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Top European Restaurants by Martins Ritins

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Connoisseur's Guide · Europe · spain · Ezcaray · Top European Restaurants by Martins Ritins


Author: Mārtiņš Rītiņš0 COMMENTS


To get to the core of a country's gastronomic wonders means not only turning to the roots of traditional fare but also tasting the chefs' modern versions of national cuisine. In the historic centre of the small Spanish town of Ezcaray the gastronomic traditions handed down through five generations and the novelties are harmoniously united in the Michelin star Echaurren restaurant. Gourmets will encounter the traditional kidney beans and peppers by the chef Marisa Sanchez and the cosmopolitan and contemporary culinary innovations demonstrated by her son Francis Paniego under the same roof.
Echaurren, divided into two separate parts, can't complain of a lack of customers; often enough, when the door of the restaurant opens, a true cocktail party crowd gathers inside. Later guests, according to their gastronomic fancies, wander over to one of the parts of Echaurren.
The dining hall on the right is the embodiment of the very best culinary traditions of La Rioja region. The design is dominated by red and black colours. The room brings out real Spanish temperament in the young and the old, the Spanish and the foreign guests. And they certainly don't mind a bit of showing off with their smart clothes, silver jewellery and slightly aristocratic way of carrying themselves.
During the "pepper time", when the spicy pods are cooked and added to food in extra generous amounts all over Spain, in every garden and on every balcony, Marisa Sanchez offers her customers pepper prepared in an endless variety of ways. Her croquettes are also unforgettable - probably the best ones in Europe. The individually ordered roll of Spanish ham and chicken, paper-thin and crunchy from the outside, takes one by surprise with the fabulous stuffing: as soon as you make a light incision with a knife, the contents of the croquette oozes out like a raw egg. The menu also offers pigeon and game, as well as an impressive - about 300 labels strong - selection of the best Spanish wines. Lunching or dining in a pleasant company you can always share both the flavoursome and fresh starters (on the average - EUR 8-12) and the main course and dessert: all the culinary wonders are served in generous helpings so that everybody can choose whatever they like best.
To the left from the entrance is the realm of Francis Paniego, schooled in the best Spanish avant-garde restaurants. The minimalist El Portal (often referred to as El Portal del Echaurren) is particularly favoured by younger people related to the business circles, but that's not to put off anyone inclined to experiment and willing to tease their taste buds.
The pride of the chef - fresh salted tuna belly and identically looking Spanish ham, neither roasted nor poached - surprises with radically contrasting taste sensations, enjoyed simultaneously. Unlike the traditional side of the restaurant, food is served individually and the dress code is more casual. Nevertheless, the chef of El Portal will also tale pleasure in inquiring after the guests' impressions and won't be embarrassed to accept all the compliments in his address.

Héroes de Alcázar 2, Ezcaray, La Rioja 26280
Phone.: 941354047

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