Andalucia , anyone?

Writing about Granada now makes me realize we ate better than I gave her credit. And surprisingly some of the best seafood of the trip. But pound for pound our best food by far came from a destination I didnt write about yet. Any guesses?

ps, I’m leaving for a few days to Syracuse (graduation) so wont be able to resume until Monday. What will you do :laughing:

Oh, tough question and I don’t remember what your itinerary was, so my guess would be Madrid.

I guess, from a food sense, it’s too bad. you are heading for Syracuse (but what do I know, maybe the Ny city has great food…they have some speciality there, I think…) not Siracusa, but congrats on the event; surely you will enjoy!!

Look forward to the answer to the query!!

I rather be in Siracusa. She spent a semester in Florence so that was fun. In Syracuse its usually BBQ or pizza, but this time Chinese.

No Madrid on this one. Ronda and Malaga left.

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Didn’t Dinosaur BBQ begin in Syracuse, NY?

I’m going to make Ronda my second guess because Malaga would be the obvious one…and I wouldn’t think of Ronda for great seafood…

In 2015 my wife and I were in Ronda on a Monday night. Practically all the restaurants were closed. The only one we found open was a steak house, Meson El Sacristan. We ended up ordering either ‘presa iberica’ or ‘secreto iberico’. Don’t remember which one. But it was terrific.

I wish I could remember the distinction between those two cuts! My hotel served presa one night and it was dry and not good; on another night, the cook prepared secreto which was far better… (I had option of taking dinner at hotel which I seldom did, but if the menu sounded interesting, I signed up for that night. The presa Iberica dinner was disappointing but maybe that was due to the cook and not the cut of pork)

Menu for that night, featuring Presa Iberica:

The presa Iberica; close to leathery:

A few nights later, the secreto Iberico cut was juicier and very good; hotel is English-owned and Spanish run. (Many guests are from the UK, during horse competition season so menus are written in English.)

Sounds like the cook that night didn’t know what he or she was doing. Both cuts should be ethereal.

I won’t dispute you on that!! After so much superlative food in nearby restaurants, eating at the hotel became more a matter of convenience than anything else. This is, I think, a not-uncommon situation at rural hotels; all good if you are fearless about driving unlit roads after sunset. I took almost all of my main meals at lunch, following typical Spanish practice. But sometimes you want dinner, or a big snack, later, after dark.
Is there an English translation for those two cuts of pork?

I think they are known by their Spanish names in English. In any case, they are quite rare.

“Presa” and “secreto” are common cuts here on restaurant menus that we have often. They’re both very tender cuts. They don’t really have a proper English translation, at least on menus. They’re just 2 gourmet cuts of pork.

From my research:

“Presa ibérica” comes from the front part of the spine near the head, below the shoulder blade and is the juiciest. It has a combo of streaky and juicy fat. It’s sometimes translated as “shoulder steak”. It’s supposed to be more versatile.

“Secreto” is known as the “secret”, or the “hidden” part, because it was the best kept “secret” of the butcher, who would keep it for personal consumption.

It’s extracted from the skirt of the shoulder, the front part of the animal and is the cut with the greatest intramuscular fat. It’s the one we see most often on menus.
We had a creamy rice dish with “secreto” and mushrooms the other day.

Another cut of Iberian pork that you may see is the “Lagarto” (lizard).
No, not a reptile but instead an equally delicious cut of the pig that takes its name from its elongated, lizard-like shape.
It’s located along the spine, and is exclusively muscular.

To confuse matters more,
there’s also “Pluma” (feather), another cut that has less infiltrated fat than those above and comes from the back of the spine.
It’s has an intense red color and an elongated, triangular shape, which explains its name, “feather”.

And there’s “abanico”, which is the layer of meat that covers the ribs on the outside and has a thin trapezoid-shaped piece - so that when you hold it in your hand it can look like a fan - with a lot of fat streaks.

The “papada” is the jowl.

“Del cerdo, hasta los andares”! Everything from the pig is used!

Here’s an article that attempts to explain all the different cuts of the Iberian pig:

Ronda dining on a Monday night,

Panorámico, located in the Catalonia Ronda Hotel and Azahar in the Catalonia Reina Victoria (a lovely, classic inn, with beautiful gardens, now designed in a contemporary style, by the Catalonia group).

And the traditional Puerta Grande, Almocábar and Pedro Romero, the latter across from the bullring, that’s been around since 1974. P.R. (named after the legendary bullfighter) was the first Ronda restaurant meal I experienced when just a teenager.

Oliver (Granada)

Nice meal at this Bourdain approved institution. For a place in tourist central this felt local to me.
Exceptional Jamon. Tomato with burrata and pesto, simple and very satisfying. Seafood Paella is one of the specialties here but prob our least favorite dish. Loaded with rubbery squid. Grilled squid was more like it. Good shrimp with garlic, albeit a bit on the mooshy side. One of the better cheesecakes of the trip. Not one of the best meals but enjoyed this one overall.


Glad you enjoyed Oliver, which I have found not to be overly touristy, despite Bourdain having filmed here. It was opened by a former employee, Manuel Oliver, now passed at the age of 90, of the other seafood house and competitor, Marisquería Cunini. It´s now run by his son.
We’ve enjoyed both the complimentary tapas given with each drink at the bar and dining in the pretty back dining room.
The dish we most enjoy here are the quisquillas from Motril.
Its Russian salad, ensaladilla rusa is legendary.

I remember OLIVER very well! Long before Bourdain, the restaurant was recommended to us by the most informative ROBERT2533, formerly a very valuable contributor to site that I used, and still use, very often. I believe that Maribel is familiar with his posts.

We enjoyed our dinner at OLIVER. My knowledge of local food was pretty scant twelve years ago, but we did well there and had the best waiter of our entire stay in Granada.

That same stay in Granada, we enjoyed tapas at CUNINI, which was among the “top” names back then (not sure if this is still true)

We discovered two addresses in Granada to which I would make a point of returning on a future visit:

PASTELERIA LOPEZ MESQUITA…the Pastel Moruno, an Andalusia take on bisteeya (so great that we returned the following day and bought hefty samples, ( to eat on the plane ride back to the US, along with two slices of Tarta Santiago).

I think many travelers take breakfast here but are unaware of that pastel. I would not miss it!! You can eat there, or take out.

A restaurant we stopped in blindly, turned out to make us very. happy. We were looking for an early dinner, or very late lunch, and the kitchen at PUERTA DEL CARMEN remains open for much of the day and evening. They set down a plate of lovely jamon de Trevelez with our drinks, and I then continued with a guiso of artichoke hearts and bits of jamon… This trip was a long time ago but I imagine this restaurant might be worth checking out; I don’t think it appears on the lists of many foreign visitors to Granada:

Robert2533 is my husband, erica! I’m very familiar with all of his posts (and take credit for some!)
He no longer posts on Fodor´s since I´m regularly there (too often). He did recommend it to you. Anthony Bourdain then did his episode there of Parts Unknown

Bourdain also filmed at my very favorite wine bar, loved by locals and food critics, Taberna La Tana
and on the outdoor terrace of Plaza Aliatar in the Albaicín of Los Caracoles. These episodes were filmed during Holy Week.

I recommended both the Puerta del Carmen and Pastelería López Mezquita to you, I think, on
Fodor´s or Chowhound, I don’t recall or. on someone else’s thread, as their specialty is the pastel moruno. It’s a classic pastelería.
I do remember the discussion about your trip and where you might stay, as we talked about the former AC Palacio de Santa Paula, now a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

These days there are two very new and very top hotels in Granada, the Seda Palace and the Palacio Gran Vía Royal Hideaway, if you return some day.

I don´t think that Cunini is necessarily the top anymore. The reviews I’ve read are mixed.

Yes Puerta del Carmen is still going strong and is quite handy as it keeps longer hours.

The Trevélez ham is not 100% bellota, like those of Salamanca (Guijuelo), Extremadura (Monesterio), Huelva (Jabugo), Córdoba (Los Pedroches), but has its own protected status, Protected Geographical Indication.

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Maribel, I know he is your husband!!! I just was not sure if you wanted me to put it out there, so I left that little “hint!!!”

I’m not surprised that it WAS you who recommended both places, as well as Oliver, to me!!! I shudder to think of where my education (and enjoyment) of food in Spain would be if I had not had all of your help during all these years!!!

And you were the reason that we were given that gorgeous room at the AC in Granada, with the elaborate roof!!! And so much more info on so many regions of Spain flowed from you!!!

That’s funny, erica! I thought, I don’t know why (???) you might not have known, lol, but now that I think about it, of course, you did! Duh!

I’m intrigued by the Seda Club (a member of Small Luxury Hotels), as it’s getting really fine reviews. And I think it’s a member of the AmEx Platinum group. It’s not represented by Virtuoso, yet… The hotel represented by Virtuoso is one that I don’t especially like, Palacio de Los Patos, because of its location, and also becasue the annex rooms, not in the palace, seemed claustrophobic to me with not even natural light.

You and I must go back to Granada to have crustaceans at the “temple”, FM.

Forgot the evidence…

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Was that in the photo the paella de marisco? All calamares and no other mariscos?

Yes. There was also fish, clams, and shrimp