Eat like a local
Spanish holidays and tapas – it’s one of the main holiday attractions! We all love Spanish food, especially the free tapas in Granada which accompany your drink, arriving as a little – or sometimes huge – a plateful of some sort of tasty morsel. The best way to discover how locals eat out in Granada and to try some of the best food and drink spots in town is to take a tour.
At GranadaSpain, we did just that this week, learning about Granada’s rich and varied gastronomy, which is intertwined with history and culture. Come on, tuck in!
Meet & Greet
I arranged to meet Spain Food Sherpas CEO Molly at 6 pm, at the convenient brightly coloured kiosk outside Teatro Isabel La Catolica on Calle Acera del Casino in the centre of the city. It’s easy to walk to from Metro Recogidas, actually, everywhere in Granada is an easy walk, it’s that sort of city.
Our tour was just two people, so I joined Will from Florida and Molly, pleasantries and introductions exchanged, we strolled off through the book fair and leafy sunny street towards the church of Virgen de las Angustias, often overlooked in favour of a visit to the cathedral by tourists, but a favourite with locals. Mass was not in progress so we popped our heads in for a quick visit and to admire the richly decorated cool interior.
Igleisia Nuestra Senora de las Angustias | credit: iStock.com/sedmak
Our first foodie stop was with a ham slicer, Iberica, a ham, cheese and wine specialist store on Carrera del la Virgen. Ivan, like his father before him, is a master at the craft of Jamon slicing, and he was delighted to expertly carve and allow us to taste from three different Jamons.
We learned the difference between the Alpujarran high mountain air-dried ham, and respected acorn-fed black-footed Iberian ham, which is cured in cellars. There is a clear difference in taste, and of course, as with most things in life, the most expensive one is the tastiest. It’s cut thinly enough to read the paper through the fat, and melts on the tongue before you can chew. The only downside is once you have tried it, you won’t want any other kind! We were presented with a little taste of Fino, a cold sharp and dry sherry, to wash it down.
Ibérico ham and cheese tapas | Molly Piccavey
Our tongues tingling, we made our way to a specialist cheese store where we tried three different kinds of cheese, one of which has claimed the prize of Super Gold in the World Cheese Awards, not once, but twice. Their winning Queso de Cabra Gran Reserva was duly tasted – and we could easily see why it was a winner.
We also tried a milder cheese and a very strong one with crystals popping on our tongues.
Next, while pointing out various landmarks and giving us insider knowledge on local spots, Molly led us to Oleoteca Melgarejo, the olive oil store on Calle Boteros, where the proprietor allowed us to taste five different oils, while Molly explained the differences in each. Most of the olive oil in Europe comes from this region, with the bulk of it grown in Jaen province, Granada’s green and pleasant neighbour. Some were quite peppery, others were everyday oils.
We also had a sample of chocolate made with olive oil, which is surprisingly creamy in texture, and quite delicious.
Olive oil tasting at Oleoteca Melgarejo | Carol Byrne
We stopped to admire the Corral de Carbon which was constructed in the first half of the 14th century, functioning then as a storehouse as well as accommodation for the merchants of the day. After the reconquest, ownership was transferred and in 1531 the building was sold in a public auction and became a theatrical courtyard.
The current name is taken from when coal was stored on the lower floor. Today you can still catch live performances there, although the pandemic has put paid to that for the time being, hopefully, it will soon be up and running. Meanwhile, it’s a lovely place to visit and take photos.
Much more than wine
After a quick forage through a tea and spice shop – which smelled marvellous! – we visited a marquetry shop and then made out way to MasQueVinos (More than Wine) bar and restaurant tucked away on Calle Tundidores – another place that you would totally miss unless you know about it.
We sampled their Vermouth – delicious with lots of ice and a slice and with a kick like a mule – and tapas of pork loin with sun-dried tomato on little crispy toasted bread, and a ración (sharing plate) of aubergine with sugar cane syrup. Now, I have to say with some shame that I fell foul of greedy reviewer syndrome here and demolished the lot before remembering you might like to see photos, so, apologies, but you will just have to take my word for it and go and try it yourself!
Vermouth with ice and a slice | Moha El-Jaw
The last pitstop
Feeling quite full, we walked off a little of the last foodie treats and made our way to Chikito, a well-known restaurant in Granada and a favourite spot with locals. Here we were shown to a table by one of the extra friendly staff and chose a drink.
Out came artichokes with more sugar cane syrup, and a little cod timbale, served as a cold salad with potato and shredded orange – Remojón ‘Granaíno‘ – this was probably the most refreshing dish I have ever had, and will be the first thing I order when I return – hopefully soon!
We finished with Leche Frito and vanilla ice cream – before saying our goodbyes and heading in different directions home, full to the brim with food, drink, and armed with local knowledge, all set for a return visit to Granada!
Remojón Granaíno | Carol Byrne
Duration: 3.5 hours
Time: Mon to Sat 11.00 and 18.00
Group size: Between 2 and 10
Cost: 65€ per person
Besides the Taste of Granada Food Tour, Spain Food Sherpas also organise the following:
Granada Wine Tasting – Learn how Granada’s wine industry is setting the Spanish gastronomic scene alight. Enjoy wine pairings with local tidbits at a traditional Spanish grocery. The length of the tour is 2.5 hours and takes place from Mon to Fri at 18:45. Groups are between 4 to 12 people and it costs 45€ per person.
Private Food Tours and Wine Tastings – Take a private food tour with your family or friends. Bespoke tours on request.