Legal Alien: A Scotsman in Montreal

A Meat-lover´s paradise, vegeterian's nightmare

We, the group of us out here working from Durham, decided to pass on the residencia food last night, which to be honest isn´t bad at all, and headed down the hill to the closest restaurant. Close means a 20 minute drive down a very windy road, but we get there eventually; a totally old-school, rustic restaurant which has a BBQ on which it cooks the food.

This gave me a chance to try a few local delicacies. There are a few idiosyncrancies with the La Palma cuisine which are rather amusing:

For example, there are approximately two sauces on the island: green moja and red moja. Green moja is used for vegetables and cheese, and the red is used for meat. Trying to ask for green moja with your meat will result in a polite but emphatic no.

The current major export from La Palma is bananas, but before that, it was all sugar cane. However, during the 1920s the price of sugar collapsed and apparently the island was left with a huge stockpile that needed to be eaten. Thus, the current cooking heavily favours extremely sweet deserts.

And it´s not only sugar that is predominant - being surrounded by the sea, there is also an abundance of salt on the island which I guess they think offers a counter-balance to the over-riding sweetness of the deserts.

Anyway, for the meal, we started off with grilled goats cheese - very good. Then we were lucky and most of use were able to get some BBQ´d veal - it´s not always available. Such a massive and succulent piece as well. Served with the meat are a form of potatoes. To prepare said potatoes, start boiling them, add a massive pile of salt and allow to boil dry. Thus you end up with salt crusted potatoes and they are soooo salty.

Unfortunately (for him anyway), one of the members of our table was a vegeterian and so had a very limited choice of food available. The definition of the word vegeterian is somewhat lost in translation as La Palmans don´t seem to consider ham a meat (vegetable soup will often come with big chunks of bacon). Thus be sure to ask for a vegeterian option "sin carne" or at the least check before tucking in.

After the main course came desert - we had the house desert, a form of tiramisu which was so sweet it hurt my jaw to eat. It was good though. Then we had some cafe mocahitos, which are made of condensed milk, espresso, liquor 43 (an orange liquour local to the island) foamed milk, cinammon sprinkles and a piece of lemon. Again, incredibly sweet!

Oh, and one more thing - the local drink is something called vino de te - a red wine that is partly fermented with pine. Yes, as in the tree. It´s a very peculiar taste, highly distinctive - some would say reminiscent of turpentine - but you get used to it by the 3rd glass. I should also point out it is highly potent.