On sale now: Lo Mejor de la Gastronomia 2006

The creation of lomejordelagastronomia.com has forced us to restructure the qualifications we use for Lo Mejor de la Gastronomia. Last year we clarified, or rather notified, that these were to be considered maximums, like the ideal, most perfect dishes that could be prepared in a restaurant. We were justifying, in a diplomatic way, the inflation for which we ourselves felt responsible; one which was determined by the trajectory and history of our chefs, and by the overestimation on the national and international level in the press and in guides. We should not have judged more severely in Spain than in other countries, since this can damage the international esteem of the Spanish professionals. Today, however, we do not have to confront our image with that of other publications, but rather with our own Internet project. And this requires us to be fair, to evaluate justly, and to provide a ranking that is uniform and independent of the origins of each.

This is the main reason why we have reconsidered many of the scores.
But there are other motives as well. We aim to create a credible gastronomic review, designed for the readers, not for the chefs. Even some of these have criticized us for being condescending in regard to some big names in the culinary world. It’s true; it is very difficult to lower the ranking of people whom you’ve known for 25 years, with whom you have worked professionally in the culinary revolution that has brought us universal recognition, or of friends you appreciate and love, of historical figures that continue to make the effort, with or without hitting the mark… But to be fair to our colleagues and because our readers are demanding it from us, we see ourselves forced to do so. In September we asked the visitors of lomejordelagastronomia.com to send us their comments, and to our surprise, we received more than a thousand emails. In general, the comments were more severe than what you will find in this guide, and they encouraged us to play a more critical role in accordance with our trajectory.

We believe that demand furthers excellence. Surely the intelligent will consider what is being done well, acceptably, or badly. It is necessary to promote self-criticism. The wise will know how to react and to rectify. The fatuous and fake will argue according to their whims and their personal interests. A reaction is needed in Spanish cuisine to counteract the complacency, indolence, lack of ideas… the crisis. The chefs are regularly missing from their establishments. They spend more time in front of the camera than in front of the rings. In short, we cannot be accomplices to the decline that is happening. It should be made very clear that the 2006 edition continues with the tradition of maximums, and will be rectified if immediate reactions are not prevalent.

In 2005 we had 126 outstanding kitchens with 46 changes in ranking. This year, there are 120 with 52 adjustments. This means that last year 11 went up in ranking while 12 were introduced, 4 went down and 18 were removed; a positive of 1. This year, 6 have gone up and 16 have been introduced, 8 have gone down and 22 were removed; the deficit climbs to 8. Each may draw their own conclusions…

The most positive: El Poblet (Denia) climbs from 9 to 9.25, situating itself among the top three in Spanish cuisine, along with El Bulli (9.75) and Martín Berasategui (9.5). Casa Marcial (Arriondas) goes from 7.5 to 8, a qualification that remains to be confirmed by the upcoming assessments and the solidifying of the business structure. Aizian (Bilbao), Boroa (Amorebieta), La Sucursal (Valencia), and L’Escaleta Concentaina) all deserve a 7.5.

Access to fame: Calima (Marbella) debuts with an 8.5, deservedly winning Dani García the award for Chef of the Year. Arriving with a 7 are: Alameda (Fuenmayor), Arrop (Gandia), Ca l’Enric (La Vall de Bianya), Coure (Barcelona), Dassa Bassa (Madrid), El Campero (Barbate), El Llar de la Campana ( Pruvia-Llanera), El Serbal (Santander), Es Molí d’en Bou (St. Llorenç des Cardassar), Europa Decó (Madrid), Galileo (Santa Baia-Pereiro de Aguiar), La Bolera (Belalcázar), Real Balneario (Salinas-Castrillón), Torrijos (Valencia) and Tragallum (Alicante).

The slowing down in the gastronomic realm extends to all facets of the industry: specialties, products, wines…

Are these merely growing pains or do we have a social crisis on our hands?