Spit and Sawdust
Well, we are delighted to report that we have enjoyed another tapas tour with the ever vivacious Gayle Mackie who founded and runs Granada Tapas Tours. You will recall that we wrote about our first jaunt with Gayle, and this was a slightly less structured visit. We joined Gayle to revisit some more ‘traditional’ bars that she has not been back to for a year or so, so it was something of a joint adventure.
There is no doubt that Gayle’s knowledge of bars, restaurants, their owners, the food, wine and language has opened up so many doors for us here in Granada, and that is only after visiting a handful of the 2,500+ places on offer.
Last night, we met in the tree-filled Plaza de la Trinidad, furtively messaging each other along the lines of “Are you on a Bench?”….”I’m by the juggling man…” and “I’m on the northern edge…” when I was, in fact, on the eastern edge. Oh well.
As before, I have no intention of giving away any of Gayle’s secrets! If you can guess by the descriptions then I have done a good job.
The first one is easy, and we didn’t actually stop for a drink as Andrew and I have both been there before. Known as the Pig’s Head Bar, wine is served in ice-cold ceramic pigs, and a pig’s head does stare, rather unnervingly down, on the imbibers in the bar. We scuttled past, but we do like this bar and will return.
The first on our proper jaunt is a bar dedicated to the Egyptian Opera Singer, Umm Kulthum (1898 - 1975), who was one of the greatest Arab singers of the 20th Century who sold over 80 million records.
The bar is not quite so grand as the Maria Callas of Egypt, but the Arabic influence is very much in evidence, as are the photographic records of the great Egyptian diva mounted on the wall.
Tapas comes free with your drink, and here you can choose from a list. We had some delicious filo pastry cheese rolls and chicken-filled briouats (brewats) - small samosa-like parcels. Other food looked enticing, most of it with an Arabic heritage, so tangines featured somewhat.
This was a cosy bar, with a battered moorish look that has a patina that comes with its age, and the owner was hugely cordial. We’ll add this to our list.
The next little place, described by Gayle as a third of the size of the first, was once known as the Bar with No Name. As we approached we found, with slight disappointment, that it now has a name. Oh, the advances of society…
This is more of a wine bar, and it is fairly tiny but filled with character and the tapas was good too. We had small cannelloni-like rolls filled with seasoned mince and topped with a carbonara sauce. I rather had my eye on another diner’s plate of confit of duck with the most delicious-looking potatoes.
Both of these bars are hidden well away in the grid-iron street layout just to the south-west of Plaza de la Trinidad, and Andrew and I both get rather lost here as every street looks that same as any other. So, if you feel inclined to ask us where these bars are located, we will have absolutely no idea!
The third bar on our saunter is in a much busier area, off the Plaza Bib Rambla, and a hugely popular bar it is too. Mind you, after a week at work, weighed down by a stinking cold, I found this particular bar a little bit too frantic for my fragile state of mind at the time! This is a ‘beer-and-tapas’ type bar of the old kind. Gayle pointed out that a sure sign of a bar’s longevity is the chrome bar top, and there it was, much in evidence. This is a good bar to go to for authenticity amongst a very Spanish crowd.
Finally, another bar tucked off a busy commercial street. We have both looked at this bar before, and dismissed it as we felt sure it would be filled with tourists given that it was in the heart of the tourist area. Pah! Tourists! Never judge a bar by its exterior!
Inside, this is a bar that mixes the old with the new very successfully. The owner of the bar can be, by all accounts, a little mercurial, but he and his team were very pleased to see Gayle and welcomed us all with open arms and plates of food. Andrew and I are not great red wine lovers; we have to be very much in the mood. I felt the need for something medicinal (I am the world’s worst patient when I have a sniffle) so had an easy-drinking red which turned out to be rather lovely. I think we both determined that, with the onset of colder temperatures, we might forego the chilled whites and sample a few more hearty reds. Again, here you can choose the tapas that accompanies your drink, but we suddenly found three plates of food before us: albondigas in a glorious almond broth, cheese and pork, all of which were very good.
So, three if not four new bars that we will undoubtedly frequent. We were, last week, also introduced to two other bars in another part of town…..I should perhaps add at this stage that we are not complete dipsomaniacs, we are just meticulous researchers…..and these two bars are extremely good! More in another post, perhaps….In fact, next on our list with Gayle will be a visit to a rather swanky restaurant as our pre-Christmas treat.
However, all this means that when our families and friends next come to visit they will be in for many a treat.
As stated before, we have no intention of giving away Gayle’s secrets. Clearly our own visitors will always be given our own guided tour, but we cannot recommend Gayle and her team enough. Through Granada Tapas Tours, we have been introduced to many delights in the city and are now welcomed by the bar owners as friends.
For further information http://www.granadatapastours.com/