Wild Surf Tropical Spices and Hidden Coves

Whisky and Tacos on La Gomera on the eve of the Talisker Atlantic Challenge

Feature type Story

Read time 7 min read

Published Dec 16, 2020

Photographer Lisa Paarvio

Kieran Creevy & Lisa Paarvio

Story | Kieran Creevy Photography | Lisa Paarvio

Inky black water slowly transforms to dark cobalt then lighter blue as we finish loading the fishing boat with our supplies. Motoring gently out of the harbour in San Sebastián de La Gomera, we pass again the 35 rowing boats, silently waiting for their crews.

Out of the harbour, salt spray and thick sweet coffee awakens us fully out of our pre-dawn zombie state. A haze somewhere between full sleep and wide awake. Leaning our backs against the hull, bracing against the swell, we soak up the heat.

Bird calls break our reverie. We search the cliff faces to our right, hoping for a glimpse of tiny forms diving in search of fish. Rounding our first headland we come across an oasis, nestled in a small cove and bursting with colours of chartreuse green, sunburst yellow and damask rose. A stark contrast to the grey, black and sandy hues of the surrounding landscape.

All too soon this unexpected gem is hidden once more behind another fold in the cliffs. Luck is with us, for the next headland falls away to reveal another spectacle.

On this deserted rocky beach, is a wilderness bar, it could have been constructed by Robinson Crusoe himself. Its bones of wood and stone bleached pale from years of sun. This feeling of a long and organic construction is a beautiful artifice. Within days, this bar and wild food experience will be removed from the landscape, leaving nothing behind but memories.

A floating pontoon rises and falls, pulsing with the waves. For now, we face the challenge of landing on the shore.

Timing our moves, we step lightly onto the pontoon and are greeted with signature cocktails, created from wild edibles and Talisker Whisky. Notes of salt, citrus and spice give the drink an unexpected depth. The salt taste marries perfectly with fresh oyster served unadorned. Simple, rustic and elegant.

A shift in the wind direction carries sounds of revelry.

We search the cliff faces to our right, hoping for a glimpse of tiny forms diving in search of fish

A second bar, seating area and a fire table are thronged with a medley of people. Athletes and adventures, writers and sailors. All on this remote beach to enjoy tales of challenge and exploration. We’re here to celebrate and toast the forthcoming start of an epic and daunting journey. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

More than one hundred brave souls will soon drop below our horizon, heading west in search of a finishing line over five thousand kilometres away in Antigua. For now, it’s time to sample various iterations of Talisker used as an integral element for cocktails and wild cooking. Replete and relaxed we’re joined together, flooded with light and laughter.

Good food, drink in good company brings us together. The same experience, enjoyed in the wild adds a much deeper element. Connecting us to shared ancestral memories; that of communities joined as one, sharing adventures, hopes and fears, risk and reward. And most importantly pulling together as a team as we venture towards the horizon and into the unknown.

Slow cooked goat tacos, served with orange, lime, chilli and whisky

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 200g diced goat shoulder, or for a quicker dish use lamb loin
  • 50ml Talisker 10 whisky
  • Juice and zest 3 oranges
  • Juice and zest 2 limes
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 tsp dried seaweed
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • Blue corn tortillas


To Serve:

  • Black lava salt – regular sea salt will suffice
  • A few rings of chilli
  • Fresh coriander leaf, chopped

Method:

Season the goat with salt and pepper.

Bring a saucepan to a medium heat and add the lime and orange juice, whisky, half the zest, coriander seed, seaweed, chilli and spring onion.

Bring to a simmer, add the goat and cook slowly for 30 minutes

Taste and season if necessary. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated and the meat/juice mix has turned sticky.

Toast the corn tortillas over an open flame or in a dry pan if you prefer and shred the meat with forks.

To Serve:

Spoon the goat meat onto two tacos at a time – so the tacos don’t get soggy.

Season with a little coriander leaf, chilli, zest, and black lava salt.

Eat and repeat

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