Madrid to Granada (And everything in between) – Part 2

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-18-49-19(The pool at Gran Hotel, Benahavís)

Sun, sand, and sea on the Spanish south coast. That’s where I last left you. Throw in a handful of rather indulgent meals and a snifter (lol, hardly!) of wine and that was the theme of part 1 of my tantalising tale. An all around sensory delight (which is sure to make history), Madrid to Granada – Part 1.

I just know you’re here to look at more pictures of mouthwatering food, and some Spanish landscape and sunshine to keep things balanced. That’s why we’re friends, you and I. And I promise you Part 2 won’t disappoint. In fact, there are some real food gems and pretty things to look at in this post. I’ve even thrown in a bit of religion and a fancy hotel with all sorts of trinkets to keep things fresh and poppin’.

Yes, I actually typed ‘fresh’ and ‘poppin,’ but I have to appeal to all audiences, ya feel?
Shout out to my Mother for the bit of religion in this post, which wouldn’t have been possible without her doing. She loves a drop of aul mass, that woman.

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In the last post, I mentioned my skin and blister took some time out of her busy college life to be with us for a couple of days. Well, our time together was cherished and mighty craic. But as usual with how these things go, it was all over in a flash. Over as fast as you could say, ‘Fine, leave me for a flight to Dublin!

After dropping her to the airport, the car was quiet. Her absence was felt straight away. I was hollow. I knew I wouldn’t see her until Christmas, and worse, my Disney duet partner was gone, back to college,*poof* just like that. To work hard and make me filthy rich  become a successful member of society. Where do you turn and what do you do in such trying times? Why…EAT YOUR FEELINGS, OF COURSE!

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We wanted to stay fairly local and decided to try the Elviria across the road. We had never been before, despite the close proximity. I think it used to be something else previously a good few years ago (a greasy spoon?!)  and we did try to get a table once where there was a gang of us, but they didn’t have the room.

Well, let me tell you…it was such an unexpected surprise! It’s not the easiest place to guess when it comes to the type of food or service. It looks clean and neat inside with white tablecloths, but it could be anything! So ambiguous, so mysterious. We were shown to a nice quiet table in the corner and the waiter told us the specials which sounded really good…and fancy. I saw my Mam’s face and a glint in her eye when he mentioned seared tuna and thought, she’s gone, that’s it now…she’s fake listening to the rest of the specials. She’s having the tuna and that’s the end of it and won’t even LOOK at the menu. Mams are mad easy to read.

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We were given a cute little amuse bouche to begin (grains in yogurt I think…correct me if I’m wrong, brain) with the usual dinner accompaniments I love to see coming – warm crusty rolls with olive oil or butter (bonus when they bring the two) and it wasn’t just any old butter, folks. It was that fancy French butter that comes in the cute little delph pot. Delicious, great craic to look at, and makes you consider becoming a petty thief for a spell when you feel like you deserve the tiny dish for yourself, five finger discount, but then you snap out of it and realise you weren’t born for life in a cell. You’re too fabulous. You ain’t about that life.
Anyway, back to the butter. Delicious, creamy…salted (so important, folks.) It’s no Kerrygold but it’s not to be sniffed at. ‘✮✮✮✮ “Would eat again” – Travelstylefood.com’

To start we shared the homemade selection of croquettes. I love croquettes (croquetas) of any kind. Iñaki and I order them in almost every bar that has ’em to share over a few beers. How amazing does that plan sound? I know. That’s why we do it.

These little dinky ones were served with edible flowers, fish row, and a couple of fairly mild, creamy sauces. The flavours were very delicate, but they were great. A very light crisp to the batter too. No grease or heavy starchy croquetas here.
By the way, if you’re a croqueta fan, I’m of the opinion that Salamanca is the city with the very best croquetas. They will forever hold the croqueta crown! Every bar there seems to get it right. Especially Tapas 2.0 and Bar Doze.

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I had steak, more steak. I think I had three on this trip. Steak is just the best.* This particular steak was served with red wine and caramelized onion gravy with truffle mash. The best mash ever. Salamanca gets the croqueta crown, Restaurante Elviria gets the MASH MEDAL. The presentation of my juicy and tender little hunk of bovine was divine. And just look at that assortment of colourful vegetables. A feast for the eyeballs. I cleared my plate completely, obviously. Well..there was a tiny bit of sauce left I hadn’t mopped up. Licking the plate would have done the trick but I remembered that I’m a grown woman and that would be barbaric.

MOM did indeed have the tuna steak which again was beautifully presented, with some kind of wasabi sauce and a few sprigs of samphire. I love samphire. You just don’t see it on menus enough. Anyway, Mam loved her tuna, I think she said it was one of the most memorable dishes she’s had in a while. High praise indeed! The whole meal really was a great experience. The service was impeccable too. The waiter was speaking in English, I spoke to him in Spanish, t’was all very gas indeed. Holiday memories made. Can’t wait to tell everyone at the office Christmas party this year.

Restaurante Elviria, you are now on our list for future visits! The only piece of advice I can offer? Put something with chocolate on the dessert menu! There was *gasp* no trace of anything even remotely chocolatey and I had to forgo my dreams of a rich and heavy dessert, and the chance to be even more of a glutton. I wouldn’t mind but I was absolutely foaming at the mouth for chocolate that day.

 

*So lovely that my Dad ordered the exact same thing. In case you think I have no feelings and left him out.

mijaspueblo-22-12-41The next day the three of us went to Mijas Pueblo. We’ve passed through Mijas (Costa) plenty over the years and when I say ‘through’ I mean through, and never up. Until now, friends!
This time, we went up…we scaled the mountains high! Before this trip, my only memories of Mijas could be counted on one hand. Two. Well, I mean after this trip it’ll only be three so technically they still fit on one hand but you get the idea. Anyway, memory one was the aforementioned passing through, to get to somewhere else. Pretty straightforward life stuff. The second memory was going to Parque Acuático Mijas, a waterpark I frequented as a very young and naive child. Long before I knew better. Long before I was old enough to figure out how truly disgusting waterparks are. Festering minefields of bacteria and parasites where you all share the same water in the name of ‘fun.’ HORRID.

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And until now, those were my only Mijas memories. Until lovely little Mijas Pueblo. A tiny little village (428 metres above sea level) that remains totally and utterly charming despite the influx of tourists. Nestled on the mountainside are those typical Spanish whitewash houses. The tiny town has little bars and tiny little craft shops too. Totally dreamy. You’ll get a workout in too, climbing those hills. Win-win.* We went to Mijas Pueblo as someone back on the Motherland told my Mother to visit a tiny little church up there, made of stone. The chapel of the Virgin of the Rock, La Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña de Mijas. A shrine to the Virgen de la Peña, the patron Saint of Mijas.

 

*These heart quickening incline walks will mean nothing if you have several cañas admiring the view like I did. I suggest you never follow any sort of diet or exercise advice from yours truly.

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This teeny tiny church is oh so beautiful. There are six pews in front of the alter (bottom right) with lots of beautiful fresh flowers. It’s a peaceful sanctuary for the people of Mijas Pueblo and the place is kept as neat as a pin. To the right of the altar is a tiny area where they have a collection of things over the years related to the shrine. I was only kidding about a drop of aul mass and prayer but it really was lovely to visit, for a quiet moment, and to be there during golden hour made everything that bit more serene.

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Also the Ermita we sat along the Paseo el Compas admiring the view, where any worries I had seemed to float off the mountainside like a wisp of dandelion seeds…or those little fluffy things you see in the air during summer.
Sometimes it’s maddening (hello eternal queue at bank, supermarket) but when you’re in a place like this, you really get why the Spanish say mañana.

 

 ♥ ♥ ♥

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