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The Latest Tasting Experience Extraordinaire

June 8th, 2017

Mugaritz. Errenteria. 25th May 2017

Crunchy asparagus threads and macerated anchovy
Chilled consommé from 2014, roe and cuckooflower
St. George’s mushroom and onion
The list of the herbs for the next dish
Preparation
Bonbon of today’s herbs and a tart cream
A cultured molecule: aged Riesling and caviar
Duck your chips
Head cheese of “kokotxas”
Puffed anchovies
The seeds of vegetables …
… give incredible flavour to Mugaritz’ Minestrone
Creamy veil of acidic potato
Somewhere between Puebla and Askola. viili and cream of avocado
Pinenut “Kagami” embedded in ice shavings
Pinenut “Kagami” embedded in ice shavings – when ice was broken
Unleavened bread hem and dry salt
A bitter veiled oyster
7th hake in white, “Doburoku”
Juicy Japanese Black Cecina (food of the rich)
Lettuce heart with a touch of chorizo (food of the poor)
Creamy concentrate: octopus, roe and consommé
Soldier striped shrimp from the Alboran Sea & About Hirezake: Heated “manzanilla” and toasted fins
Tartar of red mullet textures
Sprouted chia heart and cream & lamb
Baratzuri zopa (garlic soup)
Roasted beef lard “on the bone”
Beef and toffee marble
The cheese
Noble rot
In dubiis, abstine

 

Aldura Gunea Aldea, 20, 20100 Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, Spain

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Andoni Luis Aduriz says he doesn’t expect the guests to love his cooking. He wants his cooking to be thought provoking and to involve all the senses. Some dishes arrive to the table without cutlery and instructions, there are no desserts as we know them, unless you call a dessert a beautiful noble rotten apple … Andoni is creating one of most challenging eating experiences and for me one of the most satisfying. If you are looking for dining within the usual standards, you may be disappointed, but if you open yourself to the adventure and approach this dining experience like a curious child, you will love Andoni’s dishes. Just look at his cheeky smile! That’s what dining at Mugaritz is about!

 

Andoni Luis Aduriz in his kitchen

In the chat that we had before lunch, Andoni was talking about people he surrounds himself with – happy creative people from all walks of life who inspire him with their knowledge and creativity, who widen his views and challenge him to learn. His dishes of incredible beauty are a wonderful playful journey inspired by tradition, science and art. If you open yourself they will satisfy you on all the levels – sensually and intellectually – with flavour and intelligence.

His “cultured molecule” dish enriched with the noble grains of caviar was playing with the TDN found in the aged Rieslings, and was served with an exceptional 1988 vintage of J.J. Prüm’s Riesling selection. Also the last dish of the menu – the noble rot – had it roots in the world of wine. The botrytis affected apple was created through infusion of two types of penicillinum and was let to mature six days before serving. The result was a beautifully “rotten”, delicious apple which kept below the noble fungus a beautiful freshness. It was paired with four fantastic botrytis-affected wines – from Germany, Austria, France and Hungary. There’s a lot of thought provoking statements within the menu, lots of physical interaction (to eliminate the barier quite some dishes get served without any cutlery) and humour. The minestrone was a journey to the roots. Pardon, to the seeds, which gave to the dish an incredible freshness and intensity.  The sprouted chia, which was served with lamb (a puffed mochi), was wonderfully fresh and earthy at the same time. We licked the bone, broke the ice (Pinenut Kagamiâ embedded in ice shavings) to get to the core (the deliciousness of pinenuts) and enjoyed the poor and rich man’s food (with chorizo oil dipped lettuce and Japanese Black Cecina). There is so much poetry in every step of the meal!  The journey ends with “In dubiis, abstine” which gives you a chance to lick the plate if you enjoyed it. I did. Every single drop!

Andreja Lajh

This incredible dining experience included really exceptional wines. Some of them were not only accompanying the dishes but actually inspiring their creation:

A Fine Vintage: Valesa Cultural Services Offers Tailor-Made Wine Touring

December 1st, 2014

Wine is an integral part of the cultural identity of both Spain and Portugal, dating as far back as the B.C. era. Today, connoisseurs flock to this part of the world with friends, lovers or tour groups to get a truly authentic taste of the culture. But between the number of options available and the crowds one might encounter at some wineries, it can be difficult to know what will make for the best experience. That’s where Valesa Cultural comes in.

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We have cultivated relationships with a vast assortment of wineries, hotels and restaurants and work with top sommeliers throughout Spain and Portugal.   From the best-known vintners to boutique vineyards and new wineries on the rise, we can help you give your travelers an experience they will savor for years.

About the Wine-Making Regions

Wine is produced in every region of Spain. From the smooth reds of La Rioja and the cavas of Penedes to the Garnachas of La Mancha and Jerez’s well-loved Sherry, travelers can choose from a variety of both wines and scenery.

Just across the border, Portugal’s Douro Valley is practically a household name among wine drinkers. Travelers can explore the birthplace of Port or enjoy multiple highlights on a leisurely boat trip down the river from the city of Porto. Other Portuguese wine regions of note include the Dão, Vinho Verde, and Alentejo regions.

Our intimate knowledge of each region means we can create the perfect wine-touring itinerary for any traveler or group, from first-timers eager to visit the big names to seasoned enotourists hoping to discover new or little-known wineries in an up-and-coming area like Aranda de Duero, Galicia or the Pyrenees. Even history buffs will lose themselves in the Wine Culture Museum of Dinastia Vivanco or the medieval wining town of Laguardia with its original Fabulista wine cave.

Beyond the Vineyard

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Tours and tastings at wineries are all well and good, but they simply skim the surface of what’s possible or could quench your travelers’ thirsts.  Our wine pairings at fine restaurants are custom curated to please any foodie’s palate, while our comparative wine tastings help travelers refine their tastes by comparing Spanish wines to others from around the world.  For more hands-on travelers, Valesa Cultural can arrange for them to make their own cava or participate in some of the harvesting activities during the prime harvest months of September and October.

For those looking for a more cross-cultural experience, clients often prefer a custom-crafted itinerary centered around the Rioja region, where the Frank Gehry-designed Hotel Marqués de Riscal and other emblematic winery buildings have created the perfect pairing between wine and contemporary architecture. And the tasting lunch in the hotel’s gastronomy restaurant is the perfect way to experience both fine dining and panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards.

More independent travelers may want to take advantage of our planned but self-guided tours. Our Honeymooner’s Itinerary, for example, is a wonderful opportunity to have quiet, intimate experiences with our self-driving route of wineries that features stays at many 4-star hotels along the way.

This is just a taste of what Valesa Cultural has to offer wine lovers. Contact us directly for more information on our individually tailored itineraries and wine-touring options.  We can even show you how to ship wine home if you come to Madrid!

Spain by Train: Custom-Crafted Itineraries to Broaden Your Traveler’s Horizons

October 28th, 2014

Spain is a vibrant country full of life and rich in culture. Ensuring your travelers can take advantage of its many charms often means making compromises between what’s easy and what will give them the best experience. The advent of Spain’s high-speed AVE rail service has helped simplify the logistics of travel; Valesa Cultural’s customized tours and itineraries make it just as easy for you to build out a fully comprehensive experience.

About the AVE

With routes to many of Spain’s top destinations, the AVE rail system offers both variety and convenience. Instead of constant transfers, booking mishaps, missed connections or worse, you can help your travelers experience those destinations during hassle-free day trips. Travelers staying in Madrid, for example, can reach several destinations in less than 2 hours via the AVE. Your travelers can spend a day soaking in the history, atmosphere, and culture, but return to the same hotel in time for a nice evening meal or night out on the town in Madrid.

AVE map

Destinations Available via the AVE

Suggested day trips include a visit to the spiritual mecca of Toledo, or to the coastal town of Valencia, the birthplace of paella and the home of the legendary El Cid. A visit to Segovia delights with the monumental drama of its Roman aqueduct and fairy-tale beauty of the Alcazar castle, while the echoes of a rich Moorish heritage emanate from the streets and buildings of Cordoba.  All of these are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and reflect both history and regional differences around the country.

Maybe your travelers would prefer to do the reverse commute: from these locations, a day shopping or taking in the sites in bustling Madrid is just a short ride away by train. Combine this with Valesa Cultural’s customized tours and itineraries and you can tailor the experience specifically to meet the interests or needs of a wide variety of travelers.

Why Use Valesa Cultural for your arrangements?

Navigating the AVE system takes more than just reading the maps and schedules. Valesa Cultural’s team of consultants takes care of many of the details that make every journey hassle-free, from developing perfectly timed travel schedules to ensuring all passengers have seat reservations. Our advance teams have identified the best hotels and restaurants in each destination so you don’t have to, and our continuous local inspection guarantees their levels of quality. We also have relationships with the most knowledgeable tour guides and local specialists,  and we create one-of-a-kind experiences to perfectly match your travelers’ interests. Click here to see one of our sample Spain rail itineraries.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which Valesa Cultural can build on and enhance all the advantages rail travel has to offer. Contact Valesa Cultural Services for help planning a Spain by Train itinerary for your travelers’ next trip to Spain.

Porto, Portugal elected best European destination

April 9th, 2014

PORTO BOATPorto is exceptional, in more ways than one. Elected Best European Destination 2014 by European citizens, Porto, the “Cidade Invicta” (unvanquished city) is history, architecture, culture, gastronomy, trade, encounters and discoveries. Enjoy strolling along the River Douro (river of gold) in the Ribeira district across from the Port wine lodges, discover Porto‘s architecture and history with our fantastic local guides, and venture nearby to see amazing landscapes along the coast, in the Duoro Valley and in ancient villages within easy reach of Portugal’s northern capital city.

Wine tours in Spain

April 7th, 2014

Wine tastingMaybe you have visited lots of wineries, and those who travel internationally normally know something about how wine is made too. So, needless to say as travelers we love to taste all wine, and of course learn about different methods and local grapes, as well as combining wine with the best regional gastronomic specialties as you go. At Valesa we arrange private touring at all sorts of wineries – the best prize winning wines, the most impressive architectural marvels in the wine country, tiny boutique wineries off the beaten path and of course our personal favorites – all with fabulous local guides and drivers. While we are sure to please your palates, we also pride ourselves on selecting the best hotels for our clients. Whether you prefer a restored medieval abbey turned luxury hotel in the Ribera del Duero wine producing area, or architect Frank Gehry’s incredible Marques de Riscal in the Rioja region, or simply a quaint, affordable inn…..Valesa can design the tour of Spanish wines that you dream of. And don’t forget that harvest activities and festivals can be found all over Spain in August and September!