Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Can I go back here please?

So, the Bear and I had a lovely little last-minute holiday in Fuerteventura. It was pretty awesome -sunny weather, beautiful scenery, fun people and some tasty food – what’s not to like? We stayed in a surfers’ hostel in Correjo, which, despite the fact that we weren’t doing any surfing (or windsurfing…or kitesurfing…or *insert another type of surfing word here*-surfing) turned out to be a really good decision. The accommodation was cheap but good – we had a roof terrace which was great, and having access to a kitchen was also useful for keeping costs down – and we met some really cool people to spend our week with.

I would describe Canarian cooking as similar to the cuisine of the Spanish mainland, with a large dollop of Moorish influence. The terrain is pretty desert-like so the main livestock of the islands are goats, so lots of goat meat and wonderful goats milk cheeses. I am, as it happens, a bit obsessed with goat cheese, so this made me very happy. There's also an abundance of gorgeous seafood to be had.

Traditional dishes include the ubiquitous papas arrugadas con mojo which are little wrinkled potatoes crusted in salt, which you then dip into the mojo sauce. You usually get two types of mojo sauce – a red one which is slightly spicy, and a green one with herbs. Both are flavoured with cumin seeds and are really addictive.
Bottles of  green and red mojo sauce 

Papas arrugadas - picture from a little book I picked up during the holiday called "Canarian Cuisine" by Carlos Gamonal

Another traditional dish is escaldón de gofio, or ‘gofio stew.’ Gofio is a type of grain flour which is used either as a thickener for stews, as here, or to coat foods such as cheese. We tried escaldón de gofio at a little restaurant by the seafront in Correlejo and enjoyed it – despite some some serious scepticism from our waiter  (”Errr…you sure you want this? It is quite strong…” “Yes, we’re sure, we like to try the local dishes…why, don’t you like it?” “Sure, I like it! But I am traditional Canarian man! You are…not.”). The dish is essentially meat stock thickened with gofio flour. The best way I can think to describe it is it’s kind of like a meat-flavoured mashed potato. It’s very nice though, in a comfort-food kind of way.

Another pic from "Canarian Cuisine"

The local cheese is called queso majorero and you can find variations of this all over the island. It is a tasty goats cheese which is sold at different stages of maturity, from very fresh, which is comparable to mozzarella, to very aged, which is like an aged cheddar. Sometimes the cheese comes coated in gofio flour or paprika. Our lunch pretty much every day consisted of queso majorero, tomato and olive oil in a little baguette. We didn’t tire of it, the cheese and tomatoes being so outstanding.

Page on queso majorero from "The world encyclopedia  of cheese" by Juliet Harbutt. It's ok to admit that I own an encyclopedia of cheese, right?

As you might expect, being an island, Fuerteventura is awesome for fish and seafood. The local Hiperdino – a supermarket chain with an amazingly cute dinosaur on the logo – had a great range, and we made good use of this cooking up some juicy prawns one night, and a squid pasta another. Neither myself or the Bear had prepared cephalopod before, but we found a great how-to video online which made the whole thing really easy.

Mmm...it's squidalicious

If you get a chance to, I would also highly recommend sampling the local tipple, ronmiel - a.k.a honey rum. It tastes exactly like you would imagine. Yum.

Sweet, sweet honey rum

So that’s it, my round up of Fuerteventura and it’s food. Here’s the recipe for the squid pasta we made, it’s pretty simple, but with really fresh seafood I think that’s normally the best way…

Squid pasta

Serves 2

2 squid
4 cloves of garlic
2 large-ish tomatoes
2 tbsp thick cream
A large handful of fresh parsley
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Linguine, to serve

First prepare your squid following this video - http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/videos/1043/preparing-squid

Finely chop your garlic, tomatoes, and parsley.

Put your olive oil in a pan and add the salt. Turn the heat up high and fry the garlic and squid for about a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 20 seconds or so. Turn off the heat, add the cream, parsely and black pepper.

Serve with linguine. Truly delicious.

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