Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Life here at Casa Monty has been hectic of late.

All summer we’ve been fully occupied producing a new guide to Tenerife, or should I say the new guide to Tenerife, as it knocks the spots off everything hitherto produced. Jam packed with insightful information, witticisms, priceless tips and tried and tested recommendations, ‘Going Native Tenerife’ should be available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com by the year’s end and will provide a shortcut to the accumulated knowledge and experience of ourselves and others over the course of years spent living on the island.

With the early rains came Teides first snow of the winter

With the early rains came Teide's first snow of the winter

Squeezed into small pockets of leisure time in between researching and writing have been island exploring exploits with visiting friends and family, the latest of whom was Mary, Jack’s mum, for whom tan topping was high on her agenda. Unfortunately, Mary’s trip coincided with the early arrival of the November rains and we’ve had to travel the length and breadth of the island to try to find the illusive ‘sol’, largely without a great deal of success.

So amidst all this activity, it’s hardly surprising that I haven’t had time to keep you up to date with all the goings-on in our very own little patch of Tenerife paradise, including the arrival of our new neighbour.
It was at the beginning of September that we first noticed lights on in the little house (we call it the ‘casita’) that borders our path and a few enquiries at the golf club revealed that indeed someone had moved in.

A week or so passed without sightings of the elusive new resident until one night when we were on our way into town with Bryan who was staying with us at the time. As we closed the gate behind us, a voice called “Hola” in the darkness and we went back through the gate to be greeted by Jesús, our new neighbour.
Not much more than a slip of a lad (mid-twenties), Jesús is from the Basque Country and is lately moved here from Thailand where he has been studying and practicing the ancient massage techniques of Sen healing; the loosening of the flow of energy from the body’s natural network of energy lines in order to alleviate muscular and skeletal problems.

Over the course of the ensuing weeks, we’ve gotten to know Jesús very well and he’s now a regular accompaniment on our Friday morning shopping trips and an habitual visitor to Casa Monty where we have ‘cook-ins’. He’s a very good chef and he brings us traditional Basque dishes in exchange for our culture-crossing repertoire of meals. He’s still waiting for us to cook something ‘typically British’ and I guess we’re going to have produce fish and chips at some stage.

Needless to say, having Jesus living at the bottom of our garden has been the source of endless puns and ‘double-entendres’ for our friends and family and the fact that he is a healer by the laying on of hands has naturally added fuel to the quips. But for me, the crowning glory of our juvenile blasphemy came last week when we introduced him to Jack’s mum:

“Jesus, meet Mary”.

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Christmas has come early this year for anyone on Tenerife who enjoys the social and culinary joys of eating tapas.
From today (17th October) until November 2nd, Puerto de la Cruz is staging its second ‘Ruta De Tapas’ or tapas route (tricky translation, that one) which this year they’re calling ‘Un Mar de Sabores’ (A sea of flavours). What that means, is that 25 of the town’s restaurants will be offering one or two speciality tapas dishes for the embarrassing sum of €2.50 each…including a drink! Okay, clearly at that price the dishes are going to be on the ‘pequeño’ side and you’re unlikely to get drunk, unless you go for all 25 establishments and 50 dishes in the one go…hmmm, there’s an idea…but hey, that’s still good value in anybody’s book.

Serrano ham and smoked cheese; classic tapas dishes

Serrano ham and smoked cheese; classic tapas dishes

And we’re not just talking ‘boquerónes’ and ‘tortilla Español’ here, Bodega de Guapa on Calle Viejo is offering ‘berenjena rellena de salmón ahumedo y queso de cabra’ (aubergine stuffed with smoked salmon and goat’s cheese); the Ébano Café on Plaza Iglesia is offering ‘solomillo de cerdo a la mostaza’ (pork steak with mustard) and Régulo in the Ranilla District is offering ‘huevos estrellos’ (starry eggs!).
You can pick up a map showing all participating restaurants and their locations from the Cámara office on Plaza Europa (where the tourist office used to be), from the Town Hall and from the offices of ALCIPC in Plaza Charco.

So if you plan to be on Tenerife in the next couple of weeks come and enjoy this tapas extravaganza.

¡Buen Provecho!

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Peruvian lunch in an 'informal' settingIt’s 2.30pm on a hot Saturday afternoon and we’re sitting in a large shed at the bottom of someone’s garden in Tacaronte.

Our party of 7½ (Bea is only 5 years old) are seated in front of the corner bar. To our right, a long trestle table seats 20 or more people, predominantly women.  Above our heads long strings of bunting in the form of red squares with the words ‘Red Square’ written on (for those who have trouble identifying the obvious), hang from the rafters.

Outside on the verandah two barbecues are being stoked up by Yayo and his wife while a dozen men stand around drinking beer, smoking and talking about the football. There’s a TV screen set at one end of the terrace, ready to show the Spain vs Sweden match which is due to kick-off at five.

Jack and I are the ‘gringos’ in this gathering. Almost everyone else here is either a Peruvian immigrant or the offspring of Peruvian immigrants and the Spanish is fast, vowel curtailed and difficult to zone in on, but the faces are welcoming, the smiles are wide and the greetings are kisses.
Previously running a Peruvian restaurant in the town, our host and hostess now hold this monthly, invitation only lunch for their friends in the shed at the bottom of the allotments behind their house. It’s an extremely informal affair where you help yourself to cutlery and if you ask for more bread you’re handed a loaf in a paper bag and a bread knife.

While we drink our beers, a basket of bread is placed in the centre of the table next to a small dish of a bright orange coloured dip. I break a piece of the bread and ‘dip’.
“¡Aye! Shouts one of our party on spotting the bread about to enter my mouth, “¡No! ¡Es muy picante!”
I eat the bread. She’s not wrong, very hot is indeed what it is, but delicious, and definitely moorish. I reach for another piece of bread and repeat the dose, explaining that we Brits actually have a palette for very hot food, curry being our nation’s favourite dish. Everyone thinks the quantity of dip that Jack and I are putting on our bread is hilarious and they clearly think we could implode at any moment. This is coming from a nation of Canarios, and it seems Peruvians, who if faced with a Madras would run screaming from the building.

Having established our credentials as fire-eaters, we are systematically urged to try every dish that makes its way to our table and told ingredients and basic cooking instructions for each. First comes the ceviche; raw fish, celery and onions marinated in lemon juice and fresh coriander creating a sharp, aromatic succulence to the fish. Then comes a corn cake filled with goats cheese and a pastry covered swiss chard pie which tastes similar to Greek ‘spanakopitta’ but without the feta.

When the big, fat, ‘papas rellenas’ arrive, we’re encouraged to add some of the dip to them to spice up the savoury meat and sultana centres for our British taste buds. Then, while our glasses are being replenished, a large plate of barbecued spare ribs arrives to round off the main courses.

Amidst much excitement and building expectation, the postres (puddings) arrive. For our neighbour Marlene, these are clearly the highlight of the meal and she enthuses about the ‘mousse chantilly’, a soft sponge topped with light, fluffy, nutty vanilla mousse. But Jack and I prefer the chocolate brownies; rich, moist and cinnamon flavoured topped in a dark chocolate sauce, and the lemon pie; a light, tangy lemon meringue on a butterscotch biscuit base…probably the best pudding in the world.

The heat inside the shed is rising as the sun shines mercilessly outside (a fairly unusual phenomenon for Tacaronte) and many of the women have brought beautiful hand fans which are creating a gentle series of drafts that move the air. The chatter is loud and plates and glasses are being passed around and re-filled as the afternoon passes blissfully by. It’s almost five o’clock when the bill arrives and we pay over our €14 (£11) each and head home to the lure of a siesta.

Many Canarian families have very close ties with Latin America, their forefathers having fled the poverty of the Canaries to the promise of the New World whenever the economy faltered. As a result, there’s a little piece of most South American countries alive and well in the hidden corners of the north of Tenerife. As far as Peru is concerned, that corner is a garden shed in Tacaronte.

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I have a friend who insists that when she was a girl her family holidayed in France near a small village where free wine was dispensed from a standing pipe in the village square and you could just wander along with your bottles and fill them up whenever you liked.
I’d have hot-footed it to this town had my friend been able to remember, even vaguely, where it was. As she couldn’t, it became to me a French urban myth and the stuff that only dreams are made of. Until last week that is.

I went to the Romería San Roque in a little town called Garachico on the north coast of Tenerife. I’ve been to many fiestas since moving to Tenerife almost four years ago but I’ve never been to a Romería before and I was completely unprepared for what took place.
In an impossibly quaint town on a warm Thursday afternoon in August, hundreds of people gathered in traditional Canarian dress, both sexes and all ages. The streets were lined with flags and bunting as they usually are for fiestas and there were loads of stalls selling CDs, T-shirts, wicker baskets, jewellery and mechanical toys to name but a few.
But the best thing about the Romería, was the Romería itself; a whole series of floats, each pulled by a team of two oxen and packed to the gunwales with people in traditional costume playing music, dancing, drinking and handing out FREE grilled prime cuts of beef and pork, skewers of kebabs, sausages and spare ribs from barbecues mounted onto the back of the floats as they slowly paraded through the narrow streets.

As well as the meat, there were boiled potatoes, hard boiled eggs, small cakes made from ground corn known as gofio, bread rolls, peaches, melon slices and lemon pears being thrown to waiting hands, through open windows and onto crowded balconies. One such ‘missile’ of a nectarine nearly broke the nose of an elderly Canarian woman sitting behind her open window right next to me.
And to wash it all down?
Barrel after barrel of vino del país (a strong, fruity, locally produced red wine) from which plastic pipes and ladles dispersed a never-ending supply of FREE WINE to anyone who held out a cup, a glass, a beaker or a bottle.

This is no urban myth. This is simply the wonderful people of Garachico sharing the bounty of their harvest with their friends, family, neighbours and complete strangers alike…qu’el bon idée!

Read more about the San Roque Romería in Garachico…

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