November Top 5
November was a good month for the Canary Islands – First Choice holidaymakers were booking holidays to Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote left, right and centre. Sharm El Sheikh and Majorca fared just as well, too. Together, these five destinations proved the most popular in our collection.
It’s pretty easy to pinpoint why these places have so many fans – the weather, the beaches, the sights… the list is long. And we reckon it might have something to do with the food, too. Each destination offers up a cookery book’s worth of national dishes you can’t easily find back home.
Here’s the full rundown of our top five destinations, along with our pick of their tastiest signature eats…
Topping the list of must-try dishes in Tenerife is conejo al salmorejo (that’s rabbit to you and me). This tasty dark meat tends to be marinated in wine, garlic and spices to give it a rich flavour. It’s simmered for hours, and it’s so tender it literally falls off the bone. Cheese fans will also want to get their teeth into a piece of Arico goats’ cheese. The residents of Arico town are really proud of this smoky, paprika-coated number, and they’re not alone in singing its praises – it won at the World Cheese Awards back in 2008. Pull up a seat at any of the island’s restaurants and you’ll be served it alongside a generous helping of tomato salsa.
Majorca puts its own spin on some Med favourites. Pa’amb oli is very similar to bruschetta. Like the Italian version, it’s a thick slice of toasted bread, rubbed with garlic. The difference, though, lies in the rammellet tomatoes that are used – they give the dish a really sharp flavour. The island also has its own version of paella. Arroz brut – literally translated as ‘dirty rice’ – is your typical mix of meat and fish thrown into saffron rice. It was traditionally made with hare, but nowadays usually includes chicken or pork and the wild mushrooms that grow on the island. For another Majorcan take on paella, try fideua – it swaps rice for noodles, and throws in a handful of crab.
Sharm El Sheikh might be best known for its sandy beaches and big-league diving scene, but the food here deserves just as much attention. Kofte kebabs are the nation’s fast food of choice. Fat rolls of lamb are cooked on a skewer, served with pita-like baladi bread and dunked into a bowl of rich tahini. In terms of puddings, oum ali leads the pack here. It’s basically the Egyptian equivalent of bread and butter pudding. Instead of bread, though, chefs use puff pastry, which is drowned in a rich vanilla cream. Dried fruit and nuts are usually thrown into the mix, as well.
4. Gran Canaria
Fish rules the food scene in Gran Canaria and, in the fishing village of Sardina de Norte on the island’s north coast, sardines are king. There’s even an annual Burial of the Sardine fiesta, where one unfortunate creature is either buried or blown up. Sardines might not have the best reputation in the UK, but the fresh, succulent ones you’ll find in Gran Canaria are a world away from the tinned varieties back home. And if you get them from a supermarket fish counter, they’re pretty light on the wallet, too. Grill a big plateful of them with lemon, serve them with a dollop of garlic mayo, and you’ve got yourself an easy lunch.
Holidays to Lanzarote aren’t complete without sampling papas arrugadas – otherwise known as ‘wrinkly potatoes’. They’re the island’s signature dish, and they give British roast potatoes a run for their money in the crispiness stakes. The secret lies in the salty crust, which provides the crunch. They’re usually smothered in mojo sauce, which is packed with paprika and has a spicy kick. Don’t worry if you’re not a big fan of heat – there’s a green version made with herbs that’s much milder. For dessert, tuck into bienmesabe. Its name means ‘tastes good to me’, which is an apt description. The mix of almonds, eggs and lemon juice is great with a scoop of ice-cream.
Have we missed anything? What’s your favourite holiday dish? Leave a comment telling us all about it.