Warm, sunny Malaga-- it's been awhile since I walked your beaches, drove through your breathtaking, whitewashed pueblos blancos, and ate your fresh, delicious food. Luckily, this summer I plan to return, this time with Alejandro for the first time as a couple (can you believe that the other day he asked me where Nerja was?).
As we start to envision our trip, the main thing I am thinking about (as usual) is food, food, and food! In fact, Malaga is famous for three of my very favorite foods from all of Andalusia-- molletes de Antequera, ajo blanco, and espetos de sardinas.
What are these delicacies you ask? Let me explain...
Molletes de Antequera
An essential component of my number one breakfast food in Spain, molletes are absolutely perfect with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, fresh tomatoes, and a thin slice of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. The history of this addictive breakfast bread is fascinating, as food historians believe that the Moors introduced this baked bread to Spain during their reign in Andalusia. Over time, the small town of Antequera became best known for their outstanding quality of molletes and for keeping the tradition alive. They're one of our favorite foods in Malaga without a doubt!
Molletes are usually round or oval shaped, with a soft, spongy texture. They are best when grilled or toasted, covered with your spread of choice and eaten immediately so that they don't get soggy. Here are some typical toppings:
- Mollete con aceite: A toasted mollete covered with EVOO.
- Mollete con aceite y jamón: A toasted mollete, EVOO, and ham (you have to specify if you'd like Serrano or Ibérico).
- Mollete con aceite, tomate, y jamón: As above, but with tomatoes too-- either sliced or pureed into a spread.
- Mollete con manteca colorá (colorada): A toasted mollete topped with colored lard (lard with paprika and other spices)-- sounds fattening (and it is) but very delicious!
My advice when looking for hotels in Malaga, skip the ones offering the breakfast buffet and head to a small, local bar. For around 2.50€ you'll likely find a delicious mollete-- and often with coffee included!
Another dish influenced by Spain's Moorish rule (we are in Andalusia after all), ajo blanco is a cold soup, often called the "white gazpacho from Malaga". Made from ground almonds, garlic, stale bread, and olive oil, ajo blanco is the pre-gazpacho, popular long before tomatoes were imported from Spain's conquests in the New World.
Ajo blanco on its own is fantastic, but I especially love it topped with juicy grapes, melon, or peaches. I know cold garlic soup sounds strange to many-- but give it a try, you won't regret it!
Espeto de Sardinas
Roasted on spits as the key player in a quintessential Malagueño beachside barbecue, these sardines are the freshest you'll ever try. There is always something to be said for a simple dish done well, and this truly achieves perfection. The espetos de sardinas are most commonly served in beachfront bars called chiringuitos, which generally open seasonally and are as casual as they come. Order a caña and some sardines and I guarantee you will leave happy.
Despite seeming so simple, this dish is harder than it looks at first glance-- you must carve proper spears and know exactly how to hammer them into the sand. The fire can't be too strong or too weak-- and you don't want to let the sardines go dry... So before you try mounting your own beachside barbecue think twice-- and head down to Malaga!
A Place to Visit
Andalusia is an explosion of flavors and Malaga doesn't stray from the standards found in places like Seville and Cadiz. We really look forward to exploring its coasts, mountains, and all of the food we can fit in! Luckily, Malaga is super accessible and flights to Malaga are abundant. Since we aren't too far away, we'll likely be taking the train or a rental car, but in the past we've flown in and out of Malaga while living in Andalusia, and the airport is great.
Word to the wise: Malaga is so much more than its capital city by the same name. Get out of the city and make sure to explore the coast in small towns like Nerja (where there is also an impressive cave) and you must get out into the mountains and check out Ronda and the whitewashed pueblos blancos in the Sierra de Grazalema.
Have you ever visited Malaga? What was the best thing you ate there?
Read More: For in-depth Malaga information check out our Malaga food blog and Malaga food tours!
Photo Credits: Martin Terber (Malagueta), jules:stonesoup (ajo blanco), teclasorg (Sardines)
Jessica of HolaYessica
Molletes look sooo delicious. Anything with Spanish bread and olive oil and I'm sold!
I'm not so sure about ajo blanco though. Just how garlicky is it?
Kaley [Y Mucho Más]
Yum! I gotta say I'm not much into pescaito frito, but I'm way into the molletes con tomate y jamón and ajo blanco! We had a tapa of something like that in Sevilla, but they had another name for it. I can't recall it now.
Uff...if I could eat molletes with aceite y jamon everyday for breakfast, I would...but I think I would gain back all the weight I've lost. Why is that bread so delicious, and perfect for toasting?
Also, the best thing I ever ate in Malaga was a big old pot of arroz caldoso con bogavante with my dad. More Valenciano than Malagueño, but it was delicious, and I was in good company!
Mmm that sounds delicious!!!
My old stomping grounds. 🙂 I studied abroad in Malaga for a semester and visited Ronda. I also went to Nerja a few times and saw the caves. I also made it to Mijas which was rather interesting to get to using public transportation from the Malaga city center. This post made me relive so many study abroad memories--my host mother lived in El Palo neighborhood and I remember very well those beach bars with the chiringuitos!
Cat of Sunshine and Siestas
Espetos - yes! Molletes - yes! My dear friend lives in Antequera, and my visits revolve around breakfast and a trip to a restaurant with incredible green curry. Not huge on the province as a whole, but it certainly has its charms and its food gems!
I’ve always wondered what European cuisine was like before the Columbian Exchange introduced things like tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers were introduced, mainstays of current gastronomy. Ajo blanco sounds fascinating and I can’t wait to try it when I’m on the Mediterranean coast next week.
OMIGOSH everything was amazing! I just got back from the province and made sure to try all 3 of these foods. The ajoblanco was lovely and super savory—same mouth-filling texture as salmorejo but…different. The sardinas al espeto (“spit” roasted sardines, I’m guessing?) were some of the best food I’ve had anywhere. I was told to pick off the “aletas” or fins on the top, sides, and bottom before chowing down, scales and all; the meat literally fell off the backbone and ribs it was so juicy and tender. And the molletes—which I had *in* Antequera—were simple but yummy. Thanks for the recommendations!!!
I'm so glad you liked it all! I adore the region, can't wait to visit this summer! Can't wait to see it all on your blog!