Let’s not waste time – let’s take up where we left off. It was Thursday afternoon, and we were in Café Rokoko. I was sipping an Americano with soy milk and Ben was slurping a strawberry-and-raspberry smoothie. Ben bought one of their organic homegrown mangoes for €1 and we wandered off.
As all the days blur happily into one, I am pretty sure I had some sort of snack of my favourite soy yoghurt and/or protein shake and/or chocolate, but I couldn’t tell you for certain.
Regardless, we are here to talk about restaurants (mainly). The four of us took a cab out to Maspalomas again on Thursday evening, and after Ben and I wandered up the string of restaurants and back, scouting out menus, we settled on a tapas restaurant, Terraza Boulevard. Like all the other restaurants around here, they also do pizza and pasta and various cuts of meat and fish, but I stuck to the tapas dishes. Tapas normally stands out in my mind as being one of the least vegan-friendly cuisines (along with Brazilian, Irish, and French) but they actually had a bunch of vegan options on the menu: the ubiquitous Canarian potatoes, but also padrón peppers (which I had only just heard about for the first time on Poppy’s blog last week – though her recipe sounds better!), mixed grilled peppers, marinated tomatoes, and garlic mushrooms. I went for the potatoes, padrón peppers, and garlic mushrooms – and despite it sounding rather bland and unappealing, it actually really sticks out in my mind as a delicious meal. The peppers were beautiful, vibrantly green and perfectly softened, the potatoes were soft and salty, the garlic mushrooms were oily and tender and perfectly seasoned, surrounded by soft chunky garlic which had in parts caramelised. It was just the perfect amount of food, satisfying yet not overwhelming.
For our last dinner together on Friday evening (after another coffee-and-smoothie-fuelled afternoon at Rokoko), Ben and I took Wendy and Alistair out to El Rancho again. I had a fresh orange juice whilst waiting for the same vegetable fajitas, because I’m just not that into crispy tacos, and enchiladas without cheese are pretty much like fajitas without the fun of wrapping it up with too much guacamole in there. They did not disappoint.
After Ben and I had taken our usual post-dinner wander, we spent a few more minutes sitting with Wendy and Alistair at Little Brazil, where Wendy had ordered some salted almonds “with me in mind”. They were unlike roasted salted almonds I have seen before – very shiny and smooth, seemingly blanched to get rid of the skins and possibly soaked before being roasted and salted. They were great. Obviously.
Saturday evening we were alone, so Ben and I made a bee-line for SushiMex in Maspalomas, which we had spotted earlier in the week and earmarked for a dinner alone. They call it a Japanese-Mexican fusion restaurant but nothing has actually been fused – two kitchens, two chefs, two menus, and it is up to you to fusion your own dinner experience. As Ben and I have very different tastes, we weren’t able to order a collection of dishes from the two very different cuisines, which I imagine would be the way to make the most of this restaurant. In fact, I totally flopped on the fusion side by ordering a starter and main from the Japanese side of things, but I enjoyed every bite.
Not being overly hungry, I ordered a miso soup as a starter which I was assured was vegetarian and vegan. I didn’t expect much from such a simple starter, so I was surprised to find that it was much deeper and complex in flavour than any other miso soup I have had. Not merely a salty broth, it was hearty and satisfying without tasting like something I could have made from a sachet. My main of vegetable tempura with rice was similar in that it was simple and clean yet satisfying – perfectly cooked and flavoursome peppers, onion, zucchini and carrot, in a crispy and surprisingly ungreasy light (egg- and dairy-free) batter, served on a bed of plain lightly-sticky rice. It was beautiful and just what I was in the mood for.
Unfortunately by the time we had finished our mains, the entire terrace decided to light up a smoke regardless of what stage the diners were at in their meal, and despite having grown up with a smoking father I was too overwhelmed by the taste of ash in my mouth (and mounting rage at people being so inconsiderate) to want to think about dessert, so we cut our visit short.
After a week of coming up short with iced dessert options, either finding no sorbet options or not being able to have them guaranteed vegan-friendly, I had the genius idea of asking Ben if we could make a slight detour (i.e. in the complete opposite direction) via the ice-cream parlour at the top of the boulevard, Pingüino Soul. It turned out to be genius as the cakes totally appealed to Ben, and they had a number of creamy-looking sorbet options besides the ubiquitous lemon: strawberry, melon, pineapple and mango.
The strawberry actually looked so creamy that Ben and I both asked twice for confirmation that it contained no dairy. Upon tasting, it was indeed very smooth and juicy, but was definitely sorbet. It went perfectly with the equally fruity pineapple sorbet.At that point we discovered that they also offer soy milk – only the second establishment I have found on either Tenerife or Gran Canaria to do so (not that I have looked into it much, admittedly). They also have a fantastic selection of teas!
So we knew that on Sunday evening, our last night, we would be repeating the same adventure. A little hungrier and determined to test the Mex side of Sushi Mex, I ordered avocado hosomaki as a starter which I was promised contained no mayo. The plate was beautifully dressed, and though I enjoy sushi I know absolutely nothing about good or bad sushi, so I can’t tell you where it lies on the scale of things. Suffice to say, I enjoyed it.
As a main, despite feeling silly for eating fajitas three times in a week-long trip, I ordered their vegetarian fajitas. The veggies were more finely chopped than in El Rancho, included some black beans, and there was about 50% more of them – but only four tortillas, which only got me through about a third of my plate of sizzling vegetables.
I’m glad there weren’t more tortillas as I’d have felt very full and bloated had I eaten any more of them, but I am curious as to how anyone is supposed to fill them with all those vegetables – especially as I overfilled each tortilla and wasn’t including the extra black beans or rice (to avoid getting too full and over-starched, but upon tasting they turned out to be fairly bland and uninteresting, so I wasn’t missing out).
Anyway, it was all very tasty, not overly greasy or salty and letting the vegetable flavours and textures shine, so I was more than happy to finish off the vegetables on their own. Upon reflection, I do think I preferred them thicker cut, as in El Rancho.
Although all day I was going over the Sushi Mex menu in my head trying to decide what to have that evening, one thing I knew was that I was getting dessert. Or at least asking whether it was vegan. I had spied an “Avocado mousse” on the main menu which I had imagined could be vegan, but it didn’t appear on the dessert menu. Luckily the banana fritters (or banana “tempura”) did, and once again I was assured the batter contained only wheat flour and water. Not entirely hungry, but desperately craving the starchiness of the banana and the warm crunch of the fried batter, I gave in to temptation, asking them to hold the ice cream. Unfortunately I didn’t think to specify “no cream of any kind” so my dish appeared dotted with whipped cream, but at this point I decided against sending it back. Another time I may have, and I can’t explain my decision not to, apart from the fact that I hate food waste, especially non-vegan food waste, and in terms of my own consumption the cream didn’t actually touch my fritters so Ben was able to remove it all. I do think the right thing to do would have been to send it back, however, but every so often I make this sort of rash decision. Consequently, I didn’t take a photo because I didn’t want to advertise a non-vegan dish on this blog, and it didn’t look very picturesque once scraped clean. Anyway, it was alright and definitely hit the spot, but nothing mind-blowing. A sprinkle of cinnamon somewhere in there would not have gone amiss.
It didn’t take much for Ben to twist my arm (more like slightly bend my little finger) and talk me into getting a scoop of ice cream to finish off at Pingüino Soul. I had a big scoop of strawberry goodness in a cup and despite my screaming tummy I thoroughly enjoyed it as we wandered back towards the taxi rank.
Thus concludes my exploration of Gran Canaria eateries, but I have realised I have left out the airport adventures, so stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow!