Playa Macenas Beach and Golf Resort

8 Dec

The Almerian climate is perfect for golf lovers and as you’d expect we have many beautiful courses in the local area.

Desert Springs and Valle del Este are both less than 20 minutes away from the Cortijo and are well used throughout the year. We’ve reviewed them both already on Yummy Almeria

Playa Macenas is a little further away on the south side of Mojacar on the road to Carboneras and the fabulous Cabo de Gata National Park. It’s well worth the trip to find this gem of a golf course, even if it is a little unusual.

Macenas 006 (2)

The resort was built over 4 years ago but construction of housing stopped abruptly when the crisis hit. The result is an almost fully developed resort which is largely uninhabited but still has a very playable and enjoyable course in the middle of it.

Our chum, Mike ‘discovered’ Macenas earlier in the week and suggested that we played on Saturday morning. I hadn’t played for a long time so I was pleased to hear that the 18 hole course has eight par 3 holes – Mike said it would be a perfect place for me to get back into the swings of things.

Macenas 008 (2)

 

We paid 25 euros’s each for the round, which includes buggy rental and believe me, you need one, and enjoyed a gloriously sunny morning of golf in fabulous surroundings.

We saw a couple of other golfer’s but no-one else so it’s like playing on your own private course in the middle of nature with amazing views of both mountains and sea. On more than one occasion we stopped to enjoy the deafening sound of silence amazed that the place is so underused.

Macenas 004

As well as the par 3’s there are plenty of very challenging holes – water, gulleys and a fearsome number of bunkers to trip you up with every misplaced shot. I had plenty of those but without the pressure from other golfers and the serenity of the place felt myself relaxing very quickly, making a few decent shots and feel my golf mojo slowly returning. Mike was right.

After the game, we relaxed a bit more on their fabulous terrace overlooking the Med and gazing out onto the horizon admiring the natural curvature on the Earth with a couple of cold beers.

Macenas 012

Macenas is well worth the visit – it is a bit of a ‘ghost resort’ but a very upmarket one. The course is fun, challenging and truly beautiful and literally, all yours for the 25 euro fee.

PlayaMacenasBeach and Golf Resort Telephone number 950 548 240.

 

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La Capilla Restaurant, Mojacar

29 Oct

This surely is one of the prettiest venues in the region – it is a converted Chapel and is gorgeous both inside and out.  We went recently, just before the heat of the summer, for lunch and it was really excellent.Capilla Ollie and Bug 004 (2)

La Capilla is on the road that joins Los Gallardos and Garrucha so it’s not strictly in Mojacar but close to it. The menu is incredibly varied, something for everyone and whilst, not cheap, represents good value.  If I had known the size of the main courses, I would not have ordered a starter – maybe two starters instead, or a salad for the table to begin, and then a main.

Capilla Ollie and Bug 010 (2)

 

The setting is just gorgeous and one can’t help thinking that it would make a fantastic venue for a wedding reception or big birthday celebration.

Capilla Ollie and Bug 003 (2)

 

We had a wonderfully cool table under a canopy and incredibly private. Lots more nice pics here on their Facebook page.

La Capilla Restaurant telephone number is 950 479 305

 

Casa Joya Restaurant, Velez Rubio

13 Jun

Summer has well and truly arrived for us – you can tell as we have had a stream of visitors which means that we are again searching out new and fabulous places to take them!  One of these is Casa Joya – their website is here. We can’t claim the credit for finding it – indeed it has been recommended to us by lots of our friends over the past year, and it has taken my parents to arrive again to venture out and finally go there!

Casa Joya view

Casa Joya view

And wow!  I would say it is one of the best places to go around us – the setting is just beautiful – but I must mention it is a little off the beaten track, but certainly not difficult to find.  From the motorway, you take junction 553 to Huercal Overa and head north through Santa Maria De Nieva and look for the Casa Joya sign after the 13km marker.  The drive there is ever so slightly challenging, but the road is good and the scenery of hills and wild flowers worth it.

Restaurant interior

Restaurant interior

Once you see the Casa Joya sign, it is very well signposted right to their door – the setting as said is just beautiful – tranquil and impressive at the same time.  It is an old cortijo which has been transformed into an eclectic mix of Spain and Zimbabwe (Mary, one of the owners, is from there, here husband James is the chef) and has a wonderfully homely and welcoming atmosphere.

Dinner menu

Dinner menu

The great thing about this restaurant is that you can stay overnight if you want to tuck into the wine – we on this occasion didn’t, but certainly will at some point.  We settled down to looking at the very tempting menu over drinks – much more sophisticated than we are used to around here and very welcome too – I completely went off diet for the night!  I think James must spend 22 hours in the kitchen, as everything appears to be made from scratch, (including the half dozen or more homemade desserts).  There is something for everyone’s taste and all beautifully presented and delicious.  We ordered a variety of dishes, from my goats cheese and caramelised onion tart, to fish cakes, to langoustine and mussels to start and from rabbit to monkfish for mains and everything in between.  Each dish was utterly delicious.

Grilled Prawns and Mussels

Grilled Prawns and Mussels

Pork stuffed with black pudding

Pork stuffed with black pudding

Date and Prune sticky toffee pudding

Date and Prune sticky toffee pudding

 

On face value it seems pricey for dinner so don’t go expecting a 12 euro menu del dia – this is in every way far superior to that and more a gourmet experience – if this were France you would expect to pay three times as much as the 26 euro price for two courses (29 euros for three).  Lunch is an utter bargain at 16.95 and 19.95 euros for 2 or 3 courses respectively.  So think of it as a special occasion venue which still offers magnificent value for money in our opinion.

I just can’t wait to go back again, maybe for lunch very soon!

Casa Joya telephone number: 699 005 024

 

 

 

 

 

Meson Villarejo Restaurant, Puerto Lumbreras.

7 Jun

Sunday lunch has always been a special time for Spanish people when they take time to get together as a family and enjoy some well earned time off.

Last Sunday, we took a trip north from us to Puerto Lumbreras to visit the outstanding Meson Villarejo restaurant. It’s an easy 35 km drive from us so it’s slightly further away but well worth the trip.

Dining room

Dining room

Meson Villarejo is a couple of kms off the autovia nestled in on the left well before you reach the town centre. It’s a family affair and you’re made to feel very welcome the minute you step inside. There’s a lovely terrace outside where you can eat but we chose the air conditioning as it was a very hot day.

Outside dining area

Outside dining area

You can choose between an al a carte menu or go as we all did for the menu del dia (3 courses) for 18 euros. Tremendous value!

Sunday menu del dia

Sunday menu del dia

I started with cod parcels, jamon croquette, date in bacon and deep fried langoustine – really an appetizer before a second dish of aubergine stuffed with seafood and topped with cheese which was mouth-watering and one of the best vegetarian dishes I’ve ever tasted. I’ve added pictures of my fellow diners dishes – a plate of salmon carpacchio with tomato, and a very creative version of fried eggs, ham and chips so you can get an idea of the variety of what is on offer.

Cod, jamon, date and langoustine

Cod, jamon, date and langoustine

Eggs, ham and chips

Eggs, ham and chips

Salmon carpacchio with tomato

Salmon carpacchio with tomato

Aubergine stuffed with seafood with a cheese topping

Aubergine stuffed with seafood with a cheese topping

We all ordered the same main course – as it sounded so good – the beef fillet with foie and apple which was perfectly presented as well as delicious.

Beef fillet with foie

Beef fillet with foie

The atmosphere is good because the place is full and it’s full because it’s good. The staff are lovely, the chef often comes and talks to you and there is a real unhurried relaxing air to the place.

Los tres amigos

Los tres amigos

The Meson Villarejo is a lunchtime only restaurant open from 1.00 pm to 4.00 pm daily. They don’t have a website but their Facebook page is here.

Dining room and chef painting

Dining room and chef painting

Meson Villarejo Restaurant Telephone number: 968 402 563

Easter Simnel Cake

31 Mar

Since I have been on a diet (yawn) my baking activities have become somewhat depleted, but as I have guests, I thought I should make an effort for easter and so baked a Simnel Cake – great fun, easy peasy and I bet you have most of the ingredients in your store cupboard.  I didn’t have any candied peel and so I just grated the zest from a large orange instead.  If you haven’t got raisins, just put in extra of what you do have!

 

Purists can attempt their own almond paste, but really bought marzipan is so good that I can find better things to do than make it!

 

Semana Santa here is usually wet or grey or both, and so is a lovely thing to do in your kitchen – the smell of the spices is very festive.  For those of  you in the UK, it will give you a nice cosy feeling on this Easter Sunday.

 

Happy Easter everyone!

Simnel Cake 001

 

Ingredients:

  • 560g / 1 ¼ lbs ready made almond paste (marzipan)
  • 450g / 1 lb dried mixed fruits (currants, raisins, sultanas, glace cherries)
  • 80g / 3 oz candied chopped peel
  • 225g / 8 oz all purpose/plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 175g / 6 oz butter
  • 175g / 6 oz caster sugar / fine sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • Milk to mix
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam

Preparation:

170°C/Gas 3

  • Line a 7 inch cake tin with parchment or greaseproof paper.
  • Divide the almond paste into 3 and take one portion and roll it to a round the size of the cake tin.
  • In a large roomy baking bowl mix the mixed dried fruits and candied peel with the flour, salt and spices.
  • In another large bowl cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition – do not try to rush this process as the mixture could curdle. If it does curdle simply add a tbsp of the flour and mix again, this should bring the mixture back together.
  • Carefully fold in half the flour and half the fruit into the egg and butter mixture, once incorporated repeat with the remaining flour and fruit.
  • Put half of the cake mixture into the tin, smooth and cover with the round of almond paste. Put the remaining cake mixture into the tin and smooth the surface carefully. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour.
  • Lower the heat to 300°F/150°C/Gas 2 and bake for 2 hours, or until the cake is golden brown. Test by inserying a skewer into the cake, it should come out clean and dry. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  • Roll another third of almond paste, again to the size of the tin. Make the remaining almond paste equally into 11 tiny balls.
  • Once the cake is completely cool, remove from the tin and brush the top of the cake with apricot jam and cover with the disc of almond paste. Place the 11 tiny balls of paste evenly around the edge. Brush the paste all over with a little apricot jam and place under a hot grill until lightly browned.
  • The cake can then be decorated as you wish with tiny Easter eggs or any other Easter theme.

 

New What’s On Guide for Costa Almeria

21 Mar

Those clever people at Costa Almeria Tours have gone and done something extremely useful indeed.

They’ve started the region’s first What’s On Guide covering everything you’d want to know about what’s happening from A (Agua Armarga) to Z (Zurgena) and everywhere in between.

We’re grateful to Jackie and Charlie who run Costa Almeria Tours for allowing us to make this link available to Yummy Almeria visitors.

If you look on the right of the page under ‘We’ve put all the Yummy stuff’ here‘, you’ll find the link to the guide at ‘What’s On‘. It’s updated whenever a new event is announced.

Enjoy! It’s all going on out there and now you can find it 🙂

ps. Take a look at the tours on offer from Jackie and Charlie – they are first class, really imaginative and great fun. We’re going to be reporting on a few on offer throughout the spring and summer. If you’re quick you may be able to book yourselves onto an Easter tour. Call 646 760 389 for more details

What’s On Guide

21 Mar

For the latest information about What’s On in our region, click here.

Bodega Mi Cortijo Restuarant, Mojacar Playa

18 Mar

It is always a bit of a quiet time during the first three months of the year for everyone here.  Restaurant owners take their well deserved holidays, and we are all doing those horrible jobs that we put off until the winter – the run up to Christmas is too busy, so it gets pushed back until now (before going out today, Mick and I finished painting the hall!).

 

Anyhow, we decided it was about time for an outing again and a bit of relaxation and so went down to Mojacar to meet up with some friends who had already visited Mi Cortijo.  It is located on a side street (second turning on the right after the Hortiflor roundabout if you are coming from Garrucha direction).  As soon as you turn up the street you will see it on the left hand side.  Parking is easy as it is in a residential area.

Mi Cortijo cats and dogs 001

 

It is obvious that this has been newly refurbished (it used to be a lovely home interiors shop) as it is very smart and tastefully done.  There is a large area with lots of tables and chairs, and barrels and bar stools where you can have breakfast, coffee, drinks or tapas and then a more formal dining room at the back.  We just went for tapas and a couple of glasses of wine – there is a fairly extensive tapas menu and some good healthy choices too (half of us are on diets!).

Mi Cortijo cats and dogs 004

 

We ordered Jamon, mixed salad (which comes with tuna, but is left undressed), roasted peppers and tuna, sliced tomatoes with grilled Italian cheese, smoked ham and sliced potatoes on toasted bread, and then some toasts that we first thought were kebabs (pinchos), but in fact you went and chose some toppings of your choice – the boys chose alioli, anchovy and a chilli pepper topping (?) for us, but actually it was very nice.  Had I not been on a diet I probably could have had one or two more dishes to make a reasonably substantial lunch, but opted for another glass of wine instead!

 

Mi Cortijo cats and dogs 005

 

As the name suggests (Bodega) they also sell their house wine by the 2 litre bottle for 4.50 euros – red, white and rosado, which we didn’t try.

 

It is good to have another new place to go to with slightly more sophisticated and beautifully presented tapas than usual.  The service was lovely and friendly, swift but without bringing everything at once and the bill came to 14 euros a head which included a 10% tip.  We will definitely be going there again and would be a good choice for an evening drink too.  We didn’t look at the a la carte menu but if the tapas are anything to go by, take a look next time you are down that way and see for yourself.

Mi Cortijo cats and dogs 006

 

They are open all day from 8.30 a.m. until 11p.m daily.

Bodega Mi Cortijo Restuarant, Mojacar Playa Telephone number: 696 431 510.

Lobster a L’Americaine

24 Feb

Lobster 003

I have to admit that I should have posted this a while ago – actually during Christmas week as it is something I used to make every Christmas Eve for my parents, siblings, partners and whoever was spending Christmas with us when I lived in North London.

My dad and I used to go to Billingsgate market at some ungodly, freezing hour of the morning but I relished it and for those of you living in London, I urge you to go if you never have.  You get the pick of the best fresh fish and seafood and all the atmosphere that markets in the early hours have to offer.  It was also the only way one could afford to cook 8 or 10 lobsters as they were less that half the price of the fishmongers or supermarkets and obviously much fresher.

Xmas 2012 006

Anyhow, I digress.  This year, for various reasons, Mick and I decided to stay in Spain for Christmas by ourselves, and for the first time in 7 years my family opted to stay in London.  Strange though it was, it was enjoyable in a different kind of way and meant that despite this hideous recession, I was able to cook lobster for the two of us on Christmas Eve, using my old recipe (still on an apron that my dad brought back from the states I don’t know how many years ago – I have never written it out before, and had to have the apron on the work top until now that is!).   So here it is – the most delicious lobster dish if you want a change from cold lobster and salad – if you are on a budget, then serve half a lobster per person and throw in some plump prawns or langoustine at the end of cooking time.

It is not a difficult dish to make, just a little fiddly, you need time to prepare but the cooking bit is pretty last minute, so make up a green salad and lay the table in advance and serve the lobster with some jacket potatoes which can finish cooking whilst you cook and assemble the lobsters.  It has quite a few ingredients so take time to read the shopping list otherwise you end up missing something.  If you can’t find clam juice, simply leave it out or buy half a kilo (easily available here) and simmer them for a few minutes in some water and a decent splash of white wine, salt and pepper.  You can use the clams for a spaghetti vongole lunch!

Also, I have only ever cooked this on a gas hob – so if you have an electric hob just make sure you have a decent solid square pan and watch the heat!  – my dad bought me one that goes over the entire hob, which you do need if cooking for 6 of you – if you are cooking for two, then a decent roasting pan will do.  If you are cooking in warmer weather, then you could place the pan on the griddle of your barbeque – it may be easier.

Pour yourself a glass of Vina Sol, take a deep breath and have a go!

Xmas 2012 011

My recipe is for 6, just adapt according to how many you are cooking for.

As this is an American recipe they use “cups” – 1 cup = 8 ounces

6 lobsters around 1lb each

Half a cup of olive oil

9 tbsps butter (I think this is a bit heavy handed, so half it!)

1 cup finely chopped onions

9 shallots, finely chopped

4 large cloves, crushed

2/3rd ‘s cup of cognac warmed

9 large tomatoes peeled and seeded

6 oz tomato puree

1 and a half cups of clam juice (you can find them in bottles, look up on the internet for stockists, or just don’t worry about it!)

1 and a half cups water

1 and a half cups dry white wine

3 tablespoons chopped tarragon (or 3 teaspoons dried)

6 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped

3 teaspoons salt (or less)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon thyme, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried

3 tablespoons of butter, cut into small pieces (or less!)

3 additional tablespoons of chopped parsley

Ask your fishmonger to cleanly cut your lobsters in two if they are live and you can’t cope! – or you can buy cooked ones, you need to clean them whichever, just leaving the lovely white tail meat – break off the claws and crack the shells as this will make it easier to eat when they are covered in sauce!  If you are doing it yourself at home, make sure you catch the juice, liver and coral. (google it if you are not sure!).

Heat the oil and butter in your pan and add all the lobster pieces (only if they are uncooked, if cooked just put them in before flaming them in cognac below).   Cook until the shells turn red and then remove and set aside.  Add the onions, shallots, farlic and cook until transparent but not brown.  Return the lobsters and flame with the cognac and swirl until the flames subside and then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, clam juice if using, water, wine, all the herbs, salt and cayenne (go easy on the cayenne as you don’t want to mask the wonderful flavours).  Simmer gently for 20 minutes and then remove the lobster again.  Over a high heat boil the liquid until slightly reduced – return the lobster with any juices reserved, plus the liver and coral. Now add a bit more butter ,check the seasoning and sprinkle with fresh parsley.  Serve on hot platters with lots of paper napkins and enjoy!  Trust me it is well worth the effort.

Porridge and pomegranate

20 Jan

If like the world and his wife (and me!) you have started the new year with the best intentions of changing your eating habits (don’t use that horrible word, diet!) I really really recommend starting the day with porridge.

I always think porridge has horrible connotations – gloopy, grey and not very appealing.

I have completely changed my view and since January 2nd have started each day with a beautiful bowlful.

It is a bit of a wonder food and can lower cholesterol, is very high in fibre and all kinds of other things which are good for a healthy heart!  Even if you have a busy life, have to be up at the crack of dawn to get to work, it literally takes five minutes to prepare.  So while you are waiting for the kettle to boil, you can make yourself a breakfast low in fat but one that will keep you going until lunchtime.  I am a great snacker, my downfall, because I never used to really eat breakfast.  Now I have cut out all the snacks, with the help of a bowl of porridge.  It is soooo easy too.  The Scots like to eat porridge made with water and served with salt, sounds ghastly but actually is ok.  However, you may prefer my version!

Porridge and pom 001

 

For one bowl

 

Put one cup of porridge oats into small saucepan and soak in skimmed or semi-skimmed milk for a few seconds.  Put on the heat gently and stir for a few minutes.  I like mine creamy and so add more skimmed milk so it is not stodgy, but rather like the consistency of rice pudding.

 

Empty into a breakfast bowl and have a large tablespoon of pomegranate seeds to go with it.  If you are not watching the calories, drizzle a teaspoon of maple syrup into the porridge – it is just fantastic.  I have all kinds of fruit with mine when I haven’t go pomegranate seeds (which by the way freeze fantastically well if you can be bothered – just take all the seeds out of the skin and put in a freezer bag – you can just scoop a tablespoon out whenever you want them) – half a banana sliced up is divine, raspberries or hot blackberries – whatever you feel like, but I promise you it just feels so good and will keep you from snacking during the morning.  I have lost 3lbs in two weeks by cutting out snacks, eating more fruit and vegetables, one glass of red wine a day, not three!!!!  And a bit of exercise too.  But I swear by starting the day with porridge has given me a kick start.  And even though we live in the Spain, the winter mornings can be chilly too!  So do give it a try.