Eat and Drink
Even though Alhama is at around 900 m above sea level millions of years ago this area was under the sea. Consequently, the soil is alluvium and incredibly fertile. Alhama is surrounded by fertile plains which produce practically everything the locals eat. Summer and winter vegetables as well as barley, wheat, olives, almonds and grapes are all grown locally. Tropical fruits are brought up from the coast. If you shop in the little local supermarkets or at the Friday market all the fresh produce you buy will be local and delicious. Fresh fish is delivered to Alhama's four fish shops every day and sold out by 1pm. The fishmongers put the ship's labels next to the fish so you can see that what you are buying was caught in the North East Atlantic at 4am that morning! For meat lovers, sheep, goats, chickens and pigs are all reared (often free range) locally.
Olive oil from the local co-operative, DCoop, is considered to be especially good. The Clarissa nuns produce fantastic cakes and desserts using almonds with nutmeg and cinnamon and you can go to the convent to buy them direct or find them at Ventorro Restaurant. Again, if you go to the little supermarkets, you will find delicious cheeses and a variety of sausages and sliced meats produced locally, some of it from neighbours in your street. Many people in Alhama make their own wine and quite a bit of this is advertised for sale in local shops, bars or on people's front doors; a little sweet, the wine is delicious with cheese.
Eating out in Alhama is a wonderful experience and one where you might find some distinct cultural differences! Here are some tips:
in the south of Spain most people have toast with fresh tomato, olive oil and salt&pepper; with a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee it's the best breakfast in town - usually for around 3 euros. Alternatively, more usually for weekends and holidays, you can treat yourself to "churros" - long, thin doughnuts for dunking in drinking chocolate.
Menu del Dia - a fantastic Spanish custom! For many people the main meal of the day, this is a three course lunch with complimentary bread and a drink - you choose what you want from three different starters, main courses and desserts. Local bars and restaurants charge around 7 euros a head; the restaurants in the main square (with the busiest people watching) charge around 8-8.5 euros a head. Of course, if you don't fancy the full three courses then the the usual menu is available including sandwiches, snacks and salads as well as complimentary tapas with every drink ...... Lunch is a huge occasion here and the best time to see families out together - one of the loveliest days out is to walk through the gorge to the two best restaurants in the area and spend the afternoon lunching under the grapevine before ambling back to town .....
if they're going out to the bars for the evening Spanish people often share tapas together. Closing the kitchen at around 4pm after lunch, bars and restaurants start serving food again from 8pm. If you've had a good lunch then tapas is ideal - each drink or round of drinks comes with a snack, no need to order and it's free; hot or cold this could be prawns, calamares, anchovy, fish stew, meat stew, pork, chorizo/morcilla, cheese, olives, grilled vegetables ..... all with bread and a little garnish. If you're peckish, you can order a "racion" (from 4 to 8 euros) which is a big plate, and a group of four, for example, might order a salad, a mixed vegetable plate and a plate of grilled or roasted fish, pork, goat or lamb to share. You each get a fork and a little plate and tuck in. Lots of bars/restaurants specialise in different dishes so you do the rounds ... La Seguiriya, a lovely little family run hotel, and Al Dente in particular do delicious evening meals in the northern european style where you order your own plate of food and eat it yourself ......
Here's a run down of what's on the menu:
Meat: pork and goat are the favourites; pork often sliced and grilled, goat often served in a stew with lots of garlic. Beef (from northern Spain) is delicious and well-priced, served as tenderloin, steaks or ribs. Chicken is often served in a stew or roasted. People round here still do the "matanza" -pig slaughtering - on a designated day of the year and produce delicious sausages, ranging from a little spicy to morcilla, a step up from blood pudding. Fish: the fish here is fantastic; cod, grouper, "rosada", swordfish, tuna, salmon, squid, octopus, mussels, clams, anchovy, cray fish, lobster, prawns, langostinos, sardinas, mackeral ..... healthy, delicious and a specialised subject with the local chefs. Grilled, fried, roasted, in stews or soups and served with lemon, oil, salt, bread and mayonaise it's wonderful.
Vegetables and Vegetarians:
you may have gathered by now that rural Andalucia is pretty meat & fish orientated but don't despair, there are quite a few options as long as you know where to go. Here are some ideas: For tapas, Bars El Tigre and Ochoa do lovely grilled oyster mushrooms with garlic; Bar Ochoa also does a grilled mixed vegetable plate (delicious!) with oil, garlic, mayonnaise and lemon and El Tigre does grilled aubergines (with honey!). Everywhere does salads, tortillas, gazpacho and some bars do red pepper salad (ask for it without tuna!), the best is Meson Diego. You will often get cheese and olives as a tapas and, if you say you are vegetarian, all bars will try their best to cater for you (you may need to explain that means you don't want tuna or ham!!). For main meals Al Dente is excellent with a good choice of vegetarian salads, pasta and pizza dishes. The pizzeria on Calle Picasso does excellent vegetarian pizza (and, away from the main square, is cheap and a great little eatery often packed with locals). Bar El Rincon has an English speaking chef who will do you good vegetarian food if you ask him although it's not on the menu. Finally, you can buy soya products and frozen veggie meals, sausages etc in the big supermarkets in Granada or the coast, try Carrefour, Hipercor, Super Sol and Eroski.
Granada is a great place to sample Moroccan food -
In the Albaycin area there are lots of lovely little cafes serving a variety of dishes including tagines, couscous, soups and desserts. Lots of choice for vegetarians. You can try a fruit flavoured hooka with refreshing mint tea - very exotic! If you suddenly feel nostalgic for fish & chips or Indian food then a quick dash to the coast should sort you out! You'll find a great selection of food from all over the world - Moroccan, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, French, Jamaican, Argentinian, Portuguese, Mexican ...
In addition, Alhama also has:
* a cafe on the square which sells gorgeous cakes, coffees, juices, waffles and ice creams and sorbets from La Perla, one of Granada's oldest ice cream parlours. It's the perfect place for a leisurely breakfast, a lazy afternoon or for a stop after an evening stroll.....
*a bar that puts burning plates of embers under your table to keep you warm in the winter; this best loved bar in town also has fantastic tapas, an easy-going, child-friendly atmosphere and impromtu flamenco sessions in the back room,
*gazpacho, served in summer, it's refreshing, healthy and delicious. Locally, you can also choose garlic soup (the predeccesor to gazpacho, from Morocco) or "picadillo" - a mixed broth.