Tasty Tenerife – a new foodie heaven?

February 10th, 2010 in European travel by Sarah Lee 10

Grisin sticks with Iberian Stile Ham

A few years ago I went to Los Gigantes in Tenerife and if I’m honest I wasn’t that enamoured with it. For me it lacked a certain “Canarianess”. I know it’s a tourist resort and that Tenerife is in the main a mass-market destination (more on this in another post), but one thing that bothered me was that I was on a Spanish island and there was hardly a hint of Spanish food about.

You could get a wide variety of foods at Los Gigantes’ restaurants serving ‘international menus’ – generally covering things like Cordon Bleu and Lasagna, and granted, I had a fantastic meal at one of the restaurants there. But the problem was authentic Spanish/Canarian fodder was in short supply.

I was therefore delighted on my recent visit to discover island delicacies and Michelin-starred chefs intent on putting the island on the culinary map.

My first experience of real Canarian food was on a visit to a banana plantation with the British Guild of Travel Writers which I posted on here. This use of bananas in savoury as well as sweet dishes showed the island had plenty of fresh ideas to appeal to foodies.

The following day we were treated to what I consider the best meal of my trip (and there were many good ones!). Lunch at La Plantacion del Sur hotel, in Adeje, was prepared by it’s two-starred Michelin chef.

Cheese cookies complete with edible flowers

We started with tapas – grisin sticks with Iberian Stile Ham, unusual but tasty cheese cookies (I believe these were fried slices of cheese, similar to cheese saganaki found in Greece) served with pastry puffs and edible flowers, and some of the most juicy and delicious shrimps fried with garlic – a particular favourite on my table.

Hot on the heels of the starters was a fish course of cod in onion sauce with leek and ginger, my least favourite part of the meal, but I’m not a big cod fan. Still, like all the courses served at the lunch, it was beautifully presented.

Canarian Nouvelle Cuisine - Cod in Onion Sauce with Leek and Ginger

The fish was followed by beef tenderloins with almogrote cheese – a rather salty but delicious cheese paste from Tenerife’s neighbouring island of La Gomera. This was served with papas ‘bonitas’ with red and green mojo – tiny purple Canarian potatoes with a green coriander-based sauce and a spicier red chilli-based sauce.

All of this was served with an array of fine Tenerifian wines. Yes, Tenerife produces award-winning wines from vineyards dotted across the island. We had a crisp white with the starters and fish, and naturally, red with the main. Many of Tenerife’s reds are full-bodied and toasty due to the volcanic soil on the island.

Dessert was an exotic sounding trio – Bienmesabe, Prince Albert and Quesillo. Up to now I can’t really tell you what they were or which was which of the three tasty nuggets on my plate but they were to die for. A chocolate mousse dome with a crunchy filling, a caramel-like cheesy slice (guessing that’s the Quesillo!) and a rich chocolate ice-cream served with pansies – yes, you can eat those too!

Bienmesabe, Prince Albert and Quesillo

The only problem with the dessert was that we had to leave half of it behind as we were running late for an afternoon tour. I’m still mourning the loss of this delectable pudding!

Still, the rest of the trip had more scrumptious treats in store. In the following days I had everything from traditional hearty meals with things like gofio – toasted cornmeal and revuelto de morcilla – scrambled egg with a sweetened black pudding (sounds icky and I’m not normally a fan of black pudding but it was out-of-this-world-good) at Santa Cruz’s renowned La Hierbita, chicken, fish and ham croquettes and roasted piglet (be warned complete with a wee trotter) at Meson Castellano in Los Cristianos, and tapas including mixed chorizo in honey and chilli at the dinky Pink Parrot Cafe in Las Galletas (more info on this fab little find here).

I discovered Tenerife is an island rich in incredible local food so get away from the resort restaurants and, most importantly, bring your appetite.

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