This tiny and historic tiled bar in a sidestreet near Sol serves up sensational cod croquettes and battered fish pieces fresh from the fryer, as light and fluffy as deep-fried cloud.
Wash them down with glasses of house wine if you can get to the bar. A Madrid institution.
Calle Tetuán, 12
Not all great ice cream parlours are Italian. This dairy-farm-come-ice-cream-parlour, just a cornet’s throw away from the coastline of the Lizard.
It serves some of the most flavoursome ice cream in the south west, made using the rich organic milk and cream of the farm’s Jersey herd. The onsite ice cream parlour offers 24 artisan flavours, such as gooseberry, trifle, boysenberry, passionfruit and Cornish clotted cream.
Visitors can watch the cows being milked from a viewing gallery on the farm in the late afternoon.
St Keverne, Cornwall.
Tel: 01326 280479.
Open: 10am – 6.30pm daily.
The Alonzi family’s Harbour Bar (opened 1945) is a gleaming, glamorous time capsule from post-war America mislaid among the Victorian boarding houses of North Yorkshire.
Mirrored walls feature neon ice-cream cones and signs with the dubious advice: “Keep fit by eating ice cream every day.”
Patrons sit on red leather banquettes or on high stools at the half-moon, chrome-edged counter. Ice creams are mainly traditional – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, banana, and lemon and blackcurrant sorbets – made from natural ingredients including Scottish seaweed instead of gelatine.
The café is a meeting place for everyone from local fishermen to playwright Alan Ayckbourne and Michael Winner, a big fan since filming scenes for A Chorus of Disapproval there.
1-2 Sandside, Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Tel: 01723 373662. Open: 7.30am - 6pm, daily.
Cafes don’t come more swellegant than Brucciani’s, a shrine for lovers of art deco as well as gelato. Opened in 1939, the shop has earned Grade II listed status for its immaculately preserved oak panelling, pink mirrors etched with Italian scenes, chrome window frames and Bakelite fittings. Bruno and Gloria Brucciani have been running the business for nearly 50 years, and still bustle around the premises dusting, polishing and serving up their classic confections.
Ice creams are mostly traditional flavours – strawberry, pistachio, lemon, toffee crunch – and sundaes are simple but excellent standards, including peach melba, chocolate nut sundae, fruit sundae. The coffee is famous, but you can also live it up with a Bovril or a glass of sarsaparilla.
The location is superb: sit at a formica-topped table in the front and you can gaze over the whipped peaks of your sundae towards the shadowy hills of the Lake District.
217 Marine Parade, Morecambe, Lancashire. Tel: 01524 421386. Open: 10am – 5pm, daily.
Hogging the promenade of this genteel resort like a flamingo among sparrows, Morelli’s is so kitsch it’s cool. First opened in 1932, its decor is authentic late 1950s America, with chewing-gum pink leatherette banquettes, dainty white wicker chairs, juke box, soda fountain, and an extraordinary pink cut-out suspended from the ceiling like a spacecraft.
It feels as if Olivia Newton-John and John T. might come jiving in any minute for a hot fudge sundae. Sundaes are baroque affairs laden with wafers and fandangles, while cornets are available in over 30 flavours, including banana, mango, coconut Bounty and tiramisu. A Morelli’s counter in Harrods sells the ice cream for those who can’t manage the schlep to Kent.
14 Victoria Parade, Broadstairs, Kent. Tel: 01843 862500. Open: 8am – 5pm, daily.
Iona is special. An ancient island of Celtic Christendom, it houses an ancient and still very active abbey, chock full of Celtic and Viking remains. In the graveyard outside Scotland's ancient kings, including Macbeth, rub their bones. The late Labour leader John Smith is also buried there in a simple grave. After you've done the history, check out the beaches, which have pure white sand as fine as icing sugar. Better than the Caribbean.
Take the regular Calmac ferry across from Fionnphort on the west coast of Mull. Website: www.isle-of-iona.com
It may be tiny, but this Shetland island has a population of thousands - birds, that is. Species include 45,000 guillemots, 7000 pairs of gannets and fulmars, kittiwakes and puffins galore. Visit in early summer when the puffins hatch out of their burrows in such numbers that you have to be careful not to step on them.
Travel across from the larger island of Bressay in an inflatable boat.
This one's extreme. You get here via a tiny six-seater plane or a white-knuckle three-hour boat trip from Shetland. The best (usually the only) place to stay is the Bird Observatory, where you get fed within an inch of your life on home baking. You can join the twitchers with their birding work, thrill to cliff-top walks bombarded by broody skuas, check out the knitting in the island museum, and just soak up the sound of sea and silence.
You have to make an effort to get to mythical Bardsey, dangling off the tip of Wales's Lleyn Peninsula. It's so remote there are no full-time residents, just a summer-time community of farmers and holiday makers. Visitors stay like hermits in long-abandoned cottages with no running water or electricity, and you have to stand in the sea to pick up a mobile signal.
But you also get rare birdlife, fresh lobsters delivered by local fishermen and the kind of deep, utter peace you're hard pressed to get anywhere else in the UK.
Bardsey is about two miles off the tip of the Lleyn Peninsula in north Wales.
Burgh Island is a tiny scrap of land off the south Devon coast. Why go? As well as its ravishing and isolated location, the island boasts an exquisite art deco hotel with a rock-cut swimming pool, vintage decor and sumptuous restaurant with 1930s dinner dances. The likes of George Formby, Nancy Cunard, the Prince of Wales and Mrs Simpson used to frolic there, and it still cuts a dash. For those on a budget, there's an ancient fisherman's pub. Oh, and best of all, when the tide is in, you can cross to the island on the hotel's sea tractor.
South Devon TQ7 4BG
Tel: 01548 810514
Hit the Anthropological Museum at the right time on the right day, and you might catch a free display by the Voladores of Papantla - four daredevil feathered men who clamber to the top of a giant maypole, launch themselves into space with the slenderest thread around their feet, and 'fly' around the pole to the bottom. Four men making 13 rotations produces 52 - a mystical number for the Aztecs. Drop a few pesos in the hat of their sidekick - there are no safety nets here.
National Museum of Anthropology, Chapultepec Park.
Forget tequila - the authentic Mexican drink is pulque, a watery alcoholic juice made from fermented maguey. Slightly foamy, with a tinge of aloe vera, it tastes like rinsed shampoo, smells terrible and you would need to consume a lot to get drunk. It is cheap, though ...
Seek out a local pulqueria, a spit-and-sawdust drinking saloon frequented largely by men.
Staying at this intimate boutique hotel in the swanky Condesa district is like being inside an iPod. Sparkling white, curvy and beautifully designed, the hotel is modern, minimal Mexico (which sounds like a paradox), staffed by groovy, black-suited Gael Garcia Bernal look-alikes. The best things are the roof-top bar, a funky patio restaurant, rooms with individual arthouse DVD libraries, and refreshingly low prices. I also loved the house rules, which sternly stipulate: "No weapons, no animals, and no musicians".
Avenida Veracruz 102, Colonia Condesa. Tel: 00 52 55 5241 2600.
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