Tendal Gastrobar, the temple of extra virgin olive oil
Powered by Joaquín Claramunt, CEO of Aceites Claramunt, and Jesus Zurera, partner of Bodegas Delgado, Tendal Gastrobar is a project dedicated to extra virgin olive oil cuisine and located in an old mansion inside Baeza, a World Heritage Site and sublime cradle of singular EVOOs surrounded by a sea made of olive trees that characterize the countryside of Jaen. Tendal, which aims to become a benchmark in terms of pairings with the best extra virgin olive oils and be a dynamic space where gastronomy explores its potential, the protagonist is extra virgin olive oil and its infinite possibilities in the kitchen. Here, everything is designed under the sign of excellence. The local consists of eight different environments, most notably an Andalusian courtyard and two rooms reserved for private meetings, and its restoration has respected the original structure, with several coffered ceilings and frescoes of great beauty, in addition to furniture chosen to keep up with this exclusive space that takes the diner into the late nineteenth century. But Tendal Gastrobar is much more than a restaurant: inside it take place numerous olive oil tastings in which the basics to produce excellent extra virgin olive oils are explained; and in collaboration with the company Pópulo Servicios Turísticos, they organize guided tours to the countryside for customers to visit firsthand the place where it all begins. Also it hosts workshops for schoolchildren, meetings and events such as presentations of EVOO brands and pairing dinners organized together with experts from wineries and oil mills of the area. All of these with the aim of disseminating the ancient culture of extra virgin olive oil as a lifestyle.
El Monastrell (Alicante, Spain)
“Olive oil is the most important ingredient in Spanish cuisine, and perhaps the most unknown, as often happens with the products we have closest. Learning about the excellence in the world of EVOOs has helped me transform simple dishes with few ingredients into true culinary works of art. The use of high quality oils with different sensory profiles has revolutionized my kitchen, without a doubt.” These words are spoken by María José San Román, chef at El Monastrell (one Michelin star), in Alicante, a culinary role model in the preparation of dishes with a strong presence of local products, such as extra virgin olive oil, saffron and the best raw materials which are lovingly turned into delicate and surprising creations of impeccable aesthetics. “Extra virgin olive oil is our standard-bearer; I usually begin by choosing the one that pairs best in each case, which almost always results in great added value. We offer a careful selection of the best EVOOs and in order to preserve them we have an exclusive system -OliveToLive, an oil dispenser with nitrogen gas- allowing to maintain their qualities, keeping them at a constant temperature of 16ºC (60ºF), protected from light and oxygen- free,” says San Román, who is thankful to the producers who “manage to make these gems.”
Sublimotion (Ibiza, Spain)
The concept behind Sublimotion -awarded the Best Innovation F&B at the World Wide Hospitality Awards 2014, the same year of its inauguration- was born in 2012 at the research workshop of Spanish chef Paco Roncero (two Michelin stars) and opened its doors in 2014, at the Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza. The result of those two years of intensive work in collaboration with a group of professionals from different sectors (chefs, designers, engineers, illusionists, set designers, architects, choreographers and writers) is the first “food show” in the world, a production that merges haute cuisine with state-of-the-art technology in an unprecedented misen- scène. Taking place in a 350 m2 (3767 sq ft) space, with a 70 m2 (753 sq ft) and 7 m (23 ft) tall main capsule that houses a sophisticated audiovisual staging, a table for 12 guests maximum and a 250 m2 (2690 sq ft) private terrace where the experience can live-on after dinner. Extra virgin olive oil plays a fundamental role in the cuisine of Sublimotion, and this is because it is Paco Roncero’s fetish ingredient, which he loves to incorporate into his dishes as a main element. A three-hour show created to delight the five senses, involving a total-immersion experience into the creative process of the chef and his 25-people team. Thus, in one of the “scenes” consisting of two Fabergué eggs, one of them has a quenelle of caviar with a base of aerated extra virgin olive oil cream of the arbequina varietal and a cheese biscuit; next to the caviar, an oyster in a warm carrot marinade emulsified with hojiblanca variety extra virgin olive oil and champagne, with touches of carbonated grapes and sea grapes.
OLIU Cuina Mediterrània (Majorca, Spain)
Opened in July 2013, OLIU is the dream come true of Majorcan chef Joan Porcel, a restaurant with renewed Mediterranean character that merges the new Majorcan cuisine with the essence of classic recipes, always with extra virgin olive oil as the star ingredient. Located in the municipality of Andratx, very close to the port, in an old farm where there once was an oil mill, inside its enchanting garden the olive trees, palm trees and raised beds of lavender create the idyllic setting with inviting tranquility. A clean and simple design, with different areas and environments, stone walls and cream colored ceilings with exposed beams. The owner isn’t yet in his thirties, but has already worked with some of the greats such as, Juan Mari Arzak and Martín Berasategui in Spain, or José Andrés in Washington. On the menu, short and with a strong Mediterranean accent, we find intriguing dishes such as the innovative mini airbags stuffed with Mahón cheese -small puffed bags of thin bread dough stuffed with melted cheese and decorated with Joan’s own pearls of olive oil-, an orange salad with olives -that incorporates the surprise element of spherified olives- or the Oliu dessert, one of the must-haves, made with olive oil, vanilla and dark chocolate. An oil that, according to Porcel, in a couple of years will be obtained from their own olive trees.
FIG & OLIVE (New York, California, Chicago and Washington, USA)
The founder and owner of FIG & OLIVE, Laurent Halasz, grew up in Mougins, in the South of France, the medieval town where Pablo Picasso spent the last 15 years of his life. A region, Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur, along with other coastal areas of Italy and Spain, whose cuisine, ingredients and flavors served as inspiration to create a restaurant model that pays tribute to extra virgin olive oil, using it in the dishes instead of butter. Its warm and elegant design, with limestone stucco walls, terracota ceiling, white marble tables, green rosemary and olive trees, help immerse guests in the essence and colors of the Mediterranean. As guests enter, they are greeted by a large display of the best extra virgin olive oils -with over 30 different kinds and on sale, as well as a large selection of flavored EVOOs (truffle, basil and lemon), olives and aged vinegars,- every one of which he pairs with a different dish and is offered for tasting at the beginning of the meal. The main dinning room area features black, forged iron olive branches illuminated with candles, while the open kitchen shimmers with shelves filled with EVOO bottles.
Long Meadow Ranch (Saint Helena, California, USA)
Excellence through responsible farming. Under this motto, at Long Meadow Ranch (LMR) -a beautiful Californian ranch founded in 1872, abandoned during the Prohibition and revitalized in 1989 by its current owners, Ted, Laddie and Chris Hall- they produce and supply handmade products from their three farms located in Napa Valley (Mayacamas Estate, Rutherford Estate and Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch), all obtained under the precepts of organic and sustainable agriculture: wine, grass-fed beef and lamb, turkeys, eggs, honey, grappa, fruit and vegetables, vinegar… and extra virgin olive oil. Both their exceptional and award-winning- EVOOs are grown following the “full-circle farming” methods, Prato Lungo -from the oldest olive grove in Napa Valley, at the Mayacamas Estate- and Napa Valley Select -a blend of organic oils,- both certified by the COOC (California Olive Oil Council) stamp of quality, can boast about being, in the opinion of many, the “best olive oils in the U.S.” Housed in an old barn, the family-style restaurant thrives on executive chef Stepehn Barber’s proposals, based on fresh, in-season products and fully respecting the farm-to-table philosophy. The Long Meadow Ranch, located in Saint Helena, the heart of Napa Valley, organizes among many other activities, tours of their farms and dining experiences, the Wine & Food Experiences and Wine & Olive Oil Tastings, allowing visitors to discover and enjoy the excellent wines and olive oils produced in their facilities.
L’Olivaia Villa Campestri (Vicchio di Mugello, Florence, Italy)
35 km (22 mi) from Florence and 6 km (4 mi) from Vicchio di Mugello, in the heart of the Tuscany Valley, lies Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort, a splendid Renaissance villa built around an ancient fortress from the 13th century that offers visitors a unique and different experience. The exquisite cuisine of Villa Campestri is undoubtedly one of the great attractions of this resort devoted to extra virgin olive oil. The elaborate dishes that make up the menu at the L’Olivaia restaurant -named Best Olive Oil Restaurant in Italy in 2013- feeds on extra virgin olive oil from the traditional Tuscany varietal old olive groves that surround the farm, of an intense color and persistent flavor with notes of artichoke and almond; and exceptional quality EVOO that inspires chef Andrea Perini to create unique dishes in a magic symphony of aromas and flavors that skillfully combine innovation and tradition, simplicity and refinement. Furthermore, most of the ingredients used come from the organic gardens of Villa Campestri. L’Olivaia’s proposal, always with an eye on excellence, revolves around two well-defined concepts: L’Olio dal Vivo -the art of cooking with olive oil without using heat, existing between cooked and raw- and Olio e Tradizione, with free interpretations of Tuscan cuisine in an olio-centric key. The suggestive atmosphere infused in the restaurant, with its polychrome wooden coffered ceilings, carved shelves, stone window frames and terra-cotta floors, seem like the ideal setting to celebrate thematic and Renaissance dinners, olive oil, wine and cheese tastings or any other type of events, always with extra virgin olive oil as the protagonist.
Ibérica’s Ethos (London and Manchester, England)
The six restaurants of the Ibérica’s Ethos group -Ibérica La Terraza, Ibérica Canary Wharf, Ibérica Farringdon, Ibérica Marylebone, Ibérica Victoria, in London; and Ibérica Spinningfields in Manchester- offer the authentic flavors of Spain in a modern version of the traditional Iberian recipes, made with carefully selected high quality ingredients from the best producers in the country, in a relaxed contemporary atmosphere, and in the style of Spanish tapas bars. Lead by executive chef, Nacho Manzano (three Michelin stars for Casa Marcial and La Salgar) and head of kitchen César García, they oversee a menu of classic dishes in constant evolution seasoned with an innovative twist, which also incorporates creations from his own restaurant in Asturias (Spain), Casa Marcial. In addition to their gourmet tapas, Ibérica offers a wide selection of Spanish cheeses and cured meats where the world-famous jamón ibérico -as it couldn’t be otherwise- occupies a prominent place, along with a long list of regional wines -served by the glass, bottle or in the traditional porrón (a traditional glass wine pitcher)- and Premium EVOOs (Pago Baldíos San Carlos and Castillo de Canena, among others). All restaurants host private celebrations and exclusive events (dinners, presentations, tastings and samplings, master classes) such as the one Ibérica and Albertina Torres recently presented at Ibérica Canary Wharf, where they showed the documentary called Spanish Gold about the production of olive oil in Spain which is part of a project by artist Zev Robinson called The Art and Politics of Eating. Rounding up their offer, their Ibérica Delicatessen stores exhibit the best of Spanish cuisine through an exclusive selection of gourmet products and ingredients. The sought-after and multi-award-winning decorator and interior designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán is responsible for the design and decoration of each restaurant, creating a relaxed and genuinely Spanish atmosphere with a predominance of luminous white walls, decorated with hand-painted works of art, where there is no shortage of flowery upholstered furniture and wooden floors combined with traditional Spanish tiles along with other vintage styled details such as aluminum plant pots, the renowned Cartuja de Sevilla tableware or a huge head of a bull on the wall.
The Restaurant Pendolino (Sidney, Australia)
This Italian restaurant named in honor of the pendolino olive tree -originally from the Italian regions of Tuscany and Umbria- is located in the heart of Sydney’s financial district, at the historic Strand Arcade (1891). Their incredible range of home-made pasta made from organic eggs and flour in a kitchen designed exclusively for this purpose, competes with a selection of the best Australian Premium extra virgin olive oil -as well as vinegars, olives and other products- displayed at their olive oil shop, L’Olioteca (Oil Library), in the space where the restaurant’s private dining room is set. The owner and executive chef, Nino Zoccali, belongs to a generation which has provided a level of sophistication to the Italian cuisine hitherto unknown in the Aussie country. Member of the Australian Olive Oil Association’s national tasting panel and frequent jury in state and national competitions, Nino is personally responsible each year for the selection and mix of the oils that create the Pendolino Fruttato Allegro, his brand of Premium EVOO, which in 2015 was an award-winning blend of picual, hojiblanca, koroneiki and coratina varietals from olive groves situated in New South Wales and Southern Victoria. His overwhelming passion for extra virgin olive oil is also reflected in the organization of his master classes on this key ingredient of the Mediterranean diet or at events such as the Australian Masters of Olive Oil Dinner, where he serves as host to receive the members of the jury and the award-winning producers. At his Restaurant Pendolino, which has an EVOO menu, most of the dishes are paired with extra virgin olive oils from different varieties and provenances, as Nino himself enthusiastically explains to his guests.