Casa Marcial

Nacho Manzano
Nazionalita: Spain
Localita: 33549 Arriondas (Asturias)
Indirizzo: La Salgar, 10; a 4 kilómetros del centro urbano.
(+34) 985840991
Chiusura:: Sunday night, monday and Tuesday night, except august; from 7/1 to 31/1, one week in juin and one week in september
Prezzo: 60/100 €
Menu di degustazione: 47, 64 y 85 €

Nacho Manzano is living an absolutely delightful moment of his career. His cuisine has never been so sweet and nuanced. We repeated it at nauseam: his intellectual capacity is tremendous and his sensitivity is unprecedented. His constructions, that reflect utter naturality and solidity, always propose silky flavours. He practises a witty and peaceful haute cuisine that praises the products and the landscapes from a cosmopolitan point of view. These qualities have always been there, they are innate. What happens now is that they express themselves in all their sweetness: use of ember, game with seaweeds, incredibly wise use of salted products, combinations of elements, aesthetics, … His dishes get the message across in a better way and have more impact on the guest. Last year, this earned him a better qualification, which might improve again soon.
The menu combines two styles that can satisfy all the palates. Although they are famous, don’t leave the place without tasting the ham croquettes, with their subtle, crunchy and fragile coating, their extremely delicate béchamel sauce and utterly noble croutons. Although you have already tasted it, don’t hesitate to enjoy the sautéed egg of the house: caramelized onion with hints of Cabrales cheese with a bit of egg cream lain upon a souffléed corn cake; delicious rustic sensations filtered by the chef’s refinement and erudition. Although you have already tried it, enjoy the fabada again: a world-class bean stew marked by the outstanding goodness of the beans, intelligently sought by the patriarch of the family, Marcial, as well as by Nacho, a kind of mountain wolf who also takes care of the supply of the product. Nacho’s natural cleverness and proverbial gift to refine and lighten this succulent pulse, coveted like the most enjoyable fish (see “Fabadas” on our website), has also –obviously– a clear influence. Simply because it is the best chicken in Spain, and probably in the world –we personally have never tried anything similar–, just taste the athletic and brown meat of the “pitu de caleya”, which reaches magnanimity thanks to the long cooking time at low temperature into the casserole, removed by grandma’s hand. The series of intelligently recreated local treasures goes on and on until the traditional dessert: rice pudding; an insatiable passion aimed at sweet teeth, forbidden by nutritionists if you want your palate to be able to enjoy again tomorrow.
This was about the great traditional culture of the house. The modern proposals maintain the same perfection standards, which slightly vary up and down due to the originality  or to the risks inherent in fantasy. Creativity is always very weighed up, though. We are before a cerebral chef, here. A cook who likes art, rather than fancying himself as an artist. We can see it in some balanced and virtuous proposals such as the charcoaled sardine filet, slightly heated and aromatized with an emulsion of the salted fish, garnished with potatoes, seaweeds and onion. Apart from the cooking technique through heat infiltration (50/70º), we hadn’t seen anything as curious regarding the treatment of cod as the skin stuck to half centimetre of the meat, the former being brown and the latter very juicy. Nothing to do with the sticky skins inspired by cracklings. The cod is proposed in a very humble and clairvoyant way: germinated lentils, stewed mushrooms, olives, pil-pil and escalibada (toasted red pepper, aubergine and onion) broth. A really unprecedented way to propose this salted fish. We had never eaten such lamb brains, so buttery and delightful, prepared with dried crumbs and aromatic herbs and served with some unbeatable grilled baby squids, tender green beans –unique– and an exciting infusion of lemon verbena. The gigantic crayfish is cut in two parts and grilled on the side of the shell. Its meat, further heated into the salamander stove, ends up raw and lukewarm, immaculate, utterly juicy… AN EXQUISITE DELIGHT. To make clear that modernity can rime with precision and conservationism, the chef proposes starters that are synonymous with dazzling imagination and subtle counterpoints that are perfectly harmonized: apple and cucumber juice with pieces of fennel and seaweeds; colourful gazpacho-ajoblanco game; smoked cream with hazelnut bread, arugula sprouts, olive sauce and dried salmon; raw and stewed mushroom with marrow, cream, sprouts and flowers of hermelocallis, anise and eucalyptus. Dishes that make us wonder who this chef and this oeuvre are. And to remove all doubt, try the dessert called “Terminamos casi como empezamos” (Let’s finish just the way we started): a composition of fennel ice cream, apple jelly, mint purée, celery panacota, pieces of apple, … The height of mental and palatal coolness.
Nacho Manzano has become one of the great chefs of the Spanish cuisine. He is definitely part of the very great.