It seems to happen earlier each year, but I’m not complaining. By Saturday night the first couple of chestnuts and wine stalls beside the harbour in Puerto de la Cruz were up and open for business; the chestnuts were roasting and the wine flowing from plastic flagons.
The San Andrés celebrations and the wine fair doesn’t take place until the end of the month but November is the month of vino and castaños on Tenerife, so it’s traditional for these great little stalls to offload as much roasted chestnuts and cups of robust vino del pais as possible in the run up to the opening of the wine cellars on the 29th.
A couple of euros buys you a poke of finger-burning sweet, roasted chestnuts and a generous cup of wine that’ll put hair on your chest. Together, with the smell of the sea air thrown in for good measure, it’s a winning combination – which is why getting a seat in prime position at the back of the harbour can be almost impossible by early evening.
As we were on our way to the Cofradia de Pescadores for dinner, we didn’t actually partake of a poke and a cup even though the aroma of roasting chestnuts chased us along the route from the car park to the Cofradia (which happens to pass every kiosk) teasing and taunting our nostrils. It’s a situation that will be rectified pronto.
We’ve had many a wonderful night sitting peeling chestnuts and quaffing wine with friends at these stalls over the years. It’s one of those special little things that very few people talk about (probably because it doesn’t happen in the most popular purpose built resorts), yet is a wonderful experience and one of the many traditions that, in this case literally, gives visitors a taste of the real Tenerife.