I’ll be honest.
We didn’t have great expectations about the food in the Canary Islands, or more specifically Tenerife, when we booked our cheeky week in the sun a few weeks ago. It’s not the sort of place that one hears a lot about in foodie circles but we knew the weather would be good and we would have a chilled out time and that was good enough for me. On consulting Trip Advisor, we knew there were some decent places near where we were staying but again if I’m being totally straight, I don’t trust Trip Advisor these days – the reviews veer from 10/10 to ‘never again’ – pretty much across the board. I take TA with a pinch of salt and rough rule of thumb.
I’m pleased to report that the food in Tenerife was satisfyingly Spanish when you hunted down the authentic places. Of course it caters for the mass market tourists who flock to the island and as a consequence the cuisine wasn’t as 100% authentic as mainland Spain, but very good in parts. We stayed in a fairly newly developed (as in 10 years or so) part of the island called Costa Adeje that’s a fairly quiet spot, away from the lively resorts, perfect for couples and families, away from the hedonistic 18-30 types.
Here are my food highlights:
What’s not to like about a yielding tube of spanking fresh calamari in a burning hot crispy outer? That’s right, nothing. Especially with an ice cold rosado after a long hot day in the sun. And why not throw in some pimiento de Padron whilst you’re at it? Go on then.
At La Vieja ( recommended on Twitter whilst we were there – thank you Twitter), how about a gigantic tray of grilled seafood with enough garlic to sink a French battleship? Why not, it’s fresh and washed down with a local Lanzarote blanco. It’s what we will dream about all winter long.
Tenerife is big on two sauces called Mojo (pronounced Mo-ko). It’s here where you begin to see the South American and Portugese references in Canarian cooking. The red sauce is piquant but not off the scale and the green sauce is like a thin guacamole. Served as a pre starter with bread they are heavily laced with garlic and hard to resist. Good with fish too.
Nice swanky lunch at The Mirador (look out tower I think). This more expensive but worth it meal was a delightful affair with fresh Dorada and tuna escabeche (more Portugese vibes) overlooking an azure ocean. My dorada (sea bream) was delicate and cooked to perfection and J’s tuna meaty and satisfying.
The shared starter was the inevitable padron peppers (there is a theme here) with a perfectly dry and crisp local Canarian rosado.
A trip to Spain wouldn’t be complete without Paella. And what a Paella this was. The highly recommended Masia del mar, right on the seafront in La Calieta, was the perfectly relaxed Spanish family restaurant where the seafood was sat waiting on ice or in tanks to be cooked and the diners sipped wine aimlessly, waiting to be served and enjoying the views.
The paella was the best I’ve ever had: deep fishy notes underpinned the freshness of the fish, clearly the fish stock was of the highest quality. It was moist, satisfying and incredibly good value at twenty eight euros for two (about £12 each). And on top that, the lovely wife was serenaded by four cabarellos which oddly, but touchingly really made our evening.
To sum up, there’s cheap and cheerful pizza (that’s actually ok), decent but cheap Bocadillo sandwiches with Serrano ham and Manchego and amazingly fresh seafood that’s out of the top drawer. It’s not all ropey tourist crap – but don’t panic there’s plenty of that if you care to seek it out – but overall Tenerife caters for all tastes, including food snobs like me.
Finally, more Padrons – what can I say, I’m obsessed.