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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

 

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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

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.

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.

 

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.

Mediterraneo Restaurant – Mojacar Playa

23 Dec

Ok, this is without question, one of the best restaurants in this region for a menu del dia!  It is situated overlooking the beach, and near the Irish Rover.

Mediterraneo 004

We were taken here a few weeks ago by some friends, and we were so impressed wanted to go again and so we in turn, invited some other friends to join us for lunch.

The restaurant is bright and airy, has a formal restaurant with large windows overlooking the sparkling blue sea – it was a sensational day yesterday, which made it only the better!  On the pavement side, is an enclosed, less formal dining area where you can have drinks, or eat as well.

Mediterraneo 002

The menu del dia offered here resembles a top quality a la carte menu in other restaurants – there is an endless choice of starters, main courses and desserts – all for 10 euros per person at lunchtime and 12 in the evening.  Drinks are all on top as you would expect from this standard of menu.  Alternatively there is a vast choice of rice dishes or perhaps pizza for the younger members of your party!

Mediterraneo 003

Yesterday we chose crunchy prawns (little filo parcels deep fried and served with a honey dressing), fois gras with a fig dressing, and a prawn cocktail which had crab sticks and pineapple pieces on a bed of iceberg lettuce.  All were fantastic.  Sue and I had chuleta de buey to follow – (on the bone steak, utterly divine), our friend, Gordon, had leg of lamb (actually, I have to say this looked a little disappointing, just two medallions which probably was not enough for most men,   so I would recommend the shoulder if you want lamb, as it comes on the bone and is a bit more “gala”!  Mick had an entrecote, cooked medium with a roquefort sauce.

Mediterraneo 007

There is a fantastic choice of fish as well – probably 8 kinds– next time I will have hake.  There are about 10 choices of meat dishes and as said paella etc for those not wanting a three course lunch.

Mediterraneo 008

All main dishes are served with hand cut chips and a small order of perfectly cooked fresh vegetables.  Digby and Kevin, the mutts, had the benefit of the steak bones later!

The desserts are very varied – I am not particularly crazy about puds, so had a gorgeous piece of fresh pineapple;  the others had chocolate brownies, blueberry panecotta and warm apple tart – all were good, even though maybe not homemade.

Mediterraneo 010

With a bottle of house red, three glasses of white and a few soft drinks the bill came to 80 euros with a decent tip – unbelievable value and really good service too.

Mediterraneo 005

If you want to give this lovely eatery a try, do book as both times we have been the interior restaurant has been packed, and the café part pretty busy.

Mediterraneo Restaurant Telephone 950 47 22 68

Casa Perela Restaurant & Bar, Murcia

8 Aug

It seems a long time since I last posted something – and it is – but at this time of year there do not seem to be enough hours in the day!  The weather is sensational and it is an outdoor life from July until September!

 

Just before the start of the busy season, early in July, we went with some friends to Murcia for the weekend – we really love to visit, and now know it quite well having been around a dozen times – it amazes me the amount of people who either live here, or visit regularly, who never venture into the city- it is only an hour and a quarter away from us, and I must say we tend to go for the shopping, but even more so for the tapas bars and fantastic restaurants.

 

We did more research for our most recent trip, and in addition to going to our favourite restaurant upon arrival, sought out the best area for the best tapas bars too.  They are all pretty much centred around the old town, near the cathedral, which is great if you are not keen on driving in large Spanish cities as you can find a car park by the river, and just spend all your time walking everywhere with no need to collect the car until you leave!  All the little boutiques and shoe shops are here too (although if you want the bigger shops like Zara, you can still make a ten minute walk to the main shopping street from the Cathedral).

 

On one of our evenings, we decided to have a real tapas evening and go from place to place (having looked up the best ones!).  They really are all concentrated in one area off the Gran Via so it is made all the easier.  Some are really quite sophisticated and, therefore, a bit more pricey (but you do get sprayed with a fine mist of water overhead at regular intervals electronically!  We are a bit behind the times down in Almeria!

 

One of places we went to was one of the older bars in a tiny street with several other more traditional places called Casa Perela in Calle Ruiperez.  It was just fantastic.  There is usually a proper menu too, so you can pick and choose what you want.

 

This one was famous for its wild mushrooms and delicious they were – we had all kinds of little bites, prawns in batter, cheese, jamon and then ended up having two steaks between the four of us – our chef did a little routine of throwing sea salt into the air to season the dish – it was simply divine – great food and a great atmosphere and not expensive.  If you take 120 euros out with you for four – you will be well fed and er, well drunk, if you know what I mean.  Do take the time, or get up the courage to drive to this city – you won’t be disappointed.

Casa Perela Restaurant telephone no.968 935 198

Los Angeles Restaurant and Bar, Villaricos

13 Jun

My family are here at the moment and so there is a lot more planning for meals to be done – normally we eat late in the evening either here or at one of our favourite restaurants nearby.  But in the heat, sometimes it is nice to lunch out properly and then know that I can throw a mezze together in the evening.

So, yesterday was such a day.  I gave everyone the choice of going and sitting at a beach side restaurant, or letting me take them to a place that all of us here like to go to from time to time for the menu del dia.  Los Angeles is situated on the road to Villaricos from Puerto Rey direction (go over the roundabout, passed the Repsol Garage on the right and carry on for a minute or two, you will see the little building on the right, with cars usually parked outside.

Los Angeles cool bar terrace

True, there is no view either from the cool terrace where you can happily have a drink, or the cool, immaculate restaurant inside.  However, anyone who goes there will know not to be put off by this fact; the food is exceptional value for money, tasty, good quality and always served with a smile.  The owners are charming and nothing is too much trouble.

There is always lots of choice on the menu del dia, always including a great fish dish, stew of the day, or pasta dish among other things,  and for 10  for three courses (pudding OR coffee) including half a bottle of wine, a beer or any other kind of drink included you simply can’t go wrong.  For an additional few euros you can choose rack of pork ribs falling off the bone, or tiny delicious lamb chops – still amazing value for money.  There is an extensive a la carte menu, also good value and a special priced set menu for evenings and Sundays – I think at a cost of 12 euros per head.  Our bill for four came to 48 euros, which included a beer, water and freshly squeezed orange juice (plus the two bottles of wine!) – my father left a hefty tip!

Los Angelesis a great place to go in winter, cosy inside, with robust stews of the day and other warming goodies offered, and beautifully cool inside in the summer.  They clearly have the bums on seats theory but with the quality element uncompromised.

With times being a bit on the tough side for everyone, gone are the days of thinking nothing about spending 30 or more euros a head for a meal without it being a special occasion.  If this describes you, I urge you to try this little gem of a place.  You will not be disappointed.

Los Angeles Bar and Restaurant telephone number: 699 010 705

La Montana Restaurant and Bar, Bedar

1 Mar

A few weeks ago, on a chilly and (unusually) rainy night here, our lovely friends John and Heidi invited us out for dinner to a restaurant which they had been to on a number of occasions.  We had heard of it, but had not managed to go there yet!  It is way up in the hills, beyond the lovely village of Bedar, around half and hour’s drive from here in El Campico (which on our roads is nothing!).  It was Friday night and so we were all in good spirits and looking forward to the start of the weekend.  We still get “that Friday feeling” here, as Mick works office hours all year round and I kind of have a 9-5 work “around the house and garden” ethic when I am not looking after guests.

Off we went on our little journey, and we noted how wonderful the drive would be once the evenings were light, later on this month.  We arrived at La Montana, situated in a little clearing, at the top of the hill, next to a big barn.  It immediately looked cosy and inviting, and once inside I knew that it was my cup of tea.  There is a gorgeous little bar, which the local residents have clearly embraced, as there is not much else nearby.  The restaurant consists of two or three intimate and subtly lit rooms, not a thing common in Spain, and a warm open fire with logs smouldering away.  It put’s you in mind of an upmarket country gastro-pub.

We decided to go straight into a main course – often when I visit a recommended restaurant where the food is really good, one is tempted to tuck in a bit too much to the starters which always takes the edge off ones appetite. I was very glad that I stuck to a couple of olives and an aperitif!

 

I had the roast belly of pork with red cabbage which was sensational. The others had lamb which was equally fantastic but there is something for everyone on the menu.  It is not cheap, nor over the top expensive and actually because the food is so good, it is very good value for money.

We all had dessert – also absolutely delicious (though because I didn’t write them down, I have forgotten exactly what we had, only that they didn’t disappoint!

La Montana is open for lunch too, as well as tapas and they have live music outside during the summer – phone to check out when.

It is somewhere that we will be going back to very soon – maybe when the clocks go forward!

La Montana, Bedar telephone number: 670 589 788

 

Angus and Hereford Steak Restaurant, Garrucha

28 Oct

As a lot of you who have been here know, we are very lucky in the vast selection of restaurants near the Cortijo – within 5 minutes away to 25 minutes – that is usually our limit particularly if we are going for dinner.   One in the middle, 15 minutes, is the Angus and Hereford Steak Restaurant – it is just fantastic if you are a carnivore.  It is on the main road into Garrucha, known for its fish restaurants.  It has no view and one purely goes there for the food and the service, both of which are always great.

Obviously it is known for its fantastic steaks (clue in the name!) but you can have an array of different main courses, including a fantastic rack of lamb or a huge mixed kebab on a skewer to name a couple.  They also have a decent selection of tasty starters, but really, a salad is more than enough as they serve you warm bread with alioli (garlic mayo) and chimichurri sauce (chilli and oil) so unless you generally have a massive appetite I would forego anything else.  All the cuts of beef are divine – I usually have a rib eye steak – but the sirloin and fillet are also excellent. They make lovely big home made chips too, so with a glass or two of Rioja and you are all set.

The staff are always glad to see you (obviously!) and the service is really attentive.  At the end of the meal, you are always asked what drink on the house you would like (not a dodgy liqueur either), whatever you like.  Although not the cheapest place to eat here, they have kept their prices the same for the last couple of years, and certainly you would be hard pushed to get a better steak anywhere. If you haven’t been there yet, I urge you to give it a whirl.

Angus and Hereford Restaurant, Garrucha telephone number: 950 460 588