4 Nudos Restaurant, Spain

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Category: Modern Spanish Restaurant
Cuisine:  Modern, Spanish
Price Range on Average: EUR 15- 20 for a main course and EUR 3-8 for a dessert
Ambiance: Chic and Friendly, Overlooking San Jose’s Marina Bay.
Address: Club Naútico San Jose, Calle del Puerto, s/n, 04118 San José, Almería, Spain
Tel: +33 620 93 81 60
Website: www.4nudosrestaurante.com
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11:30am–6pm, 7:30pm–12am (closed on Mondays)
Last Visited: 2016

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Reviews:
One of the best seafood restaurants I’ve been to in Spain and in Europe. This small yet lovely restaurant is tucked away at the end corner of the San Jose’s marina bay. Most restaurants in San Jose are located in the main high street and by the sea shore. This is not a restaurant that you can just pass by and notice. This restaurant is secluded and offers a very relaxed, yet sophisticated atmosphere. The waiters are friendly and passionate about their dishes and would happily recommended dishes when asked.
With so many dishes to choose from the menu I was overwhelmed and unsure of what to order. The waiter willingly helped and brought a tray of fish and shell fish, their fresh ‘catch of the day’. He also explained which fish were caught from the sea nearby, which were wild fish, which were farmed and which ones were local to San Jose. Still unable to make a decision and wanting the gigantic scorpion fish, mussels, prawns, squid and clams, the waiter suggested that the Chef would make me a fish stew with all these wonderful seafood ingredients, which I gladly accepted. I was also keen to try their squid ink paella but the waiter informed me that it would be too big for me as my fish stew would certainly fill me up. He was right! The fish stew was more than enough for one person.

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I also experienced the same dilemma with my starter and I asked the waiter to recommend their Chef’s favourite dish. He enthusiastically explained why their octopus is famous with their patrons and why I should try it. I was convinced and once again he was right. The octopus was grilled simply to perfection, served with a slightly spiced olive oil and cold olive oil ice-cream! The combination of the hot and sweet octopus with the salty taste of the cold olive oil ice-cream is truly out this this world. It was so heavenly that I’m simply lost for the words to describe it. The waiter warned me that we did not need two starters since the octopus would be enough for two diners. He was right again. I am also glad to have come across waiters that don’t force me to keep ordering more. On the contrary the waiters at 4 Nudos are so keen for their patrons to enjoy the meal that they would happily recommend a dish and stop you from over stuffing yourself. A common occurrence in my world!

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We also wanted to try the St.Peter’s fish and the chef explained all the different ways their chef can cook it for us. We simply ask the chef to cook it the way he felt it should be cooked. Once again the fish came out wonderfully. Just slightly dusted in flour, lightly pan fried in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and drizzled with lemon juice. The flesh of the fish was so succulent, it’s as if it swam from the sea straight on to our plates. I must say that my fish stew was well executed too. Every element of the dish complemented each other. The mussels, prawns, squid and octopus were cooked very lightly not over done and rubbery. The scorpion fish was meaty and the sauce was from the broth of the seafood with a hint of paprika and lovely olive oil. I’ve had many fish stews in France, in Spain and other parts of Europe but this certainly is top league.

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Finally for the grand finale – the dessert. The waiter came out and ask if I loved chocolate, I told him that I loved it so much that I have it at least once every day! He then asked me if I like the combination of a salty and bitter sweet flavour. Once again my answer was: 100% yes. He was happy to hear my response and recommended their 70% bitter sweet Jamaican Chocolate dessert, served with toast, rock salt, pepper and olive oil. This dessert does not sound as impressive as it is. It is a spectacular dessert, with simple high quality ingredients, combined to make perfection by a very highly skilled chef.

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4 Nudos offer Michelin starred quality dishes in a more relax and less formal ambiance for half of price you’d pay at Michelin starred restaurant. If you are around or passing by San Jose this is a place that should not miss if you are into excellent food.

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The Stone Grill, Alicante, Spain

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Cuisine: Steak House, Authentic Argentinian Steak
Price Range on Average: EUR 20-25 per person for 3 course meal with a glass of good wine
Ambiance: Modern and Fun 
Address: 03189 Campoamor Valencia, Alicante, Spain
Tel: +34 656 61 33 56
Website: http://www.thestonegrill.es/
Last Visited: 2014 for late lunch 

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Review:
If you are looking for an authentic Argentinian steak in Spain, there is no better place to go than “The Hot Stone Grill” restaurant in Alicante.  The steak has been carefully sourced and flown directly from Argentina’s finest beef producers.  The steak in this restaurant truly is remarkable. It is served on an hot stone that is heated to between 280-350 degrees celsius and remains sizzling hot for 50 minutes. There is no way your steak can be over cooked or under done since it is up to you, the diner, to decide how long you’d like your steak to be cooked on your very own “hot lava stone”. It is a fun restaurant visit, as the cooking of the steak lies with the diner, it is an interactive fun night out with your  families and friends. It is a family friendly restaurant, perfect for parties.

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For those of you who are not keen on beef, they also serve amazing prawns fresh from the coast of Spain and other seafood. They also offer vegetarian dishes that you can also cooked on the ‘hot stone’. If you ever get the chance to visit this restaurant don’t miss out on the steak and the onions cooked with honey on a hot stone. For the finale there is nothing better than ending your night with a lovely sweet home made crema catalan.

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Crema catalan alla Alicia Marcos Ng

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I got this recipe from my lovely friend Alicia. Who I must say is a brilliant Thermomix Sales woman!  She doesn’t work for Thermomix but you would assume she does if you meet her.  Before visiting Alicia in her wonderful mansion near Alicante, I had never heard of Thermomix. Dare I say that after 24 hours with her I have to admit that she is right. Thermomix is definitely the gadget to have if you are a keen cook or a professional chef.  As Alicia would say, it does all the cooking for you! and it is so easy to clean too! Hard to believe, I know but I have seen her clean the thing in seconds. My dear friend Alicia is probably the sweetest and most generous person I know. She is so keen for me to learn more about Thermomix and try her delicious experiments, that she quickly knocked up a coconut ice cream and papaya dessert using Thermomix; made a vegetable puree for her adorable cute son Kai; and finally she made Crema Catalan all with her must have Thermomix!

The Crema Catalan she made is a perfect dessert to have after a heavy meal. Her recipe is surprisingly light and the sweetness of the cream is just right. The caramalised sugar on top just adds another layer of sugarary yumminess. The velvety cream and crisp crystalise sugar just makes it so fabulously yummy!

If having Thermomix means having Alicia’s super delicious Crema Catalan on a daily basis, then I guess I really need to start saving up for a Thermomix for Christmas!  Here’s her fantastic Crema Catalan recipe:

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Kitchen Kit:
6 ramekins, a blow torch and a Thermomix!

Ingredients (Makes 6 ramekins):
250g eggs
70g  sugar
2 vanilla pods
400ml cream
5-10 g sugar

The Crema catalan:
1. Scrape out the vanilla seeds. Place all the ingredients into your Thermomix metal bowl (except for the 5-10g of sugar).

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2. Set your Thermomix to mix all the ingredients at speed number 3 for 1 minute, then at speed number 3 – 90C for 15 minutes and finally at speed number 10 just for 10 seconds.
3. Pour the cream mixture into your ramekins. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour and let it set.

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4. Once set, remove the fridge, sprinkle over some sugar and caramelise the sugar using a super fun blow torch and you’re done!

Buen Provecho!

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Olive Oil Review:

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Los Albardinales (Oro del Desierto)
Category: Olive Oil Review
Cuisine: Spanish (well it was in Spain)
Price Range on Average: EUR 7.50-16.00 (per bottle)
Ambiance: Rustic Museum and Restaurant
Address: Oro del Desierto- Ctra. Nacional 340, Km. 474. 04200 Tabernas (Almería), Spain
Tel: +34 950 611 707
Website: www.orodeldesierto.com and www.losalbardinales.com
Last Visited: 2014

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Ancient Greeks believed that Olive Trees were gifts from the goddess Athena on the beautiful Greek Island of Crete.  Archeological evidence shows that Olive tree cultivation and the production of olive oil dates back to 5000 BC  and was used for religious ceremonies, for health improvement purpose, for beauty and of course for food. This wonderful, golden, oil has captivated the senses and the palettes of the Ancient Greeks, the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Roman Conquerors, and the Canaanites and now our homes. Thanks to Rafael and his forefathers for continuing to produce olive oil  we can still smell, taste and appreciate olive oil in our homes today. I recently visited Los Albardinales, one of the olive oil producers from the Tabernas Desert of Spain, there I met the wonderful owner Rafael Alonso, whose father and forefathers have long been cultivating the Tabernas desert’s olive trees and producing award winning olive oils. 

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He was incredibly enthusiastic and passionate about ’olive oil’ that I felt like a young student again learning about something that is so out of the ordinary. He explained in perfect English how they cultivate the land and how they product the oil. He then went on to tell us about ancient Egyptians and Greeks using olive oil and how he now markets and sells their olive oil in Singapore and UK.

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Apparently to my surprise Spain is by far the largest producers of olive oil, producing around 45% of the world olive supply. Italy is however better known for their olive oil as they are simply better at marketing their oil. He did however mention that Italian olive oil is also of excellent quality.

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He then generously offered to show us the art of olive oil appreciation – consuming it. Being in love with food, I didn’t need a lot of convincing to try the four different olive oils he presented to us along with nice warm crusty bread. He first asked us to smell each olive oil in a glass and to describe the aromas we can pick up from the glass. The Arbequina oil has an almond and fresh fruit aroma, while Picual has a wonderful scent of a freshly trimmed grass or some may say fresh lettuce aroma.

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According to Rafael the level of acidity is also a key factor in choosing a fine olive oil. The lower the acidity levels, the finer the oil with a fruitier taste. He was right in a sense that the olive oil with the least acidity level we tried has the fruitiest aroma and taste.  We then looked at the different colours of the oils, from the lightest to the darkest coloured oil. The lightest oil shows hints of amber the darkest oil had a intensely deep green colour. Finally the taste test: having grown up in Macau where we cook with olive oil on a daily basis, after tasting Rafael’s olive oil I felt as if I had never before tasted olive oil. His olive oil is heavenly. You have not tasted olive oil, until you’ve tried Rafael’s oil. The different oils presented different tastes to the palette; each has its own character, some linger on your pallet longer, other gives a sweeter after taste, while others are more delicate in flavour – perfect for grilled fish.  

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They offer five different bottles of olive oil for sale. The first day’s harvest is known as their ‘Limited Edition Oil’, they also sell their award winning Hojiblanca olive oil, my favourite, which has been selected for the Flos Olei in 2013, obtaining 94 out of 100 points. Hojiblanca has an intense fruity apple note aroma and a spicy after taste, perfect with just a loaf of bread.  They also have three other varieties of olive oil with less intense in colour, aroma and flavour but are all of excellent quality. Finally they also sell blended oils from Arbequina, Hojiblanca and Picual varieties, which is good as well. I bought a bottle of each of the olive oils and have been enjoying them one by one since.        

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If you are fascinated by a desert landscape and in need of some peace and quiet, yet also want to enjoy an excellent bottle of olive oil, then Los Albardinales is the place for you. If you are anywhere near Almeria, I highly recommend that you visit Los Albardinales. The hospitality and knowledge of the owner is second to none. You’ll not only enjoy the learning experience and the ambiance of his place but you will also have a once in a life time experience tasting one of the world’s finest olive oil.  

Another point to note is that apart from producing and selling olive oil, they also have a B&B and a restaurant. I did not try their restaurant as I was simply too busy with the olive oil. For this reason I’m afraid I can only provide a review of the experience and of the olive oils.

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Chorizo Pork Stew in Tomato Sauce

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The combination of pork, chorizo, thyme and bell peppers are heavenly. Although most casserole or stew type dishes are mainly eaten in the autumn or winter season. I find that this Spanish inspired stew is perfectly enjoyable anytime of the year. Serve this with a Cava or a refreshing  2008 Brandal Albariño, D.O. Rías Baixas, Spanish white wine.  Or simply a nice freshly made mint lemonade.

KITCHEN KIT:
An ovenproof casserole pan

Ingredients Serves 4:

1. 400g pork shoulder, chopped into chunks approx. 3cm
2. 3 tbsp. of Olive oil
3. 100g. picante chorizo, sliced
4. 8 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
5. 1 clove fo garlic, crushed or grated
6. 1 medium size onion, finely chopped
7. 2 bay leaves
8. 1/2 tsp. salt
9. 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
10. 1/2 tsp. paprika (I used picante for extra heat)
11. 1/4 tsp. saffron
12. 170ml. Spanish white wine
13. 1 1/2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
14. 400g.chopped tomatoes or passata
15. 150g. bell peppers, deseeded and chopped (alternatively you can also use roasted bell peppers adding smoky flavours to the dish)
16. 150g. green beans
17. 12 olives

The Chorizo Pork Stew:
1. Pre-heat oven to 150C.
2. Place your casserole pan on a high heat, add 3 tbsp. of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chorizo, thyme, garlic, onion and bay leaves. Fry for 1- minutes.
3. Next add the pork and season with salt, pepper and paprika. Brown the pork on all sides for 4-5 minutes, then add the saffron, white wine, white wine vinegar and chopped tomatoes. Stir all the ingredients well, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes.

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4. Now, place the casserole in the oven to cook for 1 1/2 hours. Stir frequently to prevent the meat from sticking into the bottom and sides of the pan. After 1 1/2 hour remove from the oven, stir in the bell peppers, green beans and olives. Return the casserole back into the oven to cook for another 15 minutes.

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Serve immediately with a nice crusty bread, saffron rice or cous cous.

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Pan fried Rainbow trout with Serrano ham and thyme butter sauce (Spanish Inspired)

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KITCHEN KIT:
Kitchen towels/paper, 2 frying pans and a sauce pan.

Ingredients Serves 2:
For the fish:
1.  1 rainbow trout fish approx. 300g, cleaned and gutted
2.  2 slices of Serrano ham
3.  3 tbsp. plain flour
4.  1 tsp salt
5.  1 tsp ground black pepper
6.  1 tbsp.fresh thyme leaves
7.  2 tbsp olive oil
8.  55g butter
9.  ½ lemon juice

For the peas, courgette and chorizo:
10. 100g petite pois/peas
11. 1 small courgette, chopped into small cubes
12. 6 chorizo slices
13. 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely grated
14. 30g butter
15. Pinch of Salt
16. Pinch of Pepper

The Rainbow Trout:
1.  Preheat oven to 100 ºC. Pat the rainbow trout dry with a kitchen towel.
2.  On a large plate mix the flour with salt, pepper and half of the thyme leaves. Coat the inside and outside of the fish with the flour mixture all over, then shake off any excess. Insert the Serrano ham inside the fish.

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3.  On a large frying pan over a medium heat add 2 tbsp. of oil. When the oil is smoking hot, add the fish in the pan, cook for 2 minutes on one side until golden-brown, then turn the fish over and cook for another 2 minutes until golden-brown. Plate and place in the oven to keep it warm.

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4.  Using a kitchen towel/paper wipe the frying pan and return to a medium heat. Melt the butter and when it starts to turn light brown, turn off the heat and add the remaining thyme leaves and lemon juice.

 

For the peas, courgette and chorizo:
5.  On a small sauce pan, boil some salted water and boil your petite pois/peas for 2-3 minutes, then drain.
6.  On a frying pan over a medium heat, add the butter, garlic and courgette, sauté for 3 minutes. Then add the petite pois/peas and chorizo. Cook for another 2 minutes.

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Serve the rainbow trout with the petite pois and courgette immediately.

 

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