Andalucia is a very privileged region of Spain, with access to both the sea and the mountains and this makes its cuisine very exciting, using ingredients from both regions. The cuisine on Costa Tropical is the same, due to how close the mountains are to the coast, and there are many delicious Spanish foods that you have to try when you come on holiday here.
The gastronomy in Andalucia has gathered local ingredients from all over the county. As an example, the locals will know in spring to buy strawberries that come from Huelva for example. Jaen is known for making the best olive oil. Malaga is known for its delicious sardines. Costa Tropical gives Andalucia the best mangoes. Each city in Andalucia has its own dishes: Cordoba has the salmorejo, a thick cold tomato soup topped with serrano ham and chopped boiled eggs; Cadiz has the tortillitas de camarones, a type of fritters filled with tiny shrimp; Jaen has the ajo harina, a stew of potatoes and cod, served a rich sauce made out of tomatoes, peppers, cumin, paprika and saffron; Malaga has the Fritura Malagueña, which is a plate of friend fish including baby octopus, calamari, sardines and red mullet; Granada has the piononos, an upside down sponge cake topped with cream and drenched in syrup and cinnamon.
The great part is that when you travel around Andalucia you will always have the opportunity to try new and exciting Spanish dishes.
Today though I will concentrate on the coast and I will tell you where are the best Spanish foods that you must try when you visit Costa Tropical:
Tropical fruits, chirimoya in particular
Costa Tropical takes its name not from the sunny weather but from the large array of tropical fruits that grow here. Because of the proximity of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Alboran Sea, Costa Tropical benefits of a fantastic micro climate in which every type of fruit and vegetable can grow. Therefore, on Costa Tropical among others you will find delicious sweet mangos, papayas, dragon fruits, kumquats, and my now favourite, chirimoya.
If you think of any fruit, tropical or not, the chances are you will find it in one of the orchards from Costa Tropical.
Now, let me tell you a little bit about the chirimoya, this amazing fruit that I haven’t tasted before my trip to Costa Tropical. I have seen it in local supermarkets here in Spain, but I never bought it. To be honest, it never appealed to me: it is green, quite wrinkley, with what seems to be overlapping scales. It is not the most beautiful fruit in the world, for sure, and it doesn’t scream “buy me” from the supermarket’s shelves. However, this is a perfect example of don’t judge a book by its cover! The taste of the chirimoya is divine, and no wonder that Mark Twain once called it “the most delicious fruit known to men”. The flesh of the fruit is white and creamy and the taste resembles… custard! Yes, you read correctly, custard! A lot of people refer to chirimoya as the custard apple!
If you want to learn more about how tropical fruits grow in this part of Spain, book a visit to Finca San Ramon, they will be happy to tell you all about it, show you their stunning orchard and prepare a fruit feast for you to taste.
Salads on Costa Tropical are out of this world! I would dare to say that salads are a speciality of Costa Tropical!
There is no fixed recipe for salads, when you order one you will receive a plate with organic vegetables, tropical fruits and local nuts. Sometimes there are tuna or anchovies added, and all is topped with a delicious balsamic glaze. Honestly, there is nothing better on a hot summer day.
If you are used to the tasteless vegetables from the UK, your taste buds will have a shock. On Costa Tropical the tomatoes taste like tomatoes, are juicy and full of flavours. Each tomato type is different in taste and I recommend trying the black ones for an intense rich flavour. Every bite will make you realise that you haven’t actually tasted real tomatoes before.
Fish, fish, fish…. And more fish
Costa Tropical is a paradise for fish and many of the local restaurants are specialised in cooking it to perfection.
The first type of fish you have to try on Costa Tropical is the espetos de sardinas, in a chiringuito, on the beach. Whilst you are enjoying a cold cerveza at a table sat on the sand, the sardines are staked on a skewer and grilled on an unconventional barbeque: most of the times, in the shape of a boat, with wood logs piled in the middle. The sardines are cooked over an open flame, on top of the logs, and they couldn’t taste more delicious. This type of snack is very popular all along the coast of Andalucia and it costs peanuts.
Another speciality of the area is the fried dogfish (Cazon en adobo). This is usually prepared “a la Andaluza”, which means that the batter of the fish contains only flour and not eggs. This type of sand shark is only served around the coast of Andalucia. It is quite tender and flavoursome, and it comes with a dip of aioli and lemon wedges to squeeze on top.
Boquerones is another must try food on Costa Tropical. It is a simple dish but has so much flavour.
Boquerones are small fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar and seasoned with garlic and parsley. They are usually served as tapas.
There are many types of fish that live in the Alboran Sea: hake, red mullet, monkfish, mackerel and sea bream being some of the most popular in restaurants.
On Costa Tropical you can enjoy beautiful delicate fillets of grilled fish, served usually with a side of boiled potatoes and a few salad leaves.
Quisquilla de Motril
Prawns are used in many dishes and tapas in Spain and they vary in size. On Costa Tropical you can taste the quisquilla de Motril, a unique species of shrimp found on the rocky bottom of the Alboran Sea. This type of shrimp is only allowed to be caught using traditional methods.
The best way to have quisquilla de Motril is “a la plancha”, which means on the grill. Usually the shrimp is grilled in its shell, on a bed of sea salt. The taste of the prawn is succulent, a bit sweet but also with delicate hints of saltiness.
Another way of cooking shrimp on the Costa Tropical is gambas pil-pil and I highly recommend you order it. The size of the prawns can vary from restaurant to restaurant, but the flavours are the same. This dish comes sizzling in a terracotta bowl, in which the shrimp has been cooked in olive oil with lots of garlic and smoked paprika. It is served with crusty bread, which you can generously dip into the pil-pil sauce.
Berenjenas con miel de caña
I personally am not a fan of aubergines; I find them quite mushy and their texture when cooked puts me off. However, I do love the Berenjenas con miel de caña. I can’t even remember how I tried them for the first time, as I usually avoid ordering aubergines.
To make Berenjenas con miel de caña, the aubergines are first deep fried in batter, let to dry from the oil, and then drizzled with black treacle.
This dish is a typical tapa in Andalucia and you can find it pretty much everywhere.
Carrillada de Cerdo
Pork is very popular among the Spanish cuisine but on Costa Tropical you can enjoy it a bit differently. Carrillada de cerdo translates as pork cheeks, which are slow cooked for many hours in a wine reduction sauce.
The meat is so tender that it melts in your mouth. The flavour is fantastic as well, especially when the cook adds a pinch of cinnamon into the sauce.
Leche rizada is a specific type of dessert that you will only find on Costa Tropical. Translated as “merengued milk”, this treat is a combination between a milkshake and an ice cream. It has a creamy consistency, thick enough to be drank through a metal straw but not cold enough to be called ice cream. It is served in a glass, topped with cinnamon, and I tell you, there is no better way to end a meal. It’s delicious and refreshing.
Which one is your favorite? Which typical Spanish food would you like to try first during your trip to Costa Tropical?
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