Ronda, Spain, recs
Ok, so not-so-chow-spouse, chowpup and I spend two weeks in Spain. It was, in many respects, wonderful. However, chowpup is only 21 months, and goes to bed at 8:00pm. It's amazing how fast he recovers from any semblance of jet lag. So, I'm sorry to say I have very few recommendations from my trip. So many meals were eaten on the fly, at the place that looked most open and most open to receiving a 21month old guest.
However, while in Ronda (one of the pueblos blancos) we found a couple of places that were real gems:
1. Casa Maria, Ruedo Alameda, 27. Casual place, sit down meals (not tapas place). We only went for lunch. No menu, the guy gets what looks fresh. We went twice and both times put ourselves in his hands. Wonderful grilled asparagus, drizzled generously with olive oil and sprinkled with (sea?) salt. Delicious fish (can't remember what kind now), grilled. Large portions (certainly by Spanish standards), so we came away from lunch stuffed.
The only weak point were desserts. He claims they're made in house, which I simply don't believe. Spouse tried the Torron de cielo (I've got the name wrong, but I can't remember it--I think it translates as bacon of the sky). It was unremarkable at best. Let me put it this way--he has tiramisu on the menu, and if there was ever an item that a rustic-style restaurant in Spain wouldn't prepare on its own, it's tiramisu. IIRC, lunch for two (stuffed to the gills) with two glasses of wine was roughly 50-60E.
2. On the way to Casa Maria from the old town, there's a little tapas place/bar on the corner. They had great bocaditos. The other items we ordered there were wholly disappointing, but the bocaditos were yummy.
3. La Pasticceria. It's on one of the pedestrian streets, but not on the main drag of the pedestrian street with all of the bars, etc. (Sorry, spouse has their business card, so I don't have their address-rgh. If you ask at your hotel, they'll surely know.) It is AMAZING. Owned by an Italian guy who makes truly amazing pastries. They're not cheap, but they're wonderful. He uses real butter (we had a funny conversation about how disgusting margarine is), and makes pastries fresh daily. He makes this wonderful chocolate cake, very light, using high quality chocolate, some cinammon and red wine, baked in a savarin pan. Oh so good. Cream puffs with wonderful flavor (not some icky, flavorless, coat your mouth with icky fat crap). I normally don't even bother with cream puffs I dislike them so much. Croissants made as they should be (not too big, brown and crunchy (almost) on outside.) I had a wonderful time talking with him about pastries and baking. He loves to bake and it comes through in his product.
There is a LOT of crap pastry sold in Ronda (I ended up trying much of it, sadly). This guy is the real deal. He's struggling to stay in business, because the town is sufficiently small that many people just keep going to the places they know and have patronized for years, rather than checking out a new, expensive, owned-by-foreigner place. The owner's name is Alejandro, his girlfriend is Bettina (she's part German/part Italian). He doesn't speak English, but she does (if that's important). I recommend them without reservation. Oh, and good coffee, too.
Wish I had more to report. Next trip, sans chowpup!
No worries - we ended up still having a lovely time in Ronda and didn't have much free time for dilly dallying. Plus, we ended up eating way too much at Traga Tapas, which was just brilliant. We weren't staying at a hotel and the parador nearby was keen on promoting only its in-house restaurant (which, I have to say, did look excellent with the anniversary set menus going on at the moment).
I do have to say that our meal at Tragabuches in Ronda was exceptional. So good, that I still remember it four years later.