We took a three-hour detour to make a pilgrimage for a single dish. Look, we’ve been known to plan an entire holiday based on a singular restaurant, so a three-hour drive is nothing.
Sam Clark of Moro – one of our favourite London restaurants – had highlighted the porra in The Guardian’s excellent food round-up of 2015 (definitely still relevant), and stated Arte de Cozina in Antequera, as the only place to eat it. So we had to go there, right?
We visited this beautiful, historic town at the end of December. The sun was shining, but there was a chill wind blowing through the mountains. We were the first to arrive for Sunday lunch – story of our lives – and there didn’t seem to be anyone around. We shouted ‘hola’ a few times, and finally came across someone who looked rather surprised to see us. It was one o’clock! We were shown to a table by an enormous fireplace with a view of the kitchen – six or seven women dashing in perfect sequence, prepping vast pots of vegetables, slicing furiously and precisely.
The fire started to roar as we ordered our food – the porra, obviously being one of the dishes. Plates of croquetas, perfectly cooked meat and home-cured olives and ham came rushing out of the kitchen. As we ate, the restaurant began to fill up with Spanish families, seated on long tables – the tablecloth was lifted at each end and a bucket of burning embers from the fire placed underneath it to keep the diners’ legs warm as they laughed, chatted and drank wine.
The porra – a type of gazpacho, native to this particular region, just north of Málaga – was unnervingly smooth, with a poky, bitter hit of local olive oil, a good fistful of salt and with an aromatic sweetness thanks to the unusual addition of orange. It was definitely worth the drive. As was the rest of the menu – a collection of recipes collated, cherished and reinterpreted from across the Málaga region, the all-female kitchen team are fiercely seasonal when it comes to ingredients. Destination, authentic dining.
Arte de Cozina, Calle Calzada 29, Antequera, Malaga
Tel: +34 952 840 014 | www.artedecozina.com |