Last week we were lucky enough to bag ourselves a ticket to the Degustación Canaria event at La Bandera for their ten-course extravaganza.
In short, the event was a stunning representation of true Canarian food and wine which was an experience like no other we have ever had before.
Canarian cuisine is so unique to its islands and so, the aim of this event for La Bandera was to bring that taste to Manchester – something which takes a great deal of love and effort.
Every single dish on this menu tells a story, which was the focus of the evening. For instance, Gofio (a Canarian flour made from roasted grains) is used in three of the dishes, and Yashin, La Bandera’s owner, has to make bi-monthly trips over to bring this back to use in the restaurant.
Each dish was also paired with a perfectly matched wine from the Canary Islands, which was again, something completely unique. Home to over 100 different micro-climates across the islands, the Canaries have proved to be an excellent place for growing grapes, mainly a result of the highly nutritious volcanic soil, with Canarian wine being highly regarded within the wine community.
La Bandera is the only place in the city where you can try these fantastic (and unique) wines, all of which come from small, family-owned vineyards on the islands.
As for the food, this came out in five waves. First was Pulpo en dos Cocciones and Carrillares de Bacalao. The former was the famous twice cooked octopus from our Signature Dish fame. Quite frankly, it was stunning. The octopus was lovely and tender, with a crisp outer layer. This paired with the paprika mash and a dash of the Mojo Rojo was a match made in heaven.
The latter was cod cheek cooked with peppers, a simple-yet-effective tapas dish which was everything it needed to be and more. I have to say the fish was cooked to absolute perfection too.
The next wave began with Costillas al Mojo Verde– slow-cooked pork ribs in a traditional green Mojo sauce. These were so tender and juicy that they simply melted in the mouth, and paired with the zesty, herby, garlicky mojo – I never wanted it to end.
With this, came Pollo Salmorejo– chicken cooked in another traditional Canarian sauce and topped off with toasted almonds. This was a great example of how the rest of the world as influenced Canarian cuisine- as this dish has some serious North African notes to it – hardly surprising considered the Islands’ proximity to Morocco.
I was ready for some more fish at this point, and the third wave gave me everything I needed. Lubina al Gofio with Escaldon was a piece of seabass tossed in that toasted Canarian flour I mentioned earlier. This ensured a perfectly crisp texture, with a crispy skin and delicate centre to the fish.
This was paired with Escaldon– a paste made with gofio, fish stock and vinegar that was certainly one of those love-it-or-hate-it things. It is safe to say I loved it and I think it was an excellent pairing for the fish.
This was followed by the famous Pollo ‘Las Adores’– a chicken dish inspired by a humble chicken shop in Yashin the owner’s hometown in Tenerife. You can read about the full story here, but it is honestly one of my favourites and a great example of how close this food is to the hearts of the owners of La Bandera.
As for the dish itself, it is stunning, and I strongly recommend you get down to La Bandera as a matter of urgency and try it for yourselves.
Finally, we moved on to dessert, where we sampled Jardin Canario (gofio mousse with chocolate soil and edible flowers) and Pastel de Plantano (banana cheesecake).
As interesting the banana cheesecake was (made with bananas from the Canary Islands), the gofio mousse was the real winner for me. It has this delicious malty flavour which is so unbelievably comforting, and the use of the gofio in both a savoury and a sweet dish was a great way to show the versatility of this beloved ingredient.
It has to be said, there are a lot of tasting menus knocking around Manchester at the moment, all of which hold something special. However, La Bandera has to be one of the most unique dining experiences I have ever had and I have to say, the love, passion and knowledge of this cuisine that comes from the owners of La Bandera is what good food is really all about.
La Bandera, 2 Ridgefield, Manchester M2 6EQ
0161 833 9019