Archive for the Ciudad Real Category

Eating Out in Ciudad Real

Posted in Castile - La Mancha, Ciudad Real, Ciudad Real Province, Spain with tags , , , , , , , on March 2, 2017 by gannet39

All the places I mention below, and more, are on this Google map.

I’ve basically divided them into two; posh and ordinary, although the former does not necessarily mean expensive. My info was garnered from the Guia Repsol and Lonely Planet guides, and the young school staff that I worked with.

For a posher tapeo (tapas crawl) you could start off in Plaza del Pilar which is due south of Plaza Mayor.

I began at the seemingly upmarket Bar Espana (High Intermediate B+) at 9 Plaza del Pilar where I had three complimentary tapas and a caña for a piffling €3.

The chewy Torreneos (deep-fried belly pork) and the insipid Asadillo soup were fine (B and B-) but the Tortilla with boiled ham and young fresh manchego knocked my socks off (A+). The tortilla had been cut in half widthways and used to sandwich the thin slices of ham and cheese before being sliced into segments and pinned with together with a toothpick.


I also had a beer next door (9 Plaza del Pilar) at the modern and fairly atmospheric (incense sticks in the loos) Bar Los Faroles (Intermediate B) but was unimpressed by their cold complimentary Patatas Bravas (C+).

From here you should go round the corner to Miami Gastro (Advanced A) at 2 Avenida Rey Santo which is perhaps the best place to eat in town. Although you can have tapas, I came for a multi-course lunch one day.

The have four tasting menus priced between €30 and €45. I opted for the €40 version which began with Pan de Cristal con Paletilla Iberica, Tomate y Aceite de Oliva; light crunchy bread doused with olive oil and tomato pulp and topped with Jamon. It was excellent if rather messy to eat (A-).

I love a good Croqueta de Hongos (mushroom croquette) and this one was pretty decent (A+).


It’s hard to go wrong with simply salted Gambas Blancas Cocida, cooked white prawns (A).


The Ensalada Templada de Foie con Fresas, or seasonal salad with foie de gras and strawberries, was beautifully dressed and simply stunning (A+).


Codos de Bogavante en Tempura (lightly battered lobster) wasn’t available that day so I was given a huge portion of Tataki de Atun (seared sliced tuna), served with a wasabi mayo, instead (B).


Carrillada de Cerdo Iberico con Crema de Patate, or beef cheeks with potato puree, will always go down well with me (B+).


I can’t remember what the dessert was called but it was a kind of deep-fried crepe filled with vanilla pastry cream (B).


To drink I had three small glasses of Analiva Verdejo (B+) with the seafood and with the meat a glass of Casa Albali Gran Seleccion, a 2014 Tempranillo from the local Valdepenas DO which was fantastic (A). Sadly this vintage was no longer available when I looked on the internet. Both wines were made by Felix Solis Avanti, a winery based in nearby Valdepeñas.


With the dessert a glass of 2012 Pedro Ximenez Cosecha from Toro Albala which was also great (A). The amber colouring of this 17% PX was a revelation as it’s always been a very dark brown on the many occasions I’ve had it before.


Interestingly they serve Lavazza coffee here which seems like a nod to the superiority of Italian blends, although it wasn’t particularly well served(B).

The final bill came to €45.70 which was fantastic value given the quality and quantity of what I had. The bill also included a beer, a small bottle of water and a croquette and some crisps to eat while I was reading the menu. I thought that the otherwise excellent servers had forgot to add everything on but it was correct.

The best down-to-earth places are all next to each other in Plaza Mayor, in the centre of town.

Acuario (Elementary B) at 11 Plaza Mayor you get a free tapa with your drink which you choose from a menu of mainly fried items. They are particularly known for their filling Huevo con Béchamel; a croquette with a hard-boiled egg inside (B+). With a large beer the bill came to €3.30.


At El Portalon de La Casona (High Elementary B) next door at 9 Plaza Mayor they are known for serving good value-for-money tapas. I had their Migas (fried breadcrumbs with or without a fried egg) which was quite simple but tasty (B-). With a beer this came to only €2.10.


Next door again (8 Plaza Mayor) at El Ventero (Elementary C), the Migas is more varied with chunks of ham and other things, but not particularly nice (C-) and certainly not worth the €9.50 I paid.


They sell other typical Manchego dishes but I’m not sure I’d come here to eat again. However their tables outside are the best placed to view the Carillion clock which chimes at 6pm and 8pm in the evenings.

In the daytime you could finish with a sweet snack from Confitería La Deliciosa at 5 Plaza Mayor.

A good local wine shop is Vinalia at 4 Calle Lanza. I saw the PX pictured above for €18 there. They are also a wine bar.


Out and about in Ciudad Real

Posted in Castile - La Mancha, Ciudad Real, Ciudad Real Province, Spain with tags , , , , on March 1, 2017 by gannet39

Ciudad Real is a small city in Castilla La Mancha, about the fifth largest in the province. The city associates itself heavily with Cervantes and Don Quixote although I understand there is no evidence of any real connection. For tourists there’s very little to see or do but it has a big university which is what brought me here for work.

The city was once fortified by the Moors but the only significant remnants of the walls, which apparently had 130 towers, are a couple of gates at either end of the town which have been preserved as monuments. The more impressive of the two is the Puerta de Toledo which is at the northern end of Calle Toledo.


Besides this there are a couple of churches that are mildly interesting. The oldest is the Iglesia de Santiago.


The wooden ceiling of the church has a geometric star pattern, clearly showing a Moorish influence.


In the ceiling of the apse there is a fresco of eight dragon heads, although they look rather like pigs to me.


Other than this there is very little of any architectural interest, although the town hall in Plaza Major is quite unusual.


I stayed for three nights at the Hotel NH Ciudad Real at 25 Avenida Alarcos which was fine but nothing special. Some of the staff exhibit typical Castillian severity but a couple were friendly and helpful. The breakfast is a decent spread of lots of things that very few people eat, so you don’t know how long they’ve been sitting there. The Wi-Fi is good but there are no gym facilities.

However, the hotel is well located for the centre of town and also for a long walking/jogging route out to the countryside called the Via Verde de Poblachuela. To get to it simply turn left out of the hotel and keep walking straight, through the bland Parque Gasset and along the main road. At the second roundabout (just after the Arena Quixote) you’ll see the beginning of the path in front of you. (Google map here).


The Via Verde is 5km long and will take two hours to complete from the hotel door to where the path meets the railway line, and back again. It’s part of the longer Ruta Don Quijote that goes as far as Almagro, so you could walk for much further (20km?) should you want to. There are exercise stations, picnic areas and a couple of drinking fountains along the way. The sun can be quite strong out here, even in late March, so it’s advisable to put on a bit of sun cream. There’s not much to see, just open fields, although the AVE trains sweeping past are quite impressive.

Please see my next post for places to eat in Ciudad Real.

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