Prawns with green beans © Restaurante Akelarre
Xaxu © Restaurante Akelarre
Dining room in the Akelarre restaurant © Restaurante Akelarre
Frozen celery with brandy granizado, half-cold mango slices, compote of beetroot and fruit, young shoots and celery leaves © Restaurante Martín Berasategui
Vine-ripe peach gazpacho with cockles infused in txakoli wine © Restaurante Martín Berasategui
Raw bean juice with salad of foie gras with creamed horseradish © Restaurante Martín Berasategui
Restaurante Martín Berasategui © Restaurante Martín Berasategui
Cuisine as an artistic creation to delight the senses – this is the way gastronomy is seen in Spain. A range of five-star culinary attractions offering a world of tastes, presentation, aroma, textures, colour... Dishes by chefs such as Adrià, Arzak, Berasategui, Ruscalleda, Santamaría, Subijana and Roca have placed Spain at the forefront of international haute cuisine.
The new Spanish chefs are artists in the kitchen, as is amply borne out by their widespread international renown. For example, ‘El Celler de Can Roca’, run by the Roca brothers in Girona, was the world’s best restaurant in 2015 and 2013, according to the prestigious ‘Restaurant’ magazine. The same title was held for five years by Ferran Adrià in his restaurant ‘El Bulli’. ‘Mugaritz’ and ‘Asador Etxebarri’, in the Basque Country, also appear on the list, as the 7th and 10th best restaurants, respectively. As many as eight restaurants have the maximum rating awarded by the influential Michelin Guide.
The hallmark of the work of these new culinary artists is its originality and innovation, combining the traditional Mediterranean cuisine with fresh and creative ideas. The importance of this new cuisine in Spanish culture is such that the chef José Andrés was awarded the Spanish Order of Arts and Letters in 2010.
A number of restaurants in Spain have been distinguished for their outstanding quality and creativity. Throughout the country there are around 185 Michelin-starred establishments, eight of which have been awarded the maximum distinction: one in the Region of Valencia, another in Madrid, two in Catalonia, and four in the Basque Country.
"Quique Dacosta" is a restaurant in the Region of Valencia with widespread renown. Its cuisine can be defined as being at the gastronomic avant-garde, but with its roots in its local surroundings in Dénia, Alicante. The restaurant is named after the head chef.
The city of Madrid has a three-star restaurant –"DiverXo"– famed for its exceptional creativity and the fusion of an array of cuisines all known for their aromas, tastes and textures, thanks to its head chef, David Muñoz.
In Catalonia gourmets can enjoy the restaurants "Celler Can Roca" and "Sant Pau", in the province of Girona. In the first, located in the city of Girona, the Roca brothers use their culinary creativity to convey a range of emotions. Carme Ruscalleda, on the other hand, offers a modern take on traditional Catalan gastronomy in her restaurant "Sant Pau" located overlooking the sea in Sant Pol de Mar.
In the Basque Country, there are four outstanding options for enjoying Basque signature cuisine: "Akelarre" and "Arzak", in San Sebastián, "Martín Berasategui", in Lasarte (Guipúzcoa), and "Azurmendi", in Larrabetzu (Vizcaya). The first is the creation of Pedro Subijana, and offers an experience for all the five senses in a dining room offering spectacular views. José María Arzak's restaurant was the first in Spain to receive three Michelin stars (in 1989). Martín Berasategui, on the other hand, is one of the main exponents of modern Basque cuisine. Finally the restaurant "Azurmendi" run by the chef Eneko Atxa is on a constant mission to bring pleasure through cuisine.
Many other restaurants have become famous worldwide. They include "Aponiente", in Puerto de Santa María (Cadiz); “Atrio” in Cáceres; “Dani García” in Marbella (Malaga); "Casa Marcial" in Parres (Asturias); "Zaranda" on the island of Majorca; “Enoteca”, “Moments”, “Lasarte” and “Àbac” in Barcelona; “Can Fabes” in Sant Celoni (province of Barcelona); “Les Cols”, and “Miramar” in Llança (both in Girona); “El Portal”, in Ezcaray (La Rioja), “M.B.”, on the island of Tenerife, and “Ramón Freixa”, “Santceloni”, “Sergi Arola”, “La Terraza del Casino”, “El Club Allard” and “Coque” in Madrid.
The El Bulli of the future
Ferrán Adrià has for many years been the standard-bearer of Spanish haute cuisine, and his restaurant, El Bulli, has been considered by many to be the best in the world. However, in July 2011 he closed down the business to take on a new and ambitious project: the "El Bulli Foundation". The aim is to create a centre for gastronomic creativity in order to spark new ideas in the kitchen and to share them at the international level.