Showing posts with label Michelin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michelin. Show all posts

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Hondarribia, Alameda Michelin Star restaurant in The Basque Country

Hondarribia, Basque Country, hotandchilli food and travel blog

  Hondarribia, or Fuenterrabía in the local language, is a charming and vibrant fishing village renowned for its phenomenal culinary choices, as well as its remarkable architectural sights. The gastronomy in Hondarribia offers both the taste and looks to impress, and is sure to satisfy even the harshest of critics. The memories you form filling your stomach with quality cuisine and breathing in the fresh coastal air will make Hondarribia your favourite holiday spot in the area.

The gastronomical world in this little town has witnessed an enormous transformation recently, and it’s noticeable in the cuisine. The quality matches, if not surpasses, the finesse and tastes found in San Sebastian, which is considered by most as the Basque hub for culinary enjoyment. 

Only recently has Hondarribia become a must-see attraction for visitors to the area so that you won’t find many touristy elements such as a street full of monotonous souvenir shops. Tourists trying to enjoy an authentic experience have access to plenty of different restaurants and pintxo bars all across the town, all of which produce only the best food and drinks.  Not only is the quality of these establishments something to look forward to, but the incredible prices. The value is fantastic and makes this fishing village a hotspot you can’t miss.

The cuisine of Hondarribia isn’t the only aspect of the town that’ll impress tourists. The village is enclosed in a beautiful, fortified wall, the only one of its kind in the entire Guipuzcoa province. Basque architecture ornaments the entirety of the Old Town, with homes decorated with vibrantly coloured wooden balconies. Architecture enthusiasts will also be delighted to see some baroque-style buildings interspersed between them. The intimate, cobbled streets of the area are truly inviting, and you’ll find yourself strolling through them for hours.

The Marina neighbourhood is also a must-see attraction in the town. It’s adorned with a multitude of restaurants and bars, and you’ll find Hondarribia’s most popular establishments here. The main pedestrian road crosses through Marina neighbourhood, so you can search for a place to enjoy some Basque cuisine while walking alongside a lovely tree line and homes.

If, for some reason, you get tired of the myriad of eateries and cultural sights, venture onto the sandy beach. This long, 800-metre attraction offers quiet waters and space for tourists and locals alike to enjoy the sun and relax throughout the day.
Hondarribia, Basque Country, hotandchilli food and travel blog

Hondarribia, Basque Country, hotandchilli food and travel blog

Hondarribia, Basque Country, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Hondarribia, Basque Country, hotandchilli food and travel blog

Hondarribia, Basque Country, hotandchilli food and travel blog

Alameda Michellin star restaurant, Hondarribia, Basque Country, hotandchilli food and travel blog

 Gastronomical Wonder:  Restaurant Alameda

Originally a local snack bar known only to select locals, Restaurant Alameda has become Hondarribia’s premier, Michelin star establishment. It’s family-run by the Txapartegi brothers, called Gorka, Kepa, and Mikel.

Using raw ingredients is the staple of this restaurant, as well as the locally sourced product. The brothers offer irresistible dishes that are both high in quality and just stunning, and perhaps the most fetching aspect is that the food pays homage to its Basque roots while accommodating modern trends.

If you’re walking towards Old Town, you’ll notice Restaurant Alameda instantly, as it lies merely a few steps away from the Santa María Gate. The ambience is cosy and trendy, minimalist design, as well as a collection of stunning art done by local Hondarribia artists. 

It's a Michelin star restaurant so expect stunning presentation and fantastic colours and textures delivered in every single plate! And  yes, they do!

Fantastic service and setting at Alameda.  First of all, let me tell you how easy it was to book, a single phone call two weeks before and Bianca, who speaks perfect English booked me in, no hassle.

 I visited on a Saturday winter's day in February. The sun was out, but the air was cold and crisp.  I arrived one hour earlier to the little fishing Village of Hondarribia, Basque Country, about 30 minutes by car or bus from Centre of San Sebastian. I must say it was worth all the travelling and a walk around the village is a must!

 The walk before and after lunch was entirely different before lunch was a leisurely stroll by the seashore and after lunch as a walk around the old town. It's like walking into an old fairytale book. Breathtaking!

Once I arrived, I was welcomed by Bianca who was the perfect hostess.  She introduces me to the local wine in their beautiful bar frequented by locals for small snacks and excellent wines.
After my drink, I settled at my table that overlooked their garden.
The waiter and sommelier explained all dishes, ingredients and drinks as the lunch progressed.

At the moment, they have two tasting menus. I was set to have the six dishes tasting menu, but when I got there I decided that after all the travelling I should have the ten dishes menu -  It would be rude not to!

 Here is my 4 hours tasting menu  - Epic!

Lunch at Alameda -  Michelin Tasting Menu

Alameda Michelin star restaurant by Hot&Chill blog
Appetiser : Chocolate & Foie gras  and carrot cream

Appetiser : Chocolate & Foie gras  and carrot cream
It looks like a bonbon, Chocolate and Foie gras is a combination from heaven, topped with hazelnut -  the way forward! The carrot cream and cod foam (at the back)  was  light and simply delicious

Alameda Michelin star restaurant by Hot&Chilli blog
Gillardeau oyster with Txakoli
Parsley air, oyster, sparkling wine, apple and citrus cream 
I ate air, and it is very palatable. The plump oyster was of a splendid size and so fresh! Perfect match to the high acidity of the local dry sparkling wine (Txakoli ) in the recipe and my glass.

Alameda Michelin star restaurant by Hot&Chilli blog
Scallop carpaccio
Scallop carpaccio on a bed of tomato tartare almond cream - scallop Topped with ovas de truta (trout eggs)  bursting with flavours and textures - brilliant dish
Alameda Michelin star restaurant in San Sebastian by Hot&Chilli Blog
Mushrooms with truffled yolk

Roasted local mushrooms truffled mash and white truffle cream  with sous vide yolk  matched with  Castell de Raimat Chardonnay 2015 wine with hint of tropical fruits sweet note of  pineapple  pale yellow with hints of light green hue

Alameda Michelin star restaurant in San Sebastian by Hot&Chilli Blog
Roasted foie

Foie gras beetroot orange and grapefruit - seared foie with creamers beets and grapefruit cutting through the fat beautifully matched with Ximénez Spínola Exceptional Harvest, not officially a sherry, but a kind of vendange tardive white wine, made with grapes that are picked overripe after 21 days on the vine. Then the wine is aged on its lees (with light batonnage) in used American oak barrels over a four-month period. It was first made in 2010 (designed by the winemaker Ramiro Ibañez Espinar) with subsequent versions each year.
Alameda Michelin star restaurant in San Sebastian by Hot&Chilli Blog
Sea bass - fish of the day

Sea bass , olive sand and curry carrot orange cream leeks purée, this dish was light and very fresh, this dish changes according to what is in season and fresh from the boat in the morning.
Alameda Michelin star restaurant in San Sebastian by Hot&Chilli Blog

Butakaku pork Jawl (braised) rich and scullent,  black beans, cabbage and leeks  - this dish remind me of Brazil, beans, pork and cabbage (greens)  - I love the gravy (sauce)

Alameda Michelin star restaurant in San Sebastian by Hot&CHilli Blog

Mandarin Mousse, Rosemary Snow, Orange Granita - very light citrus and refreshing - great palate cleanser.  PS: I though it was the dessert! Look how; pretty is that?

Gartzinea tribute

Tribute to the building where the restaurant is located. Cider sorbet apple jelly apple granita, cream cheese and nuts, edible flowers tribute to house/ building that used to be a cider house, where the restaurant was being since 1940 
Alameda Michelin star restaurant in San Sebastian by Hot&Chilli Blog
Petit fours

Petit fours - by now I was gasping for air - It was an outstanding and very long meal.  The care, the quality and techniques are all there. Best meal of 2017, outside the UK  so far!  Still a way to go...

It's one of the prettiest places I've travelled to!  I am contemplating going back to spend some time there. Worth every single minute of the trip and every single penny/euros.

Menu a la carte and tasting menus:
6 dishes menu 60euros  + flight of wine 27 euros (optional)
10 dishes menu 98 euros + flight of wine 39euros (optional)
(June 2017)

Read more about San Sebastian :  Hot&Chilli, A long weekend in San Sebastian
Until next time why not join me on  InstagramTwitter and Facebook…X 

Friday, 7 July 2017

Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine: michelin-starred meal at Refectorio

Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio
Abadia Retuerta -  Michelin star Refectorio
Food and service go hand-in-hand at Michelin star restaurant  Refectorio. I had an excellent and elegant dining experience here. The whole of Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine is set up to make you feel super relaxed in exquisite surroundings.

Refectorio is set in a long room with a high and gothic featured ceiling. The stone walls are the background to some beautiful antique original paintings.  Even though it is large, there’s so much to see, and yet it doesn’t feel cluttered. The antique furniture sets off the room nicely. There are about ten dining tables; it feels intimate and yet spacious. As you enter the room, the back wall features a stunning fresco, and by the entrance, there is a bookcase displaying an original collection of books dating back the 12th Century.
Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

The service is impeccable, friendly and elegant. The staff is knowledgeable about the food, wine and spa everywhere you go in this property. Customer service is second to none, they learn about your wishes and likes, and when you least expect it, they offer what you like throughout your stay.  That’s what I call service!
Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

My meal at Refectorio was beyond my expectations, perhaps one of the best meals I've had in Spain this year. The menu was matched with some of the Abadia Retuerta's fine wines.

The first time I entered the room my jaw dropped, everything was so amazing. at the dinner I was directed to my table. I travel solo most of the time nowadays, but the staff made me feel at home. Every single dish was explained in detail, and the wines complimented the dishes so well. I had the Abadia Retuerta wines as I was reviewing everything 'Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine'  and the matches were just superb.

The Meal at Refectorio

Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Crunch Toast with an intense  gazpacho water (out of the picture)
Bread with olive oil ice cream spring onion and mint - amazing flavours matched with champagne

Mushroom  cheese  stunning umami flavours
Pickled quail encased in sugary eggshell - soft centre and sweet hard shell tasted so good

Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Cauliflower Soup with smoked trout, the clear soup is made with bones of the trout.  smoky and textured fish was a delight served with Abadia Blanco de Garda wine

Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Leek hazelnut vinaigrette, roasted garlic croquettes, local mushrooms.  This dish was  full of textures, a mix of fresh and earthy umami flavours
Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Local Mushroom pork jowl Abadia pine nuts puree of mushrooms concentrated earthy flavours matched with Abadia Retuerta Touriga Nacional red wine

Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Cod with Iberico tripe sauce and turnip  wine pairing Abadia  Graciano, an intense wine to match the robust sauce. The combination of delicate fish and strong sauce made a exquisite visual appeal as well of element of surprise.  Wine: Abadia Graciano 2013

Tender and  juicy Lamb, mint and kale puree  and coffee matched with Abadia Retuerta Pago Negralada 2014, Tempranillo
Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio

Bayonne (blue cheese) from Basque Country with whisky
Sheep's cheese encased in a light, crisp case made with sheets cheese and rosemary topped  black olive topping served with Late Harvest Syrah Vendimia Tardia 2014

Rosemary ice cream toffee honey and Abadia pine nuts
Floral tea with homemade chocolate lemon cream and toffee
Abadia Retuerta, Michelin star Refectorio
I can’t recommend Refectorio enough. Ok, I get that the place is a bit remote, but it’s worth the pilgrimage, believe me!  They have beautiful rooms and a very inviting bar. A stay at the hotel and Spa is also a must. For more on prices  and how to get there: Abadia Retuerta - Refectorio

PS:  A visit to their wine cellar is a must!

How to get there

LeDomaine is located in Spain’s north central province of Castilla y León. It is situated on the banks of the River Duero east of Valladolid in Ribera del Duero region.

Connected by plane to the airports of Valladolid "Villanubla" and Madrid "Barajas".
    By car from the airport of Valladolid to LeDomaine: 40 km.
    By car from the airport of Madrid to LeDomaine: 220 km.

By High-Speed Train from Madrid "Chamartin" Station to Valladolid "Campo Grande" Station: 55 minutes.

By car from Valladolid "Campo Grande" Station to LeDomaine: 30 km.

GPS: 41º 36' 54.95" N, 4º 24' 39" W

Personalised transfer service on request.


47340 Sardon de Duero Valladolid,Spain

Tel: +34 983 680 368


Disclosure: I was a guest at Abadia Retuerta for review purposes, this press trip was organised by Magellan PR . All views are my own.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Wiltshire, lunch at Michelin-starred The Harrow at Little Bedwyn

The Harrow at Little Bedwyn

Another adventure in Wiltshire this year started on a high note at  The Harrow at Little Bedwyn,  a small  Michelin-starred restaurant situated in a charming and hidden country lane in the village of Little Bedwyn in Wiltshire.  It was established about 18 years ago by Sue and Roger Jones. Roger, I was told, heads the kitchen, devises the menu and is in charge of the wine list. Sue meanwhile, looks after the front of the house and service.  They accommodate a maximum of 34 patrons at a time. In Summer they open the Garden Terrace.

I was very excited as I have been looking forward to a meal at The Harrow for a long time. Leaving the Big smoke, I headed off to Wiltshire. After driving along the motorway and through the winding beautiful country lanes of the area, I arrived at the restaurant in just under 2 hours. It was a very pleasant trip and I arrived famished.

The Harrow is well-known for its excellent food as well as their  900 bin wine list which has been admired by many discerning customers and the industry as a whole.  The ingredients are carefully sourced according to seasonality, locality, and use of free-range suppliers as much as possible. 

I arrived and encountered smiles all around.  Izzy was fronting the house on this occasion as Sue was away on business.  Izzy and the team looked after me impeccably in a kind and genteel manner.

The meal at The Harrow

The Harrow is formed by two small rooms, with tables nicely dressed. The rooms are light and airy with very comfortable chairs.  The wine flight that accompanied the dishes were spot on! That just shows why The Harrow has retained its Michelin star for so many years.

Amuse-bouche: Salmon

Cured salmon (cured in house with five different citruses for 24 hours; lemon, orange, grapefruit, yuzu, a tiny bit of lime), capers tomato yoghurt fennel toasted sourdough
Pickled cucumber, garlic, olives

Fresh and full of textures Torbay Crab salad, tiny watermelon balls, watermelon consumé, cucumber balls, cherry tomatoes, brown crab meat  purée Wine: Larry Cherubino Laissez Faire Field Blend 2016, Pemberton Western Australia

Simply stunning Cornish Line caught Turbot, sea and land Asparagus, lemon dressing  - the fish was perfectly cooked and served with a smooth and sweet pea puree. Wine: Adega de Pegoes, Seleccionada 2015, Adega de Pegoes Portugal

Slow cooked beef cheeks in breadcrumbs, parsnip purée, amazing PX caramel, Highland fillet cooked without blood running,  peas and greens, horseradish, separate jus.  Wine: Andre Brunel Rasteau Les Sambiches 2009, Rhone Valley France

A tasting of British cheeses:
Mild: Wigmore Sheep, Cerney Ash goats, Lincolnshire poacher cheddar - cow's milk. Sharp cheeses and cow's milk: Stinking Bishop - cow's; Perl Las Blue - Welsh cheese.
Flatbread:   Fennel and Almond, Ginger biscuit excellent with cheeses
Wine: Pedro Ximénez

Palate cleanser
Boiled egg and soldier

Boiled egg and soldier  - It was a pleasant surprise.
Mango and passion fruit purée, Crème Anglaise, topped with  Italian meringue and dusted with vanilla salt. Beautiful visually and on the palate.

Dessert : Lemon at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn

Lemon - it was four delightful desserts in one!
Passion fruit, mango yuzu parfait; a light vanilla and lemon sponge; vanilla ice cream was just delicious, creamy and flavourful and yuzu macaron with white chocolate and lemon ganache. The macaron was fresh, light, just a little chewy, and soft - melted in the mouth. This dessert excites all senses.  Wine: Echeveria Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 20123, Curico Valley Chile.

I had a brilliant time at The Harrow, what a gem of place. Pity its miles away from London but the pilgrimage is worth it!

Disclosure: I was a guest of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn organised by Visit Wiltshire. All views are my own. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Las Vegas, Luxury Stays and Eats

Las Vegas Strip

Last month I discovered on my first trip to Las Vegas that this city is full of excellent places to eat and stay. Nor is glamour in short supply, this is a resort city famed for its vibrant nightlife, centred around 24-hour casinos, luxurious eateries and late night bars.

Its main street and focal point is the Strip which is just over 4 miles long. The boulevard is home to new and old Vegas glam with themed hotels featuring elaborate displays. One such display is the famed fountains of the Bellagio; they are synchronised to 'dance' to music coordinated to an elaborate coloured light show. You can also find replicas of an Egyptian pyramid, the Venetian Grand Canal, and the Eiffel Tower.

In the Strip, you can find some very opulent places to stay and eat. Here are some of the new-ish and cool places where I stayed and would recommend.

Luxury stays in Las Vegas

A Modern Las Vegas Atmosphere At The Cosmopolitan Hotel
The Cosmopolitan Vegas Hotel Bedroom

Unlike the traditional, old-school casino hotels I've seen in films, the Cosmo is built and designed for contemporary tastes. Its spacious rooms are decorated with modern interiors, and the establishment itself holds multiple bars and restaurants for your enjoyment. The Cosmo is famous amongst foodies, Vegas super-fans, fashionistas, and anyone else looking for a truly luxurious experience. It’s located near many other attractions such as the CityCentre complex and just next to the Bellagio casino. My room had a view of its magnificent fountains.

The Cosmo was established to challenge the traditional casino hotel model and has paired its contemporary interior with digital new media art. Still, it pays homage to the old styles with vintage touches throughout, including grand chandeliers, old telephones, and vintage seating in its huge reception area. I was dazzled by the magnitude of this hotel.

The Cosmopolitan enormous bath in my room 60th floor overlooking Las Vegas Strip

The Boulevard Pool at the hotel overlooks the famous Vegas Strip and makes numerous available activities for guests to relax properly. You can lie down in a cabana bungalow at the pool club, enjoy a Turkish-style bath at the spa, or take a stroll around the unique shops that are spread throughout.

There are nearly 3,000 contemporary rooms and suites, which were originally meant to be a private condominium.  The unique design of the suites allows for lots of space and facilities such as kitchenettes and at present the only hotel with balconie in Las vegas.

Foodies, like me, will marvel at the selection of eateries found at the Cosmopolitan, which includes restaurants run by renowned chefs such as David Chang of Momofuku and José Andrés of Jaleo. You won’t even be disappointed with the Cosmo’s Wicked Spoon buffet, which has achieved fantastic reviews from past guests - I thoroughly enjoyed their breakfast buffet too. If you’re looking for a well-crafted drink to finish off your evening, the triple-decker Chandelier Bar is sure to amaze with not only its terrific cocktails but stunning interiors.
Tapas at Jaleo

The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan

Facilities like Wi-Fi, fitness centre and a tennis court are all available to hotel guests. Unfortunately, breakfast isn’t included with your room, but there are several options around like the hotel’s trendy spot, EggSlut.
The Cosmopolitan
3708 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

Glamour and Comfort At The Aria
My room at The Aria

Just when I thought I've had stayed in the biggest hotel ever, here comes The Aria, located right behind the Cosmopolitan, just across a bridge, is the Aria Hotel. It’s a spectacular casino hotel designed in an entirely modern yet quaint design, absent of any ornamentation often connected to garish Vegas decor. The creativity of the hotel’s appearance is esteemed, as well as its ability to remain refined and elegant.

The establishment provides an air of comfortable luxury, and guests have access to numerous designer shops and an opulent casino. You’ll find 16 restaurants with fine dining options,  seven bars, and even more facilities to enjoy.

In addition to its fabulous casino and eateries, the Aria houses spa facilities, a fitness centre and five different pools with strict security. If all that isn’t enough, the hotel is located right in the heart of the Vegas Strip,  easy access to all Vegas desires.
One of the views from my room at the Aria
The Aria is a mega-resort that boasts an incredible capacity of 4,004 rooms. It’s the star of the 11-billion dollar City Centre, which was unveiled in late 2009. Grandeur is revered and valued at the Aria, which is evident in its number of luxury facilities, high ceilings and cut-edge designs.

My room at the Aria was smaller than the Cosmo, but this place oozes luxury with a spacious shopping area dotted with famous lavish brands like Chanel, Prada among others. I loved my American breakfast in my room in the last morning in Vegas.

3730 Las Vegas Fwy, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

Dining and drinking in Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitan 

One of the most beautiful meals I had while in Vegas. David Chang's restaurant offers an innovative take on Asian fare at this hip, spacious outpost in the Cosmopolitan. The place opened in January of this year (2017).  Sensational dishes with a diversity of tastes and textures that marry so well.

Jaleo by Jose Andres
José Andrés who is often credited with bringing the 'small plates' concept to the US. It's a very particular experience with open fires and Spanish dishes to die for using high-quality produce and ingredients. Highly recommended. 

O.M.G. this place, what can I say?  I wasn't expecting much, it's a small establishment inside The Cosmopolitan, but it was brilliant. Originally from California, this chain has reached Vegas. Offering comfort and gourmet egg dishes that can be eaten not just for breakfast but all day -  dining that is straightforward and lush.

The Venetian and Palazzo:
3355 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

The Dorsey bar
A beautiful bar in The Venetian serving hand-crafted cocktail menu designed by award-winning bartender Sam Ross of Attaboy and Milk & Honey fame. I urge you to explore meticulously prepared signature cocktails. They also have shareable punch bowls.

A walk distance from the Dorsey bar,  Carnevino (meat and wine)  is an Italian steakhouse in the Palazzo Hotel Casino. It is a meat lover heaven, but they also cater to the non-meat eaters among us.  Their dry-aged steaks and wines were superb. CarneVino is owned and operated by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.

LINQ Promenade

Virgil's Real Barbeque
545 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

Virgil's Real Barbeque is the premier eatery serving southern-style barbeque and craft beers, a spin-off of New York’s long-standing BBQ house.  Set just minutes away from the High Roller (Vegas's attempt to answer the London Eye), the restaurant occupies 1300 square meters on multiple levels with indoor and outdoor seating, and, I was told they have live music nightly.  Look at their outrageous  Bloody Mary - a meal in itself.
Outrageous Virgil's Bloody Mary
Virgil's Real Barbeque -  where I tasted Southern food - what a feast!

Mix of grilled meats and jalapeño cornbread

I finally tasted grits - cheesy grits (cheddar)- Love it!

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and Delano Hotel 
3950 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA

Cocktails at Skyfall Lounge at Delano 
Skyfall Lounge, located next to Rivea restaurant, offers 180-degree views of  Las Vegas and the desert.   A truly beautiful experience.

Las Vegas and desert View from The Delano

Dinner at Rivea at Delano
The restaurant serves delicious Italian & French Riviera cuisine by Chef Alain Ducasse. The restaurant is a swanky space with a sweeping panoramic view of Las Vegas and the desert.
A very romantic space! Rivea
Very creamy and  tasty Asparagus & morel risotto with Parmesan crisp

 Juicy 'Rossini' Angus fillet Mignon  with slightly pan fried duck foie gras and black truffle sauce  amazing dish

Seafood soup - absolutely delicious
I really enjoyed my stay in Las Vegas - what a town! full of luxury things to do, eat and drink.  I learned that Vegas is what you make it!
Next post:  A Stroll Through Downtown Las Vegas

Until next time why not join me on  InstagramTwitter and Facebook…X  

Disclosure:  I was the guest on this press trip organised by Hills Balfour in conjunction with R&R Partners and Las Vegas Tourism Board.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...