My nose was being tickled and teased by the warm waft of chestnuts roasting in tall metal braziers, and similar smells were drifting out of bars and restaurants as we walked up the main street of San Lorenzo. While rampant commercialism was whipping shoppers into a frenzy elsewhere, there was a traditional Canarian feel to the small town just above Los Cristianos.
It was the Night of Chestnuts, Sweets, and Wine, and Arona council had put on free buses from Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos to encourage more people to get involved. I went with friends Dave and Annie, we had to wait for a second half size coach to ferry us up there as demand was high.The evenings were beginning to get a bit chilly and it was a few degrees cooler as we got off in the busy Carretera General. Armed with the official leaflet we set about trying the chestnut themed tapas that several bars and restaurants were selling.
First stop was the Queseria Tasca Medianito for their cheese and chestnut tapas, it was lovely, bread and rolls of cheese with a little honey inside, and a spoon of chestnut puree. I’m not a big wine drinker but had a sip of my friends white to look willing, on the way out I noticed some bottles of 6% Danza Diablo (Devil Dance) black ale from La Palma, I will be back to try that in the near future. Next up was the Bar Fumero where we tried the chestnut croquetes, these had a very strong and pleasing flavour of the castañas. There was an alternative on offer, chestnuts with onion and tuna but we had more stops to cram in.
There was plenty of entertainment going on in the street and at key points there were stalls selling hot chestnuts, wine, and sweet pastries. We were a couple of days short of the big celebration of San Andres (St Andrew) and a few of those traditions were being honoured, children dragged strings of old cans along and opposite our food stop a mini version of las tables was taking place. San Andres is a celebration of wine and the breaking open of the wooden barrels, the wood is made into rough karts to ride down the steep streets, most notably in Icod. For us it was time to sample the full glory of chestnuts, the braziers were stoked up and burning with salted water boiling just below a pan of our delicious round friends. A two euro bag was plenty for me and they tasted so good, I’m sure they must have some very healthy properties as well. The 50 cent glasses of wine were going well too and a mountain of 50 cent pastries was being steadily reduced.
Another bar was calling, this time the Gipsy King, the walls were adorned with Real Betis posters and for once I didn’t have my CD Tenerife shirt on. I fancied the lasagne with chestnuts and was duly rewarded with the best tapas of the night. It was getting very busy and the poor barman was struggling to keep up with the till, hopefully all the local business’s will have made some good income from the night. As Dave left us for football, San Lorenzo v San Isidro in the Preferente League, we made our way to the free bus pick up point. A large group of traditionally clad musicians were tuning up, I noticed one had a small flashing electronic device attached to the neck of his timple guitar. I had to ask what it was for, it’s a tuning device for the strings, what a nice blend of tradition and technology. It was a good night and as always a pleasure to share in the rituals and celebrations of Tenerife.