Monday, August 25, 2014

Málaga guided tapa tour

Meet Michael. He was born in  South Africa, raised in England but it is Málaga that  caught his wandering heart, and he considered home. His love for this city, its people and the foods is evident in his words and the gleam of his eyes.  FF calls him ''The Tapa Guru'', because that's what he is. There are hundreds of tapa bars and restaurants all over Málaga and if you don't know want to waste your time playing hit or miss  ,  then give this l guy a call. He knows the place like the back of his hand . After eating a rather disappointing lunch on our arrival, I'm very grateful to have him show us marvelous places for dinner. He also graciously showed me how Malagueños as well as how the rest of Andalusia enjoy their tapas. We went tapa hopping! Eating few dishes at each bar , enjoying wine or drink at each, have a good laugh and entertaining talk with dining companion, before moving to the next. It was a fantastic way to spend an evening. 

Michael showed us a perfect melange of old and modern Andalusian cuisine . From traditional tapas at old fashioned El tapeo to the more trendy bars with contemporary fares , often made by young and innovative chefs. His choice of tapa bar fully depends on our personal preference, which FF and I might have unconsciously slipped during our  conversation . A simple comment about what peaked my interest, what FF raves and off he go excitedly to the next bar with an all knowing glint in his eyes.

El Patio Bodega
I was complaining about the lackluster paella I had for lunch, Michael purposely led us through the gathering throng , labyrinth of alleys and brought us here, El Patio Bodega. They offer authentic and traditional  tapas with excellent and a varied choices of paella to boost. This is where I should go if I want to have real paella, he said. But we are not here for that. Locals, according to Michael, rarely eat paella for dinner . Rice is rather heavy on the stomach and is best eaten at lunch. Tapas my friends, is what Malagueños prefer for dinner when going out. Michael ordered a  cold Sangria to start the meal. It was sweet and refreshing. Porra Antequerana, a light tomato and paprika purée with juicy diced hamon and Ensaladilla rusa,  a creamy potato salad were our first treat. These are classic dishes and mostly  enjoyed by locals, which is evident as it make frequent appearances at people's dining tables, as I observed.

FF and I retraced our steps and came back here on the next day. Twice! We feasted on Paella Negro or squid ink paella for lunch, which was fantastic, by the way. And feasted on more tapas for dinner. The seafood croquettes or croquetas de mariscos ( top left), Crema de limon tostada  ( bottom left ) were worth trip.

El Patio Bodega
Calle Granada , 39

Never eat near any architectural landmark, cathedral or square. That's one rule I try to stick to when travelling. You will end up paying for the view, which usually comes with extraordinary price tag and ordinary food. Even Michael agree to that. However,   La Plaza Bar and Restaurant,  he says, is an exception to that rule. It is within the neighbourhood where Picasso was born and faces Plaza de la Merced with monument of the famous artist in it. La Plaza makes interesting tapas, using traditional and local ingredients and cooking it in a not so traditional way. We had green salad  ( bottom left) with  white sardines, which is quite famous and common in Malaga . But it was the deep fried balls of goodness ( bottom right)  that blew me away. I love deep fried things! I can't help but exclaim and I swear i just saw Michael's eyes flash at the revelation. It was actually blood sausage, with goat's cheese and god knows what else which were coated with light batter, deep fried and served with sweet apple compote. It was fantastic! I wonder if it's possible to make dinuguan balls, after having it.

We also came back here on the next day, this time FF and I had some fresh , pan fried salmon laid on coconuty curry sauce. Rich stew and mashed potato duo. Both were amazing. Every dish we ordered in this place never really disappointed me . FF was singing praises like choir boy as well !

La Plaza Bar and Restaurant
Plaza de la Merced, 18
29102 Málaga

My favourite tapa bar of the night. Owned by a Michelin star chef and restaurateur, Kisko García. KGB is packed to the hilt , one look and I  know, we're in for a treat. Michael was just so lucky to have wiggle his way through the hordes of diners and drinker and secure us a seat at the bar. KBG plays homage to local cuisine while embracing the influences of both  the east and west .  I saw Vietnamese rolls, fried eels, tacos!,Pekingese paos on dim sum baskets along with all too familiar Andalusian fares , everything served with a contemporary twist. The sight, the smell was  feast for the eyes and senses. 

Since my love for anything bathed in hot oil is laid out in the open, it took Michael a nanosecond to decide what's our next treat. The place is relatively new but it was packed, mostly with locals chatting and laughing in Spanish tongue. The happy mood is infectious  that  FF and I started talking as loud and as merry as the people around us. And that was before I even got the foods and booze! First to be served, ( bottom left)  was my favourite of the night. It reminds me of home. Tortang dilis is a typical commoner's dish but while Filipinos use anchovies in this dish, KBG used tiny shrimps instead, making this particular fried delight more intensive in flavour. The batter was crispy, well seasoned and not at all  soggy like our tortas. I would love to have this recipe. FF's favourite of the night ( bottom right) was rolled packets of hamon, cheese and things I could not name. Fried to a crisp as well, it was a goes wonderfully well with many alcoholic drinks , and yup, he had enough of those tonight. 

We like the KGB so much, we skipped going to the next tapa bar,  just stayed here and order dessert. Sweet ''burger'' with brioche bread, chocolate ''pattie', sweet slice of fruit and berry sauce completed the look. Yes, it was delicious as well.  The chocolate dessert in vanilley , alcohol- kissed sauce was a textural and palatal  delight. I was lapping it all up like a cat enjoying some cream. I would have love to go back here again but unfortunately , the place is close on Sundays and we have dinner reservation on Monday. Oh well, one can't have everything , I suppose. More reason to go back to Malaga then!

KGB Málaga
Calle Fresca, 12

Friday, August 22, 2014

Restaurante El Tres, Málaga

A very reliable source told me, if I want to eat well in Malaga, then I should steer clear of the touristic spots, forget Tripadvisor and go where locals go. Since he brought me to Tapa bars with delicious precious treats that still haunted me in my sleep and most of my working hours until today, I cease to question his expertise in this matter. How could I , when his love for good food is as evident as his sun kissed skin anyway?

 El Tres, is in his opinion the best restaurant in Malaga. So El Tres we went .Was it really the best in Malaga? I honestly can not say, for although FF and I were spoilt by smorgasbord fantastic foods during our stay, thanks to this reliable source anyway,  there still hundreds of restaurants left unexplored  , savouries untried and treats untested.   One thing for sure though,  that dinner in El Tres was the best  we had in the city.

Service was  exceptional. Waitstaff served with ease efficiency without compromising  the typical Malaguenean warmth. It must be the weather. 365 days of  sunshine  makes people naturally  cherry. Germany could really need more rays of sunlight .

Menu was not overwhelming . The moment we placed our order, we were served freshly baked, warm bread to start our meal.  I know a good restaurant the moment I get their bread. Trust me on this one! Little details like this, make one restaurant stand out from the rest. The bread was served with finest olive oil. FF and I enjoyed it very much. How could something profoundly simple could be soooo satisfying? I just asked myself  as I put another chunk of oil dipped warm, crusty bread into my anticipating maw. 

On the house amuse bouche. Porra with finely diced egg and hamon. The cold , creamy soup subtly taste of tomatoes and paprika. It was light and each ingredient are cook like they are meant to be cooked together.

Next to follow was another amuse bouche of Monkfish pate with monkfish cream and pepper sauce. I love everything in this dish! The watchful waitstaff saw how I enjoyed it with the rest of my bread, she offered me another warm roll.

Sarpacion de Marisco y conchas Malaguenas
Starter. Seafood and Malaga's shell salad. Light and sublime,  packed with abundant creatures of the sea. The vinaigrette brought the fresh tomatoes , finely chopped chives and  seafood enough zest to whet my already tantalized appetite.

Parrillada de verduras con vieras y fruta asada
Grilled vegetable and fruits with scallops. The vegetables and fruits were  kissed  by the torrid heat and attain a trace  of smokey goodness  while still retaining its crunch and texture. FF hates zucchinis but he enjoyed this one immensely . The cherries was filled with sweetish mango puree by the way , and were simply divine. The scallops are succulent and fresh, it literally melt in my mouth . This dish   is one of my favourites of the night.

Our maître, Juanjo, slicing the main dish. Chateaubriand de Solomillo de
 Terna Gallega con salsa ' Bearnesa'

Our main dish for two. Galician Chateaubriand . The tenderest cut of beef and done really well . Seared to a perfect brown-burnish tinge with a tantalisingly sexy and butter tender meat within. I like my steak almost bloody and this  is just made for me.  It was the best piece of meat I had in my recent memory.   A steak obviously cooked for steak lovers.

Main dish was served with rich  sauce Béarnaise so good I could dive in it, potato fries and sautéed crunchy vegetable.

My stomach was full, my body fed but my soul years for something more and it is called... Dessert! There must be an unrevealed chamber in a woman's anatomy that automatically unlocks and opens itself , leaving a gaping hole that needs to be filled, when she's about to end a meal. A meal, no matter how good,  will never be completed without it. So I had a cocktail sorbet-alcohol free, which I slurped happily. Drinkable dessert! Now that's a first! A bite sized, on the house morsel of chocolate tipped choux party and that gaping hole vanished with a resounding  dang! Ahhh what a  meal. 

Restaurante El Tres
Calle Strachen 7

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