A great diversity of ancient flavors fused with traditional Spanish delicacies.
By J.M. Towers
Through the centuries, Spanish gastronomy has adopted all kinds of influences: Greek, Roman, Carthaginian, Arabic and American. Therefore, its cuisine is the result of a perfect combination of styles and cooking methods, in which the quality and freshness of the ingredients are essential.
From Galicia and Madrid to Andalusia and the Canary Islands, different elements have joined to create a diverse, tasty, nutritious and creative cuisine—one of the strongholds of the Mediterranean Diet.
Spain is today one of the world’s centers of gourmet cuisine. The respectable Michelin Guide places special attention to Iberian gastronomy and has awarded a plethora of stars to some of the world’s finest restaurants and chefs.
Let us introduce you to two bastions of Spanish cuisine in the 21st century. We are talking about Atrio—in Extremadura—and Casa Marcial in Asturias. Both restaurants have been awarded two Michelin stars each.
Elegant and modern, Atrio, located in the medieval city of Caceres in Extremadura—UNESCO World Heritage Site— is the home of culinary master Chef Toño Pérez, trained in extraordinary restaurants like Arzak and El Bulli.
His cuisine is creative, artistic, and inspired by the traditional regional gastronomy, famous for its Iberian ham as well as its tender and tasty meat (Retinta beef), its olive oil, cheese (Torta del Casar), and seasonal vegetables.
In the sober and discreet dining room—decorated with original paintings by Antonio Saura, Sean Scully, and Thomas Ruff—diners enjoy a great variety of tasty morsels, such as the Iberian lentils with squid and curry, peas with crispy pork, or scallops with truffles, macadamia nuts, and broth, among others.
The cellar at Atrio is especially noteworthy. It boasts exclusive champagnes produced by 28 small French firms that use grapes from their own vineyards to fill their precious bottles.
Traveling from the west to northern Spanish, we find the Casa Marcial Restaurant in La Salgar, in the Principality of Asturias.
In charge of its kitchens, the award-winning chef Nacho Manzano creates his magical cuisine— based on fresh products from his farm. Manzano demonstrates a creative vision of traditional dishes made from excellent Asturian raw materials, such as white beans, cider, cheeses like Cabrales, and tender meats.
The bounty of the Asturian lands allows the chef to concoct dishes like sardine and foie cake, mushrooms with marrow and hemerocallis (daylilies), or Asturian veal marinated in whisky.
The restaurant features three menus with different but equally marvelous proposals: Traditional, Gastronomic, and Casa Marcial. And to complete your Asturian experience, we recommend a freshly cooked fabada, an explosive delight made with white beans, chorizo, blood sausage and pork; a typical dish that will captivate you sooner rather than later and will seal your visit to this green and inviting Spanish region.
These two amazing restaurants are proof that Spain never fails to impress with its regional cuisine. ■
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