Thursday, 21 May 2009

Around La Caldera in North Tenerife – Fresh Food Guaranteed

Sometimes I experience moments of profound well-being on Tenerife. At other times I experience moments where I want to tear my hair out in frustration, but that’s part and parcel of really ‘Going Native’. Thankfully the well-being moments outnumber the others.

Yesterday we’d just finished a walk in the upper La Orotava Valley; one of our favourite routes on Tenerife as it opens up the sort of views that had ‘wowed’ the German naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt two centuries previously.

The log cabin bar at La Caldera zona recreativa which serves as the venue for a post walk cerveza is shut on a Wednesday, so we decamped to the bigger Restaurant Aguamansa in the nearby hamlet of the same name.

Aguamansa is the last village on the northern road to Mount Teide and the restaurant is the last building in the village, so the views up the hill are of virgin pine and laurel forest and the spine of the island not that far above. In the warm sunshine it is the most wonderful spot.

As we eased our feet out of our walking boots and into sandals we watched a trio of miniature ponies framed against the columns of the Los Órganos rock formations frolic amongst the wild flowers in the field beside the restaurant.
A pick-up with a load of hay three times its size wobbled past on the road going about 20 kilometres an hour (fast for up there). Its rasping engine woke up the recovering birds of prey in the sanctuary and trout farm opposite and they added their shrieking cries to the scene. Everyone who entered the restaurant smiled a ‘buenas tardes’ as they passed us. It was the perfect spot to relax with a cold beer after a long walk.

The exertions of the walk had brought on an appetite and I had a look at the menu. It was pretty typical of restaurants in the hills: grilled meats and fish. But as well as the usual veal, cherne (grouper), steak and pork this one had fresh trout (as you might expect being opposite a trout farm), rabbit (a Tenerife favourite) and goat.

As I read the word cabra (goat) on the menu I heard a bleating from around the back of the restaurant. I’d spotted the goats when I arrived, but the penny didn’t drop until that moment. At least you knew that the meat here was going to be super fresh.

I try not to be a hypocrite when it comes to eating meat. I don’t balk when I see whole skinned pigs and rabbits in the supermarket or when served with a fish with head and tail intact (wouldn’t have it any other way). But in this case I failed. There’s one thing knowing that your food was once an animal, but knowing which individual animal it was is another kettle of fish…that makes it far too personal.

I’ve clearly still got a long way to go before I can truly say I’ve completely gone native.

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