Archive for the Manzanares Category

Castile La Mancha – A Manchego festival in Manzanares

Posted in Castile - La Mancha, Ciudad Real Province, Manzanares, Spain on February 7, 2019 by gannet39

I had another day off the next day so I passed by the Tourist Information Office (Oficina de Turismo Manzanares, www.turismocastillalamancha.com) at 3 Calle Empedrada where the nice lady informed me there was a tapas festival in a large tent at Músicos Park at Avenida de Cristóbal Colón, just a few minutes walk from the central square. You’ll see this derelict mill looming over it on the next block. My map here.

The festival was sponsored by the town and regional councils and, I presume, some organisation like the Manchego cheese marketing board.

Manchego, as the name implies, originates in La Mancha but has become the default national cheese, rather like Cheddar in the UK, and all the tapas on offer here included it in some way or another.

The festival was an interesting concept for me as it’s something I’d toyed with putting on myself back in the market at home, except with Yorkshire ingredients.

First you queue up at the ticket booth and buy a ticket for each tapa you want to try, at €2 a pop in this case. You buy separate €2 tickets for drinks from the bar.

There were nine different local bars and restaurants who had booths at the fair, each specialising in just one kind of Manchego tapa and serving it on plastic disposable plates.

A good few of them were coated and deep fried slices of cheese. My favourite was this one with fried spring onion which (B+).

Another more visually attractive tapa used a cheese sauce to dress canelones.

Another good one was the cheesecake dessert (B+).

The bar that, according to the judges, made the best tapa was presented with an award on the main stage.

At each stall you would get your card stamped and if you got all nine stamps your card was entered into a prize draw for a free holiday.

You could also get tablas of differently aged and cured cheeses from the half dozen stalls representing individual dairies at the back of the tent, or if you couldn’t face a whole tabla, you could graze on their free samples.

Towards the end a brass band came to entertain the crowd, or at least all the old ladies who got up to strut their stuff. I’d forgotten how much fun they could be. Video here.

So a few hours of cheap and fun entertainment. I’d love to do something similar back home in Sheffield.

As it rained most of the last two days I was in Manzanares and the temperatures tumbled I was glad to leave and head for Barajas Airport in Madrid to catch a flight to sunnier climes in the Canary Islands. Tales of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria coming next!

Castile La Mancha – Eating, Drinking and Walking around Manzanares

Posted in Castile - La Mancha, Ciudad Real Province, Manzanares, Spain with tags , , , , on February 6, 2019 by gannet39

Manzanares is another wine-producing town in the province of Ciudad Real in Castile La Mancha. It’s just a few kilometres of Tomelloso (see previous post). My map here. It’s smaller and less pretty than Tomelloso but there were are a few things that caught my eye.

On the way to my hotel from the bus station, I stumbled across the remarkable facade of the Gran Teatro www.manzanares.es at the Plaza del Gran Teatro.

Plaza de la Constitución, the old central square, is quite pleasant.

The town hall sits above the porticos that run around three sides of the plaza.

The main church is in the square; Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, has a nice doorway and tower.

As it was my day off, I spent my first afternoon here trying the local wines and eating tapas in one of the two bars in the square. It was a sunny Saturday so there was a bit of a buzz, especially as there was a wedding in the church that day so there were lots of people strutting about in their glad rags. Fireworks were set off when the happy couple came out of the church.

Cervecería-Cafetería Miguelón (Elementary B-), Plaza de la Constitución

It was a bit too hot to sit outside so I sat at the bar instead and watched Real Madrid scrape a win against Betis on the telly.

A free tapa came with every glass of wine. I liked their Tortilla (B+) and their Migas and Gambas Blanca were both okay (B) but I was less impressed with their fatty Chicharrones (B-) and the overcooked Tortelitas de Camarones were the worst I’d ever had (C-).

I started with the local whites which are better than the reds I think, at least in this bar. The most impressive was a sparkling sweet number called Poetica (B+) which I later found on the internet for about €4 a bottle! Sadly I couldn’t convince the bodega to post me any though.

Next best was the local dry red Senor de Guadianeja (Macabeo 2016) which was okay (B). I’d passed their big wine factory on the bus as it came into town.

The dry Yuntero had a nice flavour although it fell away towards the end and there was little discernible nose (B-).

Onto the reds, I tried the Senor de Guadianeja Macabeo Cab Sauv which was okay on the nose but again the flavour fell away too quickly (C+).

The Finca Antigua, made with four grapes (not a good sign) was also disappointing (C). I think this bottle had been open a bit too long though as I had it a few times elsewhere and it was better.

I got the bill after this and was stunned to only have to pay €9.20 for six small glasses of wine and seven tapas! Not the greatest food and wine but it would be churlish to complain too much at that price.

From Plaza de la Constitución I walked up the street to Plaza de San Blas…

Restaurante Castillo de Pilas Bonas (Advanced B), Plaza San Blas

The old castle, Castillo de Pilas Bonas, www.pilasbonas.com, has been converted to be an upmarket restaurant and hotel.

Having had just tapas in the square, I had no room for a full meal in the restaurant (highly recommended and still at #5 on TripAdvisor in January 2019), so I sat at the bar and had some more tapas and red wines which were much better here.

The young staff, dressed in black tunics and silver buttons, gave me some good suggestions. These included a racion of Lagartijos de Ibéricos, strips of pork, which were very good (B+) but came with those annoying little fries, Patatas Paja, that are nearly impossible to get into your mouth without them going everywhere (C).

The Jarrete de Cordero Lechal, shank of suckling lamb, was good (B) but the sweet potato puree with it was much too sweet and detracted from the meat rather than complementing it (C-).

The reds I tried included one called Quixote which had a good colour but was quite light on the nose (B+).

The La Finca Antigua Syrah had a better nose but a slightly weak finish (B+).

The Epilog was less impressive (B).

The two dishes and three wines came to €21 so more expensive than in the square but much better quality.

El Parador de los Galanes (Intermediate C), Arrabal Sector Pp 2, 18

Made a bit of a screw up with this one! I didn’t realise there are two paradors (hostels) right next to each other, on the ring road, about thirty minutes’ walk from the centre of town, and I went to the wrong one! This one is actually a dingy privately-owned motel by a petrol station. The food and wine scored C-/C/C+ with me i.e. it was all perfectly edible and very cheap (£15 for the set menu) but not somewhere I’d return to.

The nearby Parador de Manzanares www.parador.es is probably much better as it was at #4 on Tripadvisor in 2017 and was also the most reviewed. As it has a swimming pool it might also be a better place to stay than my hotel below, although it is a bit of a walk from town.

Hotel Castellano (High Elementary B), 71 Calle Valencia, www.hotel-castellano.com

This is a nice two star with spacious rooms and comfortable beds. The WiFi was annoyingly erratic in March 2017 though. The café downstairs is a popular meeting place in the mornings for lots of the local blokes, whether retired or on their way to work and there’s a nice courtyard where you can sit outside.

There’s not much on offer for breakfast. I usually just had a Café con Leche and a Tostada with tomato pulp, olive oil and manchego, or maybe just a Magdalena (a pre-packaged cup cake-like bun).

The hotel restaurant is better though, it was actually at #4 on TripAdvisor at the time of writing in March 2017. The menu has quite a few traditional local dishes on it. I had the Sopa Castellano (bread and egg in broth), a half racion of Croquetas, lamb chops with chips and a half bottle of local Finca Antigua Tempranillo with the white label (all B) for only €15.

All in all a good place to go on a diet! However, there was a tapas festival during the time I was there whci is next…

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