|Street food at it's best.|
Originally I wasn't quite convinced the Canary Islands would make a very interesting holiday, as to me they have always just been a tourist trap full of drunk Brits and Finns and lobster red Gemans. So me and the Culinary Consultant decided to aim our holiday to the estern side of Tenerife, which according to the guide books is the least touristy part of the island. We stayed in Santa Cruz, the capital, which was refreshingly low on tourists, and big enough to have a very nice selection of bars, restaurants and shops. It was also a nice base for exploring the northern and eastern parts of the island as bus connections were very good (and running very exactly on time, I was pleased to discover).
Canarian food is different from mainland Spanish food, with Latin American and Arabic influences introducing more spices to the food. The main animal protein is goat, and potatoes (called papas) are very common. Obviously, also sea food is eaten a lot. It turned out that finding real authentic Canarian food was not always very easy, as a lot of restaurants are Spanish style with tapas similar to mainland Spain. Not saying there is anything wrong with that, I love tapas, but I was hell bent on finding me some goat, and that took a few days.
So, lets start with the tapas. I love being able to eat a little bit of everything, and I could eat tapas every day. We arrived in Santa Cruz tired and hungry, late in the evening. We decided to head right to Tasca Tagoro (Rambla de Santa Cruz, right opposite Plaza de Toros), a tiny restaurant recommended by the hotel staff. We were greeted by a very friendly water who spoke very little English (something I consider a very good sign). He recommended we get the mixed tapas for two for €12. I thought that was €12 each, but turns out that was actually the price for the whole deal, including two beers! And the food was exquisite. The starter was a small slice of Spanish omelette, followed by a selection of deep fried prawns, seafood filled peppers, two different cheese tapas and a green soup type of thing which I think was made out of peas and a Parmesan type of cheese. The absolute highlight was a deep-fried small parcel of cheese, served with what I think was date syrup or sauce. I would have loved to just lick the sauce out of the bowl and the worship the empty bowl for the rest of my life.
The other really good tapas place in Santa Cruz that we stumbled upon more or less by mistake was called Taberna el Cambullón (on Calle Alfonso Bethencourt, right off the Plaza de España). The lovely, hand written menu was in Spanish, so we ended up ordering random stuff as neither of us speaks a word of Spanish. Nothing like combining good food with the element of surprise. We started off with some cheesy croquettes, which were nice, and went on to have something called Morcilla de Burgos which I had no idea what it was and only ordered because the word caramelizada was on there. It turned out it was black pudding with rice and a crispy, caramelised top. It was absolutely delicious, possibly one of the most exquisite things I ate on the whole trip. When the little black bundles were brought out I was extremely suspicious, but any doubt I had about the choice of dish disappeared as soon as I had my first mouthful. It was a combination of not having any idea of what it was I was eating, together with the experience of eating something absolutely heavenly and very different from what I am used to that really elevated that gastronomic experience to new hights. I can't recommend the place enough. The service was also extremely friendly, and the other tapas we had were very good as well. Our meal, including very good bread, a glass of wine, a beer and four different tapas (of which one was whole meat) was just under €50 with tips.
|The lovely Taberna el Cambullon.|
|The heavenly caramelised Morcilla de Burgos.|
|Papas arrugadas with mojo at Tapas Arcon in Puerto de la Cruz.|
|Amazing king prawns with garlic at Mi Jardin.|
|Goat stew. It took a few days to find, but it was worth the wait.|
|Local cheese and the cool little tubes of mojo and pâtés.|
|Ox, cooked to perfection.|
|This is what you get if you mix prickly pear juice and liquid nitrogen.|
|The end result, prickly pear sorbet.|
|Churros and chocolate.|
Talking about dulce de leche, I have to mention leche y leche, coffee the Canarian way. A shot of espresso with a small splash of regular milk, and then a good helping of sweetened, condensed milk. Oh my god! I have never been a coffee drinker, but I have finally discovered how I like my coffee. Short and sweet. In my future home, which I will buy as soon as I win the lottery, there will be an espresso machine making those tiny shots of strong, bitter coffee, and a jar of condensed milk next to said espresso machine.
|Pasteleria Diaz and a small fraction of their cakes.|
|Hazelnut and chocolate cake at Panderia Paraiso.|
|Crepes and ice cream at Romana.|
|Ice cream flower from Latte.|
I can't believe you are still reading. But thanks for sticking with me to the end. There is no doubt touristy destinations are full of bad, overpriced food. But with a little bit of research as well as some luck, you will find absolutely divine food at reasonable prices, served with a smile. I think I have a much more positive picture of the Canary Islands after visiting than I used to have. Goes to show you should never judge anything before you have tried it.
|Instant tapas. Meat and garlic filled olives, enjoy in the sun.|