Thursday 30 July 2015

My 10 Favourite Small Spanish Restaurants.

Favourite is not always the same as 'the best regarded' or the grandest. Favourite for me, covers places that we've loved, often smaller, perhaps less well known restaurants. They all have excellent cuisine (some have Michelin stars) and can represent superb value for money. Many of these restaurants are highly regarded in Spain but maybe unfairly overlooked by foreign food tourists and don't appear on the 50 Best Awards. In most cases they're well underrated but are at the top of our favourite lists.
1. Aponiente, El Puerto de Santa Maria near Cádiz.
I never tire of  championing this revolutionary seafood restaurant. If you google it, there are few English reviews outside of mine. It's strange as chef Ángel León is a TV star over there. In our opinion it should be regarded as amongst the finest in Spain and the world. A third Michelin star will most definitely help with that should that be forthcoming. It should be at the top of your 'to eat' list along with the likes of DiverXo and El Celler de Can Roca.. They are moving to larger premises in September so we hope to return again.
2. Mina, Bilbao.
Mina represents everything we love about Spanish restaurants. Small and modern with wonderful innovative food. I sent some friends there and they declared it the best meal they'd ever had.
3. El Campero Barbate, near Cádiz & Zahara de los Atunes.
Perhaps not so small, this mainly tuna restaurant and smaller tapas bar is nevertheless completely brilliant and inexpensive.
4. Punto MX Madrid.
The finest Mexican food in Europe?
5. Les Magnòlies Arbúcies, Girona Province. Again another place that's not that well known on the food trail, we thought it a better experience and food than three star Sant Pau (which we ate at on the same trip).
6. Casamar Llafranc, Costa Brava. Beautiful food with a beautiful view.
7. Txikote Conil de la Frontera.
This restaurant really surprised us as we had no expectations at all. It is in fact like a Basque pintxos bar transplanted to an Andalucian 'gastro' restaurant.
8. Nu, Girona.
If only someone were to do a version of this in Britian. It looks like a sushi bar inside but with Spanish food and a slightly Asian twist.

9. Taberna del Gourmet, Alicante. Again, it's been too long since we've been here. A return visit must be on the cards.
10. El Faro de Cádiz. Cádiz. We sat down and ate most of the tapas on the menu and spent very little money. This made me very happy indeed. This rounds up the list nicely as 1. Aponiente chef
Ángel León spent some time working here.
Ten restaurants to try in the near future. If you know more, please let us know!
1. Sacha, Madrid.
2. Ricard Camarena, Valencia.
3. Skina, Marbella.
4.  Monastrell, Alicante.
5. Restaurante Lakasa, Madrid.
6. Montia, San Lorenzo del Escorial.
7. The Table by Abastos 2.0, Madrid.
8. Sudestada, Madrid.
9. Niño Viejo, Barcelona.
10. Hoja Santa, Barcelona.  

Wednesday 29 July 2015

World's Best Chefs at Ibérica, Manchester.

Here are some photos from 'The World's Best Chefs" press launch at Ibérica.
"Great Chefs Great Causes. Signature tapas from some of the best Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American chefs. Iberica will offer these dishes until the 6th September and the profits from each dish will go to the chefs' chosen charities."
DANIEL REDONDO, MANI (Brazil). N°41 * Oysters with cucumber and lychee.
VIRGILIO MARTINEZ, Central (Peru) N°4 * Razor clam, yellow pepper and black quinoa.
ENRIQUE OLVERA, Pujol (Mexico) N°16 * Avocado toast with bone marrow salsa and cucumber.
QUIQUE DACOSTA, Quique Dacosta Restaurant (Spain). Foie Cuba libre with lemon frost.
DIETER KOSCHINA, Vila Joya (Portugal). 'Beef tartare with vinaigrette and anchovies.
JUAN MARI ARZAK, ARZAK (Spain) Mango, beer and black pudding.
JOAN ROCA, El Celler de Can Roca (Spain) "THE WORLD'S BEST RESTAURANT" Squid parmentier with red smoked paprika and squid stock. See our El Celler de Can Roca review here.
VICTOR ARGUINZONIZ, Asador Etxebarri (Spain) N°13 *Fresh chorizo tartar.  
See our Asador Etxebarri review here.
ANDONI LUIS ADURIZ, Mugaritz (Spain) N°6 *Rustic bread with fresh pancetta and spring herbs.
Watermelon infused in sangria. See our Tickets review here.
There was also a taste of the new Ibérica Summer dishes.
Salmorejo (thick gazpacho) with green apple & basil granita & sun blushed tomato.
Two texture tomato salad with orange zest & vanilla oil. Fresh mackerel with orange & saffron escabeche.
Fresh hake with hollandaise sauce & lettuce water.
Grilled Iberico pork "pluma" in moruno marinade & aubergine.
"Tocinillo de cielo" Egg yolk custard flan with cinnamon & lemon zest milk foam & salted caramel ice cream.

Chocolate mousse with herbs cress & red fruit salad, yoghurt, vanilla oil & cider gel.

**Ranking according to The World's 50 Best Restaurants by San Pellegrino and Restaurant Magazine.

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Monday 13 July 2015

Top 10 North West Restaurants.

Here are my 10 personal favourite restaurants in the North West, within Manchester city centre and the surrounding regions. (Full reviews on the links).
1. The Man Behind the Curtain, Leeds.*
2. Fraiche, Merseyside.
3. L'Enclume, Cartmel. 
4. The French, Manchester.  *New review coming soon.
5. Sticky Walnut, Chester.
6.  Lake Road Kitchen, Ambleside.
7. Hawksmoor, Manchester. 
8. Iberica, Manchester. 
9. Volta, Didsbury. 
10. Levanter, Ramsbottom.
* Leeds isn't really in the North West as has been quite rightfully pointed out but it is within an easy day trip from Manchester.