Another day, another Carnival

The Carnival in Santa Cruz may be over but here in Los Cristianos we have only just begun.

This year Carnival is dedicated to Pirates, corsairs and buccaneers. Visitors should not be surprised to find hidden treasures as well as mythical monsters around Los Cristianos between 1st and 12th March.

The second largest carnival on the island has all the essential elements of the festivities in the capital only on a slightly smaller scale. It lasts for almost 2 weeks and each of those days is packed with events, be it Queens, groups of costumes, floats or vintage cars. With so many things taking place I thought it may be useful to give a rundown of what to expect and times of the most popular events.

The south has it’s full quota of Queens and at 8.30 on 1st March all the candidates for Children’s Queen, Queen of the Third Age and Queen of Carnival will be presented in front of the Valdés Centre in Los Cristiano. This is the where all the galas for electing Carnival royalty will take place.

 

    • The Gala for electing Queen of the Third Age will take place on 6th March at 9.00pm.
    • The Gala for electing the Child Queen will be 7th March at 7:00pm
    • The Queen of International Carnival will be elected on 8th March at 9.00pm
    • And the election of the Drag Queen will take place at 9.00pm on 9th March.
    • This will be followed by a dance to a live band.

At 9:00pm 2nd March the competition for choosing the best Comparsas (again in front of the Valdés Centre) will be held. These are the musical groups that bring colour, and joy to carnival with exuberant costumes, choreography and samba rhythms that get the crowds swaying in time to the music.

The Coso Apotheosis is one of the most emblematic events. This multicoloured parade, with Comparsas, Carnival Queens and floats displays all its splendour on Sunday afternoon 11th March at 4.00pm The route goes from the Paloma Beach apartments, on avda Juan Carlos I, past the Cultural Centre and ends in front of the Valdés Centre. Thousands of people line the route, tourists and visitors dress timidly, while locals can be seen wandering town in fancy dress.

As a new week starts Carnival is almost at an end but not without saying a final goodbye. One of the funniest events is “Entierro de la Sardina”. This consists of a funeral parade of people dressed as widows, crying and saying good-bye with lots of tears at the symbolic burial of the sardine. It is carefree, irreverent and takes place at 9.00pm on 12th March starting at the harbour in Los Cristianos and ending outside the Culture Centre where DJs are waiting to entertain the crowds for several more hours.

I hope you have lots of fun at the Carnival and below I have included the programme of events not listed above.

SATURDAY MARCH 3rd
12:00 WIG PARTY, with Europa FM in front of the Valdés Centre
7:00pm Young Arona entertainment by several DJs and locals outside the Cultural Centre.
7:30pm Carnival Cavalcade from CC Gala Avda Rafael Puig Lluvina to CC Oasis Avda Las Americas.

SUNDAY MARCH 4th
12:00 Carnival Concert by the Band of Arona, Plaza de La Pescadora
5:00pm Carnival parade (Opening parade) plaza de la Pescadora to the beach of Los Cristianos
6:00pm Meeting of murgas de Tenerife in front of the Valdés Center

MONDAY MARCH 5th
7:00pm Festival of choreographic groups in front of the Valdés Center

FRIDAY, MARCH 9th
7:00pm Dance of the Third Age of Carnival Patio of the Cultural Centre.
24:00 Entertainment by several local DJs plaza de la Pescadora

SATURDAY, MARCH 10th
Day Carnival with two stages:
12:00 Family day with performances and workshops. Plaza de La Pescadora,
12:00 Stage 40 with national and international artists.in front of the Valdés Center
5:00pm Costume contest Plaza de la Pescadora
8:00pm VI Carnavalera beach route in homage to the great songs of the Carnival From and returning to Plaza de la Pescadora by way of several town centre streets.
10:00pm Evening dance entertained by Armonía Show and Wamampy. in front of the Valdés Centre
11:00pm local DJs entertain at Plaza de la Pescadora

SUNDAY, MARCH 11th
11:00 Display of classic and antique cars in front of the Valdés Centre
12:00 Pet contest in front of the Valdés Centre

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Tasty Pinchitos

Lots of holiday makers ask where they can find good tapas while on holiday in Tenerife. The truth is tapas are actually Spanish and not Canarian. In Tenerife a small portion or bite of food that is served as an accompaniment to alcohol, especially wine is called an armadero. But as all the resorts are geared towards visitors needs you will find numerous places serving tapas.

The food is generally good and there is no shortage of Canarian tomatoes, Papas arrugadas (those salty potatoes), mojo sauces and Serrano type hams of various qualities. In the better places you will also find pinchitos, kebabs made from pork or chicken. These are probably my favourite but I don´t restrict eating them to being in a restaurant. The recipe is very simple, and they are easy to make at home.

One of my favourite recipes is to marinate the meat, either chicken thighs or pork tenderloin in a tangy Middle Eastern-style blend of yogurt, garlic and spices.

INGREDIENTS

1 carton plain yogurt (I like Greek)
1 tablespoons oil (IMO olive is best)
1 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon crushed red chilli flakes (reduce if you don’t like heat)
Zest from one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
250 gms boneless skinless chicken thighs, or pork tenderloin
1 onion cut into wedges

METHOD

Begin by making the marinade. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, oil, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, juice, salt, pepper and garlic.

Cut the meat into cubes and trim off any excess fat, then thread onto skewers alternating with the onion.

Place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with foil, and brush the marinade over top, making sure to coat well. Cover leave in the fridge overnight but for a minimum of 3 hours, the longer you leave the better the flavour.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the kebabs until golden brown and cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the skewers to a platter and serve.

 
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Shorthorn Restaurant Los Cristianos

Although Shorthorn has been at the Apolo Centre for several years this was our first visit. We decided to give it a try because friends Barry and Ann said the last time they were there the meat was exceptional and the chef so proud of his product he actually took Barry into the kitchen to choose his cut of meat.

I booked a table and it was a good job I had because when we arrived shortly before 8.00pm the place was packed. It certainly wasn´t the sort of place you would go for an intimate meal, but it was bright, clean and very welcoming.

If you are only going to do one thing, do it well … Cooking chunks of meat on a wood burning stove may sound a simple enough task for a half decent chef, but so often this is not the case. However in this meat-led restaurant, that specialises in mixed grills, ribs, shorthorn steak, fillet and t-bones,  steaks are simply and perfectly cooked.

We ordered drinks and starters, it has taken me a little while to get Morcilla Dulce (Sweet black pudding filled with almonds, fruit and spices) in a restaurant, as so often when I ask I am told with pride ‘No it is British Black-pudding’ which I then turn down. 😦 However this time I was in luck and the other starters were garlic prawns and crusty bread. Barry commented as he was eating how fat and juicy the prawns were and so very cheap compared to other places.

For our main course the men ordered fillet steak one with pepper sauce and one with blue cheese sauce, Ann went for the half chicken and I was intrigued as to what a ‘Shorthorn Fillet’ was. Maria the owner was happy to explain it was the best quality British bred beef you can buy. So I asked for that medium rare.

On Sunday morning while reading the papers I noticed the Telegraph said Shorthorn steak is aged for 28 days and sold to some of the finest restaurants across Europe. Fillet steak is priced at £43.50 per kilo. In my case, it wasn’t the most expensive fillet I have had recently. Generally you can usually expect to pay around €17-20 depending where you eat, my fillet that night was a smidgen over €15 and enormous.

Because nothing is pre-cooked and re-heated you have to wait for your meal but that can be forgiven because when our steaks arrived they were succulent and perfectly cooked and oh, so worth it.

We were so full we couldn’t face puddings despite them only costing €3.99.

The staff are charming, service is straightforward and effective in a casual but professional way. What more could anyone ask for.

Our bill for 4 people included starters, mains, drinks and coffees was €97 before tip, and the food has got to be up there with some of the best on the island.

We were almost the last to leave the restaurant and this was yet another occasion when we all left full and happy.

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“Teide by Night”

As the sun set and the sky turned from gold to red, we were heading, in a minibus, through the national park up Mount Teide for a stargazing and tapas excursion.

We were joined by three Brits and two Germans, making a small and friendly group all eager to see stars.

We safely reached our destination and as we huddled around the lower cable car station, we were astonished by the cold. Because of the high altitude, and the hour, temperatures had dropped dramatically and it was freezing. Fortunately, the company supplied thermal sweaters to keep everyone warm.

After a short time setting up the telescopes, sipping a glass of cava and/or a welcome cup of hot chocolate it was all systems go. Everything was dark; the night sky greeted us wearing a formal dress, black velvet sprinkled with glittering stars and with the surrounding rocks, and thin, cold air, it felt like we were on another planet

We were given a fascinating talk about the planets, galaxies, constellations and the universe. Our guide point out the stars with a laser pointer, and showed his passion for the subject while still keeping it fun and informative. Every so often, a shooting star blazes its way across the dense black sky. As I listened and viewed the sky through the telescopes, I was in awe at the vastness of space.

There are 88 constellations in the sky, and from Mount Teide, you can see over 80 of them. We were even able to see two of the “nearby” galaxies with the high-powered telescopes. It was truly remarkable.

Included in the excursion price is a meal, an impressive spread of Canarian tapas including local cheeses, almonds with honey, papas arrugadas, and fried bananas.

If you have even the slightest interest in space, then this excursion is a magical experience, an absolute must. I originally only went along for the ride, but within a very short time was totally transfixed. The Canary Islands are one the best places in the world due to the extremely low light pollution, to view celestial bodies and even more so up Mount Teide.

The Volcano Teide experience costs from €81 per person. In addition to the amazing information, professional telescopes and warm clothing there are pickup points in the southern resorts as well as in Puerto de la Cruz. This really is VIP treatment, from a very professional company.

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The World in Black and White

A while ago on facebook there was the task of adding a black and white photo each day for seven days. I didn’t take part as I thought, I don’t have the type of camera that can do that, I wish I did as it is a creative choice that I really like.

Nevertheless, I got to wondering what it would be like to convert colour images to black and white and I was really impressed. It lends a certain timeless quality, like being thrown back to the past when black and white was the only option. And while we don’t see the world in black and white removing the colour makes things clearer, it no longer distracts, and I particularly like the effect.

NB: Most but not all the images are mine but they all started off in colour.

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