Von Alfonso Hohenlohe, www.chowka-marbella.com

20131115_202550I always grab the chance of a decent curry if I can as I usually need a change from whatever cuisine I’m eating. This modern, comfortable place would be particularly good for my colleagues as it’s very near our hotel and it’s relatively cheaper than anywhere in the old centre or by the beach, although it’ll still cost a few bob.

I had the curried chicken livers followed by a lamb curry, dahl, chipatti and rice which were all fine (B).

The extortionate asking price for an after-dinner brandy stirred me to complete one of their feedback forms though. Nice local servers but the owner/manager only seemed interested in getting my money (€50).

I stayed at the NH Marbella on Avenida Conde Rudi. The room, wifi, breakfast and staff were all fine and there’s also an okayish gym and an outdoor leisure pool. The only downside is that it’s a 20 minute walk to town, but I quite like walking around so this wasn’t a problem.

I was actually working in nearby Estepona which had no hotels open in the off season. A lasting memory is of having breakfast at the bus station at 6am with the local workmen, all of whom were sinking carajillos (coffee with a shot of brandy) before going off to operate heavy machinery. Only in Spain!

So not much of interest for me here (please tell me if I’m wrong) and I was glad to move on…

 

 

 

 

A smidgen of Malaga

Posted in Andalusia, Malaga, Malaga Province, Spain with tags , , , , , , on January 1, 2015 by gannet39

I only spent three nights in Malaga so please don’t think of this post as an authoritative guide to this ancient and fascinating city. It was November as well so it had none of its usual summer buzz. I did have time to nose out a few good places in the short time I was there though. It was after lunchtime when I arrived in town and I was starving, so I headed straight to the old market on Calle Atarazanas in the hope that somewhere would be open nearby . Thankfully I located this marisqueria out the back door of the market that had been recommended by a local food blog:

El Marisquero (Elementary B+), 7 Calle Olozaga It’s a down-to-earth, basic kind of tapas place with standing areas both inside and out so you can catch the shade or the sun as you like. The grilled prawns I had were very good (B+) and it was bliss to slake my thirst with a couple of ice cold canas. It’s always good to be back in Spain when it starts like this.

Antigua Casa de Guardia (Intermediate A-), 18 Alameda Principal,

www.antiguacasadeguardia.net This ancient tavern (since 1840) near the waterfront sells famous local wines such as Malaga Virgen and Moscatel on draught. It’s just a large single room spanned across its width by a long bar, the surface of which is used by the servers to chalk up your bill as you sample the various contents of the barrels that line the walls.

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They serve tapas too but I was saving myself for later so I can’t comment on the food. It’s a good place to start your night out as it has heaps of atmosphere and cheap, though not amazing, wines.

El Pimpi (Intermediate A), 62 Calle Grande, www.elpimpi.com

A local institution, well located near the amphitheatre on Calle Alcazabilla and hence very popular with tourists. It’s a big place with two entrances and was very busy when I went.

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There’s a sizable terrace out front and a couple of seating areas inside. It’s an intriguing building, attractively decorated inside with ceramic tiles, old bodega barrels and climbing plants. The food is beautifully presented and everything looked and tasted great.
Wanting a healthy lunch, I had the Ensalada Malaguena con Salmorejo, Naranja y Bacalao Asado, a Malagan salad of cold tomato and bread soup, oranges and grilled salt cod, which was excellent (A). With a bottle of water the bill was €8.80.

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Refectorium (Advanced B+), 8 Calle Cervantes For some reason I thought this Frommers recommended place would be quite down to earth due to its location by the bullring. It’s actually fairly posh and very popular with the matadors and their fans, so I’d be surprised if you could get in when there’s a fight on. I went at a quiet time and got in without a reservation. So I had some I had some high quality local fare (B/B+) but I wouldn’t go back due to the fairly high prices, although the adjoining tapas bar might be more affordable. Embarrassingly I forgot my wallet and had to go back to the hotel to get it. When I returned but was treated like a hero, with a ponche on the house and lots of cheers from the waiters!

El Chinitas (Intermediate C), 4-6 Calle Moreno Monroy Another Frommers and Seleccion del Gourmet suggested place. It’s old school and atmospheric but I wasn’t particularly impressed by their tapas tasting menu (mainly C except for the cured ham).

I wanted to try Bar Orellana over the road which is owned by the same people but it was closed for renovations when I was there. You might have better luck when you go on both counts. La Camapna (Elementary B+), 35 Calle Grande A popular tapas bar selling typical seafood dishes. I didn’t really explore the menu but my squid rings, bravas and two large beers for €11.60 filled a hole.
I had my first taste of Licor 43 in Malaga. The secret recipe has forty three ingredients (hence the name) but the main flavours are orange and vanilla. The latter dominates, too much so for my taste (C+), although it might be better mixed with other things.

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A similar southern tipple is Ponche, a brandy-based liqueur that has been infused with Andalucian oranges, dried fruit and spices. I know there’s more than one brand but Caballero is the only one that the bars ever seem to have.

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It’s ok, like a weak spiced brandy (B), but there are several other Spanish digestifs I’d rather have.

I stayed at the Hotel Molina Lario a nice hotel well located just opposite the cathedral. The staff were helpful, the breakfast was varied, my room was large and had good wifi. There’s a postage stamp sized pool on the roof which would be a godsend in summer. There are heaps of restaurants in the streets around the hotel.

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I didn’t get to go inside the Renaissance style Catedral de Malaga despite it being very near. The entrance with the orange trees outside is quite nice though.

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One morning I finished my morning exercise with a walk up the steep slopes of the Alcazaba, the Moorish fortification that dominates the skyline of the old town, where you can get some great views of the harbor and city. You can pay to get into the inner citadel although it was too early when I went.
The Roman ampitheatre is just below it. Bits of it were nicked to build the Alcazaba but it still has its basic form. 20131113_142330

 

 

 

I also visited the Museo Picasso at 8 Calle San Augustin (€9 entry) but was more impressed by the building itself (a wealthy Moor’s town house) rather than any of the exhibitions inside (his early stuff or not particularly interesting works by other artists). I particularly liked the peaceful courtyard and the beautiful, ornately carved wooden ceilings.

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You can also see some archaeology pre-dating the house down in the basement level. It’s still not really worth the cost of entrance in my opinion. Here’s my Google map with the above places on and some others I didn’t get to. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to explore some more.

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