Ice cream is big business in Corralejo. For the duration of your stay, you should consider it to be one (or two) of your five a day - the other four being sangria, sea food, coffee and, er, aftersun gel. In the same way that drinking pre-midday becomes acceptable at a festival, so eating ice cream at any time of day, be that 10am or 10pm, should be encouraged in the Canary Islands. Interestingly (if you are a language geek) ice cream is usually referred to as the Italian "gelato" rather than the Spanish "helado" in these parts. The reason for this is hard to come by, but one can only suppose that this word is more identifiable for tourists, who provide most of the trade.
You say gelato, I say helado, it doesn't matter; for the most part it's jolly good stuff.
As any self-respecting local will tell you, the Big Momma of ice cream parlours is El Gusto, at the north end of Corralejo. Although tucked away down a side street, word of mouth ensures that a constant stream of drooling customers find their way to its' doors.
The Italian ice cream is all made on site, with all the expected flavours available, as well as a couple of more unusual ones, including "After Eight".
What makes this place stand out, however, is not the ice cream cabinet. It's the fridge to the right, which is packed with ice cream based cakes, desserts and puddings:
The Smarties-topped puddings in particular caught my eye, but as this was a pre-lunch visit, I thought it best to show restraint, and stuck to good, old-fashioned ice cream. I sampled strawberry and mint choc chip, and both were delicious. My only disappointment was that we didn't find this gelateria (as this is genuine Italian ice cream, right down to the stereotypical Italian matriarch behind the counter, my inner linguistic pedant will allow the Italian to be used in this case) until the penultimate day of our holiday.
It's clear that they weren't going for the "Jack of all trade" approach, as their coffee menu was very basic, not even offering a cappuccino, to the disappointment of Mother Goose. However, the standard of the ice cream more than made up for it!
La Amarena, El Campesino
Situated in the market square and watched over by the bell tower, this locals hangout is the epitome of the Spanish coffee culture. A cafe rather than a specialist gelateria, it's not unusual to see locals meeting up here late evening for a coffee or something stronger, often with their dogs in tow. If you don't like ice cream, this little gem is still worth a visit -their pastries looked divine, and they offer a great cocktail menu too.
El Secreto Del Sur
Situated on the main street in Corralejo, just a couple of doors down from Mas Que Bakery, this is a great place for people watching, as we discovered. Due to a lost in translation style mix-up we ended up with two cappuccinos and an ice cream. The cappuccino, although unordered, was rather enjoyable - very sweet and almost chocolatey in taste. The ice cream was also lovely - the base of real fruit really sung through in the strawberry, although I couldn't have eaten more than one scoop of it. It was no match for the pineapple ice cream I had in a Barelcona produce market a few years ago, but it oozed Mediterranean authenticity, certainly better than most strawberry ice cream you buy in England which, more often than not, hasn't seen so much as a whiff of real strawberry, from dairy farm to digestion. The choc chip, although not a usual bed partner for strawberry, offered a sweetness that complemented it very well.
Top tips for ice cream in Corralejo:
- Try the fruity flavours. They are usually made with real fruit, so taste unlike of the e-number crammed junk that Brits are used to.
- If you have more of a chocolatey tooth, try Stratziatella; a creamy choc chip ice cream, even the disappointing Di Napoli managed to pull this one off.