Bollos de San Juan

Here’s one of those “you only see them once a year” eatables – a Bollo de San Juan  which is a cinnamon flavoured bread roll with a hard boiled egg embedded within..

Bollo de San Juan
Bollo de San Juan

These are traditionally eaten during the Fiesta de San Juan which also celebrates the summer solstice.

San Juan, see literally thousands camping out along the coast with bonfires to celebrate the solstice, ans ids the only night of the year on which you are legally allowed to erect tents and sleep on the beach.  Large bonfires are built and at midnight it is traditional to burn old items to purge any bad luck and to jump over the flames three times.  A traditional midnight dip in the sea to wash your hands and feet three times completes ceremonies and guarantees good luck in the next 12 months – the sea temperature was  24C last night so not too onerous!

Semana de Espetos

In an effort to promote the fact that espetos are not purely a Malaga thing, the association of chiringuitos has launched espeto week here on the Costa Tropical.

For those who don’t know, espetos de sardinas  are fresh sardines, seasoned with sea salt, skewered on sugar cane or bamboo spears and then barbequed over olive wood.  Usually served just with locally grown lemon, along with freshly baked bread with olive oil, they are absolutely superb at this time of year. Simply the best lunch possible sat on the beach, and as an oily fish, sardines are highly recommended as being good for you.  Other sea food can also be prepared and cooked this way – most common is sardines, but langostines / gambas and occasionally octopus (pulpo) are also prepared like this.

The promotional week runs from Monday 26th to Friday 30th, just €5 will get you not only the espeto, but a beer, tinto verano, soft drink or water as well.

The 16 participating restaurants are:

  • Playa Cantarriján: La Barraca.
  • Playa La Herradura: Chambao Vicente, Chiringuito Bueno, La Sardina, Bambú, Rebalaje y Chambao Joaquín.
  • Playa San Cristóbal: Chiringuito Dorada de Plata, Pepe Dígame, Vizcaya y Calabré.
  • Playa Velilla: Chiringuito Primera Ola, C´a Mariano y Playamar
  • Playa El Pozuelo: Chiringuito Balate y restaurante Viña del Mar

19th Annual Almuñécar Gastro Fair

This year’s Gastro Fair or Feria Gastronomique is confirmed for the long weekend 9th to 11th June.

Once again to be held in Majuelo Park this is a great opportunity to sample signature dishes of some key restaurants and tapas bars.

Opening times this year are: Friday, June 9, from 13:00 to 00:00 hours; Saturday, June 10 from 12 a.m. to Sunday and 11 a.m. from 12 a.m. to 6 p.m.

There will be a minimum price of 1 euros and a maximum of 6 euros per dish.

It’s a great setting, next to the 4th century BC Roman garum fermenting tanks, with the Castillo de San Miguel rising above the park. The town hall install shading with water vapour cooling jets, so even if it’s a hot afternoon it’s always comfortable eating out amongst the stands. Not to be missed!!

2017 3rd Annual Ruta De Tapas

Tomorrow sees the start of the annual #Almunecar Ruta De Tapas, running until Sun 23rd. Over 40 tapas bars and restaurants are in this year, and as before if you get 5 or more “stamps” on your passport you stand to win Spa tickets, discounts on promo beers and more. You also get to vote on the best tapas and the winning restaurant / bars stand to win free fees for the Gastro Fair.

Full list of participating bars and restaurants is below (click to enlarge / download to your phone or tablet or print):

Best Tortilla Competition Winner

Chiringuito Bambu Wins!

Congratulations to Chiringuito Bambu for winning the La Herradura “Ruta de Tortilla” competition for the best tortilla.

It’s always a bit of a wonder how classic tortillas, using just potatoes, onions, eggs & olive oil , can vary so much.  The amount of sweetness is governed by the cooking and caramelisation of the onions, for example.  Often served lukewarm with Ali Oli, a thick home made garlic mayonnaise – or eaten as the filing for a bocadillo – they are always welcome on the table.

Bambu successfully beat off competition from 16 other local restaurants and scooped up awards from the deputy mayor, Juan Jose Ruiz Joya, for “Best tortilla”, “Best attention and service” and “Most original”.  The winning tortilla will feature as next Saturdays tapa when you buy a drink there.

XVIII Almuñécar Feria Gastronómica

18th Annual Almunecar Gastro Fair

They say some people eat to live,  while others live to eat.

And one of the best things about Almuñécar is that it’s pretty well impossible to get a bad meal from the traditional local restaurants.

And one of the even better things,  is that every spring there’s a brilliant opportunity to sample some of the best local dishes in the annual Feria Gastronómica,  or Gastro Fair!

Gastro Fair

Held every spring in Majuelo Park – this year Fri 10 to Sun 12 June –  this is the best opportunity you’ll get to sample key, signature, dishes in tasting menu sized portions without breaking the bank,  as there’s a maximum price of €6 for a dish.  Each participating restaurant must offer at least 5 dishes,  which should also be  usually be on offer on their normal menus, so no “special deals just for the fair!”.  Alongside their menus they can also offer wines and drinks to compliment the menu options.  All other beers,  tinto verano, spirits,  soft drinks etc are available at the large public bar which will be constructed. 

Held over the southern end of the park in front  of the stage (where the annual Jazz en la Costa is held)  the usual set up is a perimeter of local restaurants and tapas bars set up in small booths,  surrounding a larger communal pool of tables and chairs with a large bar to the side.

Simply cruise along the booths which will all have the day’s offerings displayed on menu boards,  or simply point and shoot at whatever takes your fancy.  If it takes a while to cook you’ll be told so,  so take the opportunity to bag a free table,  choose a wine or beer to accompany your choice and await your freshly cooked dish while soaking up the ambience.  There are usually also a series of stage shows to help things along, as well as local music. 

Feria Gastronómica 2016 Hours

Opening hours for this year are at present:

Friday 10 June 13.00 to 00.00h

Saturday 11 June 12.00h to 00.00

Sunday 12 June 12.00 to 18.00

Participating Bars & Restaurants

  • Heladería Café Daniel
  • Mesón Mari y Miguel
  • Restaurante Calabré
  • Bar Bikini
  • Restaurante Aura
  • Bar La Choza
  • El Puchero de Helena
  • Cortadores Jamón Almuñécar
  • Bodega Francisco I
  • Distribuciones Gomezcor
  • La Despensa de la Abuela
  • La Bodega Sexitana
  • De la Flor Gastrobar
  • Freiduría Lute y Jesús
  • Restaurante La Parra.

Ruta de Tapas Almunecar 2016

II Annual Ruta de Tapas Almunecar 2016

What looks like becoming an annual event, the second “Ruta de Tapas” is currently running until 10th April.  Sponsored by the local department of trade, the idea is to help promote the smaller establishments, as well as being an excellent way to spend an evening or three.  Some 33 local tapas bars and restaurants are competing this year, so you are guaranteed to find some pretty excellent tapas!

Hot chorizo tapas
Hot chorizo tapas

The idea is that you use a “passport” to collect proofs of visits, and then vote on the best three tapas received. The winning bars will receive awards with the overall best getting free exhibition fees at the annual Gastro Fair in Majuelo Park later in spring.

To participate, simply pick up a “passport” from any of the bars listed.  You’ll need to collect at least five stamps from separate bars to be able to vote.  To count as votes, your passports can be posted at the Palacete de Najarra, the Tourist Office on Paseo Atilla or at the Ayuntamiento.

The following tapas bars & restaurants are competing this year:
· 1. BAR LA JARANA (Calle Mariana Pineda, 1)
Nombre de la tapa: “SECRETO”

· 2. BAR LA SACRISTÍA SEXITANA (Calle Jesús Nazareno, 2 Bajo)
Nombre de la tapa: PULPO SACRISTÍA

· 3. RESTAURANTE LA CORRALA (Calle Antigua, 11)
Nombre de la tapa: BROCHETA DE PESCADO Y LANGOSTINO CON SALSA DE MANGO, CURRY Y HUEVAS DE PESCADO

· 4. ASADOR CASA LA PARRA (Calle Parra, 7)
Nombre de la tapa: TARTAR DE ATÚN CON AGUACATE

· 5. BAR EL VIEJO PORTÓN (Calle Bilbao, 2)
Nombre de la tapa: POLLO EN ESCABECHE

· 6. BAR LA TERRAZA DEL ACUARIO (Plaza Kuwait,)
Nombre de la tapa: PITUFO CON JAMÓN ASADO

· 7. MESÓN LOS ARCOS (Avenida Cala, 11)
Nombre de la tapa: ALBÓNDIGAS CASERAS CON TOMATE Y GUISANTES

· 8. CA LA CAPERU (Calle Trinidad, 6)
Nombre de la tapa: TIBURÓN DE ENSALADILLA CON BOQUERÓN Y GAMBA AL PIL-PIL

· 9. LA BODEGA SEXITANA (Plaza Kuwait)
Nombre de la tapa: “NAVEGANDO”

· 10. BAR LA TRASTIENDA (Plaza Kelibia)
Nombre de la tapa: CANELÓN CON BASE DE TOMATE RELLENO DE ESPINACAS Y PIÑONES BAÑADO CON BECHAMEL Y QUESO RALLADO

· 11. MESÓN PETETE (Calle Mar de Plata)
Nombre de la tapa: CARRILLADA IBÉRICA

· 12. BAR GRANOS DE CAFÉ (Plaza Los Higuitos)
Nombre de la tapa: PITUFO ESPECIAL

· 13. MESÓN EMILIANO (Calle Fuente Nueva, 9)
Nombre de la tapa: MILHOJAS RELLENO DE BACALAO CON JULIANAS DE SETAS

· 14. BAR LA TRALLA ( Calle Manila, 10)
Nombre de la tapa: LA TRALLA

· 15. BAR LA TASCA ( Calle Manila)
Nombre de la tapa: TORTILLA DE CAMARONES CON UN TOQUE TROPICAL

· 16. BODEGA FRANCISCO I ( Calle Real, 7)
Nombre de la tapa: BACALAO 1951

· 17. BAR CASA CHATO ( Carrera de la Concepción, 8)
Nombre de la tapa: HINOJOS

· 18. CAFETERIA LA ÉPOCA (Calle Cristóbal Colón, 9)
Nombre de la tapa: BACALAO DORADO

19. BAR EL TEMPLO (Calle Puerto de la Cruz)
Nombre de la tapa: BURRITOS CON GUACAMOLE

· 20. MESÓN MARI Y MIGUEL ( Avenida Andalucía, 18)
Nombre de la tapa: GAMBAS AL PIL-PIL

· 21. CALABRE (Paseo San Cristóbal)
Nombre de la tapa: SAN CRISTÓBAL

· 22. BAR EL MOLINO (Calle Cerveteri, 3)
Nombre de la tapa: CUSCÚS

· 23. MI BAR (Calle Pablo Iglesias, 2)
Nombre de la tapa: ALBÓNDIGAS CASERAS EN SALSA DE TOMATE Y CEBOLLA CON PATATAS BASTÓN

· 24. RESTAURANTE GASTROBAR DE LA FLOR (Avenida Europa, 25)
Nombre de la tapa: FALSO TOMATE DE FOIE Y TIERRA DE ACEITUNA NEGRA

· 25. BAR AKAL BILI (Calle Torres Quevedo, 5)
Nombre de la tapa: “ENFRITÁ” DE PULPO

· 26. LA TABERNA DEL GALA (Calle Granada, 25)
Nombre de la tapa: SOLOMILLO IBÉRICO CON QUESO DE CABRA Y CEBOLLA CARAMELIZADA

· 27. BAR EL TIMÓN (Avenida Costa del Sol, 9)
Nombre de la tapa: BROCHETA DE MARISCO

· 28. CERVECERÍA LA MORAGA (Calle Bilbao esquina con Calle Montevideo)
Nombre de la tapa: ROSADA A LA CREMA DE MARSICO

· 29. DE LA FLOR KELIBIA SNACK BAR (Plaza Kelibia)
Nombre de la tapa: ¿TORTILLA DE PATATAS?

· 30. MESÓN ROCIO (Calle Granada, 6)
Nombre de la tapa: TOSTA DE MORCILLA CON PIMIENTOS DEL PIQUILLO Y QUESO MANCHEGO

· 31. BAR EL LERELE (Plaza Kelibia)
Nombre de la tapa: ESENCIA DE ABRIL

· 32. BAR INTERNATIONAL KELIBIA (Plaza Kelibia)
Nombre de la tapa: TOSTA MODERNA KELIBIA

· 33. RESTAURANTE LA CHINA (Paseo de Cotobro, 5)
Nombre de la tapa: LASAÑA CASERA DE LA CHINA

The Chirimoya, Cherimoya or “Custard Apple”

It just wouldn’t be right to have a category on local food and drinks without mentioning one of our key tropical fruits grown here – the Chirimoya, or “Custard Apple” (annona cherimola).  In a nutshell – they have the consistency of a banana, but taste a bit like cold custard.

Chirimoyas
Chirimoyas

Sometimes spelt “Cherimoya” this pale green fruit is around the size of a large avovado, and is distinguished by its indented skin, with thumbprint sized hollows.  Originally believed to be a native plant of Ecuador or Colombia, it has spread through the Andes and central America to Peru and Bolivia.  It is now a key crop of the Costa Tropical, though is also grown in the north of Africa, souther Asia and American states with a similar climate such as parts of souther California.

The trees grow up to around 9m high – the fruit is harvested from mid October until late spring, with the beginning of the harvest being marked with the fiesta at Torrecuevas around 12 October.

Eating Chirimoya

While Chirimoyas are sometimes made into cold mousses or ice creams, the usual way to eat them is with a tea spoon.  Simply slice in half, and then spoon out the creamy pulp, discarding the numerous black or dark brown seeds (in a large one there can be the thick end of a hundred so the development of new seedless varieties is eagerly anticipated by the catering trade..

Chirimoya

They aren’t the world’s best for being shipped, as they tend to go from unripe to over ripe in a  matter of a few days.  You’ll struggle to find them in good condition in the UK – occasionally the likes of Waitrose will have them, but knowing now how good they can be it’s sad to report that they were never at their best when bought in the UK.

The taste does also tend to change depending on how ripe the fruit is – initially when still slightly firm and a paler colour they are more “pear-ish” (a lot of  people describe them as having papaya, peach or faint pineapple tastes).  When fully ripe they are more “custardy” – but soon go brown and start to ferment becoming inedible.

Chirimoya de la Costa Tropical de Granada-Málaga

Chirimoyas grown within the Costa Tropical region now have their own quality mark which is awarded to just two varieties – Fino de Jete and Campas.

These can only be grown in the prescribed areas of Motril, Salobreña, Vélez de Benaudalla, Los Guájares, Molvízar, Ítrabo, Otívar, Lentejí, Jete and Almuñécar in Granada Province, and  Nerja, Frigiliana, Torrox, Algarrobo and Vélez-Málaga in Malaga Province.

Chirimoya DOP sticker
Chirimoya DOP sticker

Of these two varieties, Campas (named after it’s breeder in Rio Seco in the 1950s, whose name was Campos,) tends to be an earlier cropper staring in late September.

It is larger than Fino de Jete, weighing in between 300 grams to 1 kg for a large one, and has slightly under 10% of its bulk as seeds, though is less hardy being slightly more susceptible to cold weather.

Fino de Jete, however, is easier to grow and accounts for some 90% of local production and crops from Mid October to late February – so from a grower’s perspective is where the money is.

Vitamins, etc..

Per 100g, the average Chirimoya packs:

Iron – 0,7 mg
Sugars – 14 to 18 g
Vitamin A – 1 mg
Vitamin B – 0,08 to 0,1 mg
Vitamin B1 – 0,05 to 0,08 mg
Vitamin B3 –  0,5 to 0,8 mg
Carbohydrates – 23,71 g
Magnesium – 32 a 88 mg
Acides – 0,4 mg
Protein –  1 to 4,3 g
Zinc  -0,2 to 2,7 mg
Potassium – 250 to 578 mg
Sodium – 4 -1 4mg
Calcium – 17 to 22 mg
Vitamin C – 22 to43 mg
Fibre – 1 to 3,2 g
Copper – 2.4mg
Soluble Solids – 22.3%

Summary

It’s fair to say that Chirimoyas are a bit like Marmite – you’ll either love them, or hate them.

For Julie, they’re just too sweet – Personally, I love them!!

Christmas Turrón in Spain

“Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat”, according to the old saying.
Well, they certainly will if they stuff all the turrón that is piling up in the shops ready for Christmas!!

Everywhere you go now the shelves are piled high with slabs and packets of delicious turrón, the result of the year’s almond harvest.

Turron bars in supermarket
Turron bars

What is Turrón?

Turrón is an ancient traditional sweet from the Moorish times,  and is thought to originally have been made just north of Alicante in a small town called Jijona.

Typically ingredients are local almonds, local honey – which depending on when harvested will influence the taste (as, for example, rosemary will give a slightly resinous flavour than local wild flowers), sugar, egg white, toasted whole or flaked almonds or other  nuts.  It is usually sold as either a rectangular tablet or in a more decorative  round cake form. It is frequently consumed as a traditional Christmas dessert in Spain as well as countries formerly under the Spanish empire, particularly in Latin America, as well as Italy.

Turron bars on pallets
Turron bars on pallets

There are two traditional basic types of turrón. Soft Jijona or turrón blando, which is so smooth it has the consistency of peanut butter and hard Alicante or turrón duro, which is like a thick almond nougat candy, similar to peanut brittle.

And we’re not talking just a.n. other confectionery item here.  Turrón is now a designated  – like champagne – with EU law recognising there are just three designated areas which make the traditional product:

  • Xixona (PGI) (Valencian Community)
  • Torró d’Alacant (PGI) (Valencian Community)
  • Torró d’Agramunt (PGI) (Catalonia)

Turrón Ingredients

The basic recipe is made from almond paste,  sugar,  honey & eggs,  with the addition of flaked nuts,  chocolate,  dried fruits,  or other ingredients. Two main styles are popular : soft,  or ‘blando’  which is akin to what is know as nougat in some countries,  and hard,  or ‘crujiente’  (these may also be labelled as ‘Jijona’  or ‘Alicante’  respectively).

To complicate matters there are also a series of quality designations:

Suprema – the best quality which for soft blends must contain at least 60 % almonds, the crunchy ‘Crujiente’ with at least 64% of hard almonds, then Extra, Estándar (or standard)  and Popular (though it is usually the suprema, extra & crujinete variaties which are seen in shops).

Turrón with chocolate has a further three designations: Extra Fino,  Fino and Popular which depend on the ratio of cocoa, cocoa butter and butter used. Other variations may have hard chocolate “flakes” within, fruits, nuts and raisins etc..

Enjoy!!