When holidaying to a far off and exotic place one of the greatest excitements is the new cuisine you’ll try on your journey. When you are going on one of our Canary cruises that excitement is well placed and the amazing blend of Spanish influence and north African heat allow for some tantalising local delicacies. The conditions on the islands make for a fantastic growing environment, meaning the produce is incredible. Also, the small sub-cultures on the individual islands mean you’ll find many twists on the dishes as you travel around.
In this article, we will look at some of the dishes you simply must try when visiting the Canaries.
Queso Asado is quite simply, grilled cheese. However, it is something that the Canary Islands do well, and with a serious of fantastic accompaniments, often served as a starter with mojo. Mojo is a type of sauce, varying in spiciness, which is made from olive oil, salt, water, local peppers and a mixture of spices.
We spoke to Erica, blogger at Get Up, Get Out, Get Lost, who told us queso asado is her preferred starter: “My starter of choice is the queso asado, a dish of local goat cheese served hot off the grill and drizzled with savoury or sweet sauce. A well-prepared queso asado should be crispy at the edges, melted on the inside and an unforgettable combination of flavour and texture.
As we are sure you can imagine, the Canary Islands do seafood well. Thanks to the long coastlines and fantastic fishing waters, the seafood dishes on the island are often fresh and delicious. The Spanish influence comes into play here and you can see the beautiful cooking style replicated with a Canarian twist.
Erica, from Get Up, Get Out, Get Lost, had this to say: “I´d have to suggest fish or seafood – or a combination of both! A seafood paríllada is a mixed platter of fish, seafood and veggies, usually featuring tiny Canarian potatoes and plenty of garlic. The dish is perfect for sharing and tasting several local flavours at once.
We spoke to Amy from The Travelers Journey, who also recommended seafood: “When in Rome, eat all the pasta, and when in the Canary Islands, eat all the fish and seafood. Two standouts? Gambas al ajillo, shrimp served flaming hot in boiling chilli-spiced garlic oil, and the fresh catch of the day usually a white fish, grilled and presented simply with plenty of lemon. Best enjoyed out on the patio in a port town, like Porto Mogan in Gran Canaria, or El Golfo in Lanzarote. Bonus points if you're seated in time for sunset.”
Papas arrugadas are one of the Canary Islands’ most iconic foods. Also known around the world as wrinkly potatoes, this dish is simple and consists of traditional, boiled potatoes usually served with mojo. The potatoes are distinct thanks to their unique texture, and their rich flavour comes from the volcanic on the islands.
The texture is achieved through the cooking method, which sees them being boiled traditionally in seawater but now just in water with a large amount of salt added. Once they are cooked they are drained and left to dry off back on the heat, which gives them their shrivelled appearance and salty skins.
We spoke to Suzanne Jones, blogger at The Travel Bunny, whose first recommendation was Papas Arrugadas: “Canarian potatoes are my absolute favourite dish to eat in the Canaries. The wrinkled little potatoes might not look that appetising, but they are totally delicious. They're boiled up with lots of salt before being drained and shaken around until they softly shrivel. Inside they're soft and fluffy with a nutty taste which contrasts nicely with the salty skin. Dip the papas into mojo sauce. Mojo picón is made with garlic, olive oil, red or green pepper, cumin, salt and vinegar and has a spicy kick.”
Papas arrugadas were also recommended by Amy from The Travelers Journey, she said: “We ate these ‘old potatoes’ at least once a day, sometimes even more often. Named ‘arrugadas’ for their small, shrivelled appearance, these potatoes and their accompanying sauces are anything but old or tired. Bright, fresh red and green mojo sauces accompany the salty, creamy, fingerling-like potatoes, which are boiled in very salty water.”
Suzanne’s second recommendation was Padrón peppers, she told us about them: “The small green peppers are named after the town of Padron on mainland Spain, but they're often served as a starter or as a tapas dish in Tenerife.
“The little peppers are fried whole in olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt is added. Pick them up by the stems to eat. The peppers vary in flavour from sweet to fiery, but you won't know which you've got until you bite into them!”
Conejo al salmorejo
Conejo al salmorejo, a type of rabbit stew, was recommended to us by Adriana, writer at Guide to Canary Islands. This dish is smoky and rich in flavours thanks to the Canarian marinade the meat is cooked in.
“We mostly found this dish in different parts of Tenerife, in local restaurants that serve traditional food. We love this dish because the meat is so tender that it usually falls off the bone. The sauce (salmorejo) is thick and best served along with papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes).”
When envisioning fantastic wine regions, many people often won’t cast their mind to the Canaries. However, the growing conditions provided by the volcanic soil and hot sun are perfect for creating exceptionally deep and flavourful wines. Six of the islands produce their owns wines, these are: Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera. As well as having the perfect conditions, Canarian winemakers also have extremely old vines. Thanks to the remoteness of the islands the vines have never been contaminated or infected and therefore could quite literally be hundreds of years old. This just adds to the complexity of the wines being created on the islands.
Erica, from Get Up, Get Out, Get Lost, also recommended the wine to us: “Go for a semisweet white wine from the volcanic vineyards in Lanzarote. The northernmost island of Lanzarote is internationally known for their unique wine producing techniques amid solidified black lava and ash. They produce both red and white wine, but their sweet and semisweet white wines are known for light, aromatic notes and are perfect for keeping cool under the Canary Island sun.”
Amy from The Travelers Journey recommended the Malvasia, she said: “Wine is a food group, right? We were amazed by Lanzarote's Mars-like wine country, spread out across fields of lava. With old vines dating back to the 1500s, each protected from harsh winds and sun by crescent-shaped barriers of lava rock piled high, the sights were enough to write home about, and that's not to mention the taste. The crisp, mineral-forward Malavasia sent my husband and I into a tailspin: how had we never heard of this varietal before, and more importantly, where could we find it back home in the US?”
Macaronesian White Gin
If wine isn’t for you, Suzanne from The Travel Bunny recommends Macaronesian white gin: “This is the only gin made on the Canary Islands and it's made with water filtered through volcaniclava rock and flavoured with Macaronesian botanicals. The Macaronesian islands are made up of four groups of volcanic islands; the Canary Islands, the Azores,Madeira, and Cape Verde.
“The gin issmooth and delicate with hints of cardamom, juniper, angelica, liquorice and citrus notes. A glass of Macaronesian gin and tonic is the perfect accompaniment to a Canarian sunset and is so good that I've got a bottle sitting on my gin trolley at home.”
Adriana from Guide to Canary Islands recommended a barraquito for coffee lovers, especially those with a sweet tooth: “This is not your average coffee, it’s more of a dessert sort of coffee, with a bit of alcoholic ‘vitamin’ in it (Licor 43), like some waiters call it.
“We usually have this type of coffee after lunch as a dessert, as it uses a mix of espresso, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, lemon zest, milk foam and the famous Licor 43 and it’s a great way to end a good meal. For me and my partner, nothing beats having a nice barraquito while enjoying the winter sun in the Canaries, preferably in a place with a beautiful view of the ocean.”
Finally, for that perfect after dinner tipple try a ron miel. This shot was recommended to us by Adriana from Guide to Canary Islands: “This type on rum is typical to the Canary Islands and contains at least 25% honey, so it’s very sweet. It’s usually served at the end of a meal. In some typical Canarian restaurants they will offer it to you free of charge as a ‘chupito’ (shot), sometimes with a bit of cinnamon on top. When we drink it at home we prefer it with a cube of ice and a bit of lime juice squeezed to cut back on the sweetness.”
Now, with so much delicious food and drink it’ll be impossible to resist a cruise to the Canary Islands!
Image Credit: Guide to Canary Islands