Icy fingers snap at our ankles and we quicken our pace. A grey shroud sweeps through the streets, threatening to engulf us with its gloomy demeanour. As the chill seeps into our bones, the faint sound of laughter and music reaches us like a welcoming beacon in the fog and we hurry towards a faint light illuminating a hazy doorway.
When the damp cloud rolls through Vilaflor in winter transforming the flower lined streets into a stereotypical horror flick setting, there’s only one thing to do – seek sanctuary in a welcoming tasca.
And that’s how we first discovered the warm welcome and even warmer corner fire at El Rincón de Roberto in Vilaflor, Spain’s highest municipality.
That was a few years ago. For our latest visit the weather gods were much kinder and the pretty little hill town on Tenerife was looking its perky best in the warm autumn sunshine.
The main road linking the southern resorts with Mount Teide snakes past Vilaflor, bypassing its centre. Despite millions of visitors whizzing by on air conditioned coaches, relatively few people spend any time in the birthplace of Tenerife’s saint, Hermano Pedro. It’s their loss.
There are a handful of good restaurants around the town with our favourite being El Rincón de Roberto.
On this occasion we opted again for an inside table beside the stone corner fireplace. This time, ironically, because it was too hot to sit outside.
El Rincón de Roberto is one of those places that we immediately warmed to. Fireplace aside, its décor ticks all the right boxes for what you expect in a tasca – rustic, cosily sized, beamed wooden ceiling, chunky tables and chairs, a tiled floor and a couple of old guys shooting the breeze (sobremesa) at the bar.
The menu is Canarian with only a few choice dishes on it; a sign that everything is freshly prepared.
Conejo a la mostaza (rabbit in mustard sauce) and reveultos de morcillo (scrambled egg with Spanish black pudding) sounded good, but if there’s a chance to sample as much as possible in one sitting, that’s the fellow for me. With no hesitation we ordered the degustación de productos Canarios which is basically tapas Canarian style featuring chistorra (a spicy local sausage), goats’ cheese, morcilla and almogrote (cheese pate from La Gomera).
Whilst our degustación was being prepared we were brought what looked like the simplest of appetisers, slices of roast pork. But chef and owner Jesús doesn’t do simple. His pata asada was perked up to WOW proportions by a touch of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and paprika. Que rico!
The pork really got the tastebuds buzzing with anticipation…and the degustación when it arrived didn’t disappoint them.
Chistorras can often be greasy, but not this one; it was spicy and savoury and delicious. Jesús had performed similar magic with the morcilla which managed to be both crunchy and moist. The almogrote was strong and full of pungent flavour without being overwhelming and the cheese reminded us why Canarian cheeses always pick up prizes at the World Cheese Awards. An additional surprise on the plate were some cherry tomatoes whose pleasing sweet flavours were elevated to a new level by a light garlic and mint dressing.
As degustacións go, the one in El Rincón de Roberto was sensational.
It’s a great dish for enjoying a long leisurely lunch in a tasca whose combined ingredients compliment the flavours of the superb local food it serves up to those fortunate foodies who know of its existence.
Calle Hermano Pedro, 27; +34 922 70 90 35; Degustación costs €15
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+
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