Casa Vincente, Malaga 04-2019

On a dreary humid, rainy Monday, I searched for a late lunch. Vincente had a reputation for good prawns so I sought it out. I liked the counter side but didn't realise they also have a seated section on the other side. I ended up there which was fine, although the atmosphere was quite different.

I wasn't sure if it was grilled or fried prawns that were the special. I suppose my clue should have been the grilled where listed on the menu first and "Gambas Plancha" is in big writing at the front of the cooking window. I asked my server which was better - he answered something I couldn't decipher in typical Andalusian Spanish, and before you knew it I had both. Hmmm.

The little grilled ones were clearly better. Much more flavoursome although it could also be that they were heavily coated in salt. The fried ones were plain and seemed to lack flavour.

I'll try somewhere else next time. The Atarazanas market is a much better option in my opinion.

Casa Mira, Malaga 04-2019

On my first gelato day, I tried the well known Casa Mira. It is known for turron (fudge) but I didn't really want that. The shop is located on the main street too, which is convenient but would it live up to reputation?

I tried the pistachio, Malaga (which they told me was red wine) and was surprised to find horchata (which they told me they made in-house from tigernuts/chufas). The gelato was ok, nothing particularly special, although not bad by any means. The horchata was quite simple and I liked that it wasn't coated in cinnamon and not as sweet as the typical Valencia.

I wouldn't go back for the gelato, I'd go to Bico de Xeado instead (

Cafe-Bar Mercado Atarazanas, Malaga 04-2019

Atarazanas market is a wonderful place. There are 3 different sections of the market, 1 dedicated to fruit and vegetables, 1 to meat and 1 to seafood. Within each of these sections are a few standup counters (although some serve food at tables outside) where you can stand around, order fresh seafood and have a drink.

It's hard to know which to go to. I looked online and saw Bar Atarazanas mentioned and so looked there. An elderly gentleman local to Malaga told me he thought this one was the best, but each had their own opinion. I suppose it would be easiest to look at the menu and see what you want to eat. For example this bar does not have gambas rojos or carabineros, if that was what you were after.

- Mejillones (mussels) €6 - from the menu I thought these were grilled, but they are steamed. After my initial disappointment I savoured them and enjoyed the rich mussel saline flavour and particularly the fact that these mussels actually fill the shell!;
- Navajas (razor clams) €4.5 - gorgeous pieces with herbs, salt, paprika and garlic oil. Divine, especially for that price;
- Conchas finas (smooth clams) €2.5 - he asked if I wanted this grilled. Instead I took it raw and I like raw clams. This was average and didn't have nearly as much ocean flavour as I hoped. I wouldn't get it again;
- Pincho de pulpo (octopus skewer) €3.5 - other stalls served a whole tentacle grilled but that would be too much food. So this little skewer had to suffice. It wasn't the best I've had, but it was adequate.

I also tried my neighbour's fried jibia (cuttlefish) which was similar but thinner and slightly crunchy compared to calamari.

I would happily go back to this market anytime including eating here or elsewhere. There is so much to take home to cook too...

Casa Lola, Malaga 04-2019

Casa Lola was one of the few places I wanted to hit on the tapas route. However the first two times, hunger was higher than patient for the queue that stretched onto the street. The other places were La Tranca (but this only has a very limited tapas menu), Las Merchanas (which I didn't get to) or trying a local restaurant of which Meson Mariano was top of my list (but again didn't get to).

Third time was a charm and also going at 11pm (on a Tuesday) when the masses had settled. It's a very local tavern setting although the number of seats means it isn't setup for standing and eating. Once you get through the long menu and see the sorts of dishes, you'll understand why.

- Porra Antequerana €2 - the local version of salmorejo was a cold soup delicious with garlic, topped with savoury jamon and tuna and perfectly eaten with bread. Really excellent;
- Croquetas €2 - small discs of fried ox tail;
- Abre los ojos (tomate ort, corazon de alcachofa, bechamel y virutas jamon iberico) €3 - an eclectic dish of (almost blue) cheese sauce, artichoke heart, sprinkles of jamon and a bit of vinegar;
- Pancetamol (rabo de toro, panceta iberica, salsa de vino y miel de cana) €3.5 - a disc of ox tail meat with a sweet honey sauce served in flat bread.

The prices for the quality were simply outstanding. I'm not surprised at the queues. The drinks were ok too - although the sangria had an unusual distinct taste that I couldn't put my finger on.

Avoid the rush if you can, but if you can't then it's worth the queue.

Bico de Xeado, Malaga 04-2019

 There's a few reputed gelato places (heladeria in Spanish) in Malaga. I only tried two, but the look and appeal of this Galician one turned out very well. In fact I'd be hard pressed to say I've ever had any better than this.

Look at the colour of that pistachio - a distinct brown colour and the manager said it is more nut and less sugar. It sure tasted like it too. I have had a couple in Italy that are so pure nut it is almost like eating pistachio butter, and to me that is probably a bit too far. But this was a good balance with more emphasis on the nutty side and creamy.

The coconut had little tufts of coconut flesh and a strong flavour.

Wow. I wanted to go back but ran out of time...

Casa de La Playa, Arrieta 12-2018

I had marked down the restaurant Amanecer in Arrieta. However when I spoke to the flat host Aduen (who is local and running for Mayor of the town), he thought that since Amanecer had relatively recently changed management, that he had a few complaints from guests who had been there. The more reliable option with good prices, specialising in seafood, and where he goes, is Casa de La Playa.

It has a lovely location on Playa de la Garita with views of the sun rising ahead and settling behind.

The staff are very friendly and accommodated my Spanish.

- Fideua Carabinero €29 for 2 - paella was an option, but the word carabinero drew my attention. It's been a long time since I've been searching again for these prized red prawns known in the waters off Portugal, Spain and Morocco. Considering in London they charge about £20 per prawn in Spanish restaurants, having two of these in the dish was a bargain. They were meaty with the most intense beautiful flavour. The bodies themselves were ok, soft but not very bouncy. The noodles were soft, the mussels nice, and although I was anticipating the lapas clams, they weren't as flavoursome as I hoped. The flavour of the dish was perfectly balanced, and not overly salty like many do.

They offered a chupito at the end and I discovered the delicious Ron Miel (Spanish for honey rum), a local Canarian liquor that is 20-30% alcohol and a sweet after meal shot. I nearly bought a bottle to bring home but opted for local gin instead.

A great restaurant and would happily go again, and so ended up a second time the next night.

- Morena frita €9 - after seeing an eel in a fishmonger live and staring at us, I had been meaning to order this somewhere. I expected rounds of flesh deepfried, but was pleasantly surprised to have long fries of meat instead. The batter was crisp and minimally seasoned, the fish was soft with a moderately strong flavour. Thoroughly enjoyed;
- Pulpo a la plancha €10 - the tenderness and flavour were ok, but it wasn't a particularly great version. There wasn't any char or crispness to the skin and so it lacked a little;
- Cherne €22 - this fresh fish was deemed to be 1.5 servings and was a splayed Stone Bass butterflied and panfried in oil/butter. It was expertedly cooked, excellent in buttery flavour and balanced well with a bit of lemon. The potatoes were a touch heavily salted and the salad added freshness. Ended up taking half home for another meal;
- Bienmesabe con helado €5 - a typical Canarian dessert broken down into bien me sabe ("tastes good to me"). We expected this almond meal based dessert to be more like a cake, but it was served in an icecream dish smothered in caramel and with icecream and cream. Very sweet and indulgent, although I wouldn't order it again.

Overall wonderful seafood and cooking. If I'm ever in Lanzarote again, I will stay in Arrieta and return here.

Chacho Fresh Burger, Playa Blanca 12-2018

After a lazy day at the beach, the option was between eating out, cooking at home or getting takeaway. The takeaway option won in the end, only really because the restaurants around the island are all relatively similar, but there's only one Chacho Fresh Burger in the world (that I know of). And the reviews were very good.

It's a large venue with its own bar.

They asked how I wanted the meat cooked (a great sign) and I opted for medium-rare which they cooked to a nice pink. The beef was lightly seasoned and excellent quality with a small thick mince texture. Really good patty. 200g is also a large size patty.

- El Patriota (carne 200g, jamon iberico, pimientos salteados, espinacas frescas, queso de cabra ahumado, salsa de tomato y pimiento) €9.95 - the Spanish burger with local ingredients and a good one too. Lots of flavours, colours and elements along with the perfectly cooked patty. Very enjoyable;
- Avatar (carne 200g, queso azul, queso cheddar, mozzarella, queso ahumado de cabra, cebolla caramelizada al vino tinto, espinacas frescas, bacon) €10.45 - the mega cheese burger had cheese flowing out of everywhere. It had a hint of blue, but otherwise just tasted like mild mixed cheese (not salty). The beef was 
- Chachipapas (papas fritas, salchicha, beicon troceado, jalapeños, salsa de queso cheddar, salsa BBQ) €4.8 - a great list of ingredients that made me hope it would be chilli fries. The fries themselves were soft and not crisp at all. The sausage slices were alright but looked a bit too processed. It doesn't compare to chilli beef or lamb that usually comes with these.

I received a €0.5 discount on those burger prices to not get the fries with it. That way I could order the chachipapas and not end up with a ridiculous amount of fries. Next time I think I'd just stick to the normal fries.

El Diablo, Lanzarote 12-2018

It's been a long while between volanic heat cooked meals. Even though I didn't expect to eat here again, the timing coincided with hunger (and lunch) and to be fair, after re-reading what I wrote last time (, I could easily have gone a steak again.

But my advice to my future self was the try the chicken, since there always seems to be so much of it cooling on the grill. And so I had to listen to me.

The complimentary bread was slices of rounds, not warm and not very good.

- 1/2 grilled chicken €13 - a delicious roast chicken, perhaps slightly overcooked, but pretty good (albeit expensive expectedly). I couldn't honestly say there's much difference between this and the standard oven/rotisserie chicken thought... The vegetables had some nice vinegar contrast;
- King prawn salad with fresh goat's cheese (guacamole, Canarian tomato, onions, lettuce crudite, thousand island sauce, basil oil) €10.5 - 3 prawns and a layer of avocado sitting on a circle of tomato. A fancy salad.

Next time I would order the steak or try the pork (if they are local, I don't think lamb is).

Interestingly outside the restaurant, there is a public grill where you can bring your own food to cook... that's definitely the better alternative for next time.

Restaurante La Cuadra, Playa Blanca 12-2018

As we touched down in the sunkissed island of Lanzarote, away from the cold of London, and drove south to Playa Blanca, I could only think of seafood. For a Sunday evening, the only place I had marked in Playa Blanca (Los Hervideros) was closed. I asked the Airbnb host who suggested El Pelegrino for Spanish/Canarian food. Unfortunately that was closed to.

So we ended up at La Cuadra, with it's decent reviews and surrounded by Germans and a few Spanish. It was a busy night there and the staff were almost impressed of my attempts to decipher the Spanish menu. Warm bread was served (€1.1pp)

- Croquetas de jalapeños con guacamole €6 - simple croquettes. Not entirely sure what was inside, but there was some jalapeño and the guacamole was outside;
- Crujiente de cochino negro canario €7 - black pig meat squashed into a cube and then fried. Simply seasoned and delicious. Quite tender too;
- Papas arrugadas de Lanzarote con sus mojos artesanos €5 - the island's famous potatoes cooked until dehydrated and soft and seasoned heavily with salt. Nice;
- Pulpo a la plancha con mojo verde €8 - charry, crisp and full of flavour. A definite winner;
- Caracoles con jamon y chorizo €7.75 - strange for snails. They didn't seem to have much of their own flavour and also the texture was very soft and without any bite. Wouldn't get them again.

Overall a nice meal to start the trip. A little too much food for 2. I don't think anything here is particularly special or different from the other menus around. Next time I'd try for Los Hervideros or somewhere new.

Caos, Ibiza 08-2018

For the final lunch meal before going to the airport, we visited the lovely area of Santa Eulalia and a multi-cuisine al fresco place called Caos. It has very good Google reviews (4.7) and seemed as good a choice as any. Despite others ordering pizza for the 5 meal that trip, I opted for the local version of bouillabaisse.

It was served with some sliced bread rather than the crisp coutons with rouille, but the flavour of the dish was lovely and strong with the garlic seafood broth coming through. One large prawn nestled on top - I could easily have done with a few more, but sadly not.

As with all other places eaten in Ibiza, I would eat there again but wouldn't go out of my way to get there again.