Friday, April 07, 2017

Santceloni, a superb selection for Madrid's fine dining (3-30-17)

While had a lot to eat for lunch, dinner was at 9pm because that's when they open. Our last night was at the Hesperia Hotel where we enjoyed drinks and a site visit (always working) before heading downstairs to the Relais et Chateaux 2 Michelin starred Santceloni, where our table say facing a huge window into the kitchen where Chef Oscar Velasco was very busy running the show.
Unlike DSTAgE or DiverXO there are no gimmicks or chemicals here and the food is presented the most elegant of settings. We were thankful for this truly.
A choice of Cava or Champagne was offered and since this was Spain we had the Glac Cava from Maria Casanova, which was thoroughly refreshing and crisp.
Samuel has the most amazing drink or peach, pineapple and grenadine prepared quite beautifully tableside. 
The tables were of gorgeous wood exuded elegance and EVOO from Andalucia Assemblage Special Santceloni from Castillo de Camena was a peppery green olive oil for the excellent breads.
Amuses began to arrive: lentils and saffron, lentils and oyster, squid and cauliflower and then a "fake" mussel made.of vegetablesand potato sauce; quite inventive as Sam would eat this as well, even with his seafood dislike.
The last amuses were a potato ball with tobiko, mushroom-parmesan crisp, chicken toast and finally fried potato with prune sauce.

Sam started with Maresme's Peas, Smoked Carrot Juice and garlic powder which was the first time we have seen fresh peas this spring and boy were they spectacular. Who knew a pea dish could bring raves?
Will and I decided to split two starters and I headed right for the White Asparagus, Parsnip,  Coconut, Orange and dried black.olive. While this might not sound so appetizing and perhaps even a bit sweet with the coconut, it was a brilliant creation and a true representation of what can be done with this so seasonal and often rare juicy rich white asparagus that I shall now surely miss so much. 
The second dish we split was a rich gorgeous Smoked Ricotta Ravioli topped with Petrossian Alverta Imperial Caviar; a true indulgence but definitely worth the little extra cost.
Classy bone handled Laguiole knives were placed for the main courses and each time o e of us went to the loo, our napkins were replaced with crisp clean new linens and the staff held our seats out. While I don't mean to nitpick, this is really all part of the fine dining experience, and should never be forgotten in any Michelin starred destination.
I chose a superb DO Ribera Godello 2015 from Ourive in Galicia that was loaded with mineral flavors and thicj and rich, but not creamy at all; perfect with the starters. We wanted to leave Spain with a big bang red and chose a Ramirez de Ganuza 2009 Reserva from Rioja (100%Tempranillo) was a real treat with our quite heavy mains.
We chose three delicious mains, mine being the least exiting of Hare Shoulder in mini corn tacos with mustard and yes, grapefruit, which I could not taste at all. Topped with cappuchina leaf, I sadly said farewell to this much loved garnish. Pigeon was superb with macaroni, cacao and black pepper while the winner was the Young Goat with roast Pumpkin,  Hazelnut  and Black Garlic.
At one point we did detected some cigar smoke but we were told not to worry as it would be kept in the smoking room far away and indeed it was.
I could not leave Spain without a final cheese course so Will and I split one:
Brillat Savarin
Torta de Varros from Extremadura 
Camembert from Calvados
Zamoranno from where else, Zamora
Valladolid Camporeja
Payoyo-one of the best goat blues on earth from Andalucia 
And of course 
Picos de Europa Cabarales, the awesome blue from  Asturias where we learned they make the cheese in mointain caves. 
A fitting end to an amazing journey through 13 Michelin stars in three capitals.