A LEADING Andalucia restaurant has launched a brand new tasting menu with just vegetables and fruit.
El Lago’s Terra menu is a sustainable tour of the very best produce the Costa del Sol can offer.
Going back to its Slow Food Movement roots, the Marbella restaurant is working with over a dozen local producers from around Malaga.
The KM-zero local and seasonal concept is anything but new for the Michelin-starred joint… It was the first restaurant in Andalucia to be awarded the KM0 accolade.
Now, it is working with growers from the Axarquia, Guadalhorce Valley and Ronda region to put the ‘best of the best on your plate’ explains chef Fernando Villasclaras.
“This region is blessed with many of the best ingredients in the world thanks to its climate,” the chef, from Nerja, explained to the Olive Press.
As well as radishes from Estepona, he uses artichokes from Alhaurin and aubergines from Coin in his amazing new menu degustacion.
Each is carefully cooked and served in a creative way, alongside a glass of local wine from Granada, Ronda or Jerez, if you opt for the ‘maridaje’ pairing.
The real highlight though is the ‘Gargouillou’ invented by French chef Michel Bras, an amazing melange of 27 different blanched vegetables served as a soup.
At El Lago, which has held its Michelin star since 2005, Villasclaras serves it in a chilled lettuce broth, which is delicious.
Other highlights are the courgette cooked in Payoyo goats cheese with the ‘nector’ of onion and grilled rocket, while the sweet potato pudding with muscatel grapes and sugarcane honey from Frigiliana was to die for.
The so-called Montblanc finale, was a true surprise looking like a classic pasta dish but was really a poached pear served in chestnut cream, orange jam and meringue.
Villasclaras shows real maturity for a chef in his early 30s, but his stints at Dinner under Heston Blumenthal in London, as well as with Spain’s genius Andoni Luis Aduriz, at Mugaritz, really helped his development.
“More than anything I am going back as close to El Lago’s roots as possible with the Slow Food concept,” he explains. “I have a great, young team, including a Serbian sous chef, and we hope to do great things in 2023.”
At an official launch for the new menus (there is a more meaty and fish-laden one called ‘Sazon’, as well as a normal A la carte), restaurant PR Roberta Panelli, explained what a dynamic, exciting team they have.
The linguist from Turin, who moved over two years ago to take over the reins from her mother, said: “We all work together and I’m learning so much every day. This is my family now.”
As well as a superb, detailed wine list that counts well over 100 listings from around Andalucia (35 from Ronda alone), there are plenty of fascinating rarities. My top tip is the remarkable Ximenez-Spinola PX, from Sanlucar, near Jerez, a nutty, sweet, but remarkable light in strength (12.5%) chestnut.
El Lago is based on Greenlife Golf Course, in Elviria, near Marbella. It is open from midday.