Being back in Spain felt like coming home. Buying tomate frito, olives filled with anchovy and maiz (toasted corn snacks) in the supermarket was the first step. We started every day like this, some tortilla, manchego, fresh bread, fried mushrooms, salad and fresh fruit, probably the best way to start the day possible.
Then we hit the restaurants…
Our first evening in Alicante was spent on a beautiful terraza under a tree that wouldn’t look out of place in Tarzan. With balmy late summer evening warmth, passing flamenco buskers and a glass of tinto de verano, I was in bliss. This was La Sastreria restaurant where we enjoyed some very different and delicious dishes. We decided to branch out from the more traditional chorizo, patatas bravas etc and try something more local. First up we tried a local salad known as escalivada, made of vinegary grilled peppers topped with delicious preserved tuna fillets, simple and flavour-packed. Then we tried another seemingly simple dish of broad beans with chunky pieces of ham, topped with delicate fried quails eggs and Jamon. After that we had a creamy, meaty delight that was a revuelto (scrambled eggs) with morcilla and sliced asparagus, surprisingly filling! And finally the summer delight that is a freshly caught whole calamar, perfectly grilled with a squeeze of lemon. We were blown away, seemingly simple dishes with extremely complex flavours.
Not content with exploring the bustling streets of Alicante itself, we headed north to the beautiful hilltop town of Guadalest. Up high, with an ancient fortress perched at the top and incredible views, it wasn’t just the culture we enjoyed.
After a long day climbing to the top, we kicked back in a local restaurant and tried conejo al ajillo, rabbit with garlic. Except it was more garlic than rabbit, which suited me just fine. It was stewed then roasted in white wine so the garlic was sweet and caramelised.
And finally there was the birthday meal. Sometimes I love having an August birthday, this was one of those times. Nou Manolin was where we went and I felt very spoiled indeed. As we walked in we went past the bar downstairs which was raucous and packed with punters passing around dishes of amazing looking tapas. Up the painted tile stairs we entered a huge room full of families chatting away, children contentedly running around and waiters smiling bringing round dishes. I was struck by how down to earth this highly rated restaurant was, and I immediately liked it.
The menu was big and had both tapas and full dishes, so we had both…
My birthday blowout included: tapas of pan de cristal (thin crispy bread) with jamon and quails egg, and one with duck and pesto, local fish lightly fried, red wine meatballs (stunning, tasted amazing and rich of red wine), a mixed salad with plenty of meaty tuna and the piece de resistance, probably my favourite Spanish dish, cochinillo (roast suckling pig).
We left Spain feeling fat and very very happy.