IT turns out it does not rain in Estepona, but pour.
I must say, two weeks of constant downpours were not exactly what I had expected to experience in a region referred to as the Costa del ‘Sol’.
I had tried to make the most of being a ahem ‘hardy’ northern foreigner-donning my cagoul and enduring a soggy on foot tour around Estepona with not many other passers by for company.
But I can’t say it took much to convince me to take refuge in Elemi vegetarian cafe when passing it in the port.
It is, after all, the only daytime cafe specialising in vegan food in the area.
And when you live in a coastal community like Estepona, where you’ll be lucky to dine on patatas bravas in many of the Spanish restaurants, the 20 minute walk from the town centre is justified too.
You could even make a properly indulgent day of it and head next door to the Elemi hair and natural beauty clinic, owned by the same team.
After several weeks of opting for a simple liquid diet (that’s a caña of beer, to you) it took me a while to get my head around having most of a page of dishes to choose from.
Smoked tofu, falafel and vegan cheese were all included in the tempting range of sandwiches, wraps and salads. A burger, quesadilla and roasted vegetables with cous cous were among the hot dishes on offer, as was something very rare in these parts-a vegan heavy tapas menu.
In the end, I plumped for the menu del dia. A great value meal for penniless hacks like myself, it promises three courses for €8.95, with dishes on it changing every few days. And with three choices for each course including several vegan ones, I had plenty of options.
First course was a tomato and basil soup-served hot because, well, it was berluddy nippy outside (so much for getting an all year round tan, eh). It was wonderful-fresh tasting and full of flavour.
Next up was the big daddy-a stuffed aubergine with roast potatoes and a salad.
The same lip-smacking basil pesto reappeared, this time drizzled over a rich sundried tomato, aubergine pulp and grain mix.
It all disappeared rather embarrassingly quickly from the plate.
Struggling to keep the button on my jeans fastened, I decided it would be for the best to take my dessert with me-a ‘healthy’ apple crumble. I definitely didn’t miss the naughty ingredient, whatever it was, when I demolished it at home later that night.
A true sanctuary for vegans in Estepona, it is definitely worth the trip. Make sure you walk at least part of the journey though, to make room not for a meal but for a feast.
Here’s hoping that it becomes so successful its owners decide to stay open on the evenings as well.
Address: Edificio Puertosol, Avenida del Carmen, 29680 Estepona
Opening hours: 10am to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
Parking: Free spaces opposite near to the bull ring.