A return trip, pre Christmas, to the warmth of the Canary Islands, saw us visit the capital city of Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Projecting all the grandeur of a big Spanish City, Santa Cruz definitely had a South American twist to it, betraying some of its history perhaps as there are strong geographical, historical and, in turn, culinary links with South America.
Either way, we got the bus from the touristy south of the island, about an hour by bus up the dramatic Atlantic Coast highway. We had no set agenda as the bus bowled Northwards at a hair raising pace, but had read about an interesting tapas place run by renowned Canarian chef Braulio Simancas, so we hunted it out when we arrived.
Tasca el Callejon is tucked away in a quiet side street away from the hustle and bustle of the main thoroughfare but thanks to google maps we found it right away—gotta love technology. Too chilly today to sit outside (there was a storm brewing), we settled at the bar which is always the best place to sit in a tapas bar I think and the very friendly, mostly Spanish speaking waitress presented menus with English translations, although I like think we would have got away with the Spanish menu.
We took in the old world style of the restaurant: rich dark wood, impressive original brass coffee machine/urn, newspapers on sticks, if there was a grandfather clock, it would be ticking away in the corner. In short, a lovely place to while away an hour or two over a long lunch. We ordered a bottle of the Canarian vino blanco to get things underway—crisp and fresh—a bargain at 12 Euro, and got down to the menu.
We ordered just three dishes: hand carved iberico ham with crisp tomato and garlic bread, irresistible croquettes spiked with chilli and finally, pork loin, tender and unctuous with figs. The portions were good sized and we were sensibly advised by the waitress that three would suffice and she was right. The Iberico fat stuck to the roof of your mouth as it should and melted delightfully, the croquettes popped with aromatic steam when cut with a fork and the pork loin was a revelation, sticky and sweet, served with hand cut rosemary potato fries.
I rued not trying other dishes on the menu that caught my eye, but that would have been pure greed: slow cooked veal cheeks, local smoked salmon with coriander…It’s times like this that only a tasting menu will do, but what we did have was both delicious and filling. Finishing off with a coffee and an outrageously large ‘ Spanish Cardinal Mendoza brandy— Christmas in a glass, delivering warmth and spice—we were happy as Larry perched at the bar jealously observing a large Christmas party as they arrived, surely to be treated to a long, late and lovely festive lunch.
We reluctantly paid the bill and left, anonymous diners hurrying back to a concrete bus station, clocking the steely grey storm clouds gathering, as the bus left the station, speeding southwards.