I’m suffering from severe post-holiday blues following a week of some fantastic Andalusian food!
During a whistle-stop tour of Marbella I just had to visit Restaurante Calima. Opened by local poster boy Dani Garcia in 2005, Calima is one of seventeen two-star restaurants in Spain and the only in Andalusia.
Situated on the Marbella beachfront adjacent to the Gran Meliá Don Pepe hotel, the dining room offers beautiful views of the Mediterranean. Tables are very generously spaced and the modern dining room is flanked by an open finishing kitchen – separated from diners by floor to ceiling glass.
One of our party has Coeliac disease and an allergy to poultry – often resulting in incomplete or inedible dishes. Calima provided fresh gluten-free bread and substituted a variety of dishes, for this they must be applauded.
Dani Garcia has crafted a 21 course menu (the only on offer) entitled Oxímoron. Showcasing local produce the menu is predominately fish based and carefully crafts both unusual and contradicting flavours.
Memorable dishes follow.
‘Egg with no egg’ was a delicious hollowed egg-shell filled with a cold garlic and almond soup and lychee – both sweet and very savoury.
Nitro Tomato looked incredible. Nitro tomato covered in a metallic jelly and paired with a salt cod emulsion. A great burst of tomato flavour, although the interior of my tomato was a little icy. The emulsion was strong without overpowering.
Rocky Seabed was a real feast for the eyes. The sight of tentacles and heads usually fills me with dread, thankfully these were miniscule and delicious – fresh and tender. The addition of lemon peel gave the dish some much-needed acidity. The texture of the ‘crisp’ was sublime – created from obulato (a potato starch).
Cherries with Cream was a star course. Meltingly smooth, cold foie gras mousse was encased with port jelly. Served with an acidic cheese foam (with a taste similar to unripe goats cheese).
Boquerones’s Stall – Anchovies encased in a pliable meringue tasting of lemon. Past experience dictates that I avoid anchovies like the plague; however, these were a pleasant surprise. Very tender, salty and acidic.
An optional course, Spanish caviar was paired with dates and a lightly smoked foam. Another very memorable course, the balance of flavour was near perfect – sweet, salty and savoury.
A beautifully rich and tangy béarnaise sat atop diced pigeon. A heavy dish, the crunch of the potato ‘nest’ added great texture.
A previous dessert of ‘silkworm’ (cotton candy filled with cream cheese and raspberry) transformed into ‘The Butterfly’. Delicate mango tuiles for wings, a raspberry and chocolate body. A delicious combination of textured, the wings were overpowered by the strong chocolate.
Checkmate was served before petit fours, white and dark chocolate pieces containing peach mousse. The chocolate thin, the filling nicely tart.
Herb tea followed – a small selection of fresh herbs cut table side. Not quite as impressive as the flamboyant and exotic herb trolley at Steirereck, but still good.
The craftsmanship required to create dishes of this level must be applauded. However, we felt that the menu was a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst some were memorable and truly delicious (often the simplest) others failed to truly hit the mark. Around 11 of the 21 dishes were truly delicious. This is not to say that we did not enjoy all we ate, some just failed to reach the level of expectation a restaurant of this caliber dictates. It must be noted that all of the dishes we tasted were beautifully presented with painstaking attention to detail.
Calima was a pleasurable experience. The food certainly merits applause and whilst some was not entirely to my tastes, it was still very satisfying. Perhaps the quantity of food could be paired back a little (all four of us were monumentally stuffed) by making the dishes smaller, this would have allowed us to give later courses the full justice they deserved. Despite the ‘contradiction’ in the Menu Oxímoron being elusive, we all agreed that our trip to Calima was worthwhile.
If you ever find yourself near Marbella, you would be hard pushed to find a more indulgent experience.
Restaurante Calima Dani Garcia
Food (For Four): €600
Dress Code: Smart Casual