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The Chippy Restaurant – Vera

30 Dec

Although we get the most amazing fish here, both at the supermarket and in restaurants, what you don’t find very often is really good English style Fish and Chips!  That was until the Millers opened the Chippy, a fantastic, authentic fish and chip shop in Vera, opposite Iceland.

The Chippy 020

It is a family run business and Graham, Mandy and their two lovely girls, Daisy and Rosie are always there with a smile and very friendly service.  The choice of fish is as good as any chippy you will find in the UK, always really fresh and beautifully cooked; as well as fish and chips, they do great pies, doner kebabs, battered sausages and also, specialities such as Graham’s hand made sheek kebabs, with mint and yoghurt sauce – just delicious.  If you have something you particularly like, they will do their best to get it in for you – you can call ahead and order, or order personally, and go and do a bit of shopping, or as we do, pop in to the Irish bar for a pint!

The Chippy 011

Having a great fish and chip shop locally is a funny kind of luxury – sometimes you just fancy it, or like me, you enjoy a night off cooking now and again but don’t always want to go out for a formal meal.  The fish and chips here are excellent value and a lot cheaper than you would find in the UK!   Incidentally, for those of you who know the Chippy already, they now have tables and chairs inside if you prefer to eat in, great for those of you who live a little further afield.

The Chippy 012

Every time you pop into the chippy, don’t forget to give Mandy your email address or telephone number and you will automatically be entered into their monthly prize draw.  Each month somebody wins a free meal for two – it’s just a bit of fun, and anything that is free these days can’t be bad!

They have their own website too, so go to www.thechippyvera.com  for full details of their menu and prices too.  Give them a go, you won’t be disappointed.

The Chippy, Vera telephone number is 667 33 33 61.

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Triana Bar & Restaurant, Valle del Este, Vera

26 Aug

Last weekend we went up to the pool at Valle del Este, 10 minutes from here.  We used to go here a lot at weekends before we had our own swimming pool as they have a beautiful one and as long as it is not too busy, they let you use the pool, I guess because you will have drinks and lunch etc.

 

Next door to the pool area is a commercial centre albeit a small one.   There are a couple of restaurants and bars here and our favourite is one called Triana.

It has recently been refurbished and extended and has lovely views over the hills beyond the golf course.  It is a family run business, and the very charming son speaks English very well.  Mum cooks the most delicious food – there is an extensive tapas menu which we normally choose from, dishes ranging from 1.50 euros for a small tapa to 5/8 euros or so for a racion (a larger portion suitable for 3 or 4 to share).  Our favourite is the aubergine deep fried and drizzled with honey – it is divine and no matter how I plead, they won’t give me the recipe!  There is something for every taste (including children, who don’t normally go for tapas in a big way!), from prawns to chicken “tears” (a little like tiny chicken nuggets), and clams, chorizo – the list just goes on.

If you do want a more substantial meal and you like fish, order the cod – it is fantastic. They are also famous for their rice dishes on a Sunday, but you have to pre-order these. The meat dishes are delicious too and there really is something for everyone.

Do try it for a lovely relaxed early evening drink, or a linger over a selection of really fantastic dishes – as it is only 10 minutes from here, it is lovely to go there when I feel like a night off!

Triana Bar & Restuarant, Valle del Este, Vera telephone number: 950 461 182

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vera Water Park

10 Feb

I had to go down to Garrucha yesterday and it prompted me to mention the Water Park which you pass on the way. It made me smile because my last blog was about ski-ing so you couldn’t get two more different activities – but it is worth including as it is another fantastic thing to do with the kids here during the summer holidays.

It opens late in May until September and is also really good value for money.  The park itself is just immaculate, with staff cleaning up all the time – there are plenty of sunbeds with shades, or if you prefer you can just lie on the grass under the trees.  There is a pretty good restaurant and bar that serves salads and pasta as well as all the usual stuff for lunch or you may prefer to take a picnic as there are loads of nice places to sit and relax.

The other thing I like about it is that it is not so huge that you risk spending half the day looking for each other, whilst still having enough slides and swimming pools, plus a wave machine, that you will easily be able to spend a whole day here with no problem.  It is suitable for little ones as well as teenagers so great for mixed age groups.  But having said that, I had a brilliant day with my brother and his girlfriend and my gorgeous nephew, Oliver, and I don’t fall into either of those age groups!  So I will say suitable for parents too!

Vera Water Park Telephone number: 950 467 337

La Brasa Restaurant and bar, Vera

28 Oct

Last night, having got back from London late the day before, I didn’t really have the energy to cook as I had been catching up on a week’s chores and sorting all the rooms out now that the season has quietened down!  Mick said he would take me a local place between Vera and Antas that he had discovered whilst I was in London.  Anything cooked on a brasa usually means wood burning grill and is likely to be very meaty although usually a menu del dia will have something fishy on too.

These kind of places are very Spanish, no frills and frequented by local people.  You can have tapas from the bar or you can order a la carte, in which case they will put a tablecloth on one of the tables for you!   I was really hungry and so ordered from the menu del dia – 3 courses for 14 euros, including a couple of glasses of decent wine and coffee which didn’t seem to appear on the bill and so I guess were included.  I had a massive salad and an entremeses, a plate of salami, chorizo, cheese and ham, followed by the most delicious lamb chops with fried potatoes – not very healthy but just fantastic.  Mick just shared the salad, which came at the beginning for both us, and then had a really decent, well-cooked sirloin steak for about 15 quid!  They are continually putting meat on the embers of the fire in a wire rack so that they just cook through slowly (no burnt meat here!).  The result is just the most delicious, smoky, well-seasoned fare – if you are a carnivore, you could not do better in any top restaurant.  Then I ordered something for pudding which I didn’t understand – Mick said it translated something like “Bacon in heaven” but he may have been teasing me – anyway, it was a kind of bread puddingy thing with whipped cream which we managed to plough through with no problem.  The diet starts today!

The total bill for the two of us was 32 Euros.  Years ago I would have walked out of a place like this because they look like workman’s cafes (in fact usually, hidden in the back is also a much more formal dining room where christening receptions take place!) – now I know better!  Local people don’t put up with bad food or being ripped off.  And being about 7 minutes drive away is just a bonus!

La Brasa telephone number: 950 390 753

 


Terraza Carmona Restaurant and bar, Vera

24 Oct

On Saturday’s we often go to the market at Vera, a large town 10 minutes away.  After the hustle and bustle of shopping and lugging all our goodies back to the car, we pop into Terraza Carmona for a drink and a tapa – it is a hotel but with a fantastic restaurant and bar.  The bar is miles long with lots of tapas to choose from along with a fabulous choice of fresh prawns and all kinds of fish and seafood.  Cheap it ain’t if you want to eat in the restaurant but fabulous it is.  If you are just snacking and having the house wine or beer, it is a bargain though and you can stay for a couple of hours with no problem at all.

Terraza Carmona tapas bar

They also have the famous jamon from acorn fed piggies which as far as I am concerned is one of the most delicious things you can eat in the world.  A plate enough for four of you is around 20 quid so well worth ordering along with some bread and manchego cheese.  It is very very Spanish and over the weekends the bar is always busy – we always do the non Spanish thing and go reasonably early (around 8 o’clock) if we are going in the evening as otherwise it is hard to get a table if there are more than two of you.  It is lively and mostly frequented by well to do Spaniards, along with hoards of children who are always welcome at all hours of the evening.

Terraza Carmona restaurant

The restaurant is very much more sedate and very classy.  The menu is extensive and varied and also very funnily written – you kind of need to see it to know what I mean!  The kid is absolutely delicious so long as you manage not to picture what it once looked like, as are all the meat dishes.  There are lots of fish choices too – always order a salad as Spanish people obviously think “what is the point of having vegetables, we get those at the market”.  And so you may well get a tablespoon of frozen veg on your plate, along with good potatoes or chips though.  It is something I will never get used to but they seem unwilling to change in this region.   (This isn’t true in most cities in Spain).

Carmona is an absolute must for any visitor – just go for drinks and tapas if you are on a budget or treat yourself to a big fat Sunday lunch – you are guaranteed to enjoy either.

Terraza Carmona telephone number: 950 390 760

Vera market, Vera

13 Oct

Saturday morning and we are off to Vera to wander around the market – normally I have done most of my supermarket shopping on Friday, so this is purely for pleasure and to buy lovely fresh fruit and vegetables and to treat myself to some flowers.  Although there are markets in every town on every day of the week, Vera is my favourite.

Fresh produce at Vera market

It sprawls out from the Plaza Major (town square) in every direction, down all the main streets and the little alleys off them.  It is colourful and noisy and full of crazy Spanish people selling everything from jelly beans to whole legs of jamon, underwear to sunglasses and everything in between.  You have to watch it though, they have one price for locals and another for tourists (a difference of about 30%) which obviously really annoys us and if they try it on me, I chuck it back at them shouting “no estoy una turista, vivo aqui!” and stomp off!  We mooch about looking for the best seasonal fruit or vegetables and any bargains which catch our eye.  Then we always have a coffee in our favourite cafe, outside and right in the hubbub of everything. It is never raining at the market as if it is the stall holders simply don’t come and neither do we!

Mmmmm...chicken and chips

Then sometimes we go and have a glass of something in Carmona Terraza, a fantastic bar and restaurant in the town’s hotel – it is actually really famous in the whole region and serves the best acorn fed jamon (known as Pata Negra or Jabugo).  The market generally finishes at lunchtime but we like to go earlyish so we have the rest of our Saturday.  Everyone who comes to the Cortijo goes to Vera market and usually come back with lots of good little purchases to take home with them.  There really is something about a local market when you are on holiday – it is something that just has to be done!

 

Valle del Este Golf Club and Spa, Vera

3 Oct

As most of you know, in June it was my birthday – the hideous big 5-0 but it came and went without too much pain!  In fact I received some really lovely presents from dear friends which softened the blow somewhat – one of which was from our friends John and Phil, who live in London but are restoring a gorgeous old cortijo in the hills near us.  They treated me to a fantastic afternoon at the spa of one of our beautiful golf courses here.  It is nearing the end of the season (I have one more group booked in arriving tomorrow for 8 days!) so I thought I had better book myself in.

Valle del Este is a 10 minute drive from here – it is really gorgeous and is a hotel resort with golf course, huge outdoor pool, terrace restaurant and bar, and the spa of course.  It is all open to non-members and Mick and I used to go there on Sunday afternoons before we had our swimming pool installed.  There is no charge.

Swimming with a view

Anyhow I arrived after lunch and went straight into a full body massage – anyone who spends half an hour massaging my feet has to have something going for them – it was divine!  Then I had a face massage and a hydro massage (basically a lovely warm, deep bath with jets of water that pummel you and somehow make you feel instantly thinner!

Outdoor area Valle del Este spa

You can have a Jacuzzi, sauna or steam as well or just go outside and sunbathe and read.  I went straight onto the hotel terrace and had a gin and tonic.  What a fantastic end to the week – thank you John and Phil.  Even better, when I arrived home, Mick was in the kitchen making dinner for me and had downloaded Mad Men which I was too tired to watch the other night.  How lucky am I!

Vera Fiesta

27 Sep

Spain is the home of the bank holiday or Fiesta as they are known.  There always seems to be one on somewhere near us as we are surrounded by small and large towns.

This weekend was Vera’s Towns turn and actually the first time we had gone to this one.  Fiestas are great – no-one really knows what time anything starts and even if they do it is never correct.  So you just have to take pot luck in the main and turn up anytime that suits you.  What you always know is that they go on until 2 or 3 a.m. and then they set off the fireworks (which we nearly always miss as usually by 1 a.m. we are exhausted and want to go home!

Fiesta is for everyone!

We turned up at 9 p.m. on Saturday night and arrived at the town square to find everyone packing up the beer tents, confetti everywhere, streamers strewn all over the streets and virtually empty!  We knew that the crowd had moved on to the main event but weren’t sure where it was.  Anyhow we walked on a bit and sat outside a little bar and had a drink, where we asked the waitress where the fair was – so she pointed in the direction of the park at the end of town, so after we had had a glass of wine, we hopped back in the car and headed off.  When we arrived there were about 400 million people and 400 million lights which made us laugh as we had only driven about 500 metres.  Mick dropped us off (us myself, my almost 80 year old parents and my aunty, 83!) – they were really excited as there was loads to look at – temporary bars which every drink you could want, loads of tents with fantastic barbequed food, salads and potatoes, some really scary rides (which no-one would go on with me), dodgems (which Mick did go on with me!), stalls selling fantastic cakes and sweets, and candy floss, and a little market selling, rather strangely, loads of shoes which as you might imagine no-one was remotely interested in!

Scoff-tastic

There was a huge stage with some fantastically terrible girl singers, but no-one cared and everyone danced.  We had a delicious dinner of chicken and ribs with some pretty good plonk too and then just spent a couple of hours soaking up the atmosphere and left just after midnight as our eardrums had had enough (they always like to shout a lot on loudspeakers at all times!).

Everyone goes to the Fiesta from tiny babies to great grandparents – nobody is left out and everyone really enjoys themselves without any kind of agro it seems – it is the same whichever Fiesta you visit – you can buy a drink at 4 a.m. but no-one appears to get drunk which is just brilliant.

Late night Churros and chocolate

We had the best time – now we are looking forward to the Antas Fiesta later this month, but as usual no-one can remember when it is!

Vera Beach

12 Aug

Vera Beach is a beautiful long stretch of sand where you can happily spend the day sunbathing and swimming, or for those of you who like a bit more action, wind surfing or sailing the catamarans for hire.  It is just beyond the water Park so you can spend the morning on the beach and go to the park in the afternoon.  The water is clear and warm and there are beds and umberellas for hire.

Mick and I are off to Vera Beach after work for a drink at Lua, the beach club there (click here for pics etc) It is a very chilled out place for a drink either outside looking over the beach on the grass area or inside in the cool of the air-conditioned bar.  It is around 15 minutes away from the Cortijo by car so easy to get to either for a quick drink or to go later on for dinner.

You can lunch at Lua and use their facilities too -either a casual pizza or something more substantial – it is all good.  They also have a swimming pool and beds and umberellas next to the bar if you prefer.  Be careful which part of the beach you end up on though as it is Spain’s first legal naturist resort at one end so you may get more than you bargained for.  Err not for me thanks!  I like to take my early evening cocktail with my bikini on!