Tradition and Taste: Canarian Food and Wine on Tenerife
Unique flavors, colors and aromas: Spanish wines. In Tenerife, the largest of the seven Canary Islands, wine holds up to this promise. Internationally recognized, this area is home to two of Tenerife’s five destinations of origin: Icoden Daute Isora and Abona. You can discover all five by following the ‘wine routes’, which offer visitors the chance to uncover the history of the many iconic towns. Touring organic estates such as the Alama de Trevejo will allow you to deeper explore Tenerife’s wine culture.
If you’re a wine connoisseur, you’ll want to add some vineyards to your trip itinerary to truly experience Tenerife’s culture. Up first, Bodegas Monje vineyard in El Sauzal. While this vineyard 500 meters above sea level is on rocky ground and dry lava from a nearby volcano, overtime the land turned rich and fertile. Although the wine cellars were built in 1983, the Bodegas Monje is a family vineyard dating all the way back to 1750. In fact, the family was among Tenerife’s first wine producers, cultivating and bottling wine from the three grapes grown here- Listan Negro, Listan Blanco, and Negramoll. Once you’re at the vineyard, you’ll have the chance to taste the wines and nibble on some delicious Canarian snacks and cheese.
Next, visit Casa del Vino, located in the northern village of El Sauzal. A converted country estate house, Casa’s style reflects the architecture of time, with designs of Portuguese and Castilian influences and a preserved chapel. Did I mention it’s a museum? You can take a guided tour to explore the history of Tenerife’s wines, all the way from the beginning to the growing industry of today. After the museum, you’ll want to check out the wine cellar, which displays over 300 different types of wine, which are all made on the island. Choose from red, rose, white, or even sparkling or fortified wines. Next stop (and maybe the most important) is the tasting room. Tucked away in one of the estate’s outhouses, you’ll be able to sample twelve different wines along with cheese and nuts. Before you make your way out, make sure to visit the souvenir shop so you can grab some wine and traditional mojo sauces, or the projection room where you can watch a documentary on Tenerife wine, or even sit in a lecture. If the tasting has you craving more Tenerife food and wine, go to the restaurant and bar, which overlooks the ocean.
And for all you foodies out there, cuisine is another great hallmark of Tenerife’s culture. Traditional food in Tenerife is rustic but simple, and the favor combinations and rustic ingredients are worth trying. Just as the terrain of the island significantly varies, so does the produce. Traditional marketplaces in towns and villages across the Island offer wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables, often grown on organic farms. There’s plenty of fresh fish, wild meats, maize and tropical foods like plantains. If you’re wondering what to try, Paps arrugadas con mojos is arguably one of most famous dishes from the Canaries. Small local potatoes cooked in salt water until the skin becomes wrinkled, they’re best accompanied with a green or red sauce called mojo. Almagrote is another option. A cheese spread from La Gomera full of tomato, garlic, olive oil, paprika and hard cured cheese, it’s both crumbly and creamy. If soups what you’re seeking, Ropa vieja is a non-brainer, full of meats and stewed with chickpeas and local veggies. All in all, cheese, fish, and honey are all local delights. Also, be sure to try one of Tenerife’s renowned guachinches. These small, family-run eateries that offer meals improvised on a rural terrace with wine made of grapes grown onsite accompanied by traditional dishes, all at very affordable prices.
Now that you know what to eat, you may be wondering where you should eat. While Spain has 182 Michelin Star restaurants, Tenerife is the only island in the Canaries with four Michelin Star restaurants. So what’s a Michelin Star? It’s a hallmark of fine dining. Anonymous restaurant reviewers, who are passionate about food, have a good eye for detail and a great taste memory are selected. These reviewers are required to blend in with their surroundings, and appear as if they are just ordinary, everyday customers. When these reviewers go to a restaurant, they complete a write-up about their experience and then all the reviewers meet up to come to a consensus on which restaurants will be awarded the stars. Forget Yelp and Zagat, as you can see, no consumer reviews are used in making the Michelin determination.
Two Japanese restaurants and two contemporary in Tenerife made the cut for stars. If you only have time for one meal in Tenerife, El Rincón de Juan Carlos should be where you stop. In Los Gigantes, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the Padron brothers’ take on Spanish cuisine is stunning. Calling all foodies - make sure to order the rabo de toro dumplings before you leave. Another two Michelin star contemporary restaurant is M.B., located in the Ritz Carlton Abama. A signature of fine dining, the restaurant’s renowned Basque chef’s take on Spanish cuisine has made him a household name throughout not just Spain, but around the world. You’ll also find another Michelin Star restaurant at the Ritz - Kabuki, where the fusion of traditional Japanese’s influencers and modern western culture techniques meet. Located at a stunning location at the top of the resort, it has four defined zones: the main restaurant, Kabuki Bar, Sushi Bar, and Kabuki Space. Last but not least on the list is the Kazan restaurant in Santa Cruz. A central location, attractive décor featuring wood-clad walls, a sushi bar and three tasting menus, if you’re looking for excellent Japanese cuisine, this is where you can find it!
If authentic food and wine is what you’re looking for, Tenerife should be next on your bucket list. From Japanese sushi to contemporary gems, Tenerife is full of delicious cuisine options. Not to mention the unique grape varieties, rich volcanic soil, and mid climate make distinctive and attractive wines a trademark of the Island. As you can tell, there’s not much to wine about here in Tenerife.