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

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