Do not eat hamburgers and bad prawn sandwiches in Spain on holiday – Get a taste of Spain and a taste of Althea!
We are food freaks and we travel to enjoy and challenge all our senses. We do not travel to Spain to be offered Norwegian food. Some would probably say we’re snobbish, but food is for us a way to get to know a country’s culture and their way of life. Therefore we eat Spanish food in Spain, not Italian pizza or Norwegian sandwiches. But on the Costa Blanca`s many tourist spots, large sign are placed all along boardwalks and offers Norwegian, Swedish or German cuisine – in their respective languages. When you pay your bill, the waiter says “Thank you for visiting” in Norwegian!
Althea, north of Benidorm, has fortunately escaped the worst mass tourism. The beach in Althea has pebbles and not soft, white sand and many believe that this is the reason why the big hotel chains have not been interested in building hotels as they have done in Benidorm and Alicante. Fortunately! Here in Althea, you can still get an experience of the Spanish way of life.
Althea offered some great dining experiences and we felt like we really got a taste of Althea. First and foremost, in the small tapas bar, Xef Piratas-Gastro Bar (Calle Angel 22), which served some absolutely wonderful little flavor bombs, including baked porcini, all provided by efficient and friendly young staff. It is a small and informal place, a few tables spread over two floors and 3-4 tables outside on the sidewalk. The place is open only in the evenings and it can probably be wise to reserve a table if that’s where you realy want to eat. And it should be – the place has a reputation as the best tapas bar in Althea and met all of our expectations on our visit.
Excellent is also the Hungarian-owned Meridian Restaurant located on the sea promenade, Paseo Maritimo 18. Chef Andrea makes an absolutely wonderful dish of roasted duck liver with grated apple in a soft and tasty herb sauce. Simply just heavenly! We ate there 4 times and we ordered duck liver for lunch at least twice each. Roasted sea bass was also a pleasure and if you like calve schnitzel then order it! It was not much wrong with that either. We can also recommend the scallops on a bed of risotto, magnificent flavors – truly a taste of Althea with a Hungarian twist!
El Perro Negro is run by a French man and offers many exciting dining experiences. I tried a spicy stew inspired by North Africa, and it tasted excellent. One of their specialties are fresh oysters from northern France.
Just below the church in Carre Major, is Oustau de Althea. A nice place that really try to give their guests a total experience of taste and atmosphere. The food was good but not super.
A little further down the hill, on the small square just inside the gate, you will also find a good tapas bar, Tapas Gastro Bar. They are open from quite early in the day and is a nice place for lunch. We ordered 3-4 tapas each and a glass of white wine. Just enough and the great thing about tapas is that you can enjoy many different flavors at the same meal.
Deli shop Al Tall is situated in A Llargues 2, in the north end of the shopping street. If you want to take some good cheese and ham back home, visit this deli shop. Super quality and you can sit down to have a glass of wine and the owner might come with samples of the most beautiful Spanish hams. We were so lucky to experience this when we took shelter for a surprise downpour and ended up sharing a whole bottle of white wine of the highest quality. The result was of course that all our shopping was undertaken here. A young couple runs the place and the husband travels the world to teach how to treat Spanish ham in a respectful manner. He had also been in Norway and we had a nice chat while we enjoyed one of the best hams we’ve ever tasted.