Thursday, 8 December 2011

Granada: Day 2

After quite some debate Sister and I managed to figure out most of the places that we had visited the previous evening. And, as a result of us being Golden, track down her hat, the loss of which had threatened to spoil the whole of her year.

Headwear restored we were off to the Alhambra. If only we'd had some opium this'd be proper Kubla Khan stuff, as it was it was merely mesmerising and sublime.

The closest bar to the Alhambra furnished with a fine breakfast at about 2pm (closest excluding the ones inside where I had enjoyed a couple of pre-breakfast stiffeners). Potato fried with egg, vegetables and Jamon, was as hearty and unpretentious as it sounds. Bang on.

Back into town and a little beer at Damas Queros allows to properly investigate the various sizes of beer recepticles on offer. In Granada a 'Cana' seemed to weigh in below half a pint, which can mean it's gone before any tapas arrives. Here we discover the more manly 'Tubo'- perfect at around 300ml. We also have mushrooms al alijo with bread. A small portion must have made a sizeable dent in an entire clove, but Sister and I are never knowingly out-garlicked and hence loved this one.

From there to one of the most ultra-trad bars in town: 'Los Diamantes.' Tiny, with almost no seating space and three-deep at the bar at any given time. Seemed to specialize in deep-fried stuff, both dishes we had could have done with some sauce.

Also on c. Navas we found Puerta del Carmen bar and two Equipo Navazos sherries by the glass; La Bota de Fino #18 and La Bota de Palo Cortado #21. They were like good sherry on steroids: with greater intensity, complexity, precision and delineation of flavours. Jamon carved at the bar was all that was needed with them.

On to c. Elvira, universally recommended as the place to go for El Tapeo. Unfortunately in the time between this advice being formed and our arrival most seemed to have become hairdressers.

Weird, but no matter because at the end we managed to find Al Sur de Granada a deli, shop and wine bar that I had been recommended and had every intention of going to right up to the point on the flight over when I forgot its name and address.

It must have 30 or so natural wines by the glass, including the entire Barranco Oscuro range. Highlights were Tres Uves, and a Chardonnay called 'Cardonnohay'. We returned to Al Sur a number of times throughout the three days to work through their list and soon came to realise that the wine really was the star attraction: each tapa was vertically identical and amounted to no more than a small bruschetta with cheese, blood sausage and some veg.

Maybe a good thing 'though- otherwise I may never have left.

Tapa of the Day: Champinones al Alijo

Monday, 5 December 2011

Granada: Day 1

My little Sister (motto: 'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Shiny Things.') recently decided to emigrate to a made up country*. Which, needless to say, has caused considerable anxiety amongst her friends and family.

Said country also happens to be Arabic, which, needless to say, has caused her considerable anxiety, especially in regards to her normal wine and pork based diet. Which meant the destination for the obligatory going-away-blowout holiday needed to be thought out carefully.

For about 20 seconds.

Granada. A city famous for its tradition of a free tapa with every drink and in a region that worships pigs like deities and rates them like S&P. We decided not to pay for food the entire trip to allow us to fully master the art of El Tapeo...

Day one was a Sunday, a day of rest and stodgy Paella. But later on we managed to find the superlative El Deseo, which furnished us with Barranco Oscuro wines by the glass, and something Godly (I know not what) which involved tomatoes, aubergine, olive oil and goat's cheese alchemically combined to make a tapa of monumental excellence.

They also had a good chicken, chickpea and veg salad, and some cracking aged manchego, hollowed from its wheel at the bar, sprinkled with sticky-sweet Jerez vinegar. Served with a mad, bad and spiky glass of Blancas Nobles it was nutty, salty, sweet, sour, simple and delicious.

From there we moved to the Granadian equivalent of a rough pub to watch Granada triumph away to Athletic Bilbao. Here we endured a dubious sandwich, spread thinly with tuna and tomato paste, as well as some potatoes covered in a shiny red sauce; shinier and saucier than ketchup, but not fooling anyone with its presumed aspirations to Brava.

A day marked by extremes of quality but ultimately marred by the fact that Sister later insisted on drinking half her own bodyweight in Mojitos and losing her hat.

Tapa of the Day: Aubergine and Tomato mush.

* Fujairah