When, in June, the talented team at Paella's y Mas celebrated the second birthday of this extraordinarily successful and popular restaurant, they could be forgiven a few self-congratulatory moments. In only two years, Head Chef Javier Ponte and his dedicated staff have built a business which already has gained the reputation as being one of the best restaurants in Marbella – in fact, when it comes to Spanish cuisine – it is unquestionably the best.
Even in a city which has far more than its fair share of great eating places, ranging from cheap and cheerful family run establishments to posh and pricey joints that tend to pull in celebrities and the seriously well-heeled, Paella's y Mas stands out. One of the main reasons is its menu, which contains everything that you could possibly want from an authentic Spanish restaurant.
Chef Javier learned his craft from his mother and grandmother, both of whom taught him that the key to great cuisine was using the finest available ingredients. He uses these recipes and added creative touches which elevate the simplest dish to new heights, a technique which has customers returning again and again to revisit old favourites and sample new ones.
Paella's y Mas is busy throughout the year, but is especially busy during the summer thanks to its gloriously expansive terrace, which is ideal for dining out under the stars. When the sun goes down and the candles are lit, this is one of the most romantic places in town. However, you definitely don't need to be a couple to make the most of the dishes on offer. This is a place that the SOCIETY Magazine team loves to visit because it delivers the perfect excuse to order a variety of dishes which can then be shared. Diners on a budget are also in luck, because the team can draw up set menus for 30€ which include some tasty and imaginative tapas and paella to share. Your menu can also be personalised depending on what dishes you especially like and adjusted to suit how much you want to spend.
The most popular items on the menu are the 40 plus tapas varieties and the traditional Paellas and Fideuas but, while these are the arguably the dishes for which Paella's y Mas has gained its reputation as Marbella's culinary capital, they are by no means the only strings to Chef Javier's bow. Vegetarians will enjoy the range of meat-free options and there is also a section offering grilled meat, fish and seafood, which always proves popular.
Since its opening Paella's y Mas has been a hotspot for gourmands and casual diners alike so, whether you are an aficionado of Spanish cuisine or a beginner who wants to start with the best, we can't recommend this establishment highly enough.
Be smart and book your table now!
Visit Paella's y Mas for lunch from Monday to Friday and enjoy free beer and house wine.
There are cuisines for all seasons: comforting goulashes for the winter, gorgeous green salads when spring is in full flower but when summer comes round again you know that your local Thai restaurant can deliver exactly what you need.
We are very lucky to have a number of local establishments that deliver dishes packed with flavour and one of our favourites is Top Thai, conveniently situated in Nueva Andalucía's Centro Plaza. When we heard that it was opening in Estepona's Laguna Village we just had to go along and test drive the new restaurant.
First and foremost this is a wonderful summer venue, with diners being offered the chance to enjoy a cocktail on the terrace while being lulled into a state of blissful relaxation by the centre's many water features and the sight of the sun sparkling on the Mediterranean. In fact, we must confess that we have often intended to pop in to Laguna Village for a quick snack at lunchtime, only to find ourselves glued to our chairs for most of the afternoon. Needless to say, we feel that the owners of Top Thai have probably found their ideal venue.
When we had roused ourselves out of our Zen coma we managed a stroll through the menu, which contained all our old Thai favourites, along with some imaginative additions to the culinary canon. Admittedly our starter, a Thai Mixed, was a bit of a compromise to our stomachs, being a dish which contained many of the elements that make Thai cooking such a fresh and tempting option when the summer kicks in. You really must start with this when you visit Top Thai because it includes Spring Rolls, Prawns and Wonton, all of which can be dipped into a tempting variety of peanut, sweet and sour and spicy sauces. We enjoyed the process of deciding which was our favourite dip but were happy that we had opted for a sharing starter; all the more room for the main courses.
The Kapraw was a big success – this dish is offered with Chicken, Beef, Prawns or Duck, but we chose the Fish. This is a beautifully crispy stir-fry dish, served with Chilli, Green Beans, Garlic and Basil Leaves. The chef was very accommodating about the level of spiciness required, but we left the final decision to him. Apparently some customers ask for the levels of chilli to be stepped up but, in our collective opinion, you would need an iron constitution to cope with the damage to your taste-buds and it would be a pity to mask the seamless marriage of flavours with too much heat.
Phad Thai is probably one of the most famous of all Thai classics, a solid favourite with the punters who frequent Bangkok's famous street food outlets so, in a further stab at authenticity, we ordered the Chicken version. Served in the usual way with Noodles, Bean Sprouts, Peanuts and Egg this was a true taste of Thailand all in one dish, satisfying and packed full of flavour.
The third member of the party decided to choose something from the Specials section of the menu. Namtok Ped is basically a Crispy Duck Salad, served with Chilli, Onion, Coriander and Lemon Juice and is the ideal summer lunch choice, being both filling and beautifully fresh and zesty. This proved a hit with all members of the party, who mysteriously found their forks being drawn to the plate of the unfortunate person who had the bad luck to order it.
Mention the words 'comforting' and 'dessert' in close proximity and thoughts inevitably turn to winter warmers like crumbles and sponge puddings. However, Thai cuisine also offers third courses that comfort, albeit in a slightly different way. Designed to cool and soothe the most over-stimulated palate, we loved the array flavours and textures on offer. Our recommendation? For a real taste of Thailand, do not miss the Mango and Sticky Rice. If you have ever experienced the horrific childhood staple of six grains of rice in a litre of watery milk, then we can guarantee that this is not even remotely similar. Think, rice pudding as it might be served in heaven – just the dish to round off a wonderful lunch.
Top Thai proves, once again, that you can travel around the world in 80 dishes without once leaving the Coast. For those of you who aren't planning a trip to Thailand in the immediate future, you can be sure to find all the authentic flavours of that country in Estepona's Laguna Village.
Last year I became the local ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s global food revolution here in Marbella.
With the support of Swans International school and Rebecca Cifarelli from Marbella we will join chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver and hundreds of ambassadors across the world to take part in the annual Food Revolution Day on Friday 20th May.
This will be the 5th Food Revolution day so if you haven’t already save the date!
This year, for Food Revolution Day on Friday May 20th Jamie will be asking people everywhere to join him and sign up to his Food Revolution at jamiesfoodrevolution.org. (launched early May). Jamie is passionate about creating a movement that can effect real change and help the world feed the future. You guys are the real core of the movement and Jamie feels that the future of the Food Revolution lies in creating a global army of amazing volunteers to make sure the campaign continues across the world. We can not do it without you!
Food Revolution Day, launched in 2012, is right at the heart of all the work Jamie and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation do to engage and inspire people of all ages to learn about food and how to cook it.
With overweight and obesity statistics increasing at an alarming rate, and preventable diet-related disease claiming more lives earlier than ever before, it has never been more important to educate children about food, where it comes from and how it affects their bodies. Food Revolution Day is about getting kids food smart and setting them up for a long, healthy life.
More than 1,300 ambassadors in more than 120 countries are currently planning events, both big and small. In Marbella we are planning on making this a yearly event that will get bigger and better with time!
“Food knowledge and education is key! Lets lead by being good example’s and making it possible”
Keep an Eye on our Facebook page for more details about the 20th of May - For now please save the date!!
We are so excited about this xx
Sign the petition. We will be launching our global petition with change.org where Jamie will be calling on the leaders and governments of G20 countries t
Like our local Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/foodrevmarbella/
Do you believe in food education? Go to foodrevolutionday.com for petition information, ideas on how you can get involved, resources, exclusive Jamie videos and lots of new recipes make food education a compulsory part of every school curriculum.
So most of us love nut butters but we also usually end up spending a fortune on them! Here is a super simple recipe that is incredibly delicious and super duper easy to make!
Once you start making your own, it will be hard to digest the shop bought stuff that is usually laced with tons of hydrigenetated fats!
2 cups of walnuts (soaked or toasted - up to you)
1 Vanilla pod scraped
1 tbs of maple syrop
1/2 cup of coconut oil
Pinch of Pink salt
Blend all ingredients and keep in a air tight glass jar. If you want the nut butter to be even more nutritious then activate your nuts by soaking them.
If you don't want to just use normal walnuts that are raw or for extra depth of flavour use toasted nuts!
This is the issue.
On the one hand, you have conventionally grown fruit and vegetables; on the other, you have organic fruit and veg. Both look the same, provide vitamins and fibre and are free from fat, sodium and cholesterol. So which should you choose? Get the facts before you shop.
The word 'organic' refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products such as fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.
Farmers who grow organic produce don't use conventional methods to fertilize and control weeds. Examples of organic farming practices include using natural fertilizers to feed soil and plants and crop rotation or mulch to manage weeds.
Different countries have different labelling. Just because a product is labelled organic doesn't mean that it is 100 per cent organic. In the UK, for example, you can label a product organic as long as at least 95 per cent of the farm-grown ingredients are organic.
Spain's percentage is similar and the country has really climbed onto the organic agricultural bandwagon, seeing a steady increase in the past few years. People are becoming increasingly aware of how their food is produced.
On a personal level I try to buy as much organic produce as possible because I find that it lasts a lot longer, tastes better and I get to support a local community of farmers who are growing some amazing veggies.
Scientific studies also prove the point that 'going organic' has proven benefits.
“Organic food has more of the antioxidant compounds linked to better health than regular food, and lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides, according to the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date.
“The international team behind the work suggests that switching to organic fruit and vegetables could give the same benefits as adding one or two portions of the recommended 'five a day'.
The team, led by Prof Carlo Leifert at Newcastle University, concludes that there are "statistically significant, meaningful" differences, with a range of antioxidants being "substantially higher" – between 19% and 69% – in organic food. It is the first study to demonstrate clear and wide-ranging differences between organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals. "The crucially important thing about this research is that it shatters the myth that how we farm does not affect the quality of the food we eat," said Helen Browning, chief executive of Soil Association, which campaigns for organic farming.” - The Guardian
I suppose because buying organic produce has become a trend, some retailers and suppliers tend to take advantage and put the prices up, so I have some tips and tricks on how to make it work.
Find a local farmer or farmers' market
We are very lucky to live in the garden of Europe. Spanish families still have a habit of shopping at markets where you can find fresh fish, skilled butchers and greengrocers. Ask the shop keepers where the produce comes from and if it is grown organically. I go to Guadalhorce Ecologico, a travelling farmers' market that visits different locations every Saturday and Sunday. The goods are favourably priced and you can find everything from olive oil to fruit and veggies. They also deliver in Marbella once a week. Find their weekly schedule on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/guadalhorceecologico/
Subscribe to a Organic Veggie Box
Several people prepare and deliver veggie boxes on the Coast. The benefits of a veggie box is that you eat seasonally, you cook with veggies you normally might not choose and you can have it delivered to your door. I have used Los Hortelanos in the past and they are great! Give it a go and get a five Euro discount on your first order by using the discount code BETTINA. https://loshortelanos.es
Quality versus Quantity
I have had this conversation many times and it is far more important to me that I buy quality (even though it takes effort to go to a market) rather than quantity. In my humble opinion when something is priced ridiculously low you have to ask yourself - why? How was it produced, by whom and where? As consumers we hold the power over what is being sold to us. It's a simple theory of supply and demand. If we stop buying the cheap, nasty stuff and demand better, producers and supermarkets will have to comply.
Les Cubes is an extraordinary find. Located at the Urb. Oasis Club on Marbella’s Golden Mile, this beautifully revamped space offers a novel concept in drinking and dining where you can enjoy a majestic view of the Med while exploring the exceptional menu prepared by executive chef Tim van Buchem, who some may remember from his days at Healthouse Las Dunas and Finca Cortesin. It’s a culinary pedigree that he is taking to new heights at Les Cubes.
The carefully considered entrance allows the diner to take in at a glance the three spaces that Les Cubes offers: the To Be or Not To Be bar area where one can sharpen the appetite with a pre-prandial drink, relax after with a digestif, or meet friends for a few beverages and a chat; the Kalinka Malinka restaurant where chef van Buchem showcases contemporary Mediterranean dishes, and the more formal C’est La Vie which offers gourmet dining with an Asian twist. They are all open from 1pm to 2am, which gives you the possibility of lunching at Kalinka Malinka, dining at C’est La Vie and having a nightcap in To Be or Not To Be.
On our visit, the Society team was warmly welcomed by restaurant manager Juan and ushered to a table with a view of the pool and the sea. The tableware set the scene for what was to come; who could doubt that when plates by Christian Lacroix are matched with cutlery from Villeroy and Boch that the food is going to be of an equally high standard. Once we had admired the place settings and the overall look of the restaurant that blends contemporary design with furniture that is both smart and comfortable, we turned our attention to reading through the menu and our appetites increased with each turn of the page.
An appetizer of Ceviche of Butter Fish with Pink Grapefruit and Spicy Vinaigrette had a thrilling tang of chilli to create a delicate explosion in the mouth that got us off to a great start and increased our anticipation of what was yet to come. Next up was a Cauliflower Veloute with Orange, Pistachio and Prawns. We were slightly puzzled by the combination, but after a couple of mouthfuls we were total converts. The delicate cauliflower cream was set alight by the prawns topped with tiny slivers of Chinese oranges that took the dish to another dimension. But this was not the end, the Sauteed Scallops with Pea Puree, Crispy Ham and Lobster Bisque were a treat for scallop lovers and this reviewer just happens to be one of that merry band. Alongside it came a visually exciting dish of Pickled Mackerel with Beetroot Puree and Vegetable Salad. The freshness of the mackerel and its distinctive flavour was a perfect marriage with the beetroot to create a plate of exquisite refinement using a humble fish that is all too often ignored by fine dining.
By now we were almost impatient to taste the main courses. Could they possibly be better than these amazing starters? The answer is, of course, yes. Or at least we can say that the second act was every bit as good as the first! We started with an unusual combination of Chicken with Quinoa, Turnip, Daikon, Beetroot, Green Asparagus, Radish and Almond sauce. Well, we have no idea where Les Cubes sources its chicken, but this has to be the best piece of poultry that any of us has ever tasted. Indeed, it sent one of the Society team flying out to the kitchen to congratulate the chef on the spectacular texture and moistness of the dish. The quinoa worked perfectly with the chicken and with the other flavour combinations to deliver what Gregg Wallace on Masterchef would undoubtedly pronounce “a thing of beauty.”
And from chicken we moved on to Rack of Milk-Fed Lamb with Cous Cous, Pumkin Puree, Green Olives, Moroccan Lemon and Ras al Hanout sauce. This was another winning combination that nods its head to the flavours of the traditional Moroccan lamb tagine while serving the elements in an updated style to create a thoroughly contemporary dish. By now our waistbands had started to strain a little, but ever diligent in the pursuit of great food, we happily kept going when Smoked Sturgeon with Vegetables and Brava sauce was set in front of us. It is the first time we have seen sturgeon on a menu and at first sight we guessed that it might be tuna due to its dense texture. However, after one bite we knew this was no tuna; this substantial and meaty fish is not as boldly flavoured as mackerel and its delicate taste belies it appearance, and we agreed that its closest relative may be smoked haddock, a glorious dish if ever there was one. If you’ve never eaten sturgeon, go to Les Cubes for the chance to do so.
Then the grand finale arrived – desserts from The Sweetest Moment of the menu. The two selected were excellent choices to conclude our visit: Piña Colada Caramelized Pineapple with Piña Colada Ice Cream and a Crispy Pineapple Flower had us all fighting over the last spoonful and trying to remember the lyrics to “The Pina Colada Song.” We then dived into a Chocolate Fondant with Pistachio Ice Cream and Raspberries that we all agreed was just flawless in every respect. The fondant was light and gooey and the pistachio ice cream had the density and richness that only a handmade ice cream ever has.
Then it was time for coffee. Just as we all agreed that this was one of the most superlative menus we’d ever tasted the heavens opened, but we left happily singing, “If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain…” Next time we visit—and we will—we hope the sun is shining over Les Cubes, because then the weather, the view and the menu will add up to total perfection.
Have we mentioned lately how much we love eating at La Sala? Well, yes – probably a few thousand times by now, but the food there is too good to resist and if we didn't pass on the latest news we wouldn't be doing our job properly, would we?
One of the marks of a great café/restaurant is its willingness to ring the changes, so the La Sala team now offers three great new main courses that are certain to become favourites.
The succulent shredded Braised Lamb Shank in a Red Wine Jus is served with fresh Asparagus Tips, Roasted Vine Tomatoes and Creamed Mashed Potatoes and, apart from being totally delicious, is a real visual treat. If you're one of those people who loves to post pictures of meals on Instagram then you will be in heaven, because this looks like a food bouquet. Is there such a thing? Well, there is now.
Thai cuisine has become something of a foodie phenomenon over the past decade or two and, with more and more holidaymakers travelling to this beautiful country, the demand for Thai dishes has increased. La Sala's Pad Thai is a classic: pieces of Chicken or Vegetables cooked with Noodles and imbued with all the wonderful Thai flavours that you would expect from such a dish.
There are burgers - and then there are La Sala burgers. These are always a popular choice, so the challenge for the team was to create something that not only met expectations but exceeded them; not so easy. Have they delivered? Of course they have! The La Sala Fillet Steak Burger is a burger, Jim – but not as we know it. A gorgeous chunk of Beef served with Grilled Bacon, Melted Cheese and half a Lobster Thermidor (did we mention that it's worth forgoing breakfast to enjoy this treat?) Oh, and don't forget to make room for the Hand Cut Fries, Coleslaw, Crispy Onion Rings and Smoked Jalapeño Mayonnaise.
La Sala is busy at all times of the year but you can guarantee that these new dishes will ensure that the tables are filled to capacity throughout the seasons. If you haven't yet enjoyed the La Sala experience, then this provides the perfect opportunity.
Come on – what are you waiting for?