Posts Tagged ‘beer’

We’d always been intrigued by the bar at El Guincho near Garachico in Isla Baja with semi-colon as a name, not the words just the symbol – ;

I mean what do people say – ‘I’m just off to punto y coma for a pint’ or do they mime it?

Anyway, after what seemed like a completely pointless and very expensive tunnel had been built which diverted the road away from the bar I’d completely forgotten about it…until Andy, our friend Bob and I emerged after a walk through the banana plantations at the top of a steep set of steps almost right outside Bar ;

It was perfectly positioned for a post walk beer.

Have you ever seen any of Robert Rodriguez Mariachi series of movies? If so, you’ll get the picture when I say walking into Bar ; was like walking into one of the Mexican bars featured in them. It didn’t exactly go quiet, but there was a noticeable pause…or was it a semi colon?

The barman was Tenerife’s answer to Cheech Marin. He had a miserable boat race; the only bright thing about it was the glistening stud in his ear. When we asked if he served bocadillos he grunted and pointed to a selection of mass produced, filled pastries.
“Too late for bocadillos,” he growled pointing to a sign which announced that the bar was shutting at 5pm. At that point it was 1.30pm.
We ordered beers and moved to sit at one of the tables…eliciting another grunt and a single word.

“NO!”

Okay to be fair to the guy, it was Christmas Eve and he probably didn’t want three extranjeros holding him back from getting into the Xmas spirit and the place looked as though it was setting up for a private party.  We squeezed in at the bar, one of the punters shifted along to accommodate us so it wasn’t exactly all unfriendly, and I had a look around the joint.

First observation was that there was quite a lot of Barcelona memorabilia on the walls, nothing unusual about that – in Tenerife it’s usually them or Real Madrid. The second thing I noticed was an interesting collection of specialist (for Tenerife at least) beer bottles lining the room, one of which was Old Speckled Hen.
The third thing that stood out was the incredible selection of sweet products in the bar. I mean this was in most senses a typical out of the way Canario bar, yet apart from all the pastries it had a better sweet selection than most big supermarkets. They had rows of Crunchies, Twix’s and all sorts of choccie delights. It also had the most extensive range of travel-sized Pringles that I’ve ever seen. It was obvious what Bar ; really was. It was munchie heaven.

“This is definitely a ‘smokers’ bar,” I whispered to Andy.

Almost on cue a man with a handlebar moustache wearing a cowboy hat, leather waistcoat and mirror sunglasses entered the bar, nodded ‘buenas tardes’ in our direction and plonked himself down at the bar. If the Robert Rodriguez Mexican bar reference needed reinforcing, he’d just provided the icing on the Navidad cake.

To be completely honest Bar ; wasn’t unfriendly, it just wasn’t particularly friendly…except maybe if you were a local, but Cheech behind the bar didn’t exactly exude love and kinship towards his regulars either.

We downed our beers and left with a ‘felices fiestas’ which everyone responded to cheerily – even Cheech…well his mouth sort of turned up at the corner as  he grunted.

Andy and I were pleased to have finally had a drink in a bar which had intrigued us for years. But in all honesty we were a bit disappointed that it wasn’t exactly the sort of place where you’d want to linger too long. In fact it probably really only warranted being called Bar ‘,’ and not ‘;‘

There were a couple of non flying things at the air display in Puerto de la Cruz on Sunday that caught my eye:

I want to be best friends with this guy.

A portable giant beer can = a fiesta where the beer comes to you. Can life get any better?

Its a case of excess skin.

It's a case of excess skin.

I don’t think that’s a real dog, I think it’s one of those things that children keep their pyjamas in.

It’s unlikely that Tenerife is ever going to be the choice of destination for the majority of savvy British travellers. I know that, I’ve always known that. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs and sometimes it feels as though I’m banging my head against a lead wall studded with razor blades when I tell people that:

One face of Tenerife...

One face of Tenerife...

“‘honestly, it’s only a teensy, weensy part of Tenerife which has football strip wearing lobster red beer bellies tucking into Desperate Dan sized plates of chips washed down with jugs of lager at 10.00 in the morning. Most of it is nothing like that and it’s a beautiful island with a great culture.”

This usually elicits a knowing:

“Hmmm, really…if you say so.”

The latest example of this was when I was re-connected on Facebook with a friend from about 20 years ago. He’s a really nice guy and a ‘call a spade a spade’ sort of person. However, he was never the most cultured of blokes. I remember once when we went to one of my favourite restaurants in Manchester, That Café in Levenshulme and he told the waiter to “get that bloody rabbit food of my plate.” He was referring to the salad garnish on his ‘well done’ steak.

When he heard that Andy and I were living on Tenerife his response was ‘That’s where all the chavs go, isn’t it?”

And there you are. That’s not an uncommonly held image of Tenerife. Maybe ‘chavs’ is a bit of an exaggeration. That’s my mate’s way of talking, but you get his drift. Now you got to ask yourself where did people like him pick up this impression of Tenerife. It wasn’t from the Spanish, or the German’s…it was from the Brits themselves.

Now we can blame the media for portraying a skewered view of Tenerife until the cows come home, but there aint no smoke without fire. The real curse of the image of Tenerife is what the ‘average’ man and woman in the street tell their mates when they return to blighty.”

Here are a couple of quotes from a Tenerife Forum thread which are quite illuminating:

“Tenerife is just that…Tenerife, us Brits go for the sun and good weather.”

“…Believe it or not, a lot (tourists) come just to chill out by the pool/sea and have no wish to go further.”

This is the curse of Tenerife. Many, many British people who come to Tenerife come purely for the sun and the familiarity of resorts which have British bars and a lively nightlife. It is the populist image of Tenerife and It’s the reason why many ‘travellers’ who want to experience a different culture don’t view it as a serious option.

...and another. The one which travellers from bygone days were familiar with

The paradox of this is that it’s also the reason why Tenerife is one of the top holiday destinations for millions of Brits and has brought much needed revenue to the island.

It’s a double edged sword for sure, but I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again and again…until someone listens. The beauty of Tenerife is that if you want roast beef and Yorkshire pud followed by a pint or two of John Smith’s while listening to a Rod Stewart tribute act, or indeed the real thing himself, then that’s fine. If you want something a bit more sophisticated; fine dining and trendy bars in a modern upmarket resort, you can have that as well. But because the majority of visitors opt for a teensy weensy area in the south of the island, the bulk of Tenerife remains distinctly Canarian, so if you want to experience the real Tenerife, there’s a lot of it out there.

The curse of Tenerife also means that much of it is still relatively ‘undiscovered’ in tourist terms.

At the risk of being judged an alcoholic I thought it might be interesting to some people to list what an average (you may, or may not consider what’s on the list as average) week’s shopping bill (at the Al Campo supermarket in La Orotava, just outside of Puerto de la Cruz) works out at for two people and a demanding cat living in the north of Tenerife.

  • 8 bottles of white wine                             19.26

(4xBaron Urzande, 2xCampo Viejo, 2xRomeral – the cheapest of these at €1.99 costs £5 in Sainsbury’s in the UK)

  • 18 cans of Dutch lager                            3.60

(We only wanted 12, but they were 3 for the price of 2)

  • 16 litres of spring water from Vilaflor            2.00
  • Barlet pears                             1.16
  • Courgette                                0.35
  • Bananas (1kg)                         0.97
  • Oranges                                  0.70
  • Celery                                     1.99
  • Green Pepper                          0.32
  • Lettuce                                   0.36
  • Carrots                                   0.24
  • Mango                                    1.17
  • Potatoes (3kg)                        2.99
  • Spinach                                  1.35
  • Apples                                   0.40
  • Onions                                   1.19
  • Garlic                                     2.09
  • Green melon                          1.83
  • Tomatoes                              1.37
  • Chickpeas                              0.59
  • Cat food (4 tins)                    2.28
  • Bacon                                    1.39
  • Minced Beef                          2.99
  • Smoked pork slices              2.29
  • Mortadelo slices                   1.00
  • Smoked mackerel fillet         1.68
  • Smoked mackerel fillet (in paprika)     1.65
  • Two whole mackerel             1.85

(Okay, it seems that we were overdoing the mackerel, but it was the first time we’d spotted the smoked fillets, so thought we’d try them – they were disappointing, but not for Whiskas who ended up with most of the smoked fillets)

  • L.casei immunitas yoghurt drink (18 – another 3 for 2 deal)                4.20
  • Frozen pack of Fruits of the Forest   (Berries are difficult to buy here) 2.25
  • Tin of Heinz Baked Beans                        0.80
  • Tub of Sobrasado (a chorizo pate) 1.00
  • Tin of Tuna                                             1.19
  • Butter                                                      1.00
  • Pack of couscous                                    1.36
  • 4 Croissants                                            1.75
  • 4 Greek yoghurts with honey and nuts (These are dangerously addictive) 1.38
  • Bar of Cadburys Dairy Milk chocolate (You’ve got to sin a little) 1.99
  • Tub of fruity Bio pot yoghurt                   1.22
  • 2 Loaves of 8 cereal bread                       4.34
  • Dozen large eggs                                     1.49
  • Bottle of Shower Gel                                 1.64
  • Shaving foam                                           1.30
  • 2 bottles of liquid soap                            2.56
  • Packet of 20 travel tissues                       2.10

Total Cost                                            €90.63


Yesterday I was in Playa de las Américas when I noticed this menu board.

Thank god for that - I was well and truly bored with sauted lizard spleen!

Thank god for that - I was well and truly bored with sauted lizard spleen!

Now , I know exactly what sort of food we have here in Puerto de la Cruz, but I’ve always assumed that the sort of food dished up in many hostelries in PDLA would, if anything, be on the conservative side. This aint some rash assumption, it’s based on the experience of reading comments on travel advice sites like this one from a couple of days ago from an English lady who was looking for a suitable restaurant for her husband:

“He will not eat garlic or any type of spices, can anyone recommend any good quality PLAIN EATING ESTABLISHMENTS serving any type of meat or poultry which has just been grilled…”

What really tickled me was that she then went on to say:

“Please do not suggest Macdonalds we like the more refined restaurants…”

Oh, really? Sounds like it.

Anyway, this menu has had me doubting my original assumptions. Clearly if this establishment feels the need to advertise that they serve ‘normal’ food, everybody else must be dishing up much more exotic concoctions than I’d realized; maybe along the lines of those mentioned in my friend, Pamela’s ‘you are what you eat’ blog.

Oh, and if anyone knows what ‘normal’ food actually is, could you please send your answers on a postcard to…

Three beers, two bottles of red
And a stomach full of gin.
The Doors at full blast
And I’m ready to begin.

Inside my head words, images, ideas
Explode like literary bombs.
The greatest stories never told,
It’s a creative maelstrom.

My imagination is singing,
But my limbs have become lead.
The last shred of lucidity,
Sends me staggering to bed.

Morning rouses me from my coma,
In pain and bereft.
With a million brain cells in tow,
All the fantastical tales have left.