A Fusion of Exquisite Tastes at UNI
The culinary concept behind UNI is essentially about balance. A combination of Japanese and Peruvian (Nikkei cuisine) and a fusion of the past with the present, in constant evolution. UNI means sea urchin in Japanese and, as to be expected, this is a key ingredient at the restaurant, which initially opened at Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa in Marbella three years ago as Namazake – with a focus on high quality gastronomy and service in a modern setting – and, after a refurbishment, re-opened as UNI (with the same owner as the renowned UNI restaurant in London). Our own visit to the restaurant more than confirmed our expectations. The dining experience is incomparable: the fish is exquisitely fresh, the flavours divine, the presentation of the dishes impeccable, and the setting exceptional.
The new-look restaurant is located in Puente Romano’s Plaza Village gastronomic area, was decorated by Marbella-based French interior designer Jean Pierre Martel, and offers a highly original menu created by award-winning chef Thomas Stork. The revamped menu features a diverse range of gastronomic trends, techniques and ingredients – more expansive than the previous menu.
Highlights include crispy one-bite tacos, various different ceviches (squid and prawns, sea bass and mango, one of our favourites, and lobster marinated in citric ponzu sauce, passionfruit and coriander), and strips of butterfish, tuna and salmon. The trademark sea urchin niguiri is known simply as UNI; while the tataki of Wagyu beef (another favourite) is subtly seasoned with Hawaiian black lava salt and white truffle oil.
Other specialities include shell crab lightly fried in Japanese-style breadcrumbs (panko) and presented with organic micro-herbs from the Axarquía area east of Málaga; miso black cod glazed with anticucho sauce (Peruvian kebab sauce); spicy tuna tartar with cream of avocado; and beautifully served tiger prawn maki. Another key creative hub in the UNI kitchen is the Japanese robata grill. For dessert, guests can discover a profusion of flavours and textures, including the restaurant’s classic dish: a lollipop of coconut and lemongrass ice-cream served with baked pineapple and hot caramel sauce. Another popular sweet is new to the menu: a mochi (Japanese rice cake) served with forest berries and a strawberry and ginger coulis.
An extensive menu of sakes marries well with the Japanese cuisine, and a carefully selected range of Piscos is ideal for accompanying the Peruvian specialities. Clearly, the best plan when dining at UNI is to share dishes and experiences, then relax and enjoy a sumptuous cocktail from the new drinks menu – and live music.
UNI is open every day from 8pm to midnight (dinner dress code: smart casual). The bar opens from Wednesday to Saturday until 4am, and Sunday to Tuesday until 3am.
Reservations: Tel. (+34) 952 820 900
Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa
firstname.lastname@example.org / www.puenteromano.com
The Return of the Tango!
Tango Restaurante, one of the most popular Argentinean dining establishments on the Coast and a veritable landmark in Puerto Banús, has reopened its doors much to the delight of its long-standing customers.
Since Tango originally opened 25 years ago, this much-loved restaurant has had a stream of well-known faces passing through its doors. The young and vibrant Argentinean entrepreneur Luciano Dante left Tango in 2008 to open Evita Restaurant in Aloha, but seven years later he has returned to Tango to re-kindle its spirit and offer high-quality Argentinean cuisine at great-value prices.
The restaurant has had a facelift to give it a fresher feel whilst still offering the cosy ambience for which it has always been renowned. In the main restaurant there are intimate enclaves softly lit with enchanting tea lights for romantic diners as well more open areas with long tables for larger groups. There is an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining and the upper floor has panoramic views over the bustling streets of Puerto Banús, which is an ideal area for private functions – so the restaurant accommodates any kind of dining preference.
The menu offers a wide variety of dishes including stunning salads, homemade pasta dishes and grilled meat cooked on the grill with natural charcoal and firewood to give an authentic Argentinean barbecued taste.
Luciano has set the menu at very realistic prices: for example, the prices for their starters average around €5 and their salads €7, their Argentinean entrecote is just €18 and large grilled prawns (gambones) are only €12 – making Tango one of the most reasonably-priced restaurants in the area.
We were treated to a delightful salad of avocado, king prawns, fresh fruit, trout roe, lime and coriander, then a ceviche of octopus and king prawns with Peruvian chilli sauce, and finally a succulent Angus beef with foie gras, Kenyan green bean salad and truffle perfume. All of the dishes were creatively put together and cooked superbly.
They have an extremely impressive and carefully selected wine menu – we were offered the Humberto Canale red wine, which we found went perfectly with the beef.
Tango Restaurante, Puerto Banús
Open every day for dinner. Live tango show every Thursday!
For reservations: Tel. (+34) 951 899 557 or go to their
Blissful Beach Life
at the New Siroko Beach Marbella
We are extremely privileged to have so many fantastic beach clubs on the southern coast of Spain. From super clubs that have become world famous to more rustic chiringuitos serving sardines on skewers, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a venue to spend the day at the beach.
This summer, there has been a new beach club in town, situated on one of the Costa del Sol’s most naturally beautiful beaches. The new Siroko Beach Marbella, just east of Marbella and directly down on the beach from the main highway near Andalucía Lab, opened its doors in the height of summer and was immediately a hit with locals and holidaymakers alike due to its impressive Mediterranean menu and contemporary-chic décor.
The restaurant was totally reformed by Argentinean owners Carla and Francis Malfatto with the help of local architect Ismael Mérida, and a few of their friends and family. Inside, the large open-plan restaurant is airy and bright with oversized wooden lampshades looming over large cream dining tables made of recycled wood. The wooden decking throughout the restaurant has Moroccan rugs placed all around, giving the restaurant a truly “Ibiza-style” feel.
Outside at the entrance you can dine or enjoy a drink looking out onto the beach with its stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea, which is just a stone’s throw away. The chill-out garden lounge at the rear of the restaurant is an interesting feature and not commonplace for a beach restaurant, but it is popular with visitors seeking some respite from the hubbub of the beach.
You can refresh yourself with a drink from their extensive bar menu, including a cocktail or a glass of one of their many Spanish wines on offer; and, if you want to dine, there are plenty of fresh salads and fish, meat and rice dishes as well as homemade desserts to choose from. The dishes are all beautifully presented on the plate and offered at very competitive prices.
Siroko Beach has sunbeds on the beach, including a towel, drink and waiter service for just €7.50, providing luxury at great value. What is more, there is a resident DJ playing upbeat tunes in the background to create the perfect beach atmosphere. Siroko Beach is a must-visit as it has something for everyone. The balance of good quality food in a sophisticated yet laidback environment makes this beach club quite special.
Urb. Lunamar, Exit 189.5 Km. (at Andalucía Lab), Costabella, Marbella
For reservations: Tel. (+34) 952 834 529
www.sirokobeach.com / Facebook page: sirokobeach
Siroko Beach is open every day for lunch and dinner.
One Grape Variety
By AJ Linn
Even the most hardened wine buff can be excused for not bothering to search out wines made with the red mencía grape. Until a little more than 20 years ago few people outside the El Bierzo region, its spiritual and physical home in north-west Spain, had even heard of it. But, as often happens, it only needed one forward-looking winemaker to start producing some serious stuff for aficionados to sit up and take notice.
Bierzo is a green, hilly region, hemmed in by the sierras of Castilla, León and Galicia. The centre is Cacabelos, a bustling market town on the Camino de Santiago. Nor is this attractive riverside town Bierzo’s only gem. Ponferrada and Vilafranca del Bierzo boast medieval monasteries while the smaller wine hamlets like Arganza and Corullon are ageless.
The mineral-rich slate soil that made it a Roman mining area is also ideal for vine growing, and the ancient vines that in many cases are over 100 years old are what make the region special.
The mencía is not exclusive to the Bierzo region and is also used in neighbouring Valdeorras, Monterei and Ribera Sacra, all independent, officially recognised wine regions, but it is in Bierzo where, in spite of the ever-present temptation to blend it with other grape varieties, the bodegas have wisely stuck to this grape. As Eric Asamov, doyen of wine critics, wrote in The New York Times, “Bierzo? Absolutely… if you get the opportunity to taste a good bottle, with its haunting, exotic wildflower, liquorice and fruit flavours, you can’t help but remember it… They are giving the world mencía, and they ought to be congratulated for that. It could so easily have been syrah, again.”
Spain’s rising wine star, Álvaro Palacios, brought the Priorat region to the world’s attention in the late 1980s, and in 1999 he and his cousin established Descendientes de J. Palacios in Bierzo. While in Priorat the grape varieties garnacha and cariñena were familiar outside Spain, Bierzo’s mencía was new, but unswervingly sticking to it Palacios and the other well-known bodegas of the region, notably Dominio de Tares, Paixar and Divinaluz Amigo, made the right decision. Ageing the wine in oak seems to work, and it is not overpowered by the experience as many lesser reds are. The mencía variety is quite difficult in the vineyard and, since it does not produce high yields, this makes it a challenging prospect for growers and winemakers. It is prone to mildew, and can lose its typical acidity quickly if for any reason it is not harvested on time. Mencia’s high alcohol and high acidity must be kept in check to retain the wine’s balance. Not incomers but an established Bierzo family, the Amigos decided in 2002 to refurbish an old bodega in Parandones (León) and clean up vineyards that, in some cases, had 130-year old vines. The total number of small plots currently in their possession is 94, totalling 14 hectares, meaning that some of the mini-vineyards are no bigger then a tennis court. Although the family has a winemaking tradition, there had never been any business drive, and it needed brothers Miguel Ángel and Javier to get things on a commercial footing. After a decade and a half there is little doubt that their wines are among the best of the region, and what makes it all the more noteworthy is that neither of the brothers previously worked in any other bodega or wine region. The name of the bodega is Luzdivina Amigo and, although there are Bierzo reds that are priced at astronomical figures, the Amigo wines range from a modest €6.50 to €30. In fact the white Baloiro, made from Godello, Doña Blanca and Jerez grapes, is only €8 and in many experts’ opinion one of Spain’s most interesting white wines. The oak-aged white Godello costs €15, but to enjoy the reds from this bodega sufficient to start with the ViñadeMoya at €6.50, though upgrading to the Tinto Balioro Crianza (€12.75) or the Reserva (€14.75) should not break the bank. The flagship Viñademoya Leiros is an exclusively old vine mencía, and is considered by many to be among the best wines of the entire region. www.bodegaluz.com
Gourmet Olive Oil
Preserving a Timeless Treasure
Almost 70 years after the arrival of the Hohenlohe family in Marbella, his descendants have launched the first organic gourmet oil on the Costa del Sol. Promoted by Sandro Gamazo Hohenlohe, this new extra virgin olive oil has been named Belvís de las Navas in honour of his grandmother, Piedad Yturbe y Scholtz von Hermensdorff (“Piedita”, marquise of Belvís de las Navas), who together with her husband, Prince Max zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg, settled in Marbella back in the 1940s.
The idea of launching an organic oil arose four years ago when the family decided to extract oil from their farm in Istán for their personal consumption and discovered that the result was an extremely distinctive and exceptional oil. From that moment, work began on restoring the olive grove, which had been overlooked for decades, and this revealed a huge variety of existing trees. Cultivated between Istán and Marbella, the innovative biological oil that has been produced as a result of their endeavours is now being presented for the first time on the Costa del Sol.
Thanks to the wide diversity of existing olives, Belvís de las Navas is a complex oil that releases aromas of freshly cut grass, artichoke and tomato with almond notes. These characteristics have been enhanced by harvesting the olives at their optimum moment and processing them in low-temperature conditions. In the mouth, a spicy and bitter medium-intensity flavour can be tasted, resulting in an extremely balanced and harmonious oil.
The design of the packaging and the marketing presentation have both been studiously developed as part of a creative and carefully planned project. Its introduction into the competitive market of gourmet oils will be undertaken with a new, fresh, stylish, modern and classic image. This has been made possible thanks to the creativity of Marie-Caroline Willms, wife of Sandro Gamazo. In fact, the work has involved the whole family, in all its aspects, as the drawing printed on the bottle – with views of the olive grove and the Straits of Gibraltar in the background – was created by Pablo Hohenlohe, grandson of “Piedita”. It truly is a 100 per cent family concept.
The effort and determination with which the family has embarked on this enterprise is an expression of their commitment to diversification and to contributing to the region’s economy, especially Istán. “Encouraging the restoration and care of the olive groves in our environment, a historical legacy and treasure of this land, is one of the objectives of this company,” said Sandro Gamazo.
Finca Llanos de Belvís, Istán (Málaga)
email@example.com / www.belvisdelasnavas.com