Tuesday, 9 November 2010

On the Trail of Tapas in Puerto de la Cruz

Tenerife is tapas trail mad at the moment. There are at least four tapas routes taking place as I type. There’s one in Guia de Isora, a cheese themed one in La Laguna, an aphrodisiac themed tapas route along the north coast and one in Puerto de la Cruz.

I knew Puerto held a tapas route at this time of year, but with typical Tenerife advance notice, this year’s wasn’t confirmed until the middle of last week. It started on the 5th November, perfectly timed to coincide with a visit from my sister and her boyfriend, Graeme.

The hardest thing about tapas routes is choosing where to start. With 37 restaurants and cafes in Puerto participating in this one, choosing a start point was always going to be a bit of a mare, especially when you added other conditions – a) there had to be two choices and b) under no conditions could any of the tapas dishes have tentacles. As an avid eater of anything with tentacles, the second condition took some of my first choices out of the picture.

Restaurant number seven on the tapas list I had printed off met all the criteria plus it was in one of our favourite ‘secret’ restaurants in Puerto, Casa Pache.
Last year they blew us away with their space dust ravioli, this year’s tapas were a bit more conventional; albóndigas con papa negra (meatballs with black potato) and the more imaginative timbale de batata con bonito (tuna in a sweet potato mould topped by a light red pepper sauce). As always the food was delish and whilst we tucked in, we formulated our tapas route.

Some places were ruled out because the only opened in the evening, others because they bizarrely stopped serving at 2pm. This being Tenerife, following a tapas route isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Our second choice, Pandorga turned out to be closed for vacations begging the question why were they on it? A sub was quickly found. Bar Cafeteria Central dished up a couple of decent sized montaditos (slices of crispy bread with spicy meat and  tuna toppings). It wasn’t fancy (typical of the type of food they serve), but it was tasty enough. Third stop proved a bit confusing. The map showed Heladería Paraíso, but the name above the restaurant and on the menus said Pinguino; what I’ve always know it by.

“Is this Heladería Paraíso?” I asked the waiter.
“Si,” came the reply.
“But the name says Pinguino?”
“Si, it’s the same place,” he smiled.
“The paradise penguin?” Andy suggested.
“Exacto,” he laughed.

Then to confuse matters further, when we ordered two tapas paraíso and two tapas Charco (don’t ask me what they were, this was our surprise option). But he informed us they didn’t have them, all they had was chicken.

This is another aspect of some tapas routes. You don’t always get what is on the list; it sort of adds to the adventure of the whole thing. As it turned out their shredded chicken in sauce tapas was rather imaginatively presented and tasted as good as it looked.

For our final stop – although not stuffed, the beer with each tapas (€2.50 for tapas an drink) was proving conducive to making us want to practice that most Spanish of traditions, the siesta – we chose local police haunt Maga.

I liked the parrot fish mousse a lot, but the second offering turned out to be the tastiest tapas we’d tried all day. Fillet of pork with apple and sweet potato. They might not sound like obvious companions, but their flavours complemented each other brilliantly. It was a satisfactory end to our tapas trail. Or should I say temporary end. The tapas route continues until the 28th November and having been denied my tentacle hit, there are quite a few tapas that I still want to try out including the stuffed cuttlefish at El Establo and the octopus and potatoes at Lo Que Me Gusta…


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