The hospitable Angel León produces and hosts an enviable cooking show and he is the chef of Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz. During my past visit to Spain he had the detail of inviting me to know the kitchen of his restaurant Aponiente in the colorful Port of Santamaría in Cádiz (south of Spain). Taking the risk of never wanting to leave the zone, because of the similarity with the Puerto Rico of my childhood, I went out with him in the morning to the fishers market. Then we went to know and taste the dishes of Cádiz (very similar to my Country’s) and of course, the “tour” ended in a dinner that confirmed the reason of his first Michelin Star; you get to understand why the NY Times rated his restaurant like one that’s worth getting into an airplane to go try it.
The restaurant sits about 20-25 people and that makes you feel like you are in his own dining room. He never stops! Is so restless as a sea snake…works in the kitchen, comes to the table, takes orders, serves you wine, greets every customer… you name it! He does it all. He is totally multi-tasking and a great host.
Dinner started with a very typical cocktail in that zone of Andalucía... the Manzanilla wine...family of Sherry wine; pungent, bitter, pale and sort of “olivy”. The most impressive element of the night were the “Ibéricos of the Sea” and you need to try them to believe me when I tell you that they taste like chorizo and not even by the aroma, you get to think they’re made of fish.....I wanted to eat them all with red wine instead of white…he, he! The prawns stew with chickpeas was fascinating…strong in flavor with different textures in the plate, just as I like it. The dishes with plankton were amazing…first the oysters and then the impressive “Mellow Rice with plankton and aioli calamari”; I almost order a second round of it! If you like deep strong sea flavors, you will also love this dish! The visual, the aromas, the colors and its flavor, above all, are a perfect harmony and very simple at the same time… a memorable dish, cooked with lots of love!.
My question for Angel was...Why using plankton? “My purpose was to find intense sea flavors while trying to discover new experiences. We transform a sea vegetable in a product that unleashes different sea flavors. It brings different memories to every person but it’s always about sea food flavors.”
Thanks Angel for letting me get into, and learn from your kitchen. Thanks for the little boat that decors my dining room, for your hospitality and for a simple memorable dinner! Your sommelier Juan Ruiz Henestrosa and your sous chef Juan Luis Fernández are part of your successful recipe…congratulations for that Michelin star...we need to bring the “Iberic of the Sea” to EU!!!!