Anchoas del Cantábrico, tomata de penjar, hinojo y almendra
Ricard Camarena
Country: Spain
City: 46003 Valencia
Address: Almirall, 14
(+34) 963925566
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Price: 70/110 €
Tasting menu:: 58 y 69 €

The triumphant evolution of this wonderful restaurant goes on, with all the eyes of the Valencian gourmets on it. In two years, the guests have appreciate Ricard Camarena’s culinary conquest; a chef with very good prospects. Dense training, talent, discipline, common sense, innate palatal abilities, good presence and simplicity. In addition to these virtues, he knows how to grow slowly but surely. Every construction hides a titanic intellectual and physical effort. Every detail has its reason of being. Everything has been thought of. This means multiple sensations, because the numerous actors of the dishes play a relevant role. The chef –we will never say it enough– possesses a peculiar sensitiveness, an unprecedented art to combine complex flavours and make both forceful and refined dishes. He makes you feel the earth and the nobility of the products. Historical memory is omnipresent. This man is a loyal and honest professional whose constructions transmit both peace and firmness.
The new 2011 menu, almost integrally changed, represents a qualitative leap forward the guest can appreciate through the constructions, which are more exquisite and artistically superior, as well as through the regularity, really amazing, in spite of the technical complexities of the dishes and the difficult resolution of the nuances they involve. All these achievements mean a higher mark and let forebode that this won’t be the last improvement; it might be just a question of time. And these honours are not generous at all considering the level of the decoration of the place, majestic, the employer’s conscientiousness and the price (applied in 7/7.5 restaurants), as the feast, including wine and VAT, is lower than €100.
The chef’s top quality salted anchovy, served on a layer of slowly dried tomato (hanging from the branch), as excellent as the main ingredient, utterly tasty, combining sweetness and acidity, together with the salt of the fish and the counterpoints of some dry wild fennel, a velvety purée and some honourable sliced almonds, is amazingly witty, full of naturality and mediterraneanity. The squid into extremely fragile “black raviolis”, proposed with a piece of the bare cephalopod outside the “packaging”, is a real technical show. The whole is accompanied by magical counterpoints the chef is so keen on: organic leek, lime and coriander. Vegetal purity, organic exquisiteness with salt and pepper: this is what the peas, broad beans and stewed artichokes swimming in a hot and slightly spicy cuttlefish broth is all about. The style and the magical hints appear again and again, like in the hare soup with smoked eel, safanoria (kind of carrot) and truffle; or like de hot vegetable stew with olive velouté sauce, one of the most pertinent and best inspired version of Michel Bras ‘s gargouillou. If the old cow rice still provides unforgettable moments, what can we say about the octopus served with turnip and truffle, a dish whose three elements are proposed in perfect harmony; other velvety counterpoints based on the common cereal, perfectly done. And to finish, a sublime piece of utterly gelatinous tuna double chin cooked at low temperature and then tempered on hot coal inside a consommé made with the fish skin, thin skin slices and broad beans, together with exciting galangal and mint aromas. Who gives more?
Ricard is inspired, definitely.