Stand-up took me to Tenerife where I was spoilt rotten. Our hosts’ generosity was as obscene as Roy Chubby Brown, the last comedian they had out there. Seriously, it was. I won’t talk about that though, this is an article about eating and I wouldn’t want to put you off.
I’ve never been so well looked after on a trip. Not even as a baby. My favourite photo of me, ever, is one where I’m in a Tenerife T-shirt. I’m on holiday there with my parents. A grinning, six-month old, with a tan. Ahh, the 80s.
My grandparents had timeshares, so I have lots of childhood memories of the Canaries. Refusing to get out of swimming pools for entire days and card games I never wanted to end. I have an uncharacteristic lack of food memories though. I soon discovered why.
Culinary, southern Tenerife is all about pleasing English people who only like English things. *Wretches.* Our hosts were so kind that what we ate didn’t really matter. There are some excellent reasons to visit the island but the food is miserable. It’s Spanish but there isn’t a paella in sight. It’s surrounded by sea, the glorious fresh contents of which stay in there. Instead, menus are only full of omelettes, chips and jacket potatoes. One exotic poolside cafe boasted a ‘Cold Doner Sarnie’. I watched a man eat one all up and somehow, neither of us cried.
Walk along any street in Las Americas and every 10 steps you get a waft of frying spam. An almost solid aroma that leaves your nostrils lined with grease. Much like on passing one of those roadside burger vans called ‘Dave’s Place’ or ‘Pete’s Place’ or ‘Ballbags to Eat’. I wasn’t going to be defeated, I had four days and I knew I’d hunt out one glorious meal, even if I had to catch it myself.
The generous souls putting me up even got me mates-rates to go scuba diving. That’s where the trip peaked for me. Under the clear lime sea, Tenerife is another world. There’s nothing bingo hall about it. For a morning I was surrounded by hundreds of beautiful, tropical fish. Paradise. Most magical of all, giant turtles came and swam with me, right up to my face. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat them. I didn’t even lick them.
Back at the surface I was empty-tummed and high on life. I began a hunt for food that tasted of something, anything. I dragged my dear friend Matt round, poo-pooing cafes and bars along the front. Eating there would have meant eating faster but we’d have just had more lard-time.
Eventually, nestled amongst these shit-holes, we found a tiny Italian restaurant.
We had strong, creamy coffee with pizzas. I loved our waiter. She worked in the only place for miles that wasn’t catering only for the bland mouthed and minded and it showed. Her polite smile was belied by eyes that sparkled with an abject but fair hatred for her customers. I ordered a capricciosa. I pronounced it wrong. Oh, her wonderful scorn. I’d haplessly added to her woes. Matt had a marinara, which turned out to just be tomato sauce and garlic on bread. Not exciting, but tasty, he said. At least he was able to order it without contributing to the waiter’s internal combustion, unlike me.
My pizza was glorious. The homemade base was perfect: crunchy, crisp and molten. The tomato sauce had that concentrated and deep flavour you hope for when you go to hot countries that grow the best tomatoes. It was piled high with two types of ham. One smoked one and one spicy, salami style one which I preferred. The cheese wasn’t anything I’d had before, more salty than mozzarella and more liquid than hallumi. I was too scared to ask. It fell on the juicy, earthy artichokes to cut through the richness of the rest of it.
We shared a perfect, simple salad. A row of giant slabs of beefsteak tomato. They tasted fresh and cleansing against all the salt. Topped with slices of watery, mild mozzarella and dirty, dark, sexy great big basil leaves. Doused in oil and balsamic vinegar it was an invigorating sidekick to the massive, soporific pizza. It took me, even me, two sittings to hoover it all. Go out for lunch and get to take dinner home too? Yes please.
We found food that tasted of food. It’s hard to know how the place would fair given any competition, at all, but it had served us well. Tenerife then. Fine diving, not dining.
Matt and dinner.
Name: Cafe Victoria
Address: Avda Espania | Puerto Colon, C C Santa Maria, Adeje, Tenerife, Spain
Tel: 0034 922 713 942
Disabled access: Yes, the restaurant is all on one level. No disabled toilet, however, just a normal one with a narrow entrance.