In the hamlet of Mondrón, Málaga, abuelos gather after lunch in the only bar in town to play Mus, the most popular card game in Spain. It’s played with a Spanish deck, which has 40 cards without eights, nines, tens or jokers (or no aces, it’s hard to say)–plus the cards themselves look like Continue Reading →
Malaga wines are sweet, fortified dessert wines. In the old days, some of them also contained quinine. Jesuit missionaries brought the bark of the so-called fever tree to Spain in the 16th Century and it was used to treat a variety of illnesses for centuries. Medicinal wines with quinine were still widely consumed in Spain until the 1970′s. This barrel is from my favorite bar in Malaga, the Casa Guardia. I’ve been visiting it off and on for 20 years, and it hasn’t changed much either. As for whether quinine wines are still being drunk in Spain, I can’t say. Does anybody know? Photo ©Mike Randolph
A 14th Century Moorish gate serves as the main entrance into Malaga’s Atarazanas market. I remember when the market used to be a lot different–rundown, a little dirty, and decidedly nose-unfriendly in places. In 2008, the market underwent a renovation that would take two years. Some Malagueños were a little nervous about how it would turn out. There was a trend around that time to change mercados from a place to buy food to a place to go for tapas. Malagueños wanted a real market, not a Disney version built for tourists.
Happily, the Mercado de Atarazanas was saved from that fate. It’s now clean, with modern stalls, a lot brighter (thanks to a transparent roof) and most important, it’s still a real market, the heartbeat of downtown Malaga.
Click on an image to expand it. Photos ©Mike Randolph
In the Mercado de Bailén, in Malaga, a fishmonger gave me the lowdown. If I wanted to see the boats unloading fish, I had to go to Caleta de Velez. In Malaga, only a few boats come in every day. The port of Malaga is too expensive, he told me, so the fishermen go to Caleta, only a short drive up the coast.
By the time I got there, many of the boats were already tied up to the dock and more were coming in; big boats, motors chugging in a throaty diesel rumble as they shifted into reverse, gunned it for a second or two, and glided gently up to the dock with unerring precision. Continue Reading →
Vacation is over. Of course, like many Spaniards, I took the entire month of August off. I added Labour Day, because in Canada that’s sacred and well, why not. But time to get back to writing posts. (I took time off from writing but not from taking pictures or doing things that will hopefully provide some entertainment to my faithful followers. (Okay, there were a few days there that I really did take off but who’s counting?))
Here’s an image from one of my recent culinary adventures, a tapas lunch at Dani Garcia’s Manzanilla bar in Malaga. Garcia’s restaurant Calima holds two Michelin stars and Manzanilla borrows some of his famous dishes. I chose to eat over the glass tapas counter, which I thought was a good idea at the time but really it just made me hungrier…and cost me more money in the end because of it.
This is a Hot Dog Malaga style. Sausage made of pringá (pork, chorizo, pork fat) with caramelized tomatos and a mayonaise made with macadamia nuts. This, for less than five Euros.
It’s Sardine Week here at Spain By Mike Randolph! Discovery Channel has Shark Week, I have Sardine Week. I don’t have any video of sardines jumping out of the water to chomp down on, well, whatever it is that they eat, but how can you not get excited by the prospect of an espeto de sardinas? Okay, maybe I won’t write every single day about sardines, though I could and I really don’t think it would be too much. Let’s settle then on Chiringuito Week. It’s holiday time, summer is in full swing, and in Spain, summer is not summer without a trip to the beach, and having lunch at a chiringuito–the beachside huts that serve cold drinks and seafood–is a fundamental part of the package.
Espetos de sardinas are a specialty of Málaga. The city even has a statue to honor the espetero, the man who spears the fish onto a spit of cane, tends the fire, and brings joy to many. The smaller the sardine, the better. They’re grilled whole, and you eat them with your hands. Salty, crispy skin and rich, oily flesh. They’re not only delicious, they’re also good for you. Order the house salad, a pitcher of tinto de verano, and hunker in to enjoy.
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