The Best Monas de Pascua in Alicante
Traditional festivities often go hand-in-hand with culinary delights, as is the case with the mona de Pascua, associated with Easter Monday, when the custom is for men to gift one of these cakes to their godchildren. Eating the mona de Pascua ushers in the end of Lent and fasting.
Themonais eaten in various regions of Spain, including Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Aragon, Murcia and Valencia, each with their own recipe and peculiarity. In Catalonia, the chocolate mona prevails, while in Valencia they resemble a sweet bun, most of them made of flour, sugar, eggs and salt.
The Tradition in Alicante
Several types ofmonaare made in the Community of Valencia, although the panquemado or toña are available all year around in bakeries and pastry shops. But the variety that appear at Easter are more elaborate and decorative. They are usually either elongated or round and dusted withanisetes(aniseed candies). Those made for children come in amusing, attractive shapes, such as monkeys, snakes or lizards, with a hard-boiled egg embedded in their mouths.
In Alicante and, in general, throughout the Levante (south-eastern seaboard), the custom is to go on an outing in the countryside or hills on the Day of the Mona. Families and friends meet to eat the traditional confectionery in nearby nature areas, including the Sierra de Callosa, the Pinada de Guardamar and the Sierra del Maigmó.
One amusing custom is to break the hard-boiled egg that comes with the mona on a friend’s or family member’s head. They say that some bakers garnish their monas with raw eggs to make the situation even more entertaining. The ritual dictates that the aggressor recite the verse: “Ací em pica, ací em cou i ací t’esclafe l’ou” (Here I’m itching, here I’m smarting and here I break the egg over you).
The Best Pastry Shops in Alicante to Buy Monas and other Confectionery
In Alicante, the pastry shops vie with one another to produce the best monas and display them in their shop windows. One of the most acclaimed ones in the city is Prefiero Sussu, owned by José Manuel Samper, at number 3, calle Pintor Baez. It is a landmark of the best pastries and has won several awards for its delicious toñas. At Sussu they also make one of the finest croissants in Spain. Fresh out of the oven, the taste of butter is unmistakeable, as margarine is not allowed into the Prefiero Sussu bakery under any circumstance.
Horno Rafelet, at 57 calle Maestro Alonso, is a family concern in operation since 1932 where some exquisite homemade products are made. It stands out from the rest because of the traditional recipes they follow and their fine baking.
In the town of Orihuela, in Alicante province, we find what are reputed to be the best toñas in the province. They come from the bakery of El Horno del Obispo, which has been operating since 1850, located in the historic centre of Orihuela. It shares the accolade for the best toñas in Alicante with El Angel, also located in that town. If you visit Orihuela, you should also taste their typical confectionery, known as chato de Orihuela.
How about the Gluten-free Variety?
If you’re looking for gluten- and lactose-free monas de Pascua, there are some delicious ones in the Pastelería José María García, at 46 avenida de Novelda. Their bakery follows homemade recipes based on natural products.
What are you waiting for? Check out our prices here!
Text by Scanner FM
Images by Horno Rafelet, La Murciana and Pastelería Torreblanca
Santiago A Passion For Sweets
Holy Week is a festivity accompanied by a long culinary tradition, among other things. Some of its hallmarks include confectionery and desserts, which adopt a host of guises across the geography of Spain. Not to be outdone, Santiago de Compostela, a city of fine food, has its own versions, as evinced in the gems created by different local religious orders, those inherited from the city’s long chocolatiering tradition and imports from the Americas, which have spread all over Europe via the Road to Santiago.
In an effort to keep this tradition alive and provide enjoyment for locals and visitors alike, the second edition of a gastronomic event catering to the sweet-toothed known as Santiago Paixón Doce will be held from 7 to 17 April. For the duration of this festivity, some 29 venues, notably bars, cafés and restaurants, will be offering a special menu laced with traditional Holy Week fare, among which confectionery features prominently. Highlights include torrijas (a kind of French bread), leche frita (literally, “fried milk”), buñuelos (fritters), rosquillas (a ring-shaped pastry), melindres (buns), roscas (a kind of doughnut), “passion chocolates”, cakes and other confectionery typical at this time of year. Check out the list of venues taking part in this tasty experience here.
Eight Delicacies in the Compostelan Holy Week
For those not familiar with Santiago de Compostela’s Holy Week culinary tradition, we have drawn up a selection of the confectionery you simply must taste on your visit to the city. Take note!
1. Concha de Santiago (St James Shell)
This is a veritable tribute to the city of Santiago de Compostela, as it features its paramount symbol, the pilgrim’s scallop shell or viera worked into a delicious chocolate figure. One of the many establishments where you can taste the concha de Santiago is the Chocolat Factory, located in the Praza do Toural.
2. Tarta de Santiago (St James Cake)
With its origins going back to the 16th century, the tarta de Santiago is unquestionably the most popular cake in Santiago de Compostela. Needless to say, you can find it in all the city’s pastry shops and bakeries, from Las Colonias – with its long-standing tradition – to Á Casa Mora, said to be the artificers of the Cross of St James having been incorporated into the cake.
3. Chocolate a la taza
As mentioned earlier, Santiago is a city with a long-standing tradition of chocolatiers. One of the local favourites is “chocolate a la taza”, which is thick hot chocolate for dunking churros (fritters) in. A classic spot for savouring this wonderful delicacy is the Chocolatería Metate (Rúa do Preguntoiro, 12).
4. Monastic Delights
In bygone times, it fell to the religious orders to introduce foreign traditions to Compostela, including the recipes using almonds and egg yolk, which had a marked influence on local confectionery and ended up spawning both the tarta de Santiago and almendrados (macaroons). There are currently two convents in Santiago which still make their own confectionery. One is the Antealtares Monastery, where the Benedictines make almendrados, tarta de Santiago and cookies, all of which are available on a daily basis, and brazo de gitano, a kind of Swiss roll which is made only to order. The other is Belvís Convent, where the Dominicans make bespoke batches of almendrados, mantecados (a kind of shortbread made with lard)and tarta de Santiago, as well as selling freshly baked cookies.
5. Cheese and Chocolate Cakes
We recommend you drop in on the Airas Nunes Café, which specialises in homemade cakes and tortiñas (milk tarts).
6. Assorted “Pecados” (Sins)
The Cantón del Toural is home to the so-called Pecados de Compostela (Sins of Compostela), a unique type of candy wrapped in seven forms to match the seven deadly sins, one for each day of the week. Be a daredevil and try them!
Despite having very similar ingredients to the Easter cake known as the rosca de Pascua,the Xacobea is moister as it contains syrup. Available in numerous pastry shops dotted about the city, notably La Estrella (Suevia).
The rosquilla, also known as a melindre, typically eaten at traditional shrine festivals in Galicia, is also a classic of Holy Week and Easter in Galicia. Sold at a host of venues in Santiago de Compostela.
Text and photos by Turismo de Santiago
A Trainspotting Route Through Edinburgh
Trainspotting, a movie that became a totem for a whole generation, is the screen adaptation of the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh, one of the writers who most accurately portrayed the darker side of Edinburgh. To mark the twentieth anniversary of its release and on the verge of a rendezvous between Mark Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Frank Begbie,we take you on a tour of some of the most significant spots in Edinburgh where the film was set.
Princes Street provides the setting for the opening scene in the movie, one of the most iconic sequences in 90s cinema. The heroin addicts yet well-educated Mark Renton and Spud, who have just been shoplifting in a bookstore, are chased along Princes Street by security to the pulsating rhythm of Lust for Life by Iggy Pop. Princes Street, which was laid at the end of the 18th century, is the main thoroughfare and shopping precinct in the Scottish capital. It runs for one and a half kilometres and joins Lothian Road in the west to Leith Street in the east.
Mark Renton’s flight from the security guards of the shop where he has just pinched a few books ends when he is hit by a car in the Cowgate. A historic street in Edinburgh’s Old Town, as may be inferred from its name, it was once the route taken by cattle on their way to market. Sited alongside the ever ebullient Grassmarket Square, it is now one of the busiest areas in the city and home to some of the best pubs in Edinburgh, namely The Three Sisters, The Last Drop and the Beehive Inn.
The psychopath Frank Begbie spends much of Trainspotting’s footage clouting whoever gets in his way. One of these drubbings is set in a popular pub and billiards saloon in the city called The Volunteer Arms, although known to everyone as “The Volley”. The bar still stands on Leith Walk, an avenue running from the city centre to the harbour area. Now, however, it has been revamped as the Cask & Still, an upmarket whisky bar which serves the finest gin and whisky distilled in Scotland.
The Worst Toilet in Scotland
Mark Renton is in the grips of cold turkey and the only thing he can score in the “market” are some opium suppositories. To compound his woes, there is nowhere to hide and he is forced to take them in what he appropriately describes as “the worst toilet in Scotland”, a foul bog located at the back of a bookies in the Muirhouse shopping mall. Twenty years on, this shopping centre is in a spooky-looking area with most of the businesses boarded up.
With the city in full Edinburgh Festival swing and all the pubs full of festival-goers, Renton, Spud and Sick Boy find nothing better to do than to take some ecstasy and wander through The Meadows. They chat up two girls from a nearby private school but end up messing about with some squirrels. Located south of the city centre, The Meadows is one of the largest parks in Edinburgh, one of those endless green commons so typical of British cities, with recreational areas for children, croquet clubs, tennis courts and football and rugby fields.
Leith Central Station
After a sojourn in London, Renton returns to Leith for Christmas and meets up with his old pals. He visits Leith Central Station with one of them, Begbie and describes the station as “a barren, desolate hangar, which is soon to be demolished and replaced by a supermarket and swimming centre.” Leith Central Station was closed to passengers in the 50s and finally made redundant in 1972, after which the building became a haven for the city’s drug addicts. Years later, the area where the platforms once stood was turned into a Tesco superstore, while the terminal building was refurbished as a waterworld complex known as Leith Waterworld.
Although not physically present, theHibernian FC and its grounds, Easter Road, are referred to constantly in the novel and film. Founded in 1875 by Irish immigrants, the Hibernian is Leith’s harbour district club and the team supported by all the main characters in Trainspotting. Easter Road is the headquarters of the “Hibs”, as they call it, the stadium having being unveiled in 1893. That shoebox with its endearing musty smell characteristic of British football stadiums is known as The Holy Ground or the Leith San Siro by the club’s fans. While the Hibs of Irish extraction is the Catholic team, its opposite number in Edinburgh football is Heart of Midlothian Football Club or “Hearts”, most of whose supporters are Protestant, a situation which mirrors the rivalry between the two greats of Glasgow – Celtic and Rangers.
While Irvine Welsh’s novel is set entirely in Edinburgh, most of the screen adaptation was shot in… Glasgow! White lies of the seventh art. Two of the most significant settings in Trainspotting actually located in Glasgow include Volcano, the disco where Renton meets his very own Lolita, Diane. Located at 15 Benalder Street, near Kelvinhall Station, don’t bother to search for it as it was demolished some years ago. The other location, which you will still come across, is Rouken Glen Park, where Renton and Sick Boy discuss Sean Connery’s film career and shoot a Rottweiler in the behind with pellets.
Those of you interested in touring the settings where Trainspotting was filmed can either choose to do so on your own or else sign up for the laid-on Trainspotting Walking Tour hosted by Leith Walks. From Leith Central Station to the “worst toilet in Scotland”, a tour guide will reveal the main locations in Irvine Welsh’s novel as it was ported to the big screen by Danny Boyle.
If you happen to be in Edinburgh, be sure to wander around the haunts where that iconic movie was set. Check out your Vueling flight here.more info
GASTRONOMY IN PORTUGAL: A USEFUL LITTLE GUIDE ON THE SECRETS OF COD
Cod is a major institution in Portugal. Across the length and breadth of the country, you'll find it on every menu every day. Which is why we've prepared a useful little guide to help you learn more about this fish, including its history as well as the cultural and gastronomic aspects. And make no mistake… you'll be licking your fingers!more info