Archive for the 'Spain' Category

Akelaŕe, Spain

akelare akelaŕe entrance

After a beautiful day of swimming, hiking, and eating at my favorite Pintxo bars, our TomTom navigated us along the 20 minute uphill drive from our hotel on the beach to our next dinner spot, Pedro Subijana’s Restaurante Akelaŕe.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre table setting

We were seated at a prime table next to a window overlooking the Bay of Biscay(which didn’t really matter since it was pitch black that night and we couldn’t see a thing outside (note to self: if I return…go for lunch)) As we settled in, we got started with some bubbles.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre torre de l'homenatgeRestaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre lopez heredia vina bosconia rioja 1981

To keep it easy, for beverages we just ordered a solid bottle of Cava, and a bottle of Rioja from my birth year by one of my favorite producers(who we visited the following week). For dinner we had to make a choice between the ‘Aranori’ or the ‘Bekarki’ menus. We opted for the Aranori, which overall looked more appealing. We were really in the mood for some postres, so we asked to be served the desserts from both menus.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre sea garden

Sea Garden. A little sand box to begin. Crispy cod skin flavored with tomato. A cold mussel covered in chocolate that melted away nicely. A savory sea urchin sponge cracker. ‘Beach Pebbles’ of shallot, corn, dill, and parsley. Tasty seaweed tempura ‘Coral’. A bed of edible prawn sand. Good ocean flavors and a fun start to the meal.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre prawn mise en placeRestaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre prawns

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre prawns and french beans

Prawns and French Beans cooked in “Orujo” Fireplace. Wonderfully juicy Spanish prawns cooked perfectly table side over lava rocks with Orujo, a Spanish spirit similar to Grappa. Served with green beans, green bean puree, and a crumble of shrimp shells and rice. A strong opener, and probably my favorite plate of the night.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre mollusks fishermans net

Mollusks in Fisherman’s net. A small selection of supple mollusks cooked over charcoal fire. With rice and borage cream and a rice cracker ‘net’ that tasted like the sea as well. The garlic flower had a nice spice.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre pasta carpaccio

Pasta Carpaccio, Piquillo and Iberic with Parmesan shrooms. Sheeted pasta with intense ham and pepper flavor presented as a meat carpaccio. Amazing when paired with the parmesan and mushrooms.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre hake monkfish habit

Hake, in Monkfish “Habit” and Mussel’s Beans. Hake breaded with monkfish dried skin that had a texture like rice krispies. Served over ‘beans’ made from mussels and rice. The Piparras, traditional Basque pickled green peppers, really enhanced the dish.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre red mullet fusili sauce

Whole-Grain Red Mullet with Sauce “Fusili”. A flakey fillet of Red Mullet with a praline skin of head and bone served with a paste of liver and onion. Good stuff. The three sauces, parsley, soy, and ajo blanco, were fantastic, but I wish I didn’t have to eat the bland rubbery gelatin-like ‘fusili’ noodles to get to them.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre mole cocoa roasted pigeon

Roasted Pigeon with a Touch of Mole and Cocoa. Slightly crisped, tender pigeon breast matched up with cocoa and mole and a ‘ravioli’ of pigeon leg in filo. A wonderful plate of bird.

Around this time some of the staff started to shuffle around furniture and carry tables in and out of the dining room. I would expect that from a corner bistro towards the end of the night setting up for the next day’s brunch, but it was pretty surprising for a half full three star restaurant still in the middle of service.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre xaxu coconut mousse

“Xaxu” and Coconut Iced Mousse. An egg and almond donut-like pastry served with light, aerated coconut ice cream. Rocky’s portion was at most half the size of mine and when the server dropped them, he teased her for having such a small serving(which she is still upset about). At the same time, Chef Subijana was arrogantly generously gracing us with a visit to our table and he also joked about how small Rocky’s dish was. Thanks Chef. I didn’t know what real hospitality was until you made fun of my girlfriend and the measly plate you served her.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre milk grape cheese wine

Milk and Grape, Cheese and Wine in Parallel Evolution. ‘Grapevine, curded sheep milk and walnut’ tasted like a bad egg dish. ‘Powdered fresh cream with chive and grapes’ was nice and clean. ‘Quark cheese with nutmeg and pink pepper aroma, must of tapioca and tomato’ was full flavored with good spice and season. ‘Idiazabal semi-matured with quince jelly and wine dust’ was my favorite part, with great fruit balance. ‘Brandy sirop with Gorgonzola cheese ice cream’ I loved the blue cheese ice cream. ‘Torta of Casar’s grape with soaked raisins in Pedro Ximenez’ had a good sugar to acid ratio.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre different apple tart

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre apple tart

A Different Apple Tart. Hiding under a tasty fruit-rollup-esque ‘apple paper’ was a gorgeous apple tart. Toasted puff pastry layered with apple cream with a nice praline, apple cider sauce, and a ‘mini apple’. Quite a skillfully made pastry. Bravo.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre strawberry and cream

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre layered strawberry

Layered Strawberry and Cream. A reconstructed strawberry. The chocolate shell was good. Basil seeds in a strawberry liquor were fun. The basil leaf gave a great herbaceous pop; I wish they had given me more leaves.

Restaurante Akelaŕe akelare akelarre petit fours

Petit fours. Almond madelines. Pineapple pate-de-fruit. Green tea-red fruit-lime marshmallows. Vanilla candy. Chocolates.

Date of visit: September 22, 2012

Restaurante Akelaŕe. Paseo Padre Orcolaga, 56. San Sebastian, Spain.

+34 943 311209


Mugaritz – Two-a-day, Part 2

After finishing up a nice lunch at Mugaritz, Rocky and I wandered back to the beach for another swim in the ocean, then got cleaned up again, and journeyed back to the restaurant to finish out our two-a-day(click here for part one). Once again we enjoyed the ideal Basque weather with a glass of Txakoli on the patio before moving into the dining room.

mugaritz apple juice and lettermugaritz edible letter

mugartiz satiation eludes bread and olives

“Satiation eludes bread and olives…” An edible message, served with olive spread and apple juice to begin.

mugaritz fishbones

“Fishbones” with nuances of lemon, garlic and cayenne pepper. Just as crispy and dynamically flavored as at lunch.

mugaritz carrots smeared flowers

Carrots and their smeared flowers. Perfect little carrots with cilantro flowers. Amazing.

mugaritz edible stones clay potato

Edible stones. Potatoes covered with clay served with garlic mayo. Amazing again. Rocky was instantly won over after the carrots and these potatoes.

mugaritz shiso rau ram tempura

Crispy bites of Shiso and Rau-Ram dyeing. A shiso leaf cooked tempura style with Rau-Ram ‘dye’. Delicious.

mugaritz melon grapes

Grapes of melon and spiced seeds. Pieces of melon presented as peeled grapes, topped with dried tuna, wading in a fantastic consommé. Rocky nailed it right away that the ‘grapes’ were melon.

mugaritz cultivated herbs vegetables

A sequence of wild and cultivated herbs with pickled vegetables, and creamy dressing. A good mix of herbs, leaves, flowers, and vegetables with a little oil, salt, and what I thought was described as ‘egg yolk vegetable milk’. Solid dish.

mugaritz scarlet prawns

Scarlet prawns, fresh pasta and tomato. Simple and well-balanced. The prawn flavor a good match with the tomato. The rice pasta had a gummy density that was nice.

mugaritz green chickpeas

Green cheek peas(chickpeas) in a gelatinous stew with resinous perfume. Great stuff. The chickpeas, picked in summer, vacuum sealed and frozen, then cooked for a day were wonderful and had a good firmness. Served with cow tendon in a rich, strong, and sticky Iberian pork broth. The richness was almost too much for the vegetal legumes but the two tugged at each other just enough to stay in balance.

mugartiz bonding pestlemugaritz bonding mise en place

mugaritz bonding

“Bonding… ” Toasted seeds and spices served in a Mortar and vegetable broth. The same setup as during the lunch service, but this time the dining room seemed to be more energized and having more fun. For this round, instead of cod, Rocky and I were given radishes. I thought this was much better because the fish at lunch was difficult to cut and eat out of the mortar, and also this prevents having three white fish in a row. For a drink pairing they subbed out a spiced beer from the same producer as the pairing from lunch(Bob’s Beer). The beer complemented the spice of the radishes superbly.

mugaritz daurade amaranth vanilla

Daily catch with acidic sprouts of amaranth and vanilla. Daurade with subtle vanilla flavor that was really brought out by the Cava paired with the dish. The grains, buttery and tasty, were a good companion.

mugaritz sea bass red onion

Coastal fish with crunchy trimmings of aged sourdough and sweet pickled onion. A decent piece of sea bass. The trimmings of aged sourdough were fried almost like tempura and with the pickled red onion were great fun and very addicting. I wanted a bowl of it. We were blind tasted for the drink pairing. Rocky nailed it before even tasting it as sake, because she’s awesome. It was a good match for the dish.

mugaritz veal honeycomb

mugaritz roasted veal

Roasted piece of milk and eggs fed veal. Nectar of flowers and vinegar with the reduction from the roast. I’m not really sure how the components here all tied together, especially with the addition from the honeycomb, but this dish was pretty bangin.

Garlic flowers in tempura. We got up to go chat with a few people in the kitchen. While we were there(and the Nikon was at the table) we had garlic flowers fried in tempura batter served with parsley puree. Amazing.

mugaritz lamb brain ragout

A crust from the grill. Loin of milk fed lamb in a ragout of its brains. A decent enough plate I guess. Probably my least favorite of the meal. The loin was nice, though the ragout didn’t highlight the brain flavor.

mugaritz mint

Mint. A brilliant, fresh, minty, chilled bite.

mugaritz chestnut honey

Chestnut honey meringue with elderberry and grapes. The meringue had the density of a softer, wetter marshmallow. The grape infusion with elderberry drops had me tilting the bowl trying to finish it.

mugaritz red fruit moungo

Red fruits on crushed ice. “Moungo” pepper and eucalyptus pectin. Another amazing dish. A great pairing between fruit flavors. The lemon ice was light enough that it just accented the fresh berry flavor.

mugaritz peach peppercorn ice cream

The warmth of nasturtium and peppercorns with fruit from the market. Gorgeous. Pink peppercorn ice cream with peaches and a little herb. Certainly the best iteration of peaches and cream that I’ve had, and in contention for my favorite dessert of the trip. Rocky says it is ‘hands down the best dessert of the trip, easily’.

mugaritz pear cheese ice cream

Toasted milk and butter with cheese shavings and frozen pear cream. Nice pear ice cream. Great play of different textures, particularly the crunch of the crumbles.

mugaritz petit fours hazelnut

Some chocolate hazelnuts to finish up. As with lunch, I finished the box.

Some wines(and more) we were served:

mugaritz winemugaritz beermugaritz sakemugaritz winemugaritz winemugaritz winemugaritz booze

Overall, this meal was amazing. Without a doubt among my top meals of 2012. In the wake of this dinner Rocky and I had to fight the temptation to cancel our other reservations and spend the rest of our stay with the team at Mugaritz.

Date of visit: September 21st 2012

Mugaritz. Otzazulueta Baserria, Aldura Aldea 20. 20100, Errenteria. Gipuzkoa, Spain. +34 943 52 24 55

Mugaritz – Two-a-day, Part 1

I’m typically fairly slow to post about meals. Currently, it seems my slow speed has become a halt. In an attempt to get out of this slump, I’m writing about my two-a-day at Mugaritz last September. Since I met Rocky, I’ve told her tales of the greatness of San Sebastian and its legendary Basque food culture. So we made it the longest stop on our Euro-dining-trip last fall, and made sure to maximize our indulgence in local fare, from street food to three-starred.

One particularly notable day, Rocky and I had breakfast at the hotel, then walked a few meters to the beach for a nice morning swim in the ocean(as we started each day there). Come lunch time, we cleaned up and hit the road to Errenteria for round one at Chef Andoni Aduriz’s Mugaritz. (click here for round two)

mugaritz patio

We rolled up to the grounds, parked the Smart Car next to a brand new Aston Martin, and announced our arrival. A picture perfect day, we opted start our meal on their serenely arranged patio.

mugaritz patio snacks

We sat down around a low table on somewhat dirty and damp cushions and got started with snacks and a couple glasses of Txakoli(which I was introduced to on that same patio about three and a half years prior).

mugaritz kraft paper spider crab

mugaritz kraft marine paper

Flax and wheat “Kraft” paper with marine accents. Introduced to us as linen paper with spider crab. The cracker was extra light and delicately crisp.

mugaritz fishbones

“Fishbones” with nuances of lemon, garlic and cayenne pepper. This had a fun texture and a nice variety of flavor to wake up the tongue.

mugaritz scarlett shrimp sake lees

Scarlett shrimp over sake lees. It would have been nice if the shrimp had a little more density, but the spinach leaf it was served on was great.

mugaritz bone marrow toast

Grilled toast of bone marrow with herbs and horseradish ash. I really liked the toast and the leaves, though the snack as a whole was kind of cumbersome for finger food and really rich for an opener.

mugaritz marine chords woodwind

Marine chords of a crispy woodwind. I think they presented this to us as ‘crunchy cloud with sea animal’. These were fantastic, with a good maritime flavor.

We lingered outside a few moments longer, then were escorted to a fantastic table in the dining room.

mugaritz tomato sweet garlic

Tomato and sweet garlic… creamed legumes. This plate was quite amazing. A lovely, meaty tomato. Pleasant black garlic that was more restrained than most I’ve had. White bean sauce below that gave a very low-key umami. A real delight to eat.

mugaritz milk skin tagliatelle

Tagliatelle of concentrated milk lightly soaked in a silky juice of roasted squash and tomato. The dried milk skin noodles were a lot of fun, especially with the sauce and the pork lardo wrap.

mugaritz aromatic vegetable ravioli

Ravioli of aromatic vegetables. The ravioli had a grassy, herbaceous taste. The sauce, based with chicken I think, had a strong savoriness. Both had a pleasant amount of bitterness.

mugaritz hazelnut and beans stew

Hazelnut and beans stew. With ‘mother of pearl’. The hazelnuts cooked to a fantastic texture. The broth again was strong and savory.

mugaritz homemade cheese

mugaritz home made cheese cured

Portion of home-made cheese, cured in its own rind, mushrooms and fleshy leaves. This was presented to us as a guessing game of ‘What kind of cheese is this?’ It turns out it’s raw milk and linen seed brushed with some chemical(the name of which I forgot) to create its own rind. It wasn’t very good. The mushrooms were alright though.

mugaritz bonding pestlemugaritz bonding mortarmugaritz bonding mise en place

mugaritz bonding

“Bonding… ” Toasted seeds and spices served in a Mortar and vegetable broth. With cod and sunflower petal. This DIY dish was a lot of fun. At a certain point in the service, each table in the dining room received the mise en place for the course, regardless of where they were in their meal, and were given instructions to grind the seeds and peppercorns. It was nice watching(and hearing) the whole room do this together. Then an army of servers stormed the room finishing the dishes with the fish and broth.

mugaritz pig blood macaron

Macaron. Meringue made from almond flour, sugar, and pig’s blood(apparently a great substitute for egg white) with blue cheese filling. I think most of the diners received these in the kitchen before or near the start of their meals. They way ours showed up seemed like someone just noticed they hadn’t been checked off of our expo sheet yet.

mugaritz roasted hake loin

Roasted loin of hake with clashing grains of aged mascarpone, cauliflower and fresh almonds. Clean flavors. The cauliflower and almond were nice to balance out the fish and cheese, which both shared similar richness with inherent sweetness.

mugaritz monkfish bones stew

Slices of monkfish cooked with the steam of its bones. Crispy stew of roasted rinds and lilies. I think I’d have liked this quite a lot more if it weren’t the third white fish course in a row(I still liked it though). The crispy rinds on top were outstanding.

mugaritz guinea fowl lobster emulsion

Breast of guineafowl with lobster emulsion and its roasted skin. Beautifully crispy skin. An expert layering of rich elements without hitting too hard.

mugaritz iberian pig tail terrine

Crunchy terrine of Iberian pig tails with a bunch of bitter leaves and Txakoli sediments. Well executed crunch on the terrine. The sauce was good, with nice acid to cut the richness. I loved the thickness of the leaves.

mugaritz edible linen napkin

A taste of subtlety. Folded linen with toasted créme fraiche and créme caramel. The napkin was light and brittle with a citrus-like taste.

mugaritz childhood memory toasted waffle

“Forgotten memory from childhood.” Small bite of milky wafer with lemon ice cream. Like an unrolled waffle ice cream cone.

mugaritz almond fairy cake

“Traditional” almond Fairy cake. Ice cream cake with almond and flax seed.

mugaritz frankincense eucalyptus candie

Candies of frankincense. The perfume of eucalyptus barks. A little sweet. A little sour. A little smoky.

Some wines(and a beer) we were served:

mugaritz winemugaritz winemugaritz winemugaritz beermugaritz winemugaritz winemugaritz wine

And an impressive tea box:

mugaritz tea infusion box

And Rocky closing down the dining room(as usual):

mugaritz dining room

Overall a fantastic meal. Though far from the magic I remembered from my first visit, and a letdown to Rocky from the build-up I gave the restaurant. But we maintained our optimism and were just as excited to return for dinner in a few hours(which can be seen here).

Date of visit: September 21st 2012

Mugaritz. Otzazulueta Baserria, Aldura Aldea 20. 20100, Errenteria. Gipuzkoa, Spain. +34 943 52 24 55

Quique Dacosta Lunch

quique dacosta patio sun room

Well rested after a fantastic dinner the night before and coming off a solid breakfast and a swim in the sea, Rocky and I set off for round two at Quique’s(click here for round one). We were given the option again to begin our meal outside, but we thought the heat was a little much to enjoy our opening snacks on the patio, so we posted up in the adjacent sun room to get started.

quique dacosta forceps

A few minutes later, with tweezers and a glass of cava in hand, we were ready to roll. Since a lot of dishes were repeats from the previous night’s dinner, I’ll be brief.

Act 1: Appetizer.

quique dacosta cheese sticks

Stick of smoked and fried cheese.

quique dacosta pancetta steamed bun

Marinated Pancetta.

quique dacosta oak rind broth

Broth of oak barrel and Barceló “Imperial” Rum. Oak rind.

quique dacosta murex sea snail

Purple Dye Murex (sea snail). These sea snails were much bigger than the last ones with a more distinguished taste.

quique dacosta sea currant

Currant of the sea at moment. The broth was different this round. It had a cleaner, less sea-watery flavor.

quique dacosta blood orange endive

Mini endive and blood orange.

quique dacosta raim of pastor

Raïm of Pastor.

quique dacosta seafood chips

Calamari rings. Octopus. Parsley and garlic Sea weed. They switched these up on us a bit. The calamari and octopus crisps replaced the star fish and sea urchin listed on the menu. They were all much crisper than at dinner, likely because the day was much less humid.

Once again, it was time to move the show inside.

Act 2: Tapas

quique dacosta bloody maryMary.

quique dacosta pepperwort

Pepperwort. Again with mackerel. Though they told us the oil of any blue fish will have the same spice-neutralizing effect.

quique dacosta cereal paper

Paper of Cereals.

quique dacosta dove nest

Dove nest.

quique dacosta almonds

Almonds. Almonds prepared into gelee, oil, and slivers. Very clean, light flavor.

quique dacosta strawberry crepe

Strawberry and vinegar crêpe. Strawberry ‘crepes’ with sliced berry and mint. Incredible. Spectacular little bites. The mint really set it off.

quique dacosta campari apple tart

Apple tart and Campari.

quiqiue dacosta cuttlefish turnip wasabi lime pie

Cuttlefish, lime, wasabi and white turnip pie. With flying fish roe. Mild spice, good textures, and clean, distinct flavors. Rocky said: ‘That’s awesome! Way better than what I had at that other place.’ I’m still not sure which other place she was speaking of.

quique dacosta paprika pork jowls

Pork jowls and Paprika.

quique dacosta red pepper watermelon

Red pepper. Once again, the pepper was watermelon. Still brilliant.

quique dacosta iberian ham cococha

Cococha of Iberian ham and pilpil sauce.

quique dacosta smoked bread

Smoked bread. For the ‘cococha’.

quique dacosta foie gras cubalibre

Cubalibre of Foie Gras, Rum Barceló Imperial. Still rockin, but much smaller than before.

quique dacosta bread service

Bread Service. To accompany Act 3. Again with: traditional, parmesan, pesto, white truffle, and soppressata.

Act 3: Mains.

quique dacosta tomato ice

Tomato. As beautifully savory as before.

quique dacosta cocopinut

quique dacosta margarita

Cocopinut – Margarita. Regarding the ‘Cocopinut’.. Well.. Hmm.. I don’t know if interesting is the right word.. Maybe bad? I tried to find pleasure in the coconut-peanut-lime concoction, though it eluded me. Sadly, this was among the worst bites of the trip for me. As for the ‘Margarita’.. a necessary refreshing bite.

quique dacosta tiger nut horchata

Horchata and Tiger nuts. This plate emphasizes the awe in awesome. Light, chilled cocoa butter encapsulating creamy foie gras floating in truffle cream with slices of tiger nuts. Nutty, earthy, sweet, and rich with fun texture play. A big winner.

quique dacosta tiger nuts

What’s a tiger nut? Our server brought some out to try, but said we wouldn’t like them. Fibrous, crunchy, and watery, I found that chewing them through was sweetly rewarding and I ate them all.

quique dacosta red prawn

quique dacosta red king prawn from denis

Red king prawn from Dénia. Tea of king prawns and chards. I was floored again by the excellence of the prawns themselves as well as their preparation, simply lightly cooked in seawater. Alongside was a ‘tea’ made from prawn shells, though it had a consistency closer to a bisque, which was amazing as well.

quique dacosta eel

Eel. Pieces of fresh eel served with faux baby eels(which are popular in the area when in season) made from what seemed to be pasta. A very rich dish. Rocky was mainly excited for the small garlic chip garnish.

quique dacosta oyster and dew

Oyster and dew. This dish was the bomb. Normandy oysters with oyster gel and yuzu flying fish roe. Wonderfully intense oyster flavor complemented with citrus and salinity. The tiny popping roe was a fun supplement to the texture.

quique dacosta cow heart

Cow heart. A fantastic little dish. Thin sliced beef over a bun filled with warm stock(one of those exploding one-bite scenarios). In Midwest terms: it tasted like nice sliced roast beef on top of a fritter filled with jus.

quique dacosta pigeon service presentation

The seven services of the pigeon.

quique dacosta roasted pigeon

quique dacosta pigeon liver

(1) Roasted. (2) Liver. The dish with the foam/mousse had a good cashew and mushroom taste. The liver was very strong flavored, almost too much so, but the sauce around it was nice.

quique dacosta pigeon sweet corn tartlet

(3) Sweet corn tartlet. This was damn delicious. I think it fit into the pigeon tasting in that the bird’s diet is heavy on corn.

quique dacosta pigeon breast on sprout

(4) Breast on sprout. The breast was cooked spot-on and had a great radiating flavor. The grains and sprouts were a delightful accompaniment.

quique dacosta pigeon consomme

(5) Consommé. A glass of pigeon consommé to sip along with the pigeon service. It was okay, but nothing too great on it’s own.

quique dacosta pigeon rice

quique dacosta pigeon liquorice orange rice

(6) Rice of pigeon, liquorice and orange. Another super-rich rice dish, though more manageable than the previous night’s rice plate. The orange and herbaceous licorice brightened the richness of the densely pigeoned grains.

quique dacosta pigeon mango chutney

(7) Chutney of Mango. Small, barely ripe mango pieces with a nice, solid crunch served with vanilla and mango gelee. Nice when paired with the flower petals, and extraordinary when bit with the mint. Not quite cohesive as part of the pigeon service, but nice to bridge the gap into desserts.

Act 4: Desserts.

quique dacosta blood orange rose yogurt

Iced yoghurt, rose aroma and blood orange. Oh wow. The rose essence was like a punch in the face(in a good way). A juicy orange slice hidden underneath was a good surprise.


quique dacosta sweet potato biscuit

quique dacosta squash donut

quique dacosta valence cocktail michael jackson

Biscuit of sweet potato. Squash donut. Cocktail (Michael Jackson). A moist pastry with sweet potato mousse and cinnamon. The squash donut was yummy with smooth pumpkin filling. A cocktail of Arrope, black vodka, coffee liquor, bitter chocolate, and orange zest. I guess I don’t know why ‘Michael Jackson’ was parenthesized on the menu.

By this time the day had cooled a little and we relocated to the patio to finish up.

Act 5: The Magic Box. The Tree.

quique dacosta magic box the tree

Macaron of chocolate. Chocolate marshmallow. Rocher of chocolate. Pompon of dry fruit. Chocolate caviar. Red fruit crystal.

Some wines we were served:

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Having a meal at Quique Dacosta is like taking a culinary tour of the Costa Blanca. Quique’s understanding and employment of his local bounty is astounding. Though he already has a fair amount of accolades, I’m sure Chef Dacosta is just getting started into his prime years. I look forward to returning for another few rounds next time I’m in Spain.

Date of visit: September 19th, 2012

Quique Dacosta. Ctra. Las Marinas, Km. 3. Dénia, Spain. +34 965 784 179.

Quique Dacosta, Dinner

For a number of years I had wanted to visit Quique Dacosta’s eponymous restaurant(formerly El Poblet), but sadly, I had to scratch it from a few different itineraries for a few different reasons. So when I started piecing together Rocky’s and my euro-dining-trip this past fall, I made it one of the prime pivot points. And as long as we were making our way to Denia, Spain, I figured we may as well double-up. This post covers dinner from our first night in Denia. Click here for the next day’s lunch at Quique.

We drove into town after a few days in Valencia, played in the sea for bit, then walked along beach to dinner. We were encouraged to ‘start with the MENU “LOCAL UNIVERS” tonight then have the MENU “MEDITERANIAN FLAVOR” for lunch tomorrow’. We started our meal on the restaurant’s patio. It was a little humid, but overall beautiful.

Act 1: Appetizer.

quique dacosta cheese stick

Stick of smoked and fried cheese. These cheese sticks had an impressively delicate casing. The flavor was great, though a little sweet for a first bite.

quique dacosta marinated pancetta

Marinated Pancetta. Beautifully thin cuts of pancetta draped over steamed buns. Rocky exclaimed ‘Knocks the socks off David Chang’s’.

quique dacosta oak rind broth

Broth of oak barrel and Barceló “Imperial” Rum. Oak Rind. The oak rinds were light and crisp with a nice toasty smoke flavor. They were set off by an amazing savory consommé.

quique dacosta purple murex snail

Purple Dye Murex (sea snail)A very meaty sea snail served in a shell with a sweet broth to finish.

quique dacosta sea currant

Currant of the sea at moment. The broth had a strong sea/salt water flavor. The ‘sea currants’ had a great snap and were fun to eat.

quique dacosta blood orange endive

Mini endive and blood orange. Wonderful pairing of bitter flavors and acid. Brilliant use of citrus.

quique dacosta rain of pastor

Raïm of Pastor. Raïm of Pastor, which is found throughout the Valencian region, lightly pickled. These had a good crunch and nice briny taste.

quique dacosta seafood chips

Star Fish. Sea Urchin. Parsley and garlic Sea weed. Three different sea themed rice crisps, each flavored with their respective inspirations. The stars had a savory powder that made me think of SpongeBob Doritos. The sauce on the urchins was great. The parsley chips tasted like a snack an old roommate of mine used to have shipped from Japan. Sadly, the crisps weren’t terribly crispy, likely due to the humidity they were served in.

That concluded ‘Act 1’, and we moved inside for the remainder of the meal.

Act 2: Table of cured fish.

quique dacosta delicatessens

Delicatessens. (Bonito, ling fish, sea bass, dry octopus) A plate of salt-cured and dried sea fare. The bonito was like a fish jerky. The ling fish, or mullet, roe had a good gummy chew with a bitter finish. The sea bass roe was delightfully salty. The cured and flamed octopus had a nice strong char.

quique dacosta cereal paper

Paper of Cereals. A thin cracker of grains to accompany the cured plate.

quique dacosta pickled onion

Pickled onion. Acidic allium bites were great between the dense salty fish and roe.

quique dacosta fig

Fig. Dehydrated fig crumbles in rice paper packets. They tasted like fig flavored Lucky Charms marshmallows.

Act 3: Tapas.

quique dacosta bloody mary

Mary. Though I don’t like the taste of Bloody Marys, this little dish was impressive. An amazing thin shell holding in remarkable Bloody Mary flavor. Alongside a lovely slice of celery.

quique dacosta pepperwort

Pepperwort. We were instructed to first eat the leaf and the fish together, but to save a piece of the leaf to eat alone. On its own, the leaf had a crazy horseradish/wasabi type spice. Though with the mackerel, the spice was neutralized by the fish’s oil.

quique dacosta dove nest

Dove nest. Faux eggs set in nests. Based with yolks and flavored with truffle and olive. The smooth texture of the eggs were great against the crispy nests.

quique dacosta campari apple tart

Apple tart and Campari. The apple cake had a fun disappearing quality. The small flower gave a pleasant mellowing chew to balance the in-your-face bitterness of the Campari granite.

quique dacosta paprika pork jowls

Pork jowls and Paprika. The crisps underneath had a little sweet that was good with the melt-away fattiness of the pork jowls.

quique dacosta red pepper

Red pepper. ‘Piquillo peppers’. My first comment after trying this was ‘It tastes like watermelon’. When we were asked what we thought it was, I nailed it. Dehydrated watermelon with mustard seeds.

quique dacosta cococha

Cococha of Iberian ham and pilpil sauce. I wish I had been familiar with Cococha(a fleshy part of the jaw of cod) before trying this faux version so I would have had more appreciation for it.

quique dacosta smoked bread

Smoked bread. To accompany the ‘Cococha’.

Act 4: Mains.

quique dacosta tomato water

quique dacosta dried tomato water

The water of dried tomatoes. Fantastic ice flavored with sun dried tomato. Great restrained savory taste.

quique dacosta cuba libre

Cubalibre of Foie Gras, lemon, rocket salad with Rum Barceló Imperial. A gel of Coke, rum, and lemon, emulsified with foie gras. This was a big, rich wow. I think the acid from the Coke kept it from being too over the top.

quique dacosta haze

quique dacosta the haze

The haze. A striking compilation of peas, pork, and mushroom served over aromatic moss and pine. The ‘fog’ added the to the idea of a walk in the forest.

quique dacosta prawns

quique dacosta king prawns

Denia Red king prawns. This was our first encounter with Denia’s famous prawns. Since we were going to have the menu preparation of prawns the next day, they were served to us very simply: boiled in seawater, accompanied by sea salt. Meaty, sweet, exquisite.

quique dacosta mullet

quique dacosta red mullet

Red mullet with incrustation of its guts with eucalyptus. A very meaty piece of red mullet dressed with a killer sea urchin sauce. Topped with flat beans tossed in eucalyptus oil.

quique dacosta rice senia ashes

Rice Sénia, ashes. Black Senia rice with black truffle and braised pigeon liver. Holy smokes. This was intense; probably the hardest hitting dish of the trip.

quique dacosta bread service

Bread service with Act 4. Five flavors of breadsticks: traditional, parmesan, pesto, white truffle, and soppressata.

Act 5: Desserts.

quique dacosta citrus fields

Citrus field. Various local citrus treated and presented in various ways. Lovely variations of tastes and textures.

quique dacosta milk

quique dacosta milk dessert

Milk. A solid milk skin served over gelato and pastry.

quique dacosta the tree

The Tree. Pompon of dry fruit, chocolate caviar, both served in rice packets. Red fruit crystal.

quique dacosta magic box

The Magic Box. Soft chocolate macaron. Chocolate and passionfruit marshmallow. Chocolate Rocher with nice crispies inside.

Quite an amazing first meal we had at the hands of Quique Dacosta and his team. To see what they served us for lunch the next day, click here.

Some wines we were served:

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And Rocky wants to make sure anyone that actually finds this page and scrolls this far down knows that she caught a small lizard on our walk back to the hotel.

quique dacosta lizard

Date of visit: September 18th, 2012

Quique Dacosta. Ctra. Las Marinas, Km. 3. Dénia, Spain. +34 965 784 179.