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Spain's Top 10

Simple...a series of lists rating Spain's top 10 in anything and everything...they may be lists compiled by independent reviewers or by myself....whichever, I hope you find them useful :-)

SPAIN'S TOP 10 - Restaurants 2013
31 October 2013

Spain has many of the best restaurants in the world leading the way in avant-garde cuisine. Now some may consider this a waste of time but these restaurants should not be considered as normal restaurants, places you go to enjoy a bit of food and fill your stomach. These venues are events, like going to opera or seeing a ballet or a musical. Most menus last around three hours so we are talking about almost three hours of culinary entertainment. A gastronomical experience that few have the pleasure of experiencing. Not so much because of the price but more because of the waiting lists. Can Roca has a 10 month waiting list at present. They are places where these "artists" show off there flavourful masterpieces. Each dish is an experience of flavour, art and creativity and many menus carry up to 20 dishes. If you enjoy food and wish to be startled and entertained there is no better option than arranging to visit to one of these culinary temples. For most people it is a one-off experience but certainly an experience that should be enjoyed at least once in a life time. 

1. EL CELLAR DE CAN ROCA - Gerona (Can Sunyer, 48)

The logo that represents El Celler de Can Roca is an ‘R’ with a difference. The quirk is that the letter that evokes the family name has three ‘legs’ – each representing one of the three Roca brothers, who have combined their diverse skills to such extraordinary effect. This is a Catalan family restaurant through and through, and yet it is also now the best restaurant in the world.

The Spanish favourite entered the World’s 50 Best list eight years ago and has somewhat stealthily climbed the rankings since. Its relatively low-key rise is reflective of the Rocas’ evolutionary approach and modest outlook. The Rocas grew up steeped in their mother’s restaurant in Girona’s working-class suburb of Taiala. In 1986, elder brothers Joan and Josep opened El Celler de Can Roca alongside the original. In 2007 – with younger sibling Jordi on board – they moved just up the road to the striking purpose-built space that remains their home.

Head chef Joan is alone a cook of the very highest order: he helped pioneer the widespread use of sous-vide cooking in the ’90s via his Roner machine, and is a technical maestro. Josep is the head sommelier who runs the supremely smooth front-of-house operation: understated but passionate. Jordi is the rule-breaking pastry chef whose creations blow the imagination.

This family triumvirate and their teams create magic without undue theatrics. Eating at El Celler is truly uplifting, with the warmth of the family dynamic all-pervasive. 

2. ARZAK - San Sebastián (Alcalde Elosua, 273) 

This family-run San Sebastián restaurant has living legend of Basque cuisine Juan Mari Arzak at the helm, alongside daughter Elena Arzak Espina, the World’s Best Female Chef in 2012. The pair tease out the best from local ingredients and food culture by reworking ideas using modern techniques. While rooted in its location and loyal to local bounty, team Arzak isn’t afraid to look further afield for flavours, as its spectacular herb, spice and ingredients room attests..


3. MARTIN BERASATEGUI - Lasarte-Guipuzcua (Loidi Kalea 4)

This restaurant is Martín Berasategu's flagship venue. Its menu relies heavily on local produce, to which innovative techniques are applied. The dining room has lovely views of the meadows that surround the restaurant. A place of gastronomic pilgrimage for all who wish to discover the Basque culinary revolution.

4. QUIQUE DACOSTA RESTAURANTE - Denia-Alicante (Ctra. Las Marinas, Km. 3 - Urb. el Poblet)

Part avant-garde chef, part ecological researcher, Quique Dacosta occupies the same culinary perch as fellow countrymen Ferran Adrià and the brothers Roca. His eponymous restaurant in Dénia is a hub for food research and unashamedly top-end dining. Typical plates are minimalist and high impact, featuring two or three ingredients, making for great clarity of flavour, demonstrated by the chef’s famous dish of gelatin of Jabugo ham with liquefied peas.


5. SANT PAU - San Pol de Mar-Barcelona (Nou, 10)

The restaurant has gracefully maintained two spaces in the old seafront townhouse, an interior dining room and a gallery, both of which look out onto the private garden with the Mediterranean sea as a backdrop. Originally the menu at the Sant Pau restaurant was much simpler than the one we find today, especially in terms of technique and complexity. Nevertheless, an equal amount of care and attention was put into selecting the ingredients used always working with the best produce on the market, sourced locally in the Maresme region.

6. AKELARRE - San Sebastian (Paseo Padre Orcoloaga, 56)


Restaurante Akelaŕe is brought to you by Pedro Subijana and his highly efficient team of professionals. All dedicate their deep-felt passion to ensuring that you take away the best possible memories of your visit from start to finish thanks to a perfect gastronomic experience and the exquisite ritual of the service that goes with it.

7. MUGARITZ - Rentería (Aldura Aldea, 20)


At Mugaritz diners are treated to a multiple-course tasting menu of intricate yet small dishes developed through a creative process and an attention to detail that borders on the obsessive. Chef-patron Andoni Luis Aduriz aims to play with guests and reflect on the different ways a restaurant can have an impact, rather than just filling people up and sending them on their way. From that point of view there is no other place like Mugaritz in the world.


8. AZURMENDI - Larrabetzu (Corredor del txorierri salida nº 25)

Gastronomical Azurmendi is a new space created and designed according to Eneko Atxa’s philosophy and desires. It’s a space that seeks identity and diversity; a space that’s alive, vulnerable, and interdependent. It’s an ecosystem in which space, humans, animals, and vegetables complement each other according to Eneko’s objective: “to delight all who go into it, an accommodating, relatable identity of pleasure that seeks to make something universal from what’s local.”


9.ATRIO - Cáceres (Avenida de España, 30)


Atrio is the Spanish word for atrium, a central element of traditional Mediterranean architectural design that dates back to antiquity and is the metaphorical heart of the family home in the Iberian world. Juan Antonio Pérez and José Polo, the team behind the Atrio experience, have created a new international culinary landmark in the historic city of Cáceres, a singular place situated at the crossroads of Iberian culture and history.Atrio is a legendary destination for the most discriminating gourmet traveller.

10. CALIMA - Marbella (C/ José Meliá, s/n)

What Ferran Adrià is to Catalonia or Martin Berasategi to the Basque Country, the young chef Dani García is to Andalusia. García has won the adulation of food critics and cooks by whipping up startling combinations in his wise, fresh and innovative kitchen.The mouth-watering aroma coming from his food, takes us to the Calima Restaurant, in the Gran Meliá Don Pepe Hotel in Marbella. Chef García offers a mixture of natural ingredients, traditional flavours, familiar Andalusian notes, inventiveness and such gastronomic innovations as liquid nitrogen to prepare his meals. 



Like 0        Published at 10:39   Comments (3)

SPAIN'S TOP 10 - Golf Courses 2013
11 October 2013

There are over 300 golf courses in Spain and many are amongst the best in Europe and the world. However these were the top 10 courses for 2013.




This spectacular and imposing course has been consistently ranked among the best ten golf courses in Europe since it was opened and was recently voted #88 in the world, #3 in continental Europe and #1 in Spain. As the venue for numerous PGA European Circuit tournaments, it is also routinely singled out for praise from the professional playing fraternity. Be warned, however the beauty of the course can distract from the many dangers waiting to do serious damage to your scorecard.  It makes no concessions with its trees pressing onto fairways, strategically placed bunkers and the lakes that come into play on no fewer than seven of the toughest holes. This is a quality that keeps players returning time and again to test themselves. It is rare to find so many memorable holes on one course and despite the many ups and downs, tees are elevated and very few fairways are uphill. The stunning dogleg of hole 6 is one of them and it demands nothing less than a driver and total commitment.



Valderrama Golf Club is considered by many as the jewel of Europe. Set in a picturesque cork forest in Spain's Costa Del Sol, Valderrama is a strategic and tight parkland course. Once a daily-fee course named "Sotogrande New," it was bought by James Ortiz-Patino and morphed into a superb private club, worthy of professional events and the 1997 Ryder Cup Matches and 2000 World Golf Championships. Located about 30 minutes from the vacation town of Marbella, Valderrama G.C. offers a two-hour block of public tee times each afternoon.



The Course RSGC is considered as one of the masterpieces of Robert Trent Jones who chose this course as one of his five favorites from more than 500 courses he designed worldwide according to what he wrote in his book GOLF – THE MANIFICIENT CHALLENGE – published in 1988. Officially opened in 1964 Sotogrande was the first course Trent Jones designed in Europe and is blessed with his design philosophy, which consists of building courses perfectly integrated with the natural surroundings which are a great challenge to the better players, but accessible and enjoyable for everyone. Nothing describes better a round on Sotogrande than these words. It is a fascinating course for players of any level which retains all the natural beauty of the land on which it was built only 150 metres from the Mediterranean.



In the early 1960s, Javier Arana, undoubtedly the best golf course designer Spain has ever had, took a walk through the pine forest next to the sea at El Saler and his special intuition enabled him to determine that this land could be used to build a magnificent golf course. After a great deal of effort, the Ministry of Information and Tourism agreed to the idea and construction began on the current Parador, with Javier Arana responsible for creating the golf course. His customary wise choices included the decision to do the utmost to respect the natural landscape, keeping as many pine trees as possible and the sand dune that separates the pine forest from the sea. The result is now familiar to anyone who has visited this golf course, which has generally wide fairways; vast, challenging greens; and almost one hundred bunkers, some of them natural, created by using the dunes. Although there are no other special challenges, it is difficult to achieve the course's par 72. Those who play at El Saler should know that this is one of the best courses in the world, with an exceptional location beloved by all Valencians: the Dehesa de El Saler forest.



Real Club De Golf Las Brisas was founded by D. José Banús in 1968 as "Club de Golf Nueva Andalucía." He was appointed its first President until 1981. For its design he chose the American, Robert Trent Jones, already considered one of the best golf course designers in the world. He had just finished building the golf course at Sotogrande and after Las Brisas, went on to design Los Naranjos and Valderrama. The course includes numerous water obstacles: there are ten artificial lakes fed by two streams. The greens, the majority of which are raised, are amply protected by bunkers. The results of Robert Trent Jones's efforts, which we continue to enjoy today, were truly notable and original, obtaining a difficult and attractive course. He was also original in his choice of Bermuda grass for the fairways and Pencross Bent on the greens, unusual species in the Europe of the sixties. The outcome of all this is a round which requires a precision game of golf. As an example of the opinion of great golfers we can quote that of Paul Azinger (USA), "There is not a single bad hole in Las Brisas. Indeed it is one of the finest courses on which I have been able to play".



Golf Santander is located 10 miles from the centre of Madrid, in the Grupo Santander City in Boadilla del Monte. A project conceived with the idea of providing the bank’s employees, customers and shareholders, as well as golf enthusiasts, with the very best facilities to encourage the practice of this sport. The project, which was set in motion by Grupo Santander, offers top-of-the-range facilities and services (restaurant, changing rooms, practice course and golf school), all of which are available not just to Santander employees but also to golf enthusiasts in general. Among the facilities offered by Golf Santander, worthy of special mention is its par 72 golf course, designed by the renowned U.S. architect Mr. Rees Jones. From the black tee or last tee-off point, the 7,498 yards of Golf Santander make it the longest golf course in Spain and one of the longest in Europe. An extremely demanding golf course and an excellent test for even the best professionals. 



La Reserva Golf Club in Sotogrande has become, despite its tender years, one of the most prestigious courses in Spain. La Reserva continues to improve by leaps and bounds, and its 18 holes, designed by Cabell Robinson, are complemented by the lively social life of its magnificent Club House. La Reserva Golf Club has become a meeting point for members, friends and golf fans with a strong reputation, continually providing more and better services to its members, demonstrated by this year's exceptional fees. La Reserva is deemed fit to rival nearby Valderrama with the regulars confident it will one day host an international competition. It is a relatively new course, designed by American Cabell Robinson, which first opened in 2004, part of the legacy left behind by the likes of Ballesteros, Olazabal, Monty and co. At 7,400 metres from the back tees, this course is long... 



The RSHE Club de Campo can trace their roots as far back as 1901- attaining royal status in 1908- and it was one of the founder members of the Spanish golf federation. The two courses on the property – North and South -  both laid out by the prolific American architect Robert von Hagge. The North course was redesigned in 1997 and it now stretches 7162 yards from the back tees. Most fairways are gently undulating and tree lined – but not restrictively – and water comes into play at four holes on the back nine. There are no fewer than seven left-dogged holes. Laido ut on a huge scale across naturally undulating and sometimes hilly gorund. These elevation changes provide for an interesting and though provoking round



Formed in 1904, Real Club de la Puerta de Hierro is one of the most venerable golfing institutions in Spain. The abajo and arriba courses are situated just to the north west of the capital and both ar immacualtely maintained courses that fully deserve their recognition. Puerta de Hierro is a private and exclusive club where non-members can only play if they are guests of a member but the club has been very accomodating to professionals over the years. The Arriba has had several acclaimed architects leave their distinguished mark in it. Tom Simpson originally designed the course then Harry Colt made some modifications in 1912 before John Harris carried out some remodelling in the 70’s.



Measuring 6.802 metres from the back tees, and with more than 100 bunkers, Finca Cortesin is ranked as being one of Spain’s best golf courses by the prestigious Golf Digest Magazine. The harmonious relationship between the natutal Mediterranean landscape and environment, make for a most attractice design.The excellent weather we enjoy all year round makes the perfect setting for playing golf. Cabell B. Robinson’s course design and Gerald Huggan’s landscaping design capture the natural characteristic of the area where the course has been constructed. All of it together adds to a perfect balance between 20 varieties of flora, the typical Mediterranean forest and the perfectly manicured bermuda grass on the course. A demanding par 72, and the 6.802 metres (7.482 yards) in length, make the course a perfect venue to celebrate tournaments at all levels. Finca Cortesin has been host of the Volvo World Match Play Championship for 3 years, one of the world’s most prestigious golf tournaments at a professional level.

With a choice of 5 different tee positions, the course is appealing to all levels; 5.884 metres for men and 4.840 metres for ladies, including an “executive gold tee” with 5.215 metres that will make the course very enjoyable for the higher handicaps and seniors. The excellent maintenance of the fairways and greens, and  attention to every little detail, will make a round of golf at Finca Cortesin a challengin test of your ability whilst all the time surrounded by an aesthetically exceptional natural and unique environment.



[Ranking established by : Top 100 Golf Courses]

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