Ángel León and his uncompromising seafood creations.
The restaurant we are visiting today is not in New York, Tokyo or London. It is in Puerto de Santa Maria in the bay of Cádiz on the southernmost end of the Iberian Peninsula. Here you won't find the jetset that keeps the world's top restaurants in business. Although the surrounding area teems with sherry bodegas, brandy distilleries and gin manufacturers, tourists need a compelling reason to visit this small town. And with his restaurant Aponiente, chef Ángel León has provided just such a reason.
The restaurant is aptly named after the poniente, a temperate Atlantic breeze that refreshes mind and body. León works uncompromisingly at the haute cuisine end of the market, but without sacrificing the deep authentic flavours of the ingredients he works with. He speaks a radical, risk-taking culinary language, but at the end of the day taste is more important to him than being avant-garde.
His uncompromising approach is reflected in the menu. His ingredients come from the sea, so if you're not a lover of fish and seafood, this is not your restaurant. The 'suckling pig' has nothing to do with pork. It's made from succulent moray eels prepared using the traditional cochinillo asado method, resulting in velvety flesh and crispy skin. With its leopardskin-like appearance, the dish looks as spectacular as it tastes. Another signature dish is the 'charcuterie', based on the methods and seasonings of traditional Spanish curing, but replacing pork and beef with bream and mullet.
The soul of the sea
Before you enter the main restaurant, an evening at Aponiente starts in a small pavilion with a sherry aperitif served with plankton bonbons, squid macaroons and a crispy crab sandwich. The plankton will reappear later in the form of an emulsion with olive oil and served with bread made with seawater. Phytoplankton have been the subject of endless experimentation by León. … (more in magazine)