The Costa del Sol is a magnet for tourists seeking sunshine, beautiful beaches, and delicious Spanish cuisine. Located along the coast in the Andalucia region of southern Spain, it has plenty to offer. The most famous of the cities in this region is Marbella. Situated on the Mediterranean Sea, there are a plethora of restaurants to choose from and most of them offer regional culinary specialties such as gazpacho, pescadito frito, gambas al pil pil, ajoblanco, and arroz con leche.
The best known of these is, of course, gazpacho. Though the soup can be traced back to the Romans and Greeks, the cold dish we are familiar with has its roots in Andalucia. It can be made a variety of ways but the most common is with tomato, cucumbers and peppers, all foreign to Europe until Columbus brought them back with him to Spain from South America in the 1500’s.
Pescado frito or little fried fish is another popular treat. Though not original to the Costa del Sol, the dish has been adopted by the Andalucians and can be found throughout the region. Anchovies, dog fish and sardines are typical of the fish that makes up this dish.
For those shrimp lovers there’s gambas al pil pil, or shrimp served in a spicy sauce that consists of garlic, paprika, chilis and white wine. Baked in a dish, it arrives sizzling hot at your table.
Pork is used in a variety of sausages and chorizos as well as the delicious jamon iberico, a cured leg of pork. Game stews using rabbit and partridge are also popular. Bacalao (cod) is a staple of many dishes including croquettes, fritters as well as cod baked in a tomato sauce.
Ajoblanco is another chilled appetizer also known as white gazpacho. Bread, crushed almonds, olive oil, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper are the common ingredients of this dish. Ajoblanco is very popular and even has a festival in its honor. “Dia de Ajoblanco” is celebrated on September 2 in the town of Almachar.
If you love rice pudding you will be pleased to know that arroz con leche (rice with milk) is a popular choice for dessert. This dish is made with cinnamon, a spice that was brought to Spain by the Moors.
Be sure to look for these dishes when visiting the Costa del Sol as they are not only delicious but, like all national cuisines, they marry history and tradition with a contemporary Spanish palate.
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