Touring the tapas route of Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife
There's a route in my hometown with a tapa in every stop!
For those who don't know, a "tapa" in Spain is a small appetizer served in most bars or restaurants to accompany a drink. In some cafeterias around the country, the tapa is always served without asking, included when you order a beer or wine. In other places they are more elaborate so it's not included with the drink, but they're all usually the same price so people go on a tapas night, having dinner based on tapas, trying different types of appetizers with every drink.
Where I live, in the Canary Islands, they don't usually do that: sometimes you get some olives or peanuts, but bigger tapas are not included. Normally tapas are a slice of baguette with some charcuterie on top, a small plate of potato salad, a portion of tortilla etc. If you've been to Spain you probably have seen small glass refrigerators on top of the bar where they keep all the types of tapas together.
Every year, in my hometown, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife they organize an interesting event. Every establishment participating has to elaborate a tapa and have it on their menu for a month. People can go to any of those stablishments and say they're on the route, so they get the tapa with a beer, a glass of wine or a bottle of water for 4 euros. This price for a tapa and a drink seems expensive here, but these route tapas are biggest and more elaborate than the normal ones. This is because there's a contest between the establishments!
When you're on the route, you get a "tapas passport" where you get a stamp for every tapa you try. If you get 6 different tapas, you participate in a raffle where there are several prizes such as dinners for two, a trip between the islands, and others. In this passport, you also have to give scores to every tapa from 1-5. This is how they select the restaurant that wins, and there are also prizes for them.
This year I went on the route with a friend, we were able to try 6 different tapas and this is how it went.
The tapas route of Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife
The first one we tried was "De Locos" tapa. Delicious, we already knew it was the best one even before trying the other ones. It consisted of smoked salmon, yuca chips, a fried egg on top with Japanese sauce, and inside all this they added a "surprise": Pop Rocks candy! (in Spain they are called Peta Zetas). I don't know if I liked it because I'm a child or because it's genius but we were so amazed that we didn't want to leave and try other tapas. This was the one. 5/5
Anyway, my friend convinced us that we were on a quest and it was our duty to be fair with the rest of the tapas, so we left to the next one.
The tapas at Grupo Compostelana had a beautiful presentation with different elaborations. On one side it had mashed sweet potato with crushed walnuts and some beans, on the other side it had roasted yellowfin tuna covered with a citrus foam and herbs. It was great, every flavour combined perfectly and all very well thought. This was one of everyone's favourite. 4/5
Donde Maca's tapas was interesting. The presentation was cute, all on one spoon, but the thing is the spoon was huge and you needed to get it in two bites (that's what the owner suggested). The first bite had mascarpone, strawberry, an anchovy, and apple balsamic vinegar. An interesting mix, but my friend and I could only taste the anchovy over everything else. I don't know, maybe our palates are not sophisticated enough, but I don't think any other ingredient could shine with an anchovy as the main character.
The second bite had the rest of the strawberry with the mascarpone and a frozen peruvian fruit. I couldn't taste this fruit either, I think the freezing removed all the flavour. Overall this one got points for being creative and brave, not so much for the flavour. 3/5
Next we tried these squid "meatballs" at La Pandorga. They were covered in an orange and ginger sauce accompanied by vegetables and wasabi chips. It was fantastic! Definitely my second favourite one. I asked the chef about the meatballs, he was super excited and explained the recipe to me shouting from the kitchen. The only problem was, my friend and I had already had 4 glasses of wine so I couldn't retain any of this information. 5/5
At this point it was a bit late in the evening so we only had time for one more (we wanted to get the six stamps of the passport on this day).
This last "tapa" was at Maga. However, I'm not sure you can call it tapa, because it was a big bowl of food (thank god it was the last one). It was also quite good, but very simple. They took a popular, Canarian recipe and put it as a tapa. Flavourful saucy goat meat with french fries and a fried egg. How could you go wrong with this? Delicious, respecting traditional food, but not very original. 3/5
We needed one more stamp to get the chance to win some prizes, so the next day we went to one last place. On the guide we read one description: "Canarian roll" – vine leaves filled with meat, rice and nuts, which sounded pretty good to us.
We arrived and they gave us this plate you see on the pic. Blue colour is rarely appetizing in food, but since they were trying to create the Canarian flag, it made sense? The waiter described the dish saying they were 3 different rolls: the first one was "like a yoghurt sauce but not really", the second one was "the same thing with food colouring", the third one had a walnut sauce.
Disgusting. Maybe their son designed it and they tried to put it together as a fun game, but this could not be created by an adult. The leaves were not fresh, hard to bite and swallow, kind of gummy. The meat was just cooked by itself, no salt, no broth, nothing, soaking water everywhere. The sauce was watered mayo, with and without colouring. The last sauce had some flavour but no idea of what. The waiter insisted in eating this yellow roll the last, I think to remove the taste of the other two, but it didn't work. Thank god we had wine to swallow all of it, they should have payed us for almost getting intoxicated instead of the 4 euros we payed for that. What a terrible way to finish our route. 1/5 (We couldn't choose 0)
We'll skip this one next year!