Ever since I could remember, I have always loved Spanish food. One of my earliest memories was when my Mother popped me up on the bench in the kitchen when I was four and put a spoonful of paella in my mouth. She watched my response in dismay. Rather than screwing up my face like any normal toddler with a mouthful of peppers, I licked my lips to get every last morsel.
So as soon as I was old enough to travel alone, I boarded a plane, picked a country with a cuisine that I loved and voilà, I had landed in Granada, Spain.
Food for me has always been a reflection of the people. Every city I travel to, I find myself looking down at the plate in front of me and looking up at the people around me – and, for me, this is like looking at a new landscape or seeing a place for the very first time.
Granada is one of the only places in the world where tapas is still served for free with any drink order. And this is what makes Granada so special. It doesn’t take long to make a connection with the people behind the bar or to find something in common with the people sitting beside you. And so began my admiration for this incredible city.
Most food lovers who like travelling would have visited or know of San Sebastian in the North of Spain but few may be aware of the wonderful culinary food delicacies that Granada, deep in the south, has to offer.
These days, most areas in Spain charge for tapas, because locals do not mind paying 1 or 2 Euros for a small plate of food to eat while they drink their beverage to support their local bar. However, in Granada, tapas is still seen as a gift; a friendly gesture from the restaurant to the customer. From a friend to a friend.
Even if you travel alone, you will never feel alone in this city. Everywhere you go – bars, streets, parks, museums – you will always find a local who is willing to share their experience with you.
YOLANDA’S TRAVELLING TIPS
1. Don’t catch a taxi- Try to book a hotel near Grand Via and throw on your flats (the streets are cobble stoned so you would be crazy to wear heals, even on the best of times) and go on a tapas crawl! Walk, walk and explore. If you are lucky, like I was, you may even discover an unrehearsed Spanish Flamenco band playing in the parks- a true Woody Allen Vicky Christina Barcelona moment.
2. Whether you are fluent in Spanish, Spanglish or can only go as far as saying “Hola”, do not be afraid to grab the nearest bar stool and sit up at the bar. I can assure you that you will not regret the experience- and walk out with a full belly of food, wine and love- for this city and its people.
3. Find the style of tapas bar you like – authentic, modern gastronomy, etc – and ask the waiter for his recommendation. Because, remember, great minds think alike!
YOLANDA’S TOP 3 TAPAS BARS
* Restarante Chikito- Located in the heart of Granada, a visit to Chikito is a must. Serving traditional Granadino dishes, we recommend trying the Tortilla Sacromonte – a brains and sweetbread omelet.
* St Germain- A great starting point for any tapas-inspired adventure. Tucked away in a laneway off the main street, this trendy tapas bar is tiny, but the welcoming service more than makes up for its size. Fabulous wine list and, of course, free tapas.
* Las Titas- A beautiful open-spaced restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, located on the banks of a river and surrounded by the gardens of Genii. Las Titas is a great place to go in the afternoon to people-watch, while you sit on the outdoor terrace and sip on an aperitif.
Start with my top 3 recommendations. Off you go…. Enjoy!
Yolanda de Groot