The Canarian cuisine varies from Island to Island with each having its own distinct foods. On the Island of El Hierro each of the three council districts holds a “Ruta de la Tapa” most years and the competition can be fierce between the bars and restaurants taking part and also between each of the council districts.
This year Valverde held this event during the first 10 days of July. Fourteen establishments participated. In each of the premises you got served a tapas with a drink of your choice for the reasonable price of 2.50€ per Tapas. The idea is that each prepares a tapa using local Herreño products or prepares a tapa to represent aspects of the island. Once I had the leaflet telling me who was taking part I wrote a list of the different regions and opening times to work out which establishments we would visit and when.
We gave the opening weekend a miss and started our tasting on the Monday evening down on the coast. Our first port of call was the local Parador de Turismo where we were served a cold flan of local Peto, with a mousse of Avocado and crab, topped with very colourful fish roe. Peto is a white Tuna fish only served on El Hierro.The presentation was excellent and very colourful and the taste was very nice.
Our next stop was then back along the coast in the village of Timijiraque at Restaurant Casa Guayana. It was described as being “Delicious by Lola”, but at best can only be described as a chicken “spring roll”.
Back in Valverde we called at Bar Restaurant El Encuentro to try their “Surprize Encuentro”. Here we were served what I can best describe as a mini quail scotch egg, served on a bed of lettuce with a cheese sauce made from local smoked cheese. This dish had lots of different flavours.
Next we called at Cafetería Las Vetas.This was described as being “One touch” or “Un Toque”. Presentation was excellent with lots of colours. It was a very mini “Calzone” stuffed with chicken served with a mini pastry cup of chilli sauce. Once again the flavours blended very well. To finish there was a slice of orange and a strawberry to clean your palette.
Next we called at Café El Rincón del Dulce, their tapa was described as “Con Aires de Moya” which was presented to look like a flower head with cubed potatoes as leaves. The flower head being a crepe with fish and a cherry tomato drizzled in a reduced red wine sauce.
Our last port of call was La Taberna de La Villa were we sampled chicken and cubes of local pineapple in a mild curry sauce served with Frangollo. The flavours blended very well together.
The following evening we decided to try the tapa on the north of the Island. We called at Restaurant Mesón El Norte. We were served a slice of tart made of Aubergine, almonds and drizzled with local honey. Again a tasty tapa.
Next stop was the Restaurant Mirador La Peña designed by the world famous architect César Manrique.The culinary delight here was described as “rabbit in a garden of flavours”, which described it very well. The rabbit was cooked to perfection in a lovely sauce with a puree of potato and fennel and mini cones of the local cheese mojo sauce sprinkled with petals. All this and spectacular views over the Valley of El Golfo.
Then we climbed up through the clouds to the village of San Andrés to visit Restaurant Casa Goyo. This dish was described as “the cloud with flavours of San Andrés”. This had been very cleverly thought out and lived up to its name. The dish was served on a wooden pine salver. A bed of rice and local smoked cheese topped with a slice of pork tenderloin, with a glass bowl on top filled with steam to mimic the low cloud which hangs over the village, when you removed the lid the vapour steamed your glasses up. (Finished 1st)
Last stop was back in Valverde at the café “En Las Nubes”. Here we feasted on a crepe filled with local cheese served on a bed of fig jam, with a fig from El Pinar.
After a day’s rest we finished of the route on the Thursday. During the afternoon we went to El Charquete Tasca were we had a “sweet”. It was in fact a sweet shaped filo pastry filled with mince and local cheese with a drizzle of caramelized sauce and a mint leaf. (Finished 3rd)
In the evening we took a stroll to Cafetería Bar Plaza were we had “Bombita fresca de La Villa”. This again was a cold dish of cheese and cucumber shaped like a tomato with a side dish of yoghurt and mint. Most refreshing.
Next stop was La Balaustrada were we served a mini chicken burger with crisp chips. This dish was simple and tasty.
Last but not least we went to the only premises serving a desert Bar Restaurant El Secreto. Their offering was called Hooray! Or ¡Que Viva!
This turned out to be, in my opinion the one which had taken the most thinking about, and the most difficult to prepare. They had taken the symbolism of the Island to the extreme. We were presented with a platter which had a red chequered paper on, symbolising the table cloths used when the pilgrims are eating at Cruz de Los Reyes during La Bajada. Next to this was a line of crumbs to signify the earth and dust of the walk. The homemade pineapple and cheese ice-creams were served in a basket topped with a wafer hat. This was to symbolise the dancer’s headgear. And finally there was a chocolate La Bajada logo. Delicious! Well I have got a sweet tooth. (Finished 2nd)
After getting the final stamp on our cards, we marked each Tapa out of 10. Filled in our details and posted them into the voting boxes.
The following Thursday was the presentation of the awards and a prize draw for those who completed all fourteen of the tapa. I was lucky enough to win a “relaxing anti-stress treatment” at the Hotel Balneario, Pozo de la Salud.