WE hadn’t even planned on going to Vejer de la Frontera last weekend.
But thankfully rumbling stomaches got the better of my family and I when we were passing by after a visit to the wonderful outdoor art part NMAC.
It is easy to find El Jardin de Califa restaurant.
We stumbled into it simply by heading to the Plaza de Espana square-the most beautiful one I’ve seen in Espana so far.
We were a bit unsure as to what we were letting ourselves in for, having to press a buzzer to be let in.
Were we going to enjoy a spot of dungeon dining, I thought, as we were led down a flight of very narrow stairs into a stone cellar.
But I soon realised the clue was in the name, when we came out into a sun trap garden.
We were lucky to get the last table, albeit with no shade-hey, it’s a good job we were desperate, sun-seeking Brits.
Arabic through and through, Califa’s menu harks back to the past of the hilltop town, which was ruled over for around five centuries by north African settlers.
Arabic tapas, mezze, offered options of hummus, falafel, malfouk (vegetables in a crispy roll) and a special variant filled with buckwheat.
Aubergines were the star of the salad selection, garnished with an array of nuts, fruits and spices.
The soups sounded wonderful too, including the mint gazpacho and fennel soup with lemon and cinnamon.
The buckwheat rolls and mezze platter won out.
That it was all gobbled up before I had the chance to take any snaps should be testament to the taste.
All I managed was a snap of the house kalamata olives, coated in a moreish harissa-style dressing.
Determined to try a slightly healthier main, the vegetable couscous was my main course of the day.
Had I a bigger belly, the oven cooked vegetable pastela with mango chutney would have been mine, all miiiiiine.
Also on offer was the vegetable tagine, served with rice and beetroot salad.
It was a damn tasty couscous, although I could have coped with one quarter of the plate.
At only 1.80 a glass, the local vino de naranja, created in Vejer, was the only real choice on the drinks menu.
Syrupy thick but refreshingly tangy, it washed down the meal in the most fittingly decadent way.
Address: Plaza de España, 16, Vejer de la Frontera.
Hours: From 11am for teas, coffees & pastries. Lunch 1 to 4pm and evenings 7.30 to 11.30pm every day.