Plaza del Charco – Puerto de la Cruz

When you visit Puerto de la Cruz it should be mandatory to stop at the Plaza del Charco, either during the day to rest from your stroll around town or at night to enjoy a meal, drink or just the pleasant night atmosphere. The Plaza is undoubtedly the symbol of cultural life in the resort.

Throughout its history, it has been the main gathering point of portuenses and tourists alike. Since it was originally formed, it has seen several makeovers, one of the most important being the bandstand which was added in the early 20th century. Laurels imported from Cuba in 1852 as well as palm trees dominate the square  providing shade on a hot summer’s day. There are numerous cafés and restaurants for relaxing while watching the comings and goings of daily life. In all a nice place to relax.

The name Plaza del Charco, comes from the time when depending on the tides, waves came through the town, leaving pools (“charcos”) in the area.

At night, the Plaza is transformed and is the place to find the most entertainment in town. It is also the perfect place to accommodate lots of people, which is why it is usually one of the busiest areas during festivals and celebrations.

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Lamb Stew

On cold days I sometimes get a craving for the food we had in the UK.  There’s nothing like it and no more reliable cure for whatever ails you than classic comfort food – whether you make it like your Mum (well not mine as she was a dreadful cook) or use every shortcut in the book, (which is what I use) this dish proves it takes no effort to have a delicious meal with no effort.

First take a stew-pack from Iceland (as there are only 2 of us I use about 1/3rd) and add to it 2 potatoes peeled and cubed. Par boil until they start to soften, then removed before they are fully cooked.

Drain and transfer to a heatproof dish. Season with salt and pepper. Add one tin of Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup.  Swish the tin out with a little water (but only a little) as the soup is initially too thick.

Place your chops, I like lamb but pork work just as well, on top, season and place covered with foil in a pre-heated oven 200c for about 30 minutes.  It doesn´t really matter as the longer this dish sits the tastier I think it becomes.

Because I like my lamb crispy, I remove the foil and cook for a 15-20 minutes to let the chops brown and the fat run.  Rest for a couple of minutes then serve – it doesn’t need any accompaniment and only one bowl to wash!

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A city full of life

Last month in a social travel group there was a person staying in Santa Cruz over Christmas who asked for advice on where to have a traditional British Christmas dinner. Sadly nobody replied, which is the norm. Questions about Tenerife’s capital rarely get a great response I assume because few tourists visit the capital and don´t really know what it has to offer. Yet that is a shame because it really is a lovely vibrant place that offers great cultural and leisure experiences for the whole family.

Throughout the year there are big events taking place, not just the famous Carnival in February/March, The May Fiestas and of course Christmas, but October is the month of the Plenilunio, (The Full Moon Festival) where you can enjoy theatrical and musical performances, antique car exhibitions, jumble sales, dog shows and numerous children’s activities.

Other times a visit to the Nuestra Señora de África market – full of fruit, vegetables, meat and fish from the Canaries – is a must. I also recommend a quiet stroll through the parks or along tree-lined avenues and shopping streets where you can enjoy browsing in the stores stocked with original articles or international brands. Alternatively, you can have fun in the recently opened Casa del Carnaval or in one of the interesting museums. Visit the theatre or if you want to laze in the sun then pick out your lounger at the Parque Maritimo Cesar Manrique Lido.

As for the guy who wanted a British Christmas Dinner, I guess he would be unlucky but for the rest of us there is everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to small, family-run eateries that serve traditional Canarian cuisine the choice is enormous.

Santa Cruz welcomes those who are looking for more than cheap booze in the sun and once you have been I’m sure you will want to visit again and again.

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The Meadow Inn, Ironbridge

It is a well known fact that I love Ironbridge and the area around it. So you can imagine my delight when my daughter and son in law said they were moving there. You can see an account of the move HERE but if anyone is visiting the area I would thoroughly recommend the Meadow Inn which is where we spent the night of the move as we didn’t want, after a long drive, to unpack a box to find bedding or even food.

From the Inn you can walk through their beer garden down to the river. We didn’t bother checking as when we arrived there was a thick layer of snow still on the ground despite it being a week since it started to fall. It was so deep that we slithered into the car park and the next morning had to be pushed out.

The staff couldn’t have been more helpful and welcoming, they even allow you to take your pets into the dining area as long as they stay on the wooden floor and not on the carpet.

We took our overnight bag into the Georgian house located next to the Inn and were pleased to see that despite it being on a main road it was exceptionally quiet. The bedroom was huge as was the ensuite bathroom and although Kate and I had to share a bed with Storm that too was superking so plenty of room for the 3 of us. The decor is modern, bathrooms are sparkling, showers powerful and towels thick and fluffy.

We slithered back to the Inn for our dinner which was first class, I ordered the steak – rare but not blue and Kate the faggots. Do people in the north not say blue steak? I ask because next morning at breakfast which again offered a huge choice and was superbly cooked and served, the Head Chef said are you the lady who asked for her steak in a special way. Apparently the chef on the previous evening had texted him to let him know what I had said!!

Anyway, both morning and evening the chefs, rather than the waiting staff came to check our meals were exactly what we wanted. And they were. We chatted to the owners who had been at the establishment for just under a year, and even the bar staff and cleaner were happy to talk despite there being other customers. I get the impression that life in this part of the country is laidback and welcoming, even the postman who called in while we were having breakfast stopped to give Storm a dog biscuit and a big cuddle.

After watching 4 in a Bed I couldn´t believe that somewhere like the Meadows could charge just £55 for B&B plus a tenner for the dog.

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Roast Lettuce and Tomatoes

OH is never impressed with salad – he “doesn’t do all that rabbit food“, but I do, however sometimes there is just too much for one person. It is then that if I am cooking a steak or chicken I like instead of the dreaded salad to serve with roast lettuce and a roast tomato. I also think basting with a marinade adds a bit more flavour

It is very easy and doesn’t take more than 10 minutes

Ingredients

As many little gem lettuce as there are people (for us one is enough) and the same with tomatoes.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine or cider vinegar
Good sprinkling of chopped herbs – dried are fine
1/2 teaspoon mustard
salt and pepper

Prepare the marinade. Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to combine.

Cut the lettuce into quarters through the root, remove the outer leaves and place onto a roasting tray. Paint or sprinkle all over with the marinade. Do the same with the tomatoes then roast in a pre-heated oven until lightly browned on all sides, turning every minute or two until done.


The timing is rather important; too long and the vegetables are too soft, and mushy. You want to roast them long enough that they are thoroughly warmed but not completely cooked.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

 
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