We were going to ignore this restaurant by the highway during a trip to Andalucia last November. It was off-season, and if this place was popular in the summer it definitely did not look appealing in the dark, deserted on a highway roundabout. But I heard a lady take the time to thank our resort’s front desk for the suggestion one evening, so I kept it in mind. One night after driving back from Seville, we decided to give it ago and we were so pleased that we even went back a second time.
You don’t want to mess with a traveler’s first meal in the town they’re visiting. We landed in Malaga from New York via Paris in the afternoon, and after a couple of hours to unwind and a brief nap, we headed to town for our first bite. We wanted to get our trip off to a great start.
The first order of business was sangria, which reversed our evening of jetlag and travel malaise into one ready for adventure. We ordered some appetizers and toasted to our destination and all its possibilities. Continue reading
When I was first displaced from my homeland, I learned that the best way to relive and return to a geographically inconvenient location is by cooking its cuisine. This is how I learned to cook Filipino dishes and replicated the aromas of kitchens back home. Smell is, after all, the strongest trigger of memory. And it’s my weapon of choice for homesickness.
Of course, paella isn’t exactly Filipino. But, but, but if you’ve done your homework at all then you would know that paella graces many feasts in the Philippines, more festive and complex than regular mainstays like noodles and fried or roasted pork, and often too delicate to successfully make for a large party.
Plus you know how I love Spain. Let me count the ways: Continue reading
We had the best paella at El Patio Bodega in Malaga, and just by pure luck. We came from the nearby Bodega Bar El Pimpi (post coming soon), the first place we tried upon arrival in Malaga. But their hot food wasn’t going to be served until later that evening, and we were told that there would be no paella. We had some anchovies and sangria and looked for a place for dinner. We had to have paella. That’s the reason we were in Spain!
I’ve got some nerve declaring their paella the best, when we had many others we were very happy about. I especially enjoyed El Patio’s paella because it was the only one that was served to us in a perfect al dente, a point that from experience is not only hard to achieve but also disappears within a few more minutes exposure to heat. Other than its consistency, the rice was still very moist with broth that settled in the bottom of the pan, and one whose flavor was infused with saffron and flavors of the ocean. Flavors of shellfish and mollusk dominated the dish, leaving no doubt as to the base of the sauce. Our server told us that their paella recently won 2nd prize in a contest, beaten only by a chef from Malaga who worked in Las Vegas(?) Continue reading
A crowd formed outside the restaurant called Bodega Santa Cruz in Seville at noon. We just arrived after a two-hour drive from Malaga and decided that the best thing to do before visiting the sights would be to have lunch. I did not take the buzzing, aggressive crowd placing orders at the bar as inviting, nor did the rest of the group (namely, my sister and her husband). Except that to my wife, a Myers-Briggs ESTP personality (impulsive, charming, live-for-the-moment) who is also a Chinese calendar goat (always in groups), the chaos at Bodega Santa Cruz was the ultimate attraction.