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nicola

Puerto Banus

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I am off to stay near Puerto Banus this weekend. Last time we were there we found some good fish/seafood restaurants but they were generally rather touristy and I suspect therefore overpriced. Does anyone have any recommendations for places that are slightly off the tourist trail? We will have a car (but are more likely to take a taxi due to the combined problems of parking and drinking and driving) so the suggestions don't have to be in the town centre.

Have looked at past posts and there wasn't much but I hope someone can help.

Thanks

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It's on the coast and on a part that's heavily dependent on tourism. Most hospitaltiy businesses are going to be dependent on tourists and priced accordingly. Where the trade is transient, the problem of just finding a good restaurant can be hard enough without finding a good buy. Consider yourself lucky if you've already found a few reliable restaurants. Michelin recommends two in Puerto Banus. If neither are on your list, they may be worth checking out although neither sound that interesting to me. Cipriano, which is described as classicly elegant, offers meals from 35 to 42 + euros. Le Biarritz offers French food for around 43 euros. In Estepona, there's a luxury one star restaurant offering creative but pricey (73 - 91 euros) food.


Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Puerto Banus is touristy, every weekend a new set of yachts arrives...

In Puerto Banus there is a great restaurant called Azul Marino, right on the harbour, very fresh fish and spanish specials - we stayed for a week and ate there almost every night, we did not find it too expensive...

The chiringuitos at the beach are great for sardines on skewers roasting on an open fire and all types of seafood and smaller dishes - very informal, read, sit in your bathing suit...

One lunch we ate in Nerja, at a "parador", beautiful location, on a cliff top, fabulous view of the ocean - DO NOT GO THERE - I got the most wicked case of food poisoning imaginable from a seafood stew, and I have a stomach of steel....needless to say, I don't remember the name of it.

Buen Provecho!


www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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I was in Puerto Banus several years ago, and, although touristy, I remember it as being quite attractive.

Memory serves that the restaurants did not open until 11PM, and I also remember, after finishing dinner at 1AM, you could shop at the many stores in the complex until 3 AM!! (Requires a whole body clock adjustment!)

For a slightly more local environment, you might try the small inner streets of Marbella, and I think there the restaurants open at 9:30! (Sorry, can't remember any names)


Edited by menton1 (log)

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Try getting a cab into San Pedro de Alcantara which is not far from Puerto Banus.

I much prefer it for food and affordable drinks! I've been to several restaurants in San Pedro which were good and very reasonably priced: La Barca is a fish restaurant in a side street to the right (with the sea behind you) off the main street and there are others whose names I can't remember, sorry - but anyway, it's worth a visit.

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Puerto Banus is the gilded rectum of Spain.

LML :wub:


Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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Puerto Banus is the gilded rectum of Spain.

Well, that is ridiculous--- maybe it's a bit touristy, a bit commercial, but there is a beautiful beach, the Mediterranean, and a nearly ideal climate; It sure beats Disney World!!

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Thanks for all the helpful suggestions - I shall definitely try going to San Pedro and also head for Azul Marino on the harbour. As for eating late - I find that works just fine, especially because of the heat and the hour's time difference!

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Puerto Banus is the gilded rectum of Spain.

Granted, but while you don't make it sound attractive, that does sound like an atraction. At the beginning of April we passed by Marbella and it held some fascination, not unlike a train wreck, for me. My wife insisted we make a right turn and head straight for Ronda. My curiosity was not something I could shape into a rational argument and we spent the night in Ronda although we called ahead first to make sure we could move our hotel and dinner reservations in Ronda ahead one night. As luck would have it, my wife just won a round trip for two to Malaga with a week's stay in either Malaga or Marbella, for two.


Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Just back and I thought I'd give some feedback on where I went.

Tried Azul Mariono in the harbour at Puerto Banus where we had excellent fish. Didn't make it to San Pedro but instead was recommended to go to Benahavis. This was a pretty town in the hills with cobbled streets and lots of restaurants. We went to La Sarten (which I had found recommended in the Guia Campsa (sp?)) and had barbecued chicken which was very tasty and came in a huge portion (I had a starter of Gambas Pil Pil and the other starter we tried was a scrambled egg dish with beans).

The best restaurant we went to was Zozoi (there is an umlaut type accent over the i but I have no idea how to do that). It is in the old part of Marbella and is owned by Belgians with a Belgian chef. They have a very pretty inner courtyard in which you can eat. Had a starter of spinach salad followed by an assortment of fresh fish (which comprised salmon, a white fish - very soft - don't know what it was, mussels and prawns) served with tagliatelle in a white sauce. Bux - if you end up in Marbella this is one I would suggest you try.

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I don't have anything nice to say Puerto Banus, but one other thought for a Marbella restaurant is El Timonel on Calle Finlandia.

This is a rather different kettle of fish to Zozoi - it's an unprepossessing cerveceria, with plastic tables on the pavement and football on in the inside. It is usually packed from 9:30pm onwards with large Spanish family groups.

The food is fish - fresh from the market and prepared a la plancha or fried, which you select from the counter - and a few other things, like gambas pil-pil and mixed salads.

What makes this place for me - apart from the congenial service - is the fact that it does what it sets out to do very well; the fish is generally fresher and the grilling more accurate than other similar places I've been to.

It's closed on Wednesdays.

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gambas pil-pil

Interesting. Never heard of gambas being prepared al pil pil. Wouldn't that rather be 'al ajillo'?


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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They were always described as 'al pil-pil' by the staff at the restaurant, but I'm not an expert on Andalusian cuisine.

If it's any help, I'll describe the dish: a small, shallow earthware bowl filled with boiling oil, chilli flakes, garlic, some other seasonings (perhaps including some paprika, although I can't be sure) and three or four large-ish peeled prawns (about the size of tiger prawns). A (far, far worse) version of this dish is served at the Spanish restaurant down the road from me in London - I think they call it pil-pil as well.

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La Carta de Ronnie's Restaurant, Puerto Banus, Marbella lists Gambas Pil-Pil for 10 euros. A quick look at the menu leads me to suspect Ronnie is Italian via Argentina. :biggrin: Bar "El Chismo" in Álora, Malaga also advertises "Especialidades: gambas al pil-pi" on SUR Digital (Restaurantes). In fact "al pil pil pops up from time to time on Malaga/Marbella area and Andalucian restaurant menus. It must be in response to the tourism (he says only half joking) and probably a better direction than the ubiquitous paella.

There are lots of recipes for gambas al pil pil on the net. Granted they all seem to be published in English, Danish, Norwegian or German, although I've found Gambas al pil-pil (Genuinas) from what seems to be Chile.

My question here would be where does "pil=pil," which I've also seen in France, originate and doesn't it imply the use of hot red pepper. I associate it with the use of Piments d'Espelette in France and have thought of it as a preparation of Basque origin, but without any real thought.


Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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'Pil-Pil' is typical of Basque cuisine, and, while I have no idea if the term means anything in Euskera or even if it is Euskera, it usually describes preparations of gelatinous fish; Bacalao, Kokotxas de Merluza, which are very gently cooked in olive oil flavoured with garlic and sometimes cayenne. When the fish releases serum and gelatine it is then swirled around in it's terracotta cooking dish in order to ligar or emusify with the oil. The result is then served in the dish in which it was cooked, sometimes with parsley.

A critical element of 'pil-pil' is the olive oil used; it should have a relatively high acidity - 1º, and should be virgen. Without this acidity the dish can be rather hard to stomach due to the high oil content of the sauce -- 100ml+ per serving.

'Pil-Pil' is not so much an acquired taste, but, even at it's best, is rather bland.

In Southern Spain, as in France 'pil-pil' is often used to describe the fiery African spice mix 'piri-piri', which is widely used in Portugal.


Edited by Lord Michael Lewis (log)

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Michael Lewis' post makes sense. I also associate the preparation with a terra cotta dish. Perhaps it's served in the dish in which it is cooked. Whatever it's origins, the term pil-pil seems to have taken on an international useage that's sure to annoy purists. My guess is that most people outside Spain and maybe even outside the Pais Vasco, think of hot peppers more than olive oil when they hear pil-pil. That I have some association with this dish as French preparation as much as a Spanish one may be due to the fact that several of the Basque provinces are in France and there's a cultural and culinary tradition that crosses the border. It's also that I have more experience dining in France than Spain. For all the links I found on Google for pil pil in recipes, menus and restaurant mentions, I didn't run across anything about it's origins.

I also associate fish cooked with red peppers, onions and lots of paprika and olive oil with Galician cuisine.


Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Well, LML has given a good explanation, which I'd amend by saying that, a) high-acidity virgin olive oil should be avoided because said high acidity is always a sign of a defect with the oilmaking process, b) a real codfish 'al pil pil' is possibly one of the three or four best traditional dishes in Spain, for it's immensely subtle and nuanced, not 'bland'. It's just amazing how, with the slow and wise rotation of a human arm, a bit of garlic will so perfectly emulsify with olive oil (or is it the oil that emulsifies with the garlic?) to produce such a great, great culinary wonder.

It's a Bilbao, not a San Sebastián dish. Bilbao is the codfish capital of Spain.

That said, the way some of these southern restaurants are using 'pil pil' is obviously a deformation of or a confusion with the Portuguese 'piri piri', which refers to the use of hot dried peppers (guindilla in Spanish). It's totally improper to use the expression 'pil pil' for a hot peppery sautéed dish.


Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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a) high-acidity virgin olive oil should be avoided because said high acidity is always a sign of a defect with the oilmaking process.

To be fair (to me) I'm not recommending high acidity, rather 1º acidity which is common for cold pressed olive oils. I say 'relatively' high acidity because the current vogue in the U.K. is for oils, D.O. Baena for example, which have exceptionally low 0.3-4º acidity.

immensely subtle and nuanced, not 'bland'

I genuinely believe this to be true, and concede that bacalao al pil-pil is way over my head, give me the robustness of a la vizcaina any day.

It's just amazing how, with the slow and wise rotation of a human arm, a bit of garlic will so perfectly emulsify with olive oil (or is it the oil that emulsifies with the garlic?) to produce such a great, great culinary wonder.

It is amazing because, unlike alioli, the garlic in the sofrito is not the emulsifying agent in pil-pil, but rather, as anyone who has ever made will know, it is the milky white gelatinous serum exuded when the bacalao reaches a certain temperature.

That said, the way some of these southern restaurants are using 'pil pil' is obviously a deformation of or a confusion with the Portuguese 'piri piri'.

Thank you for so eloquently re-stating this for me, although in the original I specifically stated that piri-piri was African because, well, it is Kiswahili for cayenne (or something similar). It arrived in Portugal via the latter's former African colonies in Mozambique.

Nevertheless, I stand amended.

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To be fair (to me) I'm not recommending high acidity, rather 1º acidity which is common for cold pressed olive oils. I say 'relatively' high acidity because the current vogue in the U.K. is for oils, D.O. Baena for example, which have exceptionally low 0.3-4º acidity.

That's not exceptionally low. Anything above 0.3% or 0.4% is probably too high. Either technical defects or harvesting overripe fruit. As Marco Mugelli, the great Tuscan olive-oil scientist wrote, "Si potrebbe stabilire, come norma generale, che, se con olive sane, ben conservate e ben lavorate, si ottiene un olio con un'acidità superiore a 0,5 significa che si è raccolto troppo tardi." ("We could establish, as a general rule, that if we obtain - with healthy, well-kept and well elaborated olives - an oil that has over 0.5% acidity, it will mean that they were harvested too late.") Mugelli believes the EU indication 'extra virgin olive oil', should not be given to oils with more than 0.3% acidity, whereas the limit now is 1%. I personally agree. The great, fragrant, 'piquant' oils from Umbria and Tuscany have always 0.1% or 0.2%. And it's in olive oil making that Spain is probably still the most behind the world quality leaders, i.e. basically Italy in this case. Mugelli is working in Spain now, though, and he makes one of the (to me) two best virgin olive oils here, Marqués de Griñón (Toledo); the other one is Dauro de l'Empordà (Girona). These small, quality producers are leading the breakthrough that will change the face of Spanish olive oil over the next five years as wines have changed over the past five to ten.

Re pil pil as an emulsion: yes, you're indeed technically right, only you're missing a part of the equation: water. Without it there'll be no emulsion. But without garlic and oil... there'll be no pil pil.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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That's not exceptionally low. Anything above 0.3% or 0.4% is probably too high.

It is exceptionally low for Spanish olive oils, and I doubt you are suggesting the use of Italian olive oils for pil-pil. Besides which, 1º acidity is desirable in bacalao al pil-pil for the reason already stated.

Re pil pil as an emulsion: yes, you're indeed technically right, only you're missing a part of the equation: water. Without it there'll be no emulsion. But without garlic and oil... there'll be no pil pil.

If being 'technically right' is the same as being correct, then I agree with you. However, I felt, amongst such illustrious company, little need to overtly state the blindingly obvious role of water in an oil based emulsion.


Edited by Lord Michael Lewis (log)

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Very interesting - thanks for this wealth of information.

For what it's worth, the bastardised gambas al pil-pil (or perhaps I should say 'al piri-piri') was very tasty, although admittedly lower-brow than the genuine article. It was eaten (at least by me) by putting pieces of bread in the boiling oil, doing something else for a while, then eating the gambas and then eating the bread, which by this time had turned into chilli-garlic-fried-bread - mmmm. I promise that I won't try this should I run into the real thing. :wink:

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For what it's worth, the bastardised gambas al pil-pil (or perhaps I should say 'al piri-piri') was very tasty, although admittedly lower-brow than the genuine article. It was eaten (at least by me) by putting pieces of bread in the boiling oil, doing something else for a while, then eating the gambas and then eating the bread, which by this time had turned into chilli-garlic-fried-bread - mmmm. I promise that I won't try this should I run into the real thing.  :wink:

Actually, the dish wasnt bastardized at all - the name was! Anywhere else in Spain, this is gambas al ajillo, and it's as genuinely a part of traditional Spanish cuisine as anything. And that's exactly how it's eaten. With lots ofd bread and lots of peppery garlicky oil dripping all over the place. Mmmmm.....

Why do they drop the 'al ajillo' on the Costa del Sol ('ajillo' meaning, literally, 'little garlic')? I wonder. Perhaps not to make it sound like such a garlicky dish to all those foreign tourists?


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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I doubt you are suggesting the use of  Italian olive oils for pil-pil.

Absolutely. Why not? I've had it made with Trapittu, a great extra virgin oil from Sicily, and it was sensational.

After all, the only thing that's Basque in this dish is Basque culinary genius (which ain't hay, of course). All the ingredients are non-Basque:

the olive oil is from Andalusia, Catalonia or La Mancha... or Sicily;

the garlic is from las Pedroñeras, in La Mancha (the famed 'purple garlic');

and the salted codfish is from... Norway, usually.

Culinary nationalism holds no interest to me. The only reason I write more about Spanish food and cuisine than about other cuisines is because I know it better than other cuisines and it's less well-known than other cuisines, so maybe what I have to say is a bit more interesting to other people than if I were to pontificate on the proper blanquette de veau... But I never forget that most cuisines are the result of some sort of fusion, be it recent or old. And I do love the great olive oils from Italy, whose quality levels are what ambitious Spanish oil producers have as their goal nowadays.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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