I was very excited to go on my first holiday in two years, to visit the Costa Del Sol in Southern Spain and enjoy the hot weather. But let’s be honest, I was mostly excited about the food. Here are the food highlights of my trip; all traditional cuisine available throughout the Costa Del Sol.
Sardines (sardinadas): picked up and gnawed on the bone, these fish are cooked perfectly on a boat-shaped barbecue by an excellent chef (your dad hasn’t got a patch on these BBQ connoisseurs). They are a fishy, salty and lemon-y delicacy immensely enjoyed by the locals and tentatively tried by the tourists (come on, be brave!).
Paella: This is probably one of Spain’s most famous dishes and so it is no surprise to see it served at practically every restaurant along the Costa Del Sol. Paella is a hearty rice dish, cooked with saffron and seafood, such as whole prawns and squid, and/or meat. It was slightly surprising that the paella of this region did not contain any meat or chorizo but it was no worse for it! I even had a go at making my own paella one evening.
Mixed seafood platter (fritos variados): This is the ultimate bargain meal – €15 for two people and a whole lot of crisply fried seafood! The platter contains fried squid rings, baby squid, prawns and anchovies and is available at many of the restaurants along the coastline, but especially in Malaga.
Iberian ham (jamón ibérico): This was the pièce de résistance; the ham was thin, salty and had a beautiful meaty flavour (not to mention it was sold for €1 practically everywhere, yippee!). You could also buy it as massive hams at the local supermarkets; I was tempted but didn’t think it would fit in my suitcase.
Prawns pil pil (gambas pil pil): This is a very popular Spanish starter, where small prawns come to the table sizzling in hot oil and garlic, which you mop up with crusty bread after devouring the prawns. It is delicious and very rich and tastes as amazing as it smells – definitely a winner.
Chocolate and churros (churros con chocolate): A delicious snack (or breakfast, if you’re feeling indulgent) eaten in Spain, and it does not disappoint. The hot chocolate is thicker than should be allowed (not that I’m complaining) and when you dip in a lightly golden, slightly chewy churro into it… well, it’s just heavenly.
Ice cream (helado): There were several amazing ice cream flavours that I had never seen before and had to try (yes, it really was necessary). One was an unusual pine nut ice cream called carapino – the closest I can liken it to is fudge, but with sweet, chewy pine nuts added. Another uncommon but great flavour was leche merengada, which was lovely and creamy, with subtle hints of cinnamon and lemon. However, my favourite by far was crema de verano (con naranja & frambuesa), an orange and strawberry ice cream which reminded me of a jaffa cake in a way but was so much better.
All in all, a holiday to the Costa del Sol was a foodie’s idea of paradise and I was very sad to leave. I highly recommend the Costa del Sol as a holiday destination if you want to try local, traditional and authentic Spanish food.
Images: Ruth Pengelly