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Tenerife Gastronomy

by javier
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A true island of surprising delights, Tenerife offers authentic cuisine blessed with an array of intoxicating flavours, varying from coriander-based sauces to red hot pepper-infused cheese.
Several dishes originally created by indigenous people on the island have marked Tenerife’s cuisine, which has evolved into a blend of traditional cooking and innovative culinary creations.
Simple yet delicious, traditional dishes are characterised by their simplicity, quality and freshness of locally-produced ingredients such as potatoes, tomatoes or bananas.
The island’s year round spring climate and fertile land is well suited to the vegetable crops, vineyards, banana plantations and almond trees which have covered slopes, plains and mountainous areas with a picturesque natural tapestry, providing an ideal base for cuisine.
Bananas in Tenerife are easily identifiable by their small size and speckled skin. The island’s ideal subtropical climate allows bananas to stay on the plant for longer, resulting in an extraordinary, intense flavour.
Potatoes are the star product of Tenerife’s cuisine and are often accompanied by “mojo” sauce, which can also be partnered with fresh fish or meat. They come in many varieties including the “papa bonita” meaning pretty potato, “papa negra”, “papa azucena”, “papa cara” and King Edward (pronounced “quin-e-gua” in the Canarian dialect). Potatoes originally arrived from America over four centuries ago and have since played a significant role in everyday cuisine. In fact, the island boasts the largest number of potato fields producing ancient varieties in Europe.
Cheese is another symbol of Tenerife. Approximately 24,000 tonnes of cheese is consumed every year in the Canary Islands, being one of Spain’s largest cheese consuming regions. Roughly half of this amount is produced locally and around 80% of these are artisan farmhouse cheeses, generating an important income for the farming sector. Most cheeses are made with indigenous goat’s milk and in some cases, with sheep’s milk.
One of the most unique products on Tenerife is locally-produced honey, particularly the flower-based honey prepared with endemic floral species. Tenerife’s beekeeping tradition dates back more than 500 years and was once an important source of income on the island. The distinct variety of flowers has generated a spectrum of exquisite floral aromas, which can only be produced with native flowers such as the “Tajinaste” or the Mount Teide broom. Some of the delicate flavours can be combined, producing multi-floral honey.
Visitors can learn about the unique preparation of Tenerife honey and its seal of approval at the Honey Museum in El Sauzal.
Unknown by many, although praised by Shakespeare, Tenerife’s award-winning wines are of great quality and were exported to England for over three centuries. Brought by colonists in the 16th century, Tenerife’s wine production began in Los Realejos, and rapidly developed throughout the island resulting in 106 operational vineyards to date.
Tenerife’s wine-making tradition has generated five Denominations of Origin (produced in five different wine regions), varying from fresh, aromatic whites, to roses, reds, as well as Malvasia-based wines
The quality, singularity and variety of Tenerife’s wines lies in the barren volcanic soils, the Atlantic Ocean moisture, the various micro-climates and the ancient vines, which have survived thanks to a long pest-free past.
Wine enthusiasts can discover the island’s wine treasures by following wine trails, sampling different varieties at many of the wineries or by paying a visit to “Casa del Vino La Baranda” in El Sauzal, a true wine haven set in a restored farmhouse from the 17th century. Its facilities include a wine cellar, a wine shop, a wine tasting room, a restaurant, exhibitions and an old wine-press located in a pleasant courtyard.
Another winery in El Sauzal, Bodegas Monje, offers the chance to make your own “mojo” sauce and later take part in wine tasting to sample some of Tenerife’s finest wines.
Tenerife boasts a wide selection of restaurants, varying from high-end outlets offering haute cuisine to rustic eateries, perfect for traditional Canarian recipes. Fine dining has grown in Tenerife with the arrival of several renowned Spanish chefs, offering innovative and creative dishes.
Visitors can also discover the island’s delicacies in markets such as “Nuestra Señora de Africa” in Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife, or “Mercadillo del Agricultor”, a local farmers’ market in Tacoronte. Edible souvenirs are available in various outlets across the island, such as banana liquor and chocolate-coated almonds.

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