Friday, December 09, 2005

Gastronomy in Madrid: The Haute

A visit to Spain is not complete without experiencing nouveau Spanish cuisine. We've heard the names before: Ferran Adria from El Bulli and Sergi Arola of La Broche--two of Spain's most influential chefs. Unfortunately I experienced neither as El Bulli is booked a year in advance and there was no time to experience Arola's La Broche.

But fear not, I DID experience one of Madrid's temples of Gastronomy: El Chaflan. Located north of the main business district in a non-descript 3-star hotel, El Chaflan is headed up by Chef Juan Pablo Felipe, winner of Spain's National Prize for Gastronomy in 2001. The decor is minimalist with subtle oriental flair. But decor aside, the cuisine is center stage here.

I cannot begin to explain the sheer pleasure of my experience at El Chaflan. I opted for the 12-course Chef's tasting with wines paired by the Sommelier, who happened to be from Tokyo. His English was by far the best of any of the other staff at the establishment.

The show began with an amuse bouche of Spanish Cava served with a dash of raspberry liqueur and frothed egg white on top. An incredible and interesting way to begin the journey. The amuse bouche was followed by a small cup of zucchini fries and aioli. Plate after plate, El Chaflan never ceased to amaze.

Finally, the dessert trio arrived. First was a cheese course of five different Spanish cheeses paired with various items: mini-biscuits, quince preserve, nuts and a dab of sweet muscat sauce--an artist's canvas on a plate.

The final taste was probably one of the most interesting of the presentations: a sampling of sweets served with a glass of PX dessert wine--a perfect ending to the show.

El Chaflan
Avenida de Pio XII 34
Madrid, Spain
+34 91 350 6193
Tasting menu with wines: 115 euros

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