Saturday, December 14, 2013


Just when I was supposed to be slaving over a hot stove, preparing a recipe for this week’s blog, I got a phone call from Shawn Hennessey, “tapas queen,” my guide to tapas in Sevilla  (see her web site and also my recent  blog post from Sevilla). She has been visiting Málaga and revisiting her favorite tapa bars there.

“I’m coming to Mijas! Can we meet at lunch for tapas?” I’m so excited that Shawn is meeting me on my own turf! (I live in Mijas.) So, of course, I drop everything.

Mijas is a small hill town overlooking the Mediterranean on Spain’s southern coast. It once had a dozen tapa bars in the casco antiguo, the old center. Of those, only two remain. But it has a dozen new bars, some mainly serving the day tourists, but others with ambitious wine lists and menus.

Bar Porras in the central plaza of Mijas.
We meet at the Bar Porras, on the Plaza de la Libertad, smack-dab in the center of town. Bar Porras is one of the original bars, where I learned Spanish cooking some 40 years ago.This is where I have coffee and read the newspaper most mornings after my aerobics class.

Shawn arrives with Victor Garrido, an independent tour guide who does in Málaga what Shawn does in Sevilla ( ).

A plate of ham to begin our tapas lunch tour.
Having learned the tapa-tour-guide plan from Shawn, I immediately order a plate of ibérico ham and glasses of Manzanilla (fino Sherry). We are off to a good start.

We continue on to the Museo del Vino, just a short stroll up Calle San Sebastian. A historic village house was converted to be an enoteca, a wine museum, shop and bar with wine tastings. Seated at a big wooden tasting table, we are cozy on a nippy December day. In summertime, the little enclosed patio is the cool place for sipping. ( )

Cheese and a glass of Botani.

Shawn is delighted to find here her favorite white wine, the light and floral Botani, from Bodegas Jorge Ordoñez. The Museo del Vino specializes in wines from Málaga province. The wine pairs perfectly with a nutty, semi-cured cheese. We are served bread rolls and bread sticks and a dish of organic olive oil for dipping.

Grilled scallops and cherry tomatoes.

We share a tapa of grilled scallop brochettes with cherry tomatoes. A sprinkling of pimentón (paprika) and olive oil complements the sweetness of the shellfish. Likely the scallops are frozen—but they are, nevertheless, delicious.

A last stop before Shawn returns to Málaga to catch her train back to Sevilla. We perch on stools (not very comfortable) at Bodega El Placer, just off the central plaza. Touted as a “wine bar,” it seems to specialize in red wines and does not have Shawn’s favorite whites. 

Black squid croquette.

We sample several tapas here. I love the squid croquettes with a squid-ink alioli sauce. They are black and crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. Think I will try this recipe myself one of these days.

Solomillo (pork tenderloin) is—in my opinion—too sweet with a fruit compote. The crispy langostinos tempura—jumbo shrimp, crisply fried—are divine, but again, a little too sweet in the saucing. Morcilla (blood sausage) doesn’t show any evidence of the raisins and pine nuts that  supposedly accompany it. The bacalao—salt cod—gratin is, uh, interesting, with its dusting of curry and turmeric, but again, with a layer of sweet compote that overwhelms the other flavors. What's with all the sweet sauces? They are not really traditional in Spanish cooking.

Ham, egg and crispy fried potatoes. Terrific!
The best dish of all? A perfect—perfect—fried egg. Estrellado—crispy around the edges, with straw potatoes, hot and crispy, and some meltingly tender scraps of fine ham. How to share this amongst three? Shawn, with enormous experience, proceeds to mix the egg, ham and potatoes all together.

Oh my god, that is so good. Thanks Shawn. Come back soon.

And, here's "tapas in Mijas" from Shawn's angle:

Starting the tapas tour (photo by Shawn Hennessey)

1 comment:

  1. By looking to this post, it feels like I've been there and it smell so good :). Thanks for sharing this. personal chef in austin