When it comes to talking about restaurants -where does one begin? Living on a sub-tropical island, surrounded by trillions of gallons of water, which in turn encompasses many millions (or perhaps several ‘billions’) of fish, then anyone would think that my choice would be an obvious one…except for me! Having lived for the first 39 years of my life in the UK, I have to admit that the only fish I ever ate as a child, was almost always enshrouded in a crispy golden batter, which was in turn surrounded by a mountain of chips and a great dollop of mushy peas -before being doused in a mixture of creamy tartar sauce -and lots of salt and vinegar! As the years progressed I moved-on to tuna-fish and mayonnaise sandwiches, along with salmon vol-au-vents, the occasional prawn cocktail -and shoals of sardines on toast -my favourite delicacy as a teenager. With regards to the worlds’ numerous cuisines, well apart from the ubiquitous Indian curry-houses, an endless stream of Chinese take-away restaurants -and the occasional Italian pizza outlet, which engulfed the city-centre in my home-town of Cardiff, in South Wales, my knowledge of foreign food, I have to say, was somewhat limited.
Indeed, I had never even heard of spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne or chilli-con-carne until I got married -and it was many years later when I finally learned how to cook pasta and rice! And so I guess you could say that I was not a food connoisseur when I first arrived in Tenerife in 1998. However, over the last seventeen years my taste-buds have changed considerably, although I am still an avid carnivore when it comes to eating-out, having progressed from munching my way through countless sausages and beef-burgers as a kid, to wolfing-down copious amounts of pork chops, lamb-chops, spare ribs and chicken wings as a teenager -before finally enjoying the finer meats of this world, such as a variety of succulent steaks, endless shanks of tender lamb, innumerable juicy pork steaks -and the occasional sharing of a melt-in-the-mouth chateaubriand joint, in my latter years.
However, when in Spain one should do as the Spanish do -and so before I knew it I was tucking into more tapas dishes than one could shake a stick at, along with shovelling-down heaps of mixed (meat and fish) paella -and eating plate-loads of delicious Canarian garlic chicken like it was going out of fashion! Over the last decade I have also sampled the delights of frogs-legs, octopus, squid, camel, quail, warthog, boar, swordfish and lobster -to name but a few! I have even devoured such delicate delights as ‘crocodile’, ‘jelly-fish’ and ‘snake’, amongst other unmentionables on my various travels -and so I suppose one could say that I have moved-on from my days of endless Mc Donald’s ‘happy-meals’, countless Burger-King snacks -and bucket-loads of Kentucky fried chicken pieces! In Tenerife there are literally thousands of restaurants to choose from, covering all four corners of the globe -and so over the coming weeks I am going to give you a smattering of what is out there -from eating-houses that are both ‘cheap-and-cheerful’, to the ‘reassuringly expensive’ top-quality restaurants on the island.
In El Madronal, which comes under the area of Adeje, sits the quite-unique ‘Rodeo Restaurant’. Unlike most restaurants, where one orders one’s meal from a menu-card, the Rodeo specialises in a combination of buffet-foods and barbequed meats. Upon entering the restaurant guests come face-to-face with the salad bar to end all salad bar’s, as every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable has been piled into scores of glass dishes, and wooden bowls, along with more garnishes, spices and sauces than one could ever use in a lifetime! Behind the salad bar sits the ‘hot-tray’ -a table adorned with trays of steaming-hot Canarian potatoes, along with great wedges of chips, a plateful of garlic mushrooms, mounds of battered onion-rings -and several other trays of all-things bad! After one has piled one’s plate with a mound of both healthy and unhealthy options -and has taken one’s seat at their respective table, this is when the fun really begins.
Within minutes a waiter has appeared from nowhere, brandishing a two-feet long sword, which is surrounded by a delightfully smelling joint of beef, that has been tenderly roasted on this deadly-looking skewer for several hours -before being cut into delicate slices with the razor-sharp edge of his carving knife -which has a blade that is almost as long as the sword itself! As soon as the guests at each of the respective tables, have all been served, the first waiter disappears, only to be replaced by a second waiter -who is likewise brandishing a carving knife and a sword -only this sword is wrapped-up in a joint of ‘pork’ -or it could be a chunk of ‘lamb’ -or it might even be a gammon-joint -who knows, because the list is simply endless? And so the dispensing of meat-chunks and slices continues time-after-time -until each individual beer-mat -which sits next to each plate on every table (and shows ‘green’ for ‘GO’ on one side -and ‘red’ for ‘STOP’ on the other side) is showing the latter, thus announcing to the waiter that the owner of the said beer-mat is suitably stuffed!
However, at this point in time the ‘dessert’ waiter suddenly appears on the scene -complete with his split-level trolley, which contains a selection of cream cakes, chocolate mousses and cheesecakes that has a calorie-count running into six-figures -which is ‘very naughty’, of course -but also ‘very nice!’ For this serious pig-out the average customer, who has consumed an average amount of drinks (which are paid for separately) could walk away with change from €30 (around 21 pounds Sterling) per head -which is certainly good value for money in my books.
At the other end of the scale is the two ‘Michelin star’ restaurants, the first of which is called ‘M.B.’ -and is the signature restaurant of the world-famous Basque chef Martin Berasategui -and the second is entitled ‘Kabuki’. Both of these restaurants are located at the Abama Hotel in Playa San Juan, on the west coast of Tenerife. The M.B. restaurant, which is headed by chef Erlantz Gorostiza, was awarded a Michelin star in 2010, and in 2014 the Michelin Guide for Spain awarded the restaurant a second Michelin star. So what is Martin Berasategui’s story? Well, at the tender age of 14 Martin began working at the San Sebastian Restaurant, which was owned by his mother -and within a decade Martin’s own restaurant, in Lasarte, had earned its first Michelin star.
By 2012 Martin had increased his number of restaurants to ‘7’ -and today there are a total of ’10’ personalised restaurants dotted around the globe, including ‘3’ in Barcelona, ‘1’ in Bilbao, ‘1’ in San Sebastian, ‘1’ in Tenerife, ‘2’ in Mexico -and ‘2’ in the Dominican Republic. Martin’s inspired interpretations of Spanish cuisine, along with his inventiveness and creativity, has not-only made him a household name across the whole of Spain -but throughout the world. As for the typical menu, well how about sampling such delights as ‘Honeyed and crunchy suckling lamb over a lentil stew, seasoned with raz el hanout and pumpkin ravioli’ -or perhaps a dish of ‘Fennel pearls raw, in risotto and emulsified’ -or maybe even ‘lukewarm, slightly pickled oyster with cucumber sake slush, pickled shallot and sea mist?’ All three of the above dishes sound very inviting to me, I must confess -but as for the cost of each dish, well it is like enquiring about the price of a Porsche -if you need to ask -then you simply cannot afford it!
In total contrast to the M.B. restaurant, which is predominantly Spanish cuisine, the Abama Kabuki Restaurant -which has also been awarded its first Michelin star, is an Asian restaurant, overseen by Spanish chef, Ricardo Sanz. Ricardo already owns two Japanese restaurants in Madrid, entitled ‘Kabuki’ and ‘Kabuki Wellington’ -both of which have been awarded Michelin star’s, and are currently recognised as the top Japanese restaurants in Europe. Ricardo is renowned for his carefully sourced ingredients, along with his fusion of modern Western culinary techniques with traditional Japanese influences. Kabuki’s wonderfully prepared tempura, sashimi and sushi dishes include typical ingredients from the Canary Islands, such as locally caught bluefish, along with exotic specialities, such as Wagyu Kobe beef. As with the M.B. restaurant, I am sure that the prices are not to be sniffed-at -but the food is bound to be worth a whiff or two!