Yesterday came to an end Valencia Cuina Oberta’s Fifth Restaurant Week, held from November 21th to 27th, 2011.
Cuina Oberta means Open Cuisine in English, a pretty suitable name for an initiative that aims to bring top level cuisine closer to the wide public with a series of activities held along the week.
Every edition activities somewhat differ but for the unquestionable star of all events: the proposal of some of the best restaurants in town of one lunch and one dinner menus at reduced prices –this year: lunch 20€, dinner 30€; taxes included, beverages excluded.
The mere chance of going to restaurants that are usually unattainable but always yearned is an instant classic, a bright ray of light for any gastronomy lover. But with eighty-two restaurants in offer at this edition, VCO star proposal had its lights and shadows, reflected at usual blogs and in everybody’s experience with it, mine included.
I went to one more restaurant than the two incredible ones below: fine reputation, nice meal… but I eventually discovered that its VCO menu was pretty close to its usual menu… that was one of VCO shadows for me, echoed by some other people!
Anyway, I already forget about it and I just remember my two undelible VCO experiences at -oleo and Riff restaurants –as I am talking about and with their chefs very soon, you won’t find any particular portrait of them below.
-oleo… back to the future
-oleo‘s lunch menu was simply superb, a very representative and measured selection of its usual large menu, that I’ve had the real pleasure of enjoying a few times.
Vicente Patiño‘s proposal of two starters –stew of tubers and sprouts and citric-soused sea-bream–, a main dish –mountain ‘gazpacho’ with fungi, above– and a dessert –pumpkin with lemmon yoghurt and starry aniseed– just confirmed my long time impression he’s the most promising innovator of Valencian tradition.
All in all everything was radically innovative and intimately familiar at the very same time and so tasty and balanced as possible –hard to highlight one single thing but his gazpacho is hard to beat!
If I had to point out to another of VCO shadows in passing I’d say in a truly constructive spirit that the usual but unjustified practice of doubling even trebling original prices of easy-to-find-wines just give voice to those who claim that final VCO’s bills for wine lovers are too similar to normal ones –a detail that seems easy to rectify to finite and fallible minds like mine!
riff… science fiction
Riff‘s lunch menu was simply outstanding or, as I said while enjoying it, plain science fiction! This was my very yearned first time in there but there were plenty of details all around for positively saying that they took VCO spirit to the letter and really wanted to bring its top innovative cuisine to the wide public without sacrificing the slightest.
Bernd Knöller‘s generous proposal of three starters –currywurst, deconstructed red-hot-potatoes, and bread-tomato-and-red-sausage salad–, a main dish –green rice with autumn mushrooms, above–, and two desserts –financier and hot ‘mousse au chocolate’ with chicory ice, salt and virgin olive oil, top– was freely widened with mojama degustation and extra mango mousse dessert.
Just one of the many details –call me a perfectionist but… a cheaper menu luxuriously printed in high-quality paper just warms my soul– that they took VCO as another chance to show why they’re one of the three top restaurants in town! Again hard to highlight one single thing but the bread-tomato-and-red-sausage salad, a bit weird on paper, was truly incredible!
For wine, I completely relied in sommelier Paquita Pozo. Even if cups of wine were not cheap at all, the price was pretty justified this time, as you don’t usually have neither the wisdom nor the chance of tasting such an incredible selection of wines. That’s one of VCO lights indeed!
I still can savour the privilege of enjoying both VCO menus! I wish I could have gone to Alejandro del Toro or La Sucursal but reserves were so scarce as coins in my pocket! I’m strating to save some money and I’ll try it indeed at Valencia Cuina Oberta Sixth Restaurant Week!
We’ll let you know everything about it as soon as possible… In the meantime please enjoy sheer life and stay tunned!