Shore leave St. Cruz de La Palma/Canary Islands
March 29th, 2018 | on the road
The Italian ship’s doctor, known for his passion for good food, invited us to this restaurant. He has been visiting it for years on every port stay in Santa Cruz. Now we know why. A tiny house with an even tinier kitchen, six tables, great taste and even greater hospitality. Happy, who gets a table at Doña Carmen, at the ENRICLAI in Santa Cruz de La Palma.
Passing four very high steps you enter the small, picturesque house at the corner Calle Vandale / Calle Doctor Santos Abreu. White lace curtains blow invitingly out of the dark green painted window. The parlor, and here the word “parlor” is really appropriate, offers little more than six simple wooden tables for up to 12 people. The room is open up to the blue painted ceiling. The cook can be watched through a window as he conjures up the tastiest dishes in his tiny kingdom.
And then Doña Carmen enters the stage of her small, so cozy restaurant, maybe the smallest on the island. She is such an incredibly warm woman, such a perfect host, as we have rarely experienced. It feels like being at home with friends. Carmen is everywhere and caring for her guests, she polishes cutlery and glasses, lovingly distributes large cloth bibs for those who have ordered spaghetti and another extra-large napkin for my white pants (how thankful I was at the end of our visit …).
Carmen is the heart and soul of Enriclai, she likes to name her guests “Cariño” or “Amore”. And she sets straight at the beginning: “There is no menu, nothing frozen and nothing fried.” In Carmen’s kitchen, only fresh ingredients are processed. She keeps track of what she has on her daily menu and you can feel the pride in every single dish she offers. You can follow her wine recommendation blindly, she knows the wines from the island, knows the winemakers and knows which wine fits their dishes.
Doña Carmen’s cuisine is fresh and regional. The quality of the ingredients cannot be better. Even the salad of romaine lettuce, avocado, tomato, tree tomato, strawberry, passion fruit, mango, papaya, banana is an aromatic firework. You can taste immediately that the fruits have not travelled far, but come directly from the island. The Seafood Spaghetti is fantastic, the tomato-velvety sauce – all made without cream -, the sumptuously sized shrimp, mussels and cockles, and the octopus fresh and perfectly cooked. A lime cream with Gofio, the typical Canarian, roasted cereal flour completes our menu at its best.
The Italian doctor always buys flowers for Doña Carmen on the market, that’s the ritual. A nice ritual, true. Maybe we should stop by the next visit to Enriclai and take some flowers for Doña Carmen.
Oh yes, and the name of the restaurant “Enriclai” is the last name of the previous owner of the restaurant. He was a violinist, Enriclai his stage name.
A reservation is essential: Tel. +34 680 203 290
Buen provecho! Good Appetite!
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