While I was out on a Soho Graffiti Tour with my friend Victor @welovemalaga during my recent Málaga Getaway, we turned a corner and Victor suddenly said, “you have to come and meet these people!”. Clearly we had stumbled upon a cooking class in session but co-owners Luís and Amparo were happy to take turns showing me around and telling me all about the Laboratoria de Sabores (the Flavour Lab). It is primarily a space where students learn the art of Mediterranean cooking in a relaxed and very “hands on” environment. Amparo is clearly passionate about keeping the old-style cooking alive and showed me several examples of not only dishes “on the verge of culinary extinction” but also of once-popular food items that are seldom used these days. Her mission is to keep these traditional recipes alive, and from what we saw being prepared by the students that morning, it is indeed a worthy mission.
Aside from offering a variety of cooking classes (beginners, fusion, vegetarian, cooking for singles, cooking for couples, kids classes…), the Lab can also be booked by others to use for their own classes, wine tastings, or private dinners. It’s a lovely and bright space, and Luís and Amparo are clearly in love with what they are doing. Do check them out if you’re spending some time in Málaga and would like to learn more about Mediterranean cooking. Week-long gastronomic holidays can also be arranged, including accommodation.
Starting today (until January 6th) you can rent skates and take a few turns around the curiously named “pista hielo ecológica”. I’m not sure what’s so “ecological” about a massive stretch (264 square metres) of petroleum-based fake ice, but there you go. The kids looked like they were having a great time. Also in the curiously named Plaza Mayor you’ll find some market stalls selling crafts, a churros stand and a kiddie train ride.
Open 11 am – 11 pm
Price: 6 € for approx 30-40 minutes
3 € for the train ride
As some of you may know, I am in love with Málaga and consider it my second home after Sevilla, so I try to get down there as often as possible. And although I’ve been visiting on a regular basis since 2009 I know I still have a lot to learn about it.
I’ve been a Twitter pal of Victor @welovemalaga for a few months and had been hearing great things about his tours, so during a quick visit last weekend I decided to take one of his Malaga Walking Tours. We met on a rainy Saturday morning and, because of the weather, I had Victor all to myself.
A second-generation tour guide (his father and brother are also professional licenced guides) Victor is a natural story-teller. Charming, informed, and passionate about his native city, I was immediately drawn in and held captivated by his entertaining anecdotes and fascinating facts about Málaga. No dull routine “canned talk” on this tour! Places I had already visited many times took on new meaning and I also got to see a few “secret spots” that I didn’t know existed. The two hours flew by. Towards the end we were joined by Victor’s friend Tatiana and we were taken for the final surprise of the tour – a breathtaking rooftop view where we could look out over the port and also see the route we had taken.
By this time we were getting hungry and, because Victor also does tapas tours, we decided to do a mini-tapeo before I had to catch my train back to Sevilla. Just imagine! The Málaga King and Sevilla Queen of Tapas together at last. 😉 Not surprisingly, Victor took me to three places I hadn’t been to before and I remembered when I was in Málaga just before Christmas how he had also given me some great tips via Twitter on tapas bars I should visit. He certainly knows the tapas scene in Málaga and is open and generous in sharing his knowledge.
So the next time you’re in Málaga I whole-heartedly recommend that you take one of Victor’s tours. Even if, like me, you’ve visited the city before I guarantee you’ll see it with fresh eyes.
One of the best ways of getting to know a new culture is through its food, as I have discovered over and over again with my Sevilla Tapas Tour guests. Then in September I started doing Market & Tapas Tours and they have proved to be quite successful as well. These morning tours start off with that most typical of Spanish breakfasts – churros and chocolate – and then I take my guests to two of Sevilla’s best food markets, one traditional and one modern (in fact, the newest and the oldest markets in Sevilla), where I talk about the fresh fish, meats and produce on display, and of course we sample some of the culinary delights on offer along the way. At our second stop we finish off with a delicious snack of fresh seafood tapas at a delightful market tapas bar. It’s great fun.
Market & Tapas Tours are available Tuesday – Thursday, 11.00 am – 2.00 pm.
Go down to Calle Feria on a Thursday morning and you could be in for a big surprise, as a long section of the street and some side streets are taken over by the stalls of the El Jueves (Spanish for Thursday) market. Officially it’s an antiques market, but though you can find antiques here, the range of things on sale here is much wider and more eclectic. Ceramics, paintings and furniture jostle for attention with second hand books and toys, watches and accessories, CDs and recycled fixtures and fittings. Looking for a pepper mill to match your salt cellar? A lava lamp? A console for your old video-games? You just might find them here. If not, never mind, half the fun is in the browsing, or sitting in one of the local bars with a coffee and toast watching the bustle outside. And you never know when you’re going to stumble on that unmissable bargain or the perfect souvenir.
[click on images to enlarge]
El Jueves must be one of the oldest still-existing markets in Europe, dating back to the 13th century, just after the Christian reconquest of the city, and there are rumoured to be one or two items that have shown up every Thursday since then.
I’d been meaning to go to Sevilla de Ópera in the Arenal Market ever since I first heard about it from Claudio, owner of the Adriano Hotel, and was introduced to its organisers, opera baritone Luciano Miotto and producer Paco Oliva. Then last Saturday I was invited to the final show for this season (it starts up again in September).
Sevilla is often advertised as the “city of opera“, and is famous as the setting for operas by Bizet (Carmen), Rossini (The Barber of Seville), and Mozart (The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni).
Sevilla de Ópera put on a small show (the one we saw featured three singers and a pianist) that aims to make opera more accessible to the public. Their concept is based on a typical tablao de flamenco, a bit like dinner theatre, though you can also just go and have drinks. The difference here is that, although there is some basic scenery, there is no actual stage – or rather, the entire room is the stage – and the performers come and go using various entrances, interacting with the audience. I think it’s a great way for people to get a first taste of opera without feeling intimidated, and the market setting adds to its “everyman” appeal. But the quality of the performances ensures that well-seasoned opera lovers will enjoy it too.
Gianpero Ruggeri, Sachika Ito & Luciano Miotto
I’m not exactly an “opera buff” myself and wasn’t sure what to expect, but the show turned out to be hugely enjoyable, with scenes from the Mozart and Rossini operas and other songs (traditional Spanish and a couple of zarzuelas) performed with skill and gusto. And the encore, Rossini’s Duet for Two Cats, was delightful – a humorous piece with “meow” as the only lyric. Very frustratingly, my attempt to video it for posterity (and for my friend Sledpress) on my iPhone proved unsuccessful but Luciano told me I could find them performing it on YouTube. Enjoy…
The camels were being groomed and prepared for the opening of the Encarnación Christmas Market (today) and will be available for rides until January 5th. They also add a very authentic look to the large Belén (nativity scene) being constructed. More pics from the market later…
Word has it that the monstrosity that has been growing in the Plaza Encarnación, locally known as either “Las Setas” (the mushrooms) or the “Metropol Parasol”, is going to open this Sunday, December 19th. Given the state of the place at the moment it’s hard to believe, but perhaps they are just going to open the lower level where the market stalls are. It would certainly be a boon for the vendors who have been waiting for their new digs (pun intended) for years after it was held up for archaeological excavation and research. And as much as I abhor this atrocious structure, when I had a peek into where the new market stalls will be, it looked very nicely organised indeed.
So do go on Sunday and support the vendors.
Just don’t look up…