My week in food – Gran Canaria

Saturday Our half term holiday in the Canarian sun didn’t start well. First there was the two hour delay, then the airline broke our car seat, then we arrived at our villa to find out we weren’t expected until Monday. Luckily after some pidgin Spanish and muchos gesticulating, they squeezed us in, but by this time it was 830 and we were hungry. So with first night bonhomie we decided to blow the budget and have dinner at the only restaurant nearby which was a five star Sheraton hotel. It was the worst meal eaten by anyone in the whole world. Ever. We waited more than an hour for a rank fish stew and a raw pizza to arrive. We got the meal for free, but still left in a huff, hungry and with bread rolls stuffed in our pocket to gnaw on the way home.
We knew nothing about Gran Canaria before visiting. So turned up at the Playa del Ingles resort expecting espresso, fruit salad and fresh croissants. I kid you not, the only food available at 8am was chicken nuggets and chips, bacon and chips, sausage and chips. We drove on worried we were going to starve and eventually found a market cafe off the beaten track where four delicious doughnuts, two strong espressos and two weeny hot chocolates cost us 5 Euros.
Lidl. What a supermarket. I’ve dabbled back home, but the one we visited in Gran Canaria was amazing. Two loaves of fresh bread, cheese, salami, Iberian ham, mangoes, oranges, pasta, juice, milk, cereal, Nutella, two gorgeous bottles of Rioja, and some vodka cost us £40. A week’s shop for £40! That would have cost treble in Chiswick Waitrose and the quality was just as good.
We visited GC, as our friends Sam and Emma left high-powered London jobs three years ago to take over Emma’s family’s food hall in the capital, Las Palmas. It is called La Cocotte and if you are ever passing, stop by. That is an order. It is a bit like a deli where you buy cooked food to take home. Her parents started it 25 years ago and the food is authentic Spanish and utterly yummy. We had paella, gazpacho and chocolate mousse which was so good, I ate it whilst the children slept, so I didn’t have to share. Emma is amazingly creative and crafty (as in good at making things, not crafty as in sly) and organised a Halloween party that would have made Martha Stewart weep in envy. Have a look at the pictures (which went viral when posted) on their blog.
I am half Irish and so genetics have it that I like potatoes. A lot. Especially when baked in salt, like in the picture, Canarian style, and served with spicy sauce. I had them at Restaurant Amaiur in the capital alongside a leg of roasted lamb. The restaurant is posh, but in the Spanish way, very family-friendly.
We had lunch in a cave. How cool is that? A very big cave up a hill, studded with bee hives. The food was good. Spanish tapas. Chips. Prawns. I had a shandy. What’s not to love?
Dinner was at an Italian in Maslapalomas. The kids ate pizza in the shape of a fish. It was so clever as it was a proper fresh pizza, but with excess dough bunched up at one end in the shape of a tail. I think I loved it more than the girls.
The best meal of the holiday was at El Boyo, a very low-key, delightfully cheap fish restaurant on the beach near Areguineguin in the south. It is next to this massive industrial cement works and it feels weird eating delicious seafood, next to such a monstrosity. We were the only English-speakers there and had octopus, prawns, Canarian potatoes and some squid, washed down with extremely bad Spanish wine, which was only drinkable after mixing it with some of the girls’ Fanta Limon. Class in a glass. That’s me.


  1. Glad your holiday improved! Lovely to hear foodie stories from abroad. And just WOW to teh Halloween party. Your potatoes reminded me of a Canarian student I once taught. I asked the class to write a recipe that was typical of their home country, and she wrote me a recipe for ‘Crumples potatoes with a biting sauce’. I always call mashed potato ‘crumples potatoes’ now.

  2. Sounds like things perked up considerably by the end. Have never had any inclination to go to the canary islands – not sure you’ve convinced me otherwise, but I do like the sound of your friend’s food hall/deli place

    • There are nice places to be found, you just have to look for them. And the weather. If I could go there every winter for a week, I’d be a happy woman.

  3. We went to Lanzarote a few weeks ago. We stayed at a fabulous little hotel, owned by a family from Barcelona. However, we really struggled to find good restaurants. El Golfo was meant to have fab seafood restaurants, but we visited a few and the standard was very average and not cheap either. I think the rankest thing we ate was white asparagus with melted blue cheese. Such a bad combination.
    The sun shined so we were happy, but the food was a real let down. What we could have done with was a Brixton Village, or place like your La Cocotte…

    • What place couldn’t be improved by a Brixton village. I only discovered it last month and can’t wait to go back.

  4. nice pics

  5. It’s always hard to start off a holiday badly and yours sounds like it did. But, vastly improved and sounded lovely. I want some sun!

  6. Interesting about the Spanish Lidl. It’s the same over in Portugal where the produce is fantastic, the wine incredible and everyday essentials are much better than over here.
    We also shop at Continente which makes our supermarkets look like shabby corner shops

    • It was brilliant. Loads of organic stuff too, but really cheap. I actually seriously considered for a fleeting moment, taking some stuff home, but then realised that would have been a bit sad/tight.

  7. An excellent read, Lucy. Glad you enjoyed your grub on Gran Canaria. Yes, La Cocotte do some excellent comida para llevar. However, if only Sam and Emma had pointed you in the direction of the GC-2 where you could have dined out at some interesting restaurants on the north coast. The interior of the island, as in Artenara, Tejeda, and Vega de San Mateo, also makes for some intriguing culinary experiences.

  8. Hello Crumbs!

    La Cocotte here from the far off isle of Gran Canaria. Thank you so much for your lovely write-up of us. It was a great pleasure to receive such distinguished bloggers in our shop! We love your videos and you have inspired us to make one of our own – specially for Christmas which features all our festive fare. Thought you might like to see it

    Felices Fiestas.


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