Cactus Burgers in the Garden at lunchtime
Of all of Lanzarote’s Tourist Centres, the Cactus Garden was the only one I hadn’t visited. One of the reasons I chose to visit at lunchtime was to try one of their recent innovations: the cactus burger. Why not?
Cesar Manrique had an intriguing way of making the tourist centres almost imperceptible from the outside. Creating harmony with the surrounding environment was his intention, of course, and the Cactus Garden is no different.
This all changes the moment you go through the lava stone gateway. An amphitheatre of vegetation and lava rock meets your eyes, a landscape gardening masterpiece. The Cactus Garden actually received an award from the Benetton Foundation this year. – the Carlos Scarpa Prize for Gardens – as it is a ‘model of equilibrium between culture and fertile nature.’
Over 4000 plants line the base and terraced walls of this bowl-shaped garden. The area, born out of a disused picón quarry, now flourishes with 17 plant families and 696 different species from all over the world.
The variety and sheer beauty of the plants is amazing: when you think of cacti, you think of spines. You certainly wouldn’t imagine trees, floor creepers, staggering columns, succulent fruits and flowers in deep vibrant colours. Spiky surfaces, furry and bristly textures and waxy bouquets of rose-like blooms.
The garden is almost like an oasis, a haven of tranquillity. Its water features add to the calming environment, with goldfish swimming in lily ponds and even a small volcanic beach. A small, monster-themed cascade sits below the picturesque souvenir shop. Water gushes from its mouth producing that wonderful, soothing trickling sound.
The cactus garden Bar
The steps that lead to the Garden’s bar/restaurant is made of blocks of swirling lava. It overlooks the garden, offering a shady terrace or an interior lounge/diner adorned with solid wood. The menu offers a great choice of tapas, paninis, ice creams and drinks so it makes for a perfect fuel stop.
As tempting as all this was, my mind was set on the Cactus Burger. The burger itself, made from the pads of the prickly pear cactus (50%) and potato (50%), is also mixed with onion and corn. All of the ingredients are locally-sourced: the burgers are made from cactus grown in Teguise and are prepared in San Bartolome.
This totally fresh, vegan-friendly dish was served in a soft tomato sesame bun. The smooth texture of this light green coloured burger and it’s ‘potatoey’ flavour makes for a delicious combination with the accompanying yoghurt sauce, rocket and smoked goat’s cheese: unique, delicious, local and healthy!
Old Windmill for Gofio
In such peaceful surroundings you could hang out at the café all day, though I was curious to explore the old corn mill that towers above it. Beautifully restored, this 240-year-old windmill is still operational today. Inside, you can appreciate the simple, but ingenious workings of what was once a fundamental part of local culture.
The mill was mainly used to grind corn and other cereals into gofio. Some of which are on display in a small exhibition room at the bottom. You can also enjoy some spectacular sea views over Lanzarote’s northeast coast while you’ re at it.
A highly recommended, awesome day out. Just don’t touch the cacti!