When people come to Las Palmas, they either head to Las Canteras beach, or they wander the cobbles of Old Town Vegueta and Triana districts. Then they do some shopping, often along Calle mayor de Triana, recently voted the best outdoor shopping area in Spain. 

However, most people miss the little streets that run off Triana’s high street and this is a real shame. While they lack the big names of the main shopping drag, they are full of small independent shops and charismatic local bars and restaurants. 

It’s worth just wandering around these side streets and dipping in to the shops as they sell far more original goods than the big names on the main drag. 

Calle Cano: Where old and new Las Palmas merge seamlessly

This pedestrian street is my favourite in the whole historical area of Las Palmas because of how old and new blend together.

If you start at the south end of Calle Cano, the architecture is medieval with squat old buildings with stone doorways and heavy-set doors. Note the traditional wooden balconies on the top floors. 

There’s a restaurant right on the corner setting the tone with excellent Spanish ham and traditional food served at outdoor tables. 

Casa Museo Perez Galdós: A museum dedicated to a Spanish wordsmith

As you walk north along the street you come to the Casa Museo Perez Galdós set in the splendid old building where Benito Perez Galdós, one of Spain’s most famous novelists and Spain’s leading 19th Century literary figure, was born in 1843. 

You don’t have to read his detailed accounts of middle-class Spanish life to appreciate the museum. It’s a beautiful house with internal courtyards, high, wooden ceilings and lots of fascinating information about the author and the period he described so well with his pen.

Art deco and local flourishes along Calle Cano

Further north along Calle Cano and the medieval gives way to the early twentieth century with art deco wrought iron balconies replacing the more traditional wood. The shops here are local in character with hairdressers and even a nursery mixed in amongst the boutiques. 

You’re never more than a few metres from a restaurant with outdoor tables shaded by big parasols. One popular place is Mr Kale, a thoroughly modern spot that caters to vegetarians and vegans. It serves healthy smoothies and snacks nd is opposite a boutique selling shoes that cost more than most people’s entire holiday.

 The Librería del Cabildo: The best Canary Islands book shop

Or, stay on Calle Cano for the Libreria del Cabildo, a spectacular bookshop with the best collection of Canary Islands books I’ve ever seen in one place.  Drop in between 09.00 ands 13.00, or 16.30 to 20.00 on weekdays, and have a browse as you’re sure to find something to read on the beach. 

More restaurants, local Spanish food

Calle Cano ends at the Plaza de San Bernardo in a flourish of restaurants serving modern Spanish and traditional Canarian food. 

The other side it turns into Calle Viera y Clavijo and the facades slowly become more recent until you reach the beginning of modern Las Palmas. There’s a lovely sushi hole-in-the-wall, a Bang and Olufsen store, and plenty of clothes and shoe shops to keep you occupied. 

Viera y Clavijo is lined with Jacaranda trees so if you in Las Palmas in early summer the street is carpeted in electric mauve flowers.

At any point you can drop down one of the cobbled side streets and come out on the much busier and commercial Calle Mayor de Triana for a hit of contemporary high street fashion. Or, head a block up the hill to Calle Benito Perez Galdos for what is Las Palmas’ most hipsterish street with its home decoration boutiques, tattoo parlours,  and a cluster of vegan and upmarket restaurants. 

Keep walking south along Benito Perez Galdós and Calle General Bravo and you get back to the pretty Plaza del Cairasco with its tall palm trees and outdoor cafes. From here you are just a couple of minutes walk away from the Cathedral and the museums and galleries of Old Town Vegueta. 

Article published originally on the excellent Hello Canary Islands website.

Published in Las Palmas

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Published in News

Gran Canaria's unique dessert, the Polvito Uruguayo, is on most dessert menus in Las Palmas and is now even served in some resort restaurants.

The history of the polvito uruguayo

Despite the name, it was invented in Las Palmas at the El Novillo Precoz restaurant by the Uruguayan owners. The restaurant is still there and still one of the best meat restaurants in Gran Canaria. If you stay in Las Palmas you really should go there and let the experienced waiters tell you what meat is best for you (they always know). 

The polvito at El Novillo is a very light pudding made from layers of whipped cream, dulce de leche, biscuit crumbs, ground almond and crushed meringue. It is deliberately light because who wants a big stodgy pudding after eating a good steak?

From its origins on Calle Olof Palme the polvito has now become the one of the Gran Canaria dessert trinity along with flan de la casa and mousse de gofio. 

The best polvito in Gran Canaria (so far)

To find the best polvito, head from one Las Palmas classic to another; the Bodega Extremeña right by the beach on Calle Franchy Roca. This small and resolutely traditional restaurant serves up some of the best Spanish food in Las Palmas from quality ham and cheese to tasty tortillas.

Try the range of slow-cooked meats served with mashed potato so tasty that you can eat all on its own that is the highlight of the menu. And of course, the polvito!

At Bodega Extremeña it is deeper and more substantial than the original and skips the almonds. However, it is still light enough to eat after a heavy dose of meat and mash. 

If you try it and know of a better one, please let us know where to go... 

 

 

 

The delicious Barraquito coffee was invented in Santa Cruz de Tenerife at some point in the early 20th Century but like all good legends, its exact origins are nebulous.

Some say a man nicknamed Barraco breakfasted in the bar Imperial and always asked for a carajillo (espresso with booze in it) with a difference. Followers of this origin story spell the name with a capital B. Others are convinced that a waiter at the nearby Los Paragüitas bar invented the Barraquito on a slow day. The recipe is also attributed to a Mr Manolo Grijalbo who created it for his bohemian clients at a long forgotten bar over the road from the Santa Cruz casino.

Meanwhile, some in north Tenerife add extra Licor 43, call the barraquito a zaperoco, and insist that it originated in Puerto de La Cruz and has been hijacked by the capital city. The response from Santa Cruz is always, "pfff, they just say that for the tourists". 

The one thing that everyone in Tenerife agrees on is that the Barraquito is completely different from the cafe Asiático from Cartagena in southern Spain. The Asiático is made from exactly the same ingredients in exactly the same way but is, of course, a completely different drink. The fact that Licor 43 is made in Cartagena is neither here nor there: There is no firm evidence about which of the two appeared first as both seem to date to the 1930s or 1940s. 

Anyway, enough of this historical nonsense. 

How to make a Barraquito coffee

The Barraquito is made from five ingredients layered up like a 1980s cocktail. 

It is served in a glass, like a standard Canary Islands cortado or cortado largo. These days it also comes in a wide array of rather silly vessels ranging from mini beer steins to champagne flutes. 

Be as camp as you like with the glass, but stick to the original recipe to get the right flavour at the end: 

The bottom layer is a shot of condensed milk.

The second a half shot layer of Licor 43, a sweet Spanish liqueur.

The third a shot of piping hot espresso coffee.

The fourth a shot of hot milk.

Top up with milk foam to create the fifth layer.

Dust the top with cinnamon and add a strip of zest from an unwaxed lemon.

The idea is that you mix all the layers together and drink your Barraquito like a normal coffee. 

Instagram rather than instant coffee

In our seminal guide about How to order coffee like a local in Gran Canaria we don't even mention the Barraquito because, somewhat inexplicably, it wasn't a thing here until recently. Lovers of sweet, layered coffee in Gran Canaria had to make do with the leche y leche, a measly two-layered effort made with condensed milk and milky coffee served with extra sugar on the side rather than cinnamon and lemon peel. 

However, the Barraquito is now here to stay on menus at touristy bars and cafes all across the island. Even the locals are indulging along the Las Canteras beachfront in Las Palmas. It is the banana split of the 2020s and makes people ooh and aah and dream of Instagram fame. 

The good thing about the Barraquito is that it is delicious as well as Grammable. The unlikely sounding combination of ingredients combine well and you get a lovely hit of rice-puddingy coffee sweetness.

Just remember to drink it hot as it gets a bit gloopy if you spend too long photographing it. 

When you take your first sip don't forget to thank Barraco, or Mr Grijalbo, or that anonymousTenerife waiter,  for coming up with the original recipe. 

The single most common question we get in the Gran Canaria Info group is...

What is the weather going to be like during my holiday?

The answer is almost always the same: If you are going to south Gran Canaria's resorts, it is very likely to be sunny every day. Yes, even in the winter. Yes, even though your weather app says it is going to be cloudy. Yes, even in January. And in February, etc.

Obviously it does sometimes rain in Gran Canaria, even in the sun-baked south, and there are occassional cloudy days. 

To check for these rare rain and clouds there is no point using generic weather apps because they use data that averages out the weather and temperature across Gran Canaria.

This means that the forecast for Puerto Rico and other resorts includes weather and temperatrure predictions for inland and highland areas that are cooler and cloudier.

So, instead of believing your current weather app use the Spanish weather service website called the AEMET. It's website has detailed and very accurate forecasts for individual resorts, town and even beaches.

Here's the forecast for the Mogán area including Puerto Rico.

The mobile website works very well in English although the app is only in Spanish at the moment.  

If there is one thing we hate it is visitors being tricked in Gran Canaria. In the past we've warned about overcharging at Gran Canaria chemists, and rip off electronics shops in resorts. 

In this Tip Of The Day we return to the island's chemists or rather, to the island's fake chemists.

A chemist in Gran Canaria is called a Farmacia and always has a green cross sign. Farmacias are the only place tobuy medicine in Spain, even basics like paracetamol.

However, there is another kind of shop in Gran Canaria that looks and sounds like a chemist but doesn't sell medicine. This is the Parafarmacia and it also uses a green cross sign.

A parafarmacia is a herbal medicine shop that is not allowed to sell any normal medicine such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or antibiotics. 

Instead, parafarmacias sell herbal alternatives to medicine but don't have to prove that they work and they can charge whatever they want.

We recently heard from a visitor to Gran Canaria who went into a parafarmacia and was charged 40 euros for a herbal alternative to Ibuprofen. It was only when they read the label that they realised what had happened. 

To locate a genuine farmacia, see this website and search within your municipio (Puerto Rico is in Mogán, Playa del Inglés is in San Bartolomé de Tirajana). At weekends and on fiesta days many farmacias close but there is always one open, known as the farmacia de guardia, in each municipio.

Search for the nearest one to you with this tool

Lex Says: To keep costs down, see this article for the way to ask for generic medicine rather than expensive branded alternatives. 

Published in Tip of the day

Rather like tapas, paella isn't a traditional dish in the Canary Islands and finding a good one in Gran Canaria has always been difficult.

Proper paella is not pukka

Proper paella hails from the Valencian region and is made from chicken, rabbit and snails. What visitors think of as paella, yellow rice with prawns, mussels and calamares, is actually a completely different dish called arroz a banda.

The Valencians are quite defensive about the origins and authenticity of paella because it is one of the most abused dishes on Earth. 

Proper paella is two grains of rice thick, not bright yellow, and each mouthful is a blast of flavour. The stuff you get in most Gran Canaria resort restaurants, and even local restauarants, is a long way removed from the real thing. In fact if you find paella on a restaurant menu and the waiter doesn't warn you about how long it will take, you know it's coming out of the freezer. 

Proper paella in Gran Canaria

Paella takes a while to cook so most local restaurants only do it on Sundays. Even when they do it tends to be too thick and bright yellow to be authentic. These local paellas can be delicious but are never quite as good as the real deal. 

To try the real deal, find local restaurants called arrocerias which specialise in rice dishes. The most accessible in south Gran Canaria is El Caldero along the Meloneras strip. This serves paella, and arroz a banda, cooked over flames with the right amount of rice and spices (as you can see from the photo, it isn't bright yellow). If you feel adventurous, try the black rice (cooked and coloured with squid ink). 

Alex Says: Paella servings At El Caldero are generous so four people will struggle to eat "paella for four". It's best to order paella for two or three, especially if you order starters. 

IMG 20220308 111100 973The tasting menu has now established itself in Gran Canaria. Every restaurant with a even a distant dream of getting in the Michelin guide, let alone bagging a star, has a multi-course extravaganza on the menu. In exchange for most of the contents of your bank account they give you seven courses (if you are lucky), three desserts, and wines to match. 

The trouble with this extravaganza of flavours is that, like a night out at carnival, it can overwhelm the senses and the stomach. A little bit of a lot of things can be extremely filling, especially if washed down with a wide variety of wines. That said, tasting menus can also be a good way to find out what a restaurant offers without working your way through the whole menu. 

Hestia: Las Palmas tasting menu 

We headed to Hestia to try their tasting menu with empty tummies and high expectations as several friends have recommended it as amongst the best in Las Palmas. 

The restaurant is tucked away on Leon Tolstoy close to the beach. All tables are indoors but that's not a problem on a  March evening in Las Palmas. It's decorated like all smart restaurants are decorated at the moment: A a nod to mid-century modern, a vintage touch, a pop of pastel colour, and that round Ikea mirror with the Mobius strip frame that is everywhere. All perfectly pleasant without giving anything away about the origins or inspirations of the chef.

There isn't much more information online or on social media. Rather enigmatic, or maybe we just don't read the right magazines. Anyway, here's the young chef's Instagram and here's Hestia on Facebook.

The tasting menu at Hestia in Las Palmas

IMG 20220308 110912 536We opted for Hera, the shorter of the two tasting menus.  

First up, tasty welcome snacks with instructions about the order to eat them in (pet hate). 

Then, a vegetable tartlet with local goat cheese. Thin, crispy pastry but not quite enough of the sharp cheese to offset the rich filling.

A smoked risotto with boletus mushrooms, green beans and pine nuts that was superb.

Marinated amberjack (it was tuna on the night) with tomato sorbet. Well balanced, if unnervingly cold.

Slow cooked seabass in coconut and lime bechamel which was possibly the best bit of fish I've ever eaten.

A medley of partridge; breast, pate and leg; all tasty and well dressed.

The first dessert was a dense chocolate mousse with forest fruits and two blobs of what seemed to be HP Sauce. 

The second desssert a delicious banana cream millefeuille with manadarin sorbet

The petit fours were yummy, especially the mini Oreo.

Each course served with a small glass of wine including a dry white from Los Berrezales in Agaete, a great sweet Madeira, a sake, a cava, a Spanish red, and the lingering dread of an inevitable fuzzy head the next morning. 

The service was friendly and prompt and the explanations of each dish brief and useful. 

To Hestia or not to Hestia

IMG 20220308 111150 120This is a quality restaurant that uses top notch ingredients and puts a lot into every dish it serves. The Hestia tasting menu (59 euros) plus wines (39 euros) was good value. Individual dishes on the menu range from 15-25 euros.

The smoked risotto and the coconut seabass were top notch. The chef also deserves kudos for making something delicious out of cooked banana because it's a tricky thing to pull off. There was also a pea pasta with Spanish ham sauce and sage oil that sounded delicious and we'll be back to try it.

We'd definitely recommend Hestia as a tasting menu option for a couple, or foodie group, in Las Palmas.

One of the first things visitors arriving in Gran Canaria ask us is where they can get the best tapas. The answer isn't easy because there is no such thing as tapas and tapas restaurants as they exist in people's minds. 

The tapa exists of course (although it can also be called a pincho) but there are no tapas restaurants in Spain outside of tourist resorts.

The tapa in Spain

Bars in Mainland Spain serve an individual free tapa with every drink knowing that make people more liklely to stay for another one. But, unlike the Greeks with their meze, the Spanish never sit down at a restaurant for a table full of little plates of tapas.

In the Canary Islands the tapa itself isn't regarded as a local thing. Nor, for that matter is paella which is from Valencia. 

There are Spanish bars and restaurants in many towns and in Las Palmas that do serve tapas as part of their menu. Look out for jamonerias which do tapas and Spanish ham by the plate.

Vegueta Old Town in Las Palmas hosts a weekly tapas night on Thursdays but the focus is more on volume than quality. Most of the tapas served are actually montaditos; something on a bit of bread. A better option is to head to the Mercado del Puerto just by north end of Las Canteras beach. This Eiffel-designed iron building contains a mix of fresh food stalls and tapas stalls and has been voted amongst the best 10 food markets in Spain. 

Pre-Covid, resorts in Gran Canaria were hosting regular tapas evenings and we really hope that these come back soon.

The Canary Islands equivalent to tapas

A few years ago the tourism authorities dug up the word enyesque as a Canary Islands equivalent to tapas. The term didn't really take off. 

These days there are occasional enyesque events where bars and restaurants in a town offer one dish each over a weekend. 

To find the best tapa-equivalents in Gran Canaria you have to look around: Many local Gran Canaria bars serve snacks, often displayed on the bar. Look out for Ensaladilla Rusa, croquetas, tortilla Española, etc.

Or order several dishes from the starter menu at local restaurants for that holiday tapas feeling. 

 

Between March and the end of April the chunk of Gran Canaria between the Caldera de los Marteles and Tenteniguada, high up in the hills above Telde, goes technicolour. 

This spring explosion of colour comes from a range of native species with purple, blue, yellow and red flowers. The most famous are the tajinastes or viper's bugloss flowers but buttercups, aeoniums, cinerarias, poppies and sonchus (giant dandelions ) all flower here at the same time.

Most of the tajinastes are blue, pink or purple but the challenge is to spot one of the rare red flowered plants. 

You can walk a long loop from the Caldera de los Marteles down to Tenteniguada (about 6km) and back up again but the bulk flowers are within a kilometre of the road just past the clump of pine trees. There is no bus back up so you either walk or use the old two-car trick. Bring food and water as there is nothing up here once you start walking (there is a snack van by the mirador). 

To reach the Caldera, put the Caldera de los Marteles viewpoint into Google Maps and drive up through Telde and Lomo Magullo. Some Bus 13s also stops here on route from Telde to Tenteniguada but not all. If you get the bus to Los Marteles, you can walk back down to Tenteniguada and get another bus back to Telde and then on to Las Palmas or the resorts. To be honest, it is quicker and easier to do this with a hire car.

The flowers are down the hill on the side of the road opposite the crater. Just walk down the wide path until your eyes hurt and you are right there amongst Gran Canaria's most spectacular spring display.

Published in Walking
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