Restaurante Quique Dacosta, Denia, lunch

The Fronteras menu at the three Michelin-starred Restaurante Quique Dacosta in Denia where Dacosta explores his understanding of the kitchen today as the theme of 2016:

1st Act

Rice liquor quinine and emulsion of yuzu

Chinese orange

Cocktail of cockles

Carbon of pericana

Raim de pastor and kalanchoe

Piadina of fermented corn, red tuna and dashi vinegar

Moruno pig nose

Almond nougat

2nd Act

Dry octopus

Roe of mullet

Torta of ling roe

Red tuna belly rested between sugared kombu and mechoui

Onion in vinegar and cumin popadom

3rd Act

Crushed and dried tomato

Fish lemon and half lemon

Langoustine on the grill, green curry, avocado and corn

4th Act

Coca of peas and onions in apple vinegar

Green grapes and mezcal

Cold soup of cucumber with marbles of vegetable water

J. Sendra rice with wild chards and red crabs

Flamed eel from Albufera and ginger emulsion

5th Act

Preparation of old hen, its egg, crunchy cockscomb and grilled meat

6th Act

Strange flowers 2015

Moss 2008

Cinnamon branch and prunes

Petals of roses

Apple gin and tonic

El Poblet, Valencia, dinner

The transformed landscapes menu from Quique Dacosta’s one Michelin-starred restaurant El Poblet in Valencia with selected dishes from past menus at Restaurante Quique Dacosta in Denia and dishes created for El Poblet:

[Sweet corn leaf, mushrooms leaf, herb leaf, beetroot root and tomatoes with vinaigrette]

Petals of rose

Apple gin and tonic

Rompepiedra leaf with mackerel

Stone of parmesan cheese

Light beignet of codfish

[Cuba Libre de Foie Gras]

The haze

Cherries gazpacho

Red king prawn from Denia with tea of prawns and chard

Red mullet with pearls of its head

Cod tripe stew

Rice ashes

Black Angus churrasco

Vineyard peach

Petit fours (cinnamon sticks and prunes)

This is the menu from my visit to El Poblet, Quique Dacosta’s restaurant in Valencia. It’s named after the restaurant he originally worked at, El Poblet, which is where his current three Michelin-starred Restaurante Quique Dacosta is situated in Denia.

At this Valencia restaurant, the dishes are a mixture of new creations and dishes from Dacosta’s past exploits.

Celeste Restaurant at The Lanesborough, Knightsbridge, lunch

Menu from an a la carte lunch at Celeste Restaurant at The Lanesborough:

Cracker bread with hummous

Pan-fried langoustines with wild grains and a langoustine basil broth

Suckling pig

Pineapple

Petit fours

I had an à la carte lunch at Celeste Restaurant at The Lanesborough while conducting an interview recently. It’s in the same space as the restaurant that once occupied Apsley’s but with a completely transformed atmosphere and approach to food.

While the dining room had previously been quite dark, it’s now been painted a powder blue with bas-relief friezes decorating the ceilings. Two new wine rooms flank the entrance.

The food is under the watchful eye of Florian Favario, a protegé of Eric Frechon, chef patron of the three Michelin starred Épicure at Le Bristol in Paris, another hotel in the Oetker Collection. Naturally, Celeste is aiming for a star.

But the food is quite hard to pin-point.

It’s not quite classic-French. There are notes of Middle Eastern influences, as seen by the hummous and cracker bread that opened the meal. The langoustine, with the basil broth and wild grains, also reminds me of the Mediterranean. And then there’s the suckling pig, which somehow manages to be a little bit British.

This eclectic collection of influences isn’t necessarily a bad thing though – the flavours don’t fight each other. And the execution has been done very, very well.

Château Angélus lunch at Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, Mayfair

Menu from a lunch at Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in Mayfair with food from the two Michelin starred restaurant and wines from Château Angélus to match:

Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut

Sweetbread, cauliflower, muscat grapes, ‘vadouvan’

Carillon d’Angélus 2012 St Emillion

Pork, pumpkin, Medjool date, Ras el Hanout

Château Angélus 2008 St Emillion

Chocolate, mint

Château Angélus 2006 St Emillion

It’s the first time I’ve been to Hélène Darroze at the Connaught and it was a very impressive lunch.

The servings were small but well put together.

A starter of sweetbreads with cauliflower, hazelnut and muscat grapes was matched with the 2012 Carillon d’Angelus. The wine is on the young side for drinking to be honest but there was charm and the match worked, just.

I really loved the pork cutlets with pig’s cheek, Medjool dates and pumpkin. It’s spiced with ras el hanout. Oh my gosh, the smell was amazing – so savoury. The sweet and almost buttery dates made the pairing with the Château Angelus 2008 spot on.

The chocolate dessert was in two parts, both the texture of ganache. The chocolate is from Valrhona I’m guessing – it’s down on the menu as Tainori from the Dominican Republic, which was the Valrhona estate I visited a while ago. I only had the bar then so it’s interesting to see it turned into a dessert.

It’s slightly fruity, which helped with the match with the Château Angelus 2006. Incidentally the 2006 is still very young and fresh so it had some of that raw flavour that worked with the dessert. In a few years though, I imagine it would be more of a savoury wine.

Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, dinner

Menu from a dinner at the three Michelin-starred Azurmendi in Larrabetzu, with mostly new dishes and a few classics:

[Artichoke cracker with citrus gel]

[Peanut]

[Pumpkin-parmesan butter biscuit]

[Asparagus cotton]

[Avocado bonbon]

[Pickled courgette]

Homemade salted anchovy millefeuille

Roe and dill

CaipiriTxa

Hibiscus Infusion

Chestnut leaf

[Frozen olive on black olive soil]

Egg from our hens, cooked inside out and truffled (2009)

Oyster, tartar and geleé (2015)

Natural spider crab, emulsion and infusion (2015)

Tomato and eel (2015)

Roasted lobster out of the shell on herbs oil and chives (2010)

Artichokes and pesto (2015)

Stewed wheat with farmhouse milk emulsion and ox tail (2015)

Roasted red mullet on vine shoots, fried eggs and the broth of the bones (2015)

[Mandarin emulsion]

Rabbit confit, mushrooms emulsion and grilled sweet potato (2015)

Coconut and passion (2015)

Cheese, red fruits and mint (2015)

Sheep milk and black olives (2015)

Petits fours

After about an hour getting lost on the way out of Bilbao, we finally found our way to Azurmendi. It’s my third time to the restaurant and my second visit of the year. This time, I brought my parents for a birthday supper.

I had been to the restaurant just a month earlier so was delighted to find plenty of new dishes to try on the Adarrak menu. But of course, there were some old classics like the truffled hen’s egg.

Among my favourite was the roasted lobster out of the shell on herbs oil and chives – its striking colour immediately tickling the taste buds. And the flavours, oh I tried to recreate them at home but I feel it might be one committed to memory.

Another favourite was the tomato and eel. The delicate profile of the vine fruit really shown through with the gentle treatment – especially when it was served with the tomato sorbet.

I think it is perhaps my favourite restaurant in the place right now.

See photos from my visit in 2015 and 2013.