6 March 2013

Tapas and Tinto de Verano

Last year my best friend moved to Granada, Spain.
Although we all miss her hugely and wish we could just pop on a train to see her in the UK,  it provided a great excuse for a long weekend away from uni life for a catch up and a well-earned break.
This turned into nearly a week's holiday full of lots of red wine, glorious February sunshine and delicious Spanish food- I really didn't want to come back! 
Her Spanish had improved hugely since she's been there- I felt completely overwhelmed when meeting her Spanish flat mates! -they all talk so fast!

I felt miles away from the Edinburgh rain and gloom! 
She is so lucky to live in Granada, it's a picturesque Spanish city set in the hills with the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains in the background. 
Spanish cuisine has to be one of my favourites- it's focus on local and fresh dishes with a Mediterranean feel is something that would appeal to me in a restaurant. 
Granada is one of the few remaining Spanish places that provides tapas on the house when you order drinks- this is a huge bonus for all the university students that fill Granada and must be contributing to Spain's economic crisis! 
We definitely took advantage of this delicious variety of tapas or "racciones" provided for you. 

I also had to adjust to the Spanish body clock for a few days! Their late starts and afternoon siestas were a lovely break from the uni routine and we managed to conform pretty well.
After a very late night at nightclub Mae West, we were in need of some serious food.

-Sticky chicken wings in a honey and soya sauce on glazed potatoes, "Alitas del pollo con salsa de soja y miel" at Carmela Restaurant and Bar. It didn't take us long to devour these- and then we moved on to a very spanish style rice pudding- made with very fine ground rice and flavoured creamy milk. 

That afternoon we headed on to one of Emma's favourite tapas bars called Avila. The great thing about having a friend who lives in Granada is that she knew exactly where to find the best tapas and this roasted pork was high up on my list!- deliciously tender and melt in your mouth, served with olives and lots of red wine.

We also visited a great little tapas bar called Bar Poe, which although full of foreign Erasmus students speaking English, had great little tapas dishes such as spicy coconut chicken with polenta and a buzzing atmosphere. 

At Sunday lunch time before a trip to the Alhambra, we found a traditional Spanish tapas bar called Bodegas Castañeda at 18010 granada. Although Granada on Sunday can seem a little quiet, this bar was packed with locals who obviously knew where to come for the best food. The very friendly staff recommended the daily platter of tapas- which was AMAZING. This tapas was true spanish food full of amazing local hams and chorizo. 
We had a platter of ham, chorizo, eggs, potato and peppers along with salmon and avocado bruschetta and paella!- all topped off with a few glasses of tinto de verano of course! It was delicious, so rich and tasty- with lots of really good quality olive oil and the best Iberico ham and spicy chorizo. 

One thing I really love is the way the Spanish hang legs of ham from the ceiling of the really traditional Spanish tapas bars. Some have been cured for years and are really worth trying for their depth of flavour and real meaty taste.

Whilst I was there we also visited the Alhambra and "el mirador," the viewing point on the hill opposite. 

There's a perfect little bar at "el mirador" where you can sit in the sun with a glass of wine, the view of the Alhamabra and the snow topped mountains of Sierra Nevada in the background!It's called Las Estrellas de San Nicholas and we visited the restaurant there later on.

The beautiful sights of the Alhambra- it's a must see if you visit Granada and its also lovely to see at night when its all lit up.

There's also a tea market by the Cathedral that sells the most amazing selection of really interesting loose leaf teas and spices. 

We spent the next few days pottering around the old, windy streets. I could spend days just strolling round Granada as its full of the most appealing traditional delicatessens and charcuterie shops that sell really local, high quality products.

Las Estrellas de San Nicholas:On Sunday night we headed back up the hill to el mirador for supper at "las Estrellas de San Nicholas" overlooking the city and the beautiful Alhambra. It's a restaurant in the most perfect location with such a delicious menu. We hadn't booked but managed to get a table straight away (the locals eat a lot later but we were too impatient!) and were given a table right by the windows that looked directly onto the lights of the bustling city. 

To start with, we were brought a cauliflower and white chocolate soup. We were very intrigued but it was so deliciously velvety and such an interesting flavour, something I definitely want to experiment with at home. 

Unfortunately, the photos of this food do not do it justice as we were too hungry and intrigued to wait to get better ones!

We both chose the duck- it's something I always seem to choose in a restaurant because I absolutely love duck but never have it at home. Emma had a filet of duck with pureed apples and a sweet sauce and I had duck confit with dauphinois potatoes and port. They were both very rich and utterly delicious. The sweet apples in Emma's dish went perfectly with her meaty duck. Both dishes were garnished with real flowers and a whole stick of rosemary!- very unusual and we decided definitely not necessary!

On the menu they also offered dishes such as lobster paella, scallops with a chestnut puree, cod with coconut sauce and a local speciality, bull's tail. For dessert we had the decision between a Grand Marnier soufflé, tarte tatin, crepe suzette or creme brûlée. We both decided there's nothing quite like a creme brûlée when it's made perfectly!

The overall bill was somewhat pricey but the food was great and the staff incredibly friendly- they even charged our dead phone for us whilst we ate and brought us a farewell honey rum shot!
It's definitely somewhere worth a visit for it's food and it's beautiful views. 

For my last day we pottered around the San Augustin market and surrounding streets before heading back into el Albayzin to see a typical Spanish flamenco show at "Jardines de Zoraya." 

We were pleasantly impressed by the show and location- we'd expected something very touristy but were greeted by very traditional Spanish flamenco set in a very Spanish style restaurant with delicious tapas and a great atmosphere- a lovely way to end such a great week away!


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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It's really appreciated and lovely to hear some feedback. Katie x