">Mount Teide, Tenerife wild storms in the past couple of weeks. Be it El Niño or just extreme winter weather, Canary Islanders used to eternal spring, have rightly been in a bit of a tailspin and it’s even affected the carnival.

Photos here are from my recent trip to Tenerife and show the effects the tropical-style rainstorms and crashing Atlantic waves had on the tiny town of Las Galletas.

Atlantic breakers give Las Galleta’s sea defences a run for their money.

While on previous days the Atlantic was uncharacteristically calm, there’s little need for warning that this is not a day for swimming off the town’s long strip of beach.

Chinks of sunshine on the coast are a total contrast to the heavy cloud hanging over the mountains, while buildings on the harbour are battered by the waves.

Though the odd wave coasts over a 20-foot wall next to the harbour the town’s fishermen remain unshaken.

Angry tides also had an impact on the natural environment. Turfing the shingle beach onto the promenade and this sea cucumber also.

The cucumber lay there hardly moving, easily mistakable for a small rock, waiting for the next wave to carry him back out to sea. Luckily the creature was soon rescued by a young girl – clearly much braver than I was.

Huge amounts of shingle were dumped on the promenade and even through to the path behind its parade of restaurants.

Massive build up of pebbles on the promenade left seafront businesses unable to open their doors until the clear up operation was complete.

Las Galletas’ pretty harbour in brighter weather, but it wasn’t long before the storms started again. Guess it’s not just the UK affected by unpredictable weather.

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">Las Galletas harbour is battered by waves

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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"> Binter Canarias to Gran Canaria, and given that I’m not the best flyer (bit of an occupational hazzard for a travel journo) and Binter fly twin-turbos (always imagine the propellers will stop turning) I was a little perturbed. However my friend @myTenerifeinfo had prepped me about Binter’s cool little service so I knew not to panic… too much…

What follows is an ode to Binter Canarias – the perfect way to island hop the Canaries for those for whom time is too tight for the ferry.

Forget all this boarding  40 minutes before take off nonsense. In fact forget the 20 minutes shown on the boarding cards – we boarded in five minutes and  still arrived in time.  And yes, there are no seat  numbers specified. That’s  because this 78-seater  hasn’t got seat numbers. But, with around 30 passengers  on each of my flights there was no low-cost-style bun-fight for seats. Makes you wonder why we fight for seats in the first place. It’s not like there’s not going to be enough – even Ryanair still allows for that!

Soon the propellers were whirring and we were taxing to the runway.

Onboard the bright, modern cabin of the ATR-72 is better than a few charter airlines I’ve flown with, complete with leather seating. The crew would have a challenge on full flights. They only serve a chocoletta (something akin to a Blue Ribband wafer for UK readers), a glass of water and boiled sweet to help you equalise your ears on landing. But Gran Canaria is a very short hop from Tenerife – about 15 minutes flying time so even these hospitable efforts are impressive given the time.

Within the bite of a chocoletta Gran Canaria’s mountains are visible from benethe light puffs of cloud.

Granted, Binter Canarias is so tiny you do find yourself shoved way out at a distant gate, but there are benefits to it being such a small operation. As it’s largely domestic you cut out passport control (didn’t show my passport beyond check-in) and any luggage hits the carousels quickly.

Gran Canaria was lovely but having spent just six-and-a-half-hours on the island I can’t really regale many of it’s highlights. Soon it was time to take my return flight to Tenerife.

The cabin on the return trip seemed even more comfortable, modern and fresh.

More of Gran Canaria’s mountains poke through the cloud. But they can’t compete with Tenerife’s Mount Teide – now snow-capped, the highest mountain in Spain.

Still as Binter proves, you don’t have to be big to be beautiful.

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">All aboard BGTW‘s AGM. Take a look at La Plantacion del Sur – its very nice.

Now before you sit in awe at a slightly spoilt travel journalist spouting about the hardships of staying at a five star hotel, let me say now – this is not a moan.

These things are by no means restricted to this hotel, they’re merely five observations of strange features of five star hotels found the world over:

  1. My room has 23 light switches. Why!? That’s more light switches than I have in my whole house. There really is no need, and many of us spent a long time trying to turn off all the lights before bed on the first night. One switch by the bed that turns off every light in the room will do nicely. 23 is neither big, nor clever.
  2. Double rooms with single beds: What is this all about!? You book a double room to share a bed with your loved one only to find you have two beds pushed closely together. Though you may think you can just push them together completely it’s never going to work if you have to battle with two sets of tucked in sheets and the fear that one of you will inevitably fall down the gap in the dead of night.
  3. No in-room wifi: Ok so major props to this hotel as it has free internet throughout (wired in-room and wifi in public areas), but surely in-room wifi is par for the course in a quality hotel these days.
  4. A nice cuppa: Forget making your own drinks. Tea and coffee making facilities are often hard to find in-room. The hotel I’m staying in only provides them in their suites. Come on, we’re British – we need tea!
  5. Telephones in toilets: this is a sign of a true luxury hotel. But, short of any Elvis-styled emergencies, I really can’t see myself using the phone while on the throne. Never. Ever.

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">Get switched on at a five star hotel get the RSS feed here or sign up by email to have future posts delivered straight to your inbox.

">Feel like a banana?