If you want to get a taste for travel, don’t focus on stopping and smelling the roses, but do stop and grab a bite to eat. We decided the best way to see the city was by eating our way through Málaga. When we decided on a trip to Spain, tapas and paella were at the top of our “must eat” lists. While we were excited when we first arrived to see everything, we also were hungry. There were vendors selling what I thought to be small cookies in paper cones and after seeing dozens of them, I caved and bought one euro worth of “cookies.” These weren’t cookies, but instead were Marcona almonds and yes, they were super tasty. I thought they were roasted, but apparently they are fried in oil, which explains the slight greasiness and the paper cone.
Although the almonds were great, we were still hungry and as is often the case with my family, we couldn’t decide on a place to eat and found ourselves looking for the elusive “best restaurant in the world” that must be out there somewhere. We passed restaurants and stores, many with food in the windows that made me want to simply sit at the first restaurant, but the guys were on the prowl. How can you pass this store window and not drool?
Finally, whether out of desperation or divine intervention, we arrived at Lo Güeno, a cute little restaurant where we sat outside and ate just about everything on the menu.
What if you are like my husband and can’t speak Spanish? Don’t worry because you will either find a server who speaks English or you can point to the pictures in the menu. If you aren’t familiar with tapas, they are a snack or appetizer, typically served with wine or beer in Spain and now in many parts of the world, including the US. First up, little meatballs in sauce with french fries found with many of the plates served.
Next, and one of my favorites since I don’t eat meat, is patatas bravas or crisp spiced potatoes. Simple and yet incredibly addictive! This recipe is from the Spain Recipes website.
Patatas bravas is a basic, traditional tapa as popular in elegant big-city establishments as it is in the more modest village hostelries. As with most tapas, each bar and household will have its own recipe, naturally believed to the best! Savor this mildly tangy version of patatas bravas with a chilled white wine.
Difficulty: Very easy
Preparation time: 30 minutes
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 4 large Russet potatoes, peeled, and cut to 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons minced onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz) Ketchup
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz) mayonnaise
- Chopped parsley, to garnish
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz) olive oil , for frying
The brava sauce
In a saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft. Turn off the heat, and add the paprika, Tabasco sauce, and thyme, stirring well. Transfer to a bowl and add the ketchup and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Sprinkle the potatoes lightly with salt and black pepper. In a large skillet fry the potatoes in 1 cup (8 fl. oz) olive oil until cooked through and golden-brown, stirring occasionally. (Take care when adding the potatoes to the saucepan because the oil will splatter due to the salt). Drain the potatoes on paper towels, check the seasoning, add more salt if necessary, and set it aside.
Getting it all together
Mix the potatoes with the sauce inmediately before serving to ensure that the potatos retain their crispness. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve warm.
I have never had olives that tasted as good as the ones I had in Spain. Did you know that Spain is the number one producer of olives in the world? Olive trees are slow growing, traditionally bearing fruit after fifteen years, though modern production techniques have brought maturity down to five. A tree is thought to reach maximum productivity after 40 years, and after 140 begins to decline, though thousand-year-old trees can and do still bear rich loads. Olives are gathered from late November to the end of March, depending on the area and the year’s weather. Harvesting is done by hand, or with a stick to shake the fruit onto tarpaulins arranged around the tree (it is sometimes done with a mechanical tree shaker, though this can damage a tree).
A popular dish is the Tortilla de Patatas or Spanish Omelet. A simple combination of eggs and potatoes, but a complex taste that is enhanced with a nice glass of wine (or two). If you would like the recipe, go here. My son could not get enough of this and it was his favorite.
A big plate of cured Manchego cheese was placed in front of us and we were happy campers. Manchego cheese is a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the Manchega breed, which is aged for between 60 days and two years. Manchego has a firm and compact consistency and a buttery texture, and often contains small, unevenly-distributed air pockets. The colour of the cheese varies from white to ivory-yellow, and the inedible rind from yellow to brownish beige. The cheese has a distinctive flavour, well developed but not too strong, creamy with a slight piquancy, and leaves an aftertaste that is characteristic of sheep’s milk. My husband is not a big wine drinker, but was somehow able to communicate his need for more beer. He noshed on a little cheese, bread, meatballs, and well everything else on the table and enjoyed a cold beer while relaxing, something he rarely does.
For a late dinner that night and I do mean late because we were busting out of our pants from our earlier meal, we ate near the Cathedral. A quiet little square in the evening and of course, at the end of November it was cold and vacant, but for the three of us and few others at the restaurant behind us. We were insistent that we were going to brave the cold and eat outside under the stars and next to the gently lit cathedral and I am so glad we did. Our dinner at La Taberna del Obispo was a cold, but memorable one with food overflowing from the table.
A bread basket came to the table with our drinks and crackers. I don’t know what is in these crackers as I can’t seem to find anything online, but they were delicious all by themselves. If you know and want to share the secret, please fill me in. These were not unique to this restaurant, but I did take a picture to show what they looked like.
Here a simple salad of tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives with balsamic dressing was to die for! The balsamic was thick and concentrated and the cheese was fresh and creamy, while the tomatoes were able to stand up to everything in perfect harmony.
My husband and son (also known as “the carnivores”) were feeling adventurous and decided to try something completely different for dinner. I used my little pocket camera and it made the chorizo look electric red, which it wasn’t. This was a dinner of french fries on the bottom with two fried eggs, fried peppers, and chorizo on top.
My son randomly chose from the menu (he might have closed his eyes and picked for all I know) and his meal was definitely different. His consisted of french fries on the bottom, two fried eggs, shrimp, and noodles. I thought the noodles were some kind of seafood, but I think they were made with squid ink, hence the grey color. Both plates were almost licked clean so I think they were very happy with their meals.
It may seem like all we did was eat, but we walked everywhere over a day and a half and did eat some (ok, a lot!). In the evening we were out and about and thinking about a cup of coffee and what did we stumble upon, but Dunkin’ Coffee. That’s right – not Dunkin’ Donuts, but Dunkin’ Coffee. Yes, there were donuts and it was husband who snapped this picture. Why? If you look carefully at the top row you will see “Boston Choco” and “Boston Multi” and my husband found that terribly amusing.
Living in Massachusetts, the birthplace of Dunkin’ Donuts, we were in complete and total awe of such a modern and stylish facility. Big and comfy pink chairs along with tables if you want to sit and chat or work on your laptop. Move over Starbucks!
Normally, I would steer clear of an American chain restaurant abroad, but I couldn’t help myself. I ordered a coffee for my husband and myself and what I thought was hot chocolate. We were the only people there and I don’t know if it was the young woman’s first day on the job, but it took about 10 minutes to get the drinks. We weren’t in a rush so it wasn’t a problem and it gave me a chance to snap these pictures. When we sat down and my son popped the cover off the hot chocolate, it was as if he met his true love for the first time. Here is a recipe for the thick, yummy chocolate goodness that made me go into a diabetic coma just looking at it, but the boy savored every moment with his new chocolate friend.
Next up in Málaga: More interesting pictures and a few tales or two in an attempt to walk off all that food.