Friday, 7 May 2010
LANZAROTE: A GUSTATORY ODYSSEY
(Imagine me in this pool. Or not, if you'd rather.)
Only yards from the apartment and about as long as the pool at the Raich Carter Centre where I normally swim, I was in there six days out of the seven of my stay, swimming about 10 lengths every time with the worst part being the moment of entry as it's a seawater pool -I slowly climb down the steps, the chill water creeping up my legs and, ah!, deep breath, I turn and launch myself away from the side and I'm off, a slow unstoppable miniature white whale.
I went on holiday because:
I could -invited by my friend Ian P to spend a week with him at his apartment in Costa Teguise, Lanzarote.
I'd been before (for the same reason above) and quite liked the place.
I liked the opportunity to just laze around in the sun drinking coffee and reading several books.
It provided the opportunity for me to indulge myself in eating fresh fish of species I'd never tried before.
I like looking at the lean feral and abandoned cats which roam the complexes, even though I do feel sorry for them. A full account of my experiences with these cats, plus a visit to Lanzarote's only rescue centre, and a trip to Guinate Wildlife Park (with lots of photos), see my Cat Rescuing blog.
But mainly I came here for the food, hence the pretentious use of the phrase a gustatory odyssey.
And here is me about to tuck into a bowl of fish and seafood soup at a tiny village called Playa Quemada. Don't worry about the fact that I'm not smiling, that's just my normal expression. You can't tell but I'm quivering with expectation.
And the soup was rather nice.
On our first evening there, we went to the Galleon restaurant in the centre of Costa Teguise (from now on abreviated to CT) because IanP liked it i.e. it was cheap. For 9euros you got a 3-course meal plus a drink. I had a glass of wine which wasn't enough so I asked for a half bottle. Now the guy either didn't understand, as he brought me a whole bottle, or I didn't understand that I was just to drink half of it. As it was, I knocked it all back in half an hour while eating the home-made (sure) fish cake starter, main course of grilled sardines (okay) and the sweet. Rating: 5.5/10.
The following evening wasn't much different except that I didn't drink a whole bottle of wine, just one glass of beer. I asked for Spanish Omelette as a starter which looked like a thick slice of pie but made out of egg with potatoes mixed in. A main course of anonymous grilled fish (which could have been cod for all I knew) followed. Rating: 4/10.
Saturday and lunch at Playa Quemada (see above) then northwards in the early evening to the fishing village of Arieta which is famous for its fish (as it would). The mushroom and prawns in garlic came in a small dish with the ingredients swimming in a bowl of bubbling olive oil and gets a rating of 9/10. Sadly the main course -two overcooked and very bony fish- was a considerable 3.5/10 disappointment.
Sunday evening and to the nearby Sausalito where I'd been before several times for the cheap set menu of steak and whatever. This time, however, a starter of prawns and garlic (with a few small chilis), again served in bubbling olive oil into which I dipped pieces of bread. Tuna steak in onion sauce with rice, Canarian potatoes (small and cooked in their skins and served dry and wrinkled) and, for some odd reason, cauliflower. I wasn't to know it but this would be the best evening meal I ate in the week. 8.5/10.
The following evening I had a pizza of which I left nearly half and should have left more -soggy and generally revolting. 1.5/10.
Tuesday and it was back to the Galleon for another prawns and garlic (good as usual and I'm going to try cooking it for myself) followed by grilled sea bream which turn out to be another anonymous bony fish but a bit better than the ones at Arieta. 7/10.
Wednesday and Ian had some people to see in Teguise, the municipal town for the region. Dry, dusty and white, I expected to hear Ennio Morricone whistling a tune. One of the people worked in a restaurant called La Cantina and I liked the look of the tapas menu so we stayed for lunch -a good-sized plate of whitebait accompanied by excellent home-cooked chips (fresh fries) and an overpriced glass of white wine. Great food and a nice ambience but I'm not rating it because it was a glorified expensive snack. I'm not rating the evening meal because we went for a Chinese buffet which cost a grand total of 4.95 euros, just under a third the cost of lunch. It was what you'd expected, tasty enough in it's own cheap and cheerful way but I'm not in a hurry for another one.
Thursday evening and it was burger and fries at Arecife airport while I waited to board the plane home.
Here are some photographs of various places we went to during the week.
Me at Formora, a place of staggering dullness but much loved by Norwegian surfers, apparently.
IanP delighted to find me at a harbour cafe in Playa Blanca after having been to see a bank manager. I though PB was a little dull from previous visits but this time I began to see its charms. Here's another photo.
Something else I did, apart from see bits of Lanzarote, eat, swim and the animal-related stuff, was read. Big thick books and I'd brought a really good selection with me. The first was Monster Hunters International, at 700pages rather overlong but undemanding entertainment. Next came the second and third volumes of Steig Larsson's brilliant Millenium trilogy which is recommended to anyone who loves a good crime novel. Next up Robert Charles Wilson's deservedly Hugo-winning Spin. Lastly Robert McCammon's Queen of Bedlam which was so good that almost as soon as I got home I ordered the third in the series in hardback which was published earlier this year. Add in a couple of magazines, newspapers, a couple of graphic novels and a pile of Ian's DC comics and the page count I consumed probably topped 3,000. And I still had three books I didn't get round to.
I stayed up later than I would at home -watching some DVDs I'd brought with me- and slept later, undisturbed by cats wanting to be let out at 5.00 in the morning. While often cloudy in the morning, the sun would usually break through by lunchtime (or late afternoon) and the temperature would shoot up accordingly. Most days were windy to varying degrees but that is normal for Lanzarote. All in all a very nice lazy week in the sun for which I thank my old friend Ianp.
The flight home (Ian was staying on another week) was just over four hours in a tin can but at least I had an aisle seat. I got in the house around 1.45 am and watched a little tv to find out what was happening with regard to the General Election results then went to bed and was woken by the cats at 6.00am. Good to be home.
And here's a picture of an abandoned cat I made friends with.