I haven’t had much money for eating out this year – it’s been a difficult year emotionally and financially, although both have improved as time has gone on. Unfortunately with the latter, as soon as I think things are improving they seem to go pear-shaped again – the latest being an unexpected tax bill which has arisen not through my error but due to HMRC’s ineptitude with my PAYE… that having been said, I have no doubt they will still want me to pay it (bang goes the lump sum from one of my pensions, which was going to pay for some house repairs and garden maintenance).
Still, despite that I have been on some brilliant trips this year and therefore eaten out in some fantastic places. There isn’t really any one restaurant which stands out in Italy – all the food is so fantastic, and as everybody says, the ice cream is out of this world. But I’ve mentioned The Bridge restaurant in St Asaph, North Wales and Bella and I enjoyed Carluccio’s in London.
Then in Lanzarote recently a friend and I came across what is possibly one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten in in my entire life: Alma tapas & + (Alma tapas y mas) in La Santa village on the north west coast of the island. We’d been a bit disappointed with most of the food on-site at Club la Santa and had tried the restaurant Verde Mar in la Santa village one evening – which was good, as was The Plaza within the Club la Santa complex itself. We had decided we’d go back to the Verde Mar and so walked into la Santa village on the penultimate night of the holiday. For some reason when we got there we thought we’d look to see what other restaurants there were – Penny had spotted a tapas bar one day when we’d been cycling through, though neither of us was particularly keen to have tapas. We spotted the restaurant and liked the decor and the look of the menu… and headed in.
Alma tapas & + is a tapas bar during the day and a fully fledged restaurant at night – and Wow is it some restaurant. The service was excellent with friendly, good-natured staff who seemed to be happy in their jobs and who were attentive without being intrusive but who were quick to respond when customers wanted something – they even seemed to like my attempts to speak Spanish, which as usual I got muddled up with Italian. The freshly baked bread rolls were not made in house but were local, and were served warmed up with the local ‘mojos’ – a green and an orangey sauce/dip which we had been served each evening that we’d ordered bread and which are delicious (I’m just not totally sure what’s in them!).
Our main courses that day were Lamb for me and Fillet Steak for Penny – despite the fact that both of us tend to eat fish rather than red meat. Both dishes were beautifully presented, cooked perfectly and served with a delicious selection of ‘al dente’ vegetables. For dessert I chose a hazelnut mousse with a crispy coffee base and I think, from memory, also a layer of dark chocolate. It was incredibly light and foamy and absolutely fantastic (and I don’t normally go for desserts). Then, just as we were about to pay and to leave, we were offered a liqueur on the house – as they didn’t have any limoncello they offered us a grapefruit-based liqueur which again was delicious, partly as it had a lovely sharpness to it as well as the sweetness of a liqueur.
The meal was so fantastic that we opted to go there again on the final night. This time we both had a starter as well as the bread and mojos and I ordered the Thai lobster bisque which had tempted me the day before. This was a light, spicy soup served with some pieces of lobster, which is something I haven’t eaten since I last ate it in Capernaum bistro over a year ago, but which I love (I first tried lobster in Greece, where you could pick your lobster out of a tank where it was swimming around…). The blend of flavours worked perfectly and I adored the fact that it wasn’t a creamy, cloying soup.
As Penny had sung the praises of the fillet steak so highly the evening before I was torn between tuna and steak, and in the end opted for the steak. It was really melt in the mouth stuff, and later when the Brazilian owner came round she told us how they ensure it remains so succulent and soft. Despite being full by then it was difficult to resist having a dessert, and this time it was an airy, foamy mango mousse with a white chocolate ‘cream’ beneath it. I seem to remember the creamy base was made with yoghurt so again it was not too sweet and was of a heavenly lightness. Desserts that light and foamy seem just to slip down as if they have no calories at all!
Despite being far busier on this second evening the service was again excellent, and we left feeling a little sad that we hadn’t discovered this superb restaurant sooner. But I hope very much that it prospers and continues to excel. You can be sure that next time I’m on Lanzarote I know exactly where I am going to eat. I’m just sorry that despite taking my camera with me, I completely forgot to take any photos as I was enjoying my food so much! You can see some of their creations on their Facebook page though – click here.