Quietly sipping on my Apple Gin & Tonic and feeling like a beached Whale after 31 courses , my thoughts of sleeping on the bed for a few hours were totally quashed by the waving arms of Chef Quique Dacosta. “Hurry up , come on , we need to hurry I have something I want you so see”. Within a few minutes we were up off our seats , into the car and off to the Denia fish market to begin the Denia red Prawn `Ocean to plate experience`.
We arrived just in time to see Quiques buyer in action. The very best of the catch had already been secured. Set aside on ice were the supreme specimens being bathed gently in sea water by a market worker and awaiting transportation to the restaurant. The whole process was over in a flash as the quality of this star product needs to be maintained meticulously in order to preserve condition.
The good folks of Denia rate the Red Prawn as the best in the world and I have no reason to disagree with their views. At around 8 Euros `each` ( trade price ) they definitely need plenty of love and care. The Prawns are caught at depths of 1000 metres where the water is extremely cold and pure. Light cannot penetrate to these depths and so the Prawns live in total darkness. Photosynthesis can`t take place and pollution is non existent so the Prawns live in a very happy home.
In what seemed like a flash the buying was over and we were on our way back to the restaurant. The Prawns were bathed in seawater yet again and the best ones then set aside for our evenings gastronomic experience – “The cooking of the Red Denia Prawn”.
After a morning eating the delightful sweet treats of Paco Torreblanca , followed by 31 courses with wine at Quique Dacosta we finally managed to escape to the hotel for a quick bout of recuperation before the next round of eating. The evening meal would be more of an interactive experience observing and eating with Quiques development chef Juanfra Valiente in the restaurants specialised experimental kitchen.
So here we have six Prawns for three different tasting experiences ranging from totally bare simplicity to experimental Michelin 3 star. The first cooking method was a tasting of the Red Prawn in its natural state , cooked to perfection at 62 degrees for exactly 2 minutes then plunged into an ice bath to immediately halt the cooking process.
The Prawns were simply presented as they came out of the ice bath. The tail meat totally sweet and very delicate. We were then instructed to suck on the Prawn head and savour the juices within. A little too much for me as they were just barely cooked. I think I need a little more time to develop this taste experience…..for the hardcore fan.
The second method was Roasting on a bed of salted Egg white for 10 minutes. The Prawn was gently covered and allowed to steam away until cooked. This method was definitely the one for me . Sweet , salty and very moist….very heavenly.
Last up was Quiques modern 3 star version straight out of a Cy Twombly exhibition at the Tate modern….A “splash of Red” .The head was pan seared with meticulous care and attention to detail. Kimchi sauce and sponge , burnt Leek , Tempura of the Prawn legs….to be honest I can`t recall the detail of this dish as I just watched in amazement as chefs artistry flowed from saucepan to plate…..tasted pretty good too.
And the Twombly painting …..
Next up was the Eel Risotto using the Valencian Rice , Yoghurt powder , Cherry Caviar , Beetroot and Prawn head juice. This one was a really rich and extremely flavoursome dish. The intense reduction of Chicken and pork was pleasantly lifted by the sweet and sour Cherry Caviar into a beautiful combination of flavours.
Moss – Dill , Green Tea , Apple , Pistachio and Vanilla….The desserts had arrived , oh how I love this part of the meal. A work of art on a log plate.
Now this one really excited me. I`m very much a dessert kinda guy with an extremely sweet tooth so this hit my soft spot straight away. The lights suddenly went out and the test kitchen plunged into total darkness.
What appeared to be two U.F.O`s suddenly appeared flying towards us out of the darkness. Quique had actually designed plates with built in lights to light up the dessert from the inside. Green Apple , Champagne , Rose and Lemon scents perfumed the air. This was an exciting finale to an amazing day with Quique Dacosta and his wonderful culinary family. We were extremely blessed to have been invited to experience it all. Thank you so much guys.
To view more photos on Flickr then please click THIS LINK.
Quique speaks to his buyer at the market.
Lobster feasting on squid.
The Red Denia Prawns , straight off the boat.
Straight out of a Police line up…..A gallery of crazy guys.