Rather than a full blown review of every place that we ate at on our recent visit to Andalucia, I thought it would be more interesting to talk about more generally about the food that we encountered.
Our holiday was all about escape and relaxation and the location in the mountains near Comares was absolutely perfect and although the roads were pretty hairy, it was well worth being off the beaten track, away from the tourists.
First things first – this is meat country. The Spanish have mastered how to eat an entire pig without it getting boring and very menu proudly displays the evidence. Suffice to say my vegetarian sister struggled somewhat when eating out. Combined with the fact that we were eating essentilly in the countryside, it meant the food was simple, traditional and rustic.
In the mountains the food is probably just as it was fifty years ago, if not more, and that’s just how the local like it. Down nearer the coast – where all the tourists are – then it’s way more accessible with English food (and language on the menus) and lot more seafood. Personally I quite liked the rustic nature of the food on offer in the local places and we ate very well in the villa with fantastic Jamon packed with flavour, amazingly vibrant fresh salad and super local cheeses.
Given we had to drive 15 minutes to the nearest supermarket and restaurant, we minimised our time on the hairpin bends and rationed our drive times. The local food and drink was cheap and very plentiful. The non-tourist nature of the area was borne out with great local vino on sale for around 2 Euro (and it wasn’t vinegar either although it did benefit from a chill).
Special mention has to go to the Padron Pepper – the vegetable I ate every single day. Man, I need to get some of these in the UK, even if every fifth one turns out to be a full blown chilli and kicks you right in the tastebuds.
On the last day of the holiday, heading back to the airport we happened upon a very cool and down to earth resort just outside Malaga that was full of Spanish day trippers eating fantastic looking seafood. The ubiquitous sardines were cooked right there on the beach over embers and it would have been both rude and ridiculous not to try some (they were sublime and very, very good value at 3 Euro for a bundle).
From a food perspective, I think this part of Spain struggles to compete with the choice and sophistication of some of the more cosmopolitan cities or the Michelin littered Northern areas. What it is though, is unpretentious and down to earth food, that’s easy to get on with and all about the ingredients.
I don’t think we fully explored it by any means, and I’m only offering a snapshot of a couple of weeks’ eating, but I definitely would recommend it unless you’re a vegetarian.