Tuesday, July 16 saw the first evening of a two-night event featuring Spain’s two-Michelin star Chef Paco Roncero at EMO restaurant within the five-star Anantara Hotel Vilamoura.
Winner of many awards and accolades, author of several cooking and culinary books and creator of kitchen manager software, Gestor de Cocina, to mention a few strings attached to his bow, the charming Madrid-based Chef welcomed a dining room full of excited diners and journalists who were keen to see for themselves what the man behind the world’s most expensive restaurant, Sublimotion in Ibiza, would prepare.
At the end of 2018, Minor hotels bought NH hotels, which is where the Chef Roncero has been based in their fabulous Casino de Madrid property.
Under the direction of Ferran Adrià of elBulli in 1991, he learned the ropes and progressed to Head Chef in 2000 earning his first Michelin star in 2002.
Along with La Terraza del Casino, Taller, Paco Roncero Catering and Estado Puro in Madrid, the Chef also has Estado Puro in Shanghai, Gastro Hub in Madrid airport and will now be overseeing the culinary direction of the group’s Anantara Villa Padierna Palace in Marbella. He will be responsible for the implementation of menus and style in all the outlets from the pool bar to the formal dining venue.
But back to our evening at EMO … we were in for a treat with the incredibly subsidised menu at €100 per person, including wine pairing from Colinas do Douro.
The menu comprised of 13 courses ranging from bite-sized canapés to small plates of exquisite dishes full of surprises.
A dining experience of two parts, the first included courses of small, finger food-sized dishes. Layers of salmon in miso cones, olives served on a tree, delicately pickled red mullet bites, lobster on a puff cracker with a smokey barbecue sauce, tiny tacos and succulent, mature beef with caviar paired with an elegant, slightly oaked white Reserva 2017 by Colinas do Douro.
Then we moved on to the main event where a cupcake of super-chilled gazpacho started things off, followed by finely sliced razor clams in a mild picante curry, a powerful flavour-packed hake filled with crab. Then, my personal favourite, a divine roasted pigeon breast with deep game trimmings, paired with the Colinas do Douro red 2017. The desserts were tremendously grown up with the Alaska cake challenging its place in the dessert section. It featured herbs that you would expect to find in the first courses, but it worked. Then there was the tiny apple tart on Mille Feuille with cream and an after-dinner chocolate selection to finish off with the Colheita Tardia 2015 late harvest from the winemaker.
If you love fine dining and new experiences, you should definitely keep your eye on the Tivoli and Anantara for their gastronomic events.
By SARAH YOUNG
Photos: RICARDO BENARDO