Cuisine in Andalucia A dining guide.

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tapas

What really makes eating out in Spain different from anywhere else is the sheer enjoyment and informality of the cuisine that prevails in the restaurants and bars.

Here you will find no hushed silences or pretentious surroundings, just family and friends enjoying each others company. We particularly appreciate is that children are welcome everywhere, even in the smartest of restaurants. The staff are always happy to prepare something special for their youngest guests.

Spanish children stay up as late as their parents, particularly in the summer, and they learn to appreciate good cuisine at an early age.Everyone is familiar with Paella, that classic of Spanish cooking, but properly made with Spanish short-grain rice, saffron, and the freshest of seafood it is an unforgettable experience.Gazpacho, the famous cold “soup”, a vegetable-cream made of tomato, cucumber, paprika, garlic, olive-oil, vinegar and bread; Pescaito frito, fish turned around in flour and fried in olive-oil; Huevos a la Flamenca, a fried egg in a sauce of tomato and Chorizo (a spicy typically Spanish sausage); Cocido Andaluz, a “hot-pot” made of chick-peas and different vegetables; Rabo de Toro, a ragout of bull’s tail.

The numberless bars offer so-called Tapas, “mini-dishes” for the small hunger. Each local has its own “house-specialities”, but some recipes you will find almost everywhere: Huevas, fish-eggs either with mayonnaise or Sauce Vinaigrette, Pinchos Morunos, very spicy spits of meat, Pavías de Pescado, marinaded fish fried in olive-oil, Caracoles, snails in a tasty sauce, Jamon, cured ham, and of course the fantastic olives of the region.

The great local wines, Jerez(sherry), Manzanilla and Montilla are a perfect match to all those dishes.This is only a fraction of the tapas available as every bar has its own unique specialities and at some bars, particularly in Antequera, you can choose from more than twenty varieties.

Along the beautiful beach fronts of the Costa del Sol there are dozens beach cabana bars called Chiringuitos. These well put together beach shacks are open all day for you to relax and eat seafood and drink a cold beer during the sweltering hours.

All day you find locals and tourist mixing together among the 8 –10 tables on the patio of each Chiringuito. You can rent beach chairs and lounge chairs to spread out around the bar where girls come around every so often with a new type of chupito(shot). At night, the sun goes down but that does not mean the people go home. Some stay and they are joined by a completely new group of beach worshipers. Most come out to listen to a local DJ or band that is set up by the individual Chiringuitos.

The price of drinks goes up about a Euro and not each Chiringuitos has live music everynight but on the weekends most do and the people love to come out and dance in the sand.

Many of the bars also set up lights so that people can go out swimming – clothes optional- within range of view and the music. Many people enjoy a clara and a bikini sandwich at the bar and some sit out on the sand on bamboo mats listening to the waves. Each bar plays different music, so unless you find out more during the day about what is playing, you may have to stroll along the beach until you find a mood that is fitting for you.

Thursdays and Sundays seem to have more of the parties going on if you want to meet people but most nights you can find something interesting. The beers cost 3.00€ but you are sitting next to the ocean and you can find a variety of food from bocadillas to seafood. Most Chiringuitos stay open until 12:00 during the week and 2:00 on weekends.

Ranchon Cubano

This typical Spanish restaurant has a Cuban twist and the locals in the know head here during the summer months for an afternoon through to late evening of Salsa, Merengue and Bacchata under the stars with live music from the house band, Habana de los Locos. It’s located east of Marbella just before Nikki Beach and not far from the Beach House where the waters are lovely and shallow and the sand is fine and golden. The atmosphere on a Sunday in August is simply buzzing!

Racho Cubano isn’t just known for it’s live music and dancing they also serve up a sumptuous menu of typical Spanish Beach dishes such as pescaito frito, grilled sardines, prawn pil pil, deep fried chicken and also healthier salads at reasonable prices. It is a predominantly adult venue after say 8 pm but that said I have often gone with friends and our younger kids in the earlier afternoon and they have been well fed and thoroughly enjoyed the music, dancing and also the really shallow waters at this part of the beach.

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