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January 17, 2014 6:51 pm
La Taskita de Eduardo looks like so many of the restaurants you see in Spain: rows of tables, heavy wooden chairs and a large grill that produces excellent steaks. In fact it is some 1,400km from the mainland, in the town of Garachico on the northern coast of Tenerife, the creation of “proud Canarian” Eduardo González Méndez.
Méndez left Tenerife to work in Bilbao, and began to learn about the superb meats from Galicia in the northwest. He returned home to open a restaurant that would offer the same quality – not an easy feat on this rugged, volcanic island.
In the early 17th century Garachico was Tenerife’s busiest port, the epicentre of the nascent trade between Latin America and Europe. Today, the lookout tower that saw in the ships has been made into a bedroom in the Hotel San Roque opposite La Taskita.
This northern part of Tenerife does not have the sandier beaches that attract the crowds to the south but it still has the prospect of winter sun, unusual, exciting wines and good fish restaurants by the sea.
What I had not expected was to be so impressed by Méndez’s steaks – aged meat that is generously cut and well seasoned once cooked. Having ordered three between four of us, we were soon admonished by Méndez for failing to do them complete justice. As we digested our supper, one of our party asked me a pertinent question: as a critic, how much importance did I give to a restaurant’s setting, as opposed to its food, wine and hospitality? And which location had impressed me most over the past year?
I did not have to even reach for my notebook. Three days before, we had followed the coast road to Buenavista del Norte, on Tenerife’s northwest tip. Walking past banana trees and down towards the Atlantic we came to El Burgado, a restaurant that seats its diners under a “cover” of colourful fishing nets, artfully draped over wooden poles. From our outside table the views were magnificent – verdant mountains ahead, the foaming Atlantic to our right and huge breakers rolling on to the rocky beach below.
Lunch began with thick slices of octopus spiced with paprika on thin slices of warm potato, and continued with an excellent bottle of the local Viñatigo 2013 Listan Blanco and one outstanding main course for us all to share – a whole grilled fish known locally as sama.
A type of red sea bream, this had been grilled on the outside, split open and then briefly grilled again so that it was easier to pick off the flesh and enjoy the charred slivers of garlic inside the fish. Our bill was €110 for four, and the food and wine were as memorable as the setting.
This meal also introduced me to Tenerife’s potatoes, of which there are more than 40 different varieties. At another dinner hosted by an islander at home, I became hooked on a variety known as negra yema de huevo. They are delicious, particularly when dipped into aioli, the local mojo sauces (red for paprika and green for coriander) or the juices from a grilled cherne, a flavourful local fish.
A tip-off from a friend in Madrid took us to lunch at Terrazas del Sauzal in El Sauzal, near Santa Cruz, where the location is once again the equal of the food.
Initially, the view was similar to that south of Los Angeles, with tall palms, whitewashed houses and the blue ocean below. But the appearance of El Teide, the snow-topped volcano, in the distance brought us back to Tenerife. As did the food: a warm prawn salad, a tuna tartare with pungent avocado; and a fillet of cherne with gofio and mashed corn – but, regrettably, no negra yema de huevo.
More columns at www.ft.com/lander
La Taskita de Eduardo
C/Esteban de Ponte 35, Garachico, +34 922 830 162.
Restaurant El Burgado
Playa La Arena, Buenavista del Norte, +34 922 127 831
Terrazas del Sauzal
Pasaje Sierva de Dios 9, 38360 El Sauzal, +34 922 571 491;
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