Scrumptious Brunching at Olivia’s La Cala

2016-12Olivias

Elliott Wright reveals Olivia’s new winter tapas menu and brunch concept

When Elliott Wright and his lovely fiancée Sadie invited the Marbella press for an informal meeting, we all wondered just what news the enterprising and energetic restaurant owner would have in store for us. Well, it was very yummy news focusing on Olivia’s new winter tapas menu and the launch of a brand new brunch event, but it also touched on Elliott’s personal life and that of the woman he describes as “my rock.”

Family man

Olivia’s restaurant is in an enviable location: the beach and sparkling sea provides a view that immediately makes you feel relaxed and the cheery staff give guests a welcome that makes each person feel like family, something that Elliott Wright cherishes because his own family is very close to his heart. Elliott proudly admits that he still goes to his parents for advice and his brother Eddie is moving to the Costa del Sol soon, which he is excited about. He’s also looking forward to having his two children in Spain for Christmas, and anyone who has watched his TV show “Playa in Marbella, aired on ITVBe during summer 2016, will be aware of just how much his children Olivia and Elliott mean to him. Sadie is a big hit with his children and Elliott divulged that his fiancée wants a considerable sized family once they are married.

Naturally, there was some discussion of the TV show, which Elliott revealed was “50% documentary and 30% reality show.” For him the show was a business promotion tool that gave Olivia’s exposure – the restaurant has 50,000 followers on Instagram -- and he also confided that he is currently in talks with ITV about another series that will disclose an exciting new development with the restaurant, but that is something we will have to wait and find out about on television.

Apart from his stint in TOWIE, Elliott has been involved in the restaurant business since he was twenty-one, but openly admitted that his years of experience hadn’t quite prepared him for running a restaurant on the Costa del Sol, even though he managed one on the Costa Blanca. He said: “I was shocked at how difficult it is on the Costa del Sol,” but he has risen to the challenge and his new winter menu and brunch concepts indicate that here is a man who doesn’t give up easily and is determined to make a success of everything.

The new Friday/Saturday Brunch

The “Friday Brunch” idea came from Sadie, and it’s a concept that has already proved popular in Dubai and London. From 2pm to 5pm you can dine and drink for a set price whilst enjoying live music and a DJ on the scrumptious brunch menu that lives up to Olivia’s reputation for blending the traditional with the modern and Asian flavours with European classics. Both Sadie and Elliott are keen to promote Olivia’s as the place to come when you want to wind down and spend time with friends or family, and they believe that this brunch is the perfect event for that. The brunch concept will launch on Friday 9th December 2016 and it is expected to prove very popular with both local residents and Elliott’s many fans, who even travel from Alicante to dine at Olivia’s, such is the reputation of both the restaurant and its owner. The visitors from the Costa Blanca were already familiar with Elliott, thanks to the Wright family’s restaurant Eduardos in Villamartin, which has consistently received glowing reviews.

Olivia’s winter menu and Sunday roast

Olivia’s winter tapas menu launched on 26th October and Elliott says of it: “This is the best menu I’ve had in my whole career.” From succulent sushi, carpaccio, lobster and assorted seafood dishes, it is a menu that is “traditional but also modern and there’s a significant Asian fusion element. It’s a broad span of culinary styles and flavours.” And there is still Olivia’s Sunday Roast, which is in Elliott’s words: “The best roast on the coast and I don’t care what anyone says different.” Elliott dismisses the criticisms of his pricing and points out that you can eat well fro €20 at Olivia’s and the house wine is only €16 per bottle. This is significantly lower than the cost of eating out at establishments offering a similarly stylish and cosmopolitan experience on the Costa del Sol.

Christmas and New Year at Olivia’s

Olivia’s will also be open for Christmas lunch (€95 for adults/€50 for children) and its New Year’s Eve party (€195) will undoubtedly be an extravaganza of excellent food, sensational cocktails and brilliant entertainment. It would be advisable to book either of these immediately, if you haven’t done so already, as this is bound to be a popular party destination over the festive season.

Strong staff and a family vibe

Elliott admits that in the past he had some teething problems with staff but that these are now resolved. His new general manager Alberto comes with a quality pedigree, having managed at London’s The Ivy. To attract staff from such a prestigious restaurant signals that Olivia’s is well above average and that it is set to maintain and build on its already superb reputation. It is very important to Elliott that his staff make guests feel personally welcome at every visit, that it is seen as a family restaurant and that everyone feels that they are “coming into my house rather than my restaurant.”

Currently, Elliott has no plans for a new restaurant although he admits that he is considering another Olivia’s on the coast. However, he is keeping his business close to home and ruled out ventures in either London or Dubai, quashing any rumours to the contrary. Right now his mission is to promote his new winter menu and the Friday brunch and have a wonderful Christmas with Sadie and his two children. We’ll find out soon enough what other surprises Elliott Wright has tucked up his sleeve. As they say, watch this space!

 
Garum: Where Good Food Matters

2016-11Garum

If you want to enjoy a really great night out at a restaurant where food is considered a matter of life or death (and would you really want to waste your time at an establishment where it is any less important?) then please take our advice and make your way to Garum, as fast as you possibly can.

Unbelievably, this shrine to fine dining has been open for 12 years and its superb beachfront location and haute cuisine has attracted a regular stream of repeat customers from the day that it first opened its doors.

If you have been asking yourself what 'garum' means, then we can reveal that it is a fish sauce that dates back to Roman times and is thought to have originated in the historic settlement of Boloña, near Tarifa. Considering how much the Romans loved a good feast and the depth of culinary knowledge that the Garum team has, this slightly esoteric name makes perfect sense.

On the evening that we visited it was so warm that we were able to take advantage of the magnificent terrace, a place that is always packed during the summer and seemed no less busy on this beautiful autumn night. There's nothing quite like enjoying a close-up view of the Mediterranean while enjoying some of the best food available on the Coast.

Garum scores on many points: there's the funky design of the interior for a start, then there's the friendly welcome extended to customers, whether they are repeat visitors or newcomers and superb, personal service from the staff, many of whom have been part of the team for years.

Another impressive feature is the extensive Wine List, which showcases some of the best Spanish and French grape varieties and vineyards. If you fancy yourself as a bit of an expert, then you cannot fail to be impressed by the range of choices available.

Over a very relaxed couple of hours we were able to enjoy some of the finest dishes on Garum's extensive menu, which were suggested to us by the team. We started with the Foie Gras Pralines with Black Pepper, Thyme and Almonds, served with Blackberry and Balsamic Ragout, Lamb's Lettuce Salad and Apple Bread. It was at this point that we began to realise just how important presentation is to the Garum team because this looked as good as it tasted. Maybe these flavour combinations aren't the most obvious, but they were utterly delicious and served as a reliable indicator of what was to follow.

The Pastrami Salmon with Szechuan Coriander, served with Wasabi and Mustard and Dill Ice Cream was equally impressive, the strength of the flavours contrasting with the texture of the ice cream and generally giving the taste buds a good workout. Several members of our party regularly order salmon when eating out and all agreed that this was definitely a dish that made them think about the versatility of this very popular fish, an adaptability that is rarely pushed to its limits. This somehow allowed the salmon to be the shining star of the plate, while the accompaniments provided a fine, harmonious backing and, as did the previous course, it looked almost too good to eat.

Cod is another popular fish that is often eaten but rarely served in an interesting way, so we were delighted with the Wild Cod with Lime Crème Fraiche, Green Beans and Black Caviar. Again, this was a delight for the eyes, beautifully presented on black slate 'plates' that allowed the colours to shine. The flavours, of course, took care of themselves, the caviar acting as the perfect boost to the more delicate flavour of the cod.

We had heard many complimentary comments about the excellence of Garum's lamb dishes, so we were thrilled when we noticed that our menus contained New Zealand Rack of Lamb served with Mashed Peas and Spinach, served with Saffron Potatoes and Mint Basil Butter. The lamb, of course, was perfectly cooked until it was a delicate shade of pale pink and it practically melted in the mouth. The saffron potatoes looked gorgeous and provided a suitably luxurious accompaniment to the lamb on its soft bed of mashed vegetables and, as for the mint basil butter – may we have the recipe, please?

You must always leave room for dessert when you visit Garum, because their menu contains everything that a diner with a sweet tooth could possibly desire. We were recommended the Chocolate Brownie served with Dulce de Leche, Cranberries, Aquavit Sorbet and Walnuts. You think that you know what a chocolate brownie should taste like? You almost certainly do not. This was in a different league to pretty much every brownie that we had ever tasted. Just gorgeous, with a strong, deeply chocolatey after taste, which lingered pleasingly for quite a while.

After dinner we stayed for a while to absorb the ambience, enjoy an excellent cup of coffee and listen to the sound of waves gently breaking on the beach just a metre or two away.

There are some excellent restaurants in the Marbella area and the establishments that enjoy a solid reputation are rewarded with a loyal customer base. Some would describe the devotion of Garum's regulars as fanaticism – but who would deny that they are wrong? Not us, that's for sure.

 
Yanx: Marbella's American Star

2016-09Yanx

It's time for a big celebration – in February next year Yanx will have been providing the best of American cuisine to the people of the Costa del Sol for 20 years. Considering that the Coast can be a fairly brutal place for restaurants (will today's hotspot become tomorrow's cold leftovers?), Yanx's continued success is nothing short of miraculous.

Or is it? Above all, what this fun, family-friendly place manages to achieve, seemingly without effort, is consistency. The menu offers traditional American food at a reasonable price and portion sizes are typically generous, meaning an army of repeat visitors. For those relaxed summer nights there is a generous terrace and, when the weather turns colder, the restaurant's interior, with its impeccably American décor and playlist creates a comfortably appropriate ambience.

The SOCIETY team is seriously addicted to Yanx, loving its extensive menu, authentic food and friendly staff, 75 per cent of whom have been part of the crew since the beginning. This spirit of continuity means that we are greeted like old friends on arrival, something that always starts the evening off on a positive note. It's also a great place to be on a night when there is a big match, since two large screens allow diners to keep up with the success – or failure – of their favourite teams.

We like to take our time when we visit Yanx, but if you are hungry or in a hurry then don't worry because the team of 10 chefs and in-house bakers will ensure that your food arrives promptly.

In truth, Yanx offers a fabulous dining experience, but beware; this is a place where the old adage about one's eyes being larger than one's stomach apply. It is all too easy to be tempted by the gorgeous starters (and, believe us, this is Tex-Mex heaven) and then be unable to do justice to your main course, never mind be unable to take advantage of the sumptuous desserts. However, there is a sensible answer to this problem – why not follow our examples and share a starter or two? Mixing it up a little, we loved the fabulously tasty Nachos Nachos and the Famous Hot Wings served with a mouthwatering Blue Cheese Dip, not to mention the Onion Blossom with a Barbecue Salsa Dip.

One of our party decided to move east for the main course, ordering the Singapore Crispy Beef Salad, which consisted of a gorgeously crunchy oriental salad, consisting of Noodles and Bean Sprouts in a Chilli Vinaigrette, topped with Asian Sticky Beef. We can also recommend the Way Out West Burger, a tasty homemade Beef Patty accompanied by a smoky Barbecue Sauce and topped with Grated Cheddar and a crispy Onion Ring, all served in a freshly baked bun. The Tex-Mex dishes were too good to ignore and the Fabulous Fajitas more than lived up to their name and we adored the authentic Guacamole. If you can take the heat you must also experience the fiery wonders of Gaucho's Chilli Pot, a large bowl of Yanx's finest Beef Chilli, served with Rice, Salad, Cheese and Coleslaw and, be warned, this one is best tackled on an empty stomach.

The dessert menu at Yanx really is a cornucopia of delights, so make sure that you enjoy a break before tackling it, or order a starter and dessert to ensure that you have room. That is certainly a trick that we will be trying on our next visit! In the meantime, if you have a sweet tooth (and who doesn't?) we can confirm that the Apple and Cinnamon American Pancakes with Sour Cream were the best we have ever tasted. You would also expect an American-themed restaurant to come up with the goods when it comes to a chocolate brownie and we were very happy with the Best Little Brownie in the West. Created using the finest Belgian Chocolate, served with luscious Vanilla Ice-Cream and topped with Chocolate and Caramel Hot Sauces, this was a chocoholic's dream. Being cheesecake fans we also had to sample the American Baked Double Chocolate Cheesecake, which tasted as sinful as it looked, while the Frozen Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie served with Warm Caramel Sauce was superb.    

If you haven't visited Yanx recently there are plenty of reasons to book a table in the next few weeks. A 20 per cent Halloween discount is being offered to diners who dress up in suitably creepy clothing and there will also be a Thanksgiving Celebration Dinner with live entertainment. Yanx's New Year's Eve celebration is already 90 per cent full, but a few places are still available.

We are always looking at Yanx's Facebook page, which is the best place to learn about all the latest news and offers before everyone else and, in the next couple of weeks, the details of this year's winter promotions and February's 20th Anniversary Party will be announced, so if you haven't 'liked' Yanx on Facebook now is the time to do so.

This is also a wonderful place to go to enjoy a working breakfast or lunch with colleagues or to meet friends for coffee. An additional attraction is the increasingly popular Market Kitchen, which serves gorgeous (we know – we've eaten many of them!) Sausage Rolls and tasty Curries.

Located in Nueva Andalucía's constantly buzzing Centro Plaza, Yanx is the perfect place for anyone who wants to get away from it all while remaining where the action is.

Cafeyanx.com 

 
Bettina Food Revolution

2016-11Bettina

WHAT IS IT?

Access to good, fresh, real food and the basic skills to cook it has the power to transform lives, and that is what the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation is all about. Working in the UK, US and through the Good Foundation in Australia, it is leading a full-scale and ongoing Food Revolution to improve the health and happiness of future generations, through the food they eat. From food education programmes delivered at a local level, to national and international campaigns that influence policy on key issues, it aims to revolutionise the way people feed themselves and their families.

BECOME A REVOLUTIONARY

Meaningful, lasting change is built from the ground up. If we each take a few small steps to shift the way we grow, distribute, purchase, prepare and prioritise food, the ripple effect would be enormous. Governments will react with change in policies, businesses will change practices and therefore entire generations will be equipped with the skills, knowledge and resources they need to eat good, nutritious food for a healthier, happier life.

As a revolutionary, you can join in with the campaigns and unite to make a huge noise in the fight for a better, healthier and happier world for every child. From advocating change at a community level to shouting about campaigns on social media to learning how to cook and passing on your skills, everyone has a role to play.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

You decide how much you do. Change can start at home, simply by learning to cook a few nutritious meals and passing those new skills onto friends and family. Change can mean getting your kids in the kitchen, supporting local food or inviting your loved ones around a table to enjoy good food, cooked from scratch. You can also advocate change at a community level, by signing up to the Food Revolution, keeping abreast of all the latest news, and supporting Jamie and our partner’s campaigns in making our united voice heard. Together, we can all make small changes that, en masse, create a huge impact.

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN MARBELLA?

A lot has happened since we last talked about the food revolution. This term we have welcomed Atalaya College onboard, with cookery workshops as an extra curricular activity every Friday afternoon for children of varying ages each month. Between the school, Rebecca Cifarelli and Nathalie Le Bourgeois and myself we have come up with a model that works. We are hoping that more schools, both English and Spanish speaking, will follow suit.

WHAT WE ARE WORKING TOWARDS?

Involving as many local schools in food education as possible and working towards  Food Revolution Day that is celebrated worldwide each year in May.

Reaching out and inspiring more local revolutionaries - we cannot do this on our own and need as many people on board as possible.

Join us, sign up, share and get in touch:

facebook.com/foodrevmarbella 

 
La Sala Banús to Enjoy a FOC Facelift

2016-11LaSala

La Sala Banús has long been considered an institution in the Marbella area. Opening in 2010 it has since risen to international fame, with guests coming from all over the world to experience the hottest seat in town, as it is known.

Well known for creating a brilliant buzz and an amazing atmosphere, it is easy to understand why people continue to return. It is therefore with great excitement that the FOC Design team can proudly announce the upcoming major refurbishment of this amazing venue this November. Appearance has always been of utmost importance at La Sala and, after opening the successful Oak Garden & Grill, it was time to refresh the La Sala Puerto Banús hotspot.

Tasked with the complicated project of refreshing - but not losing - the current vibe, we have rearranged the floorplan a little to allow extra seating, while maintaining the airy and glamorous feel of the venue. Keeping the signature 'modern but glamorous' aesthetic associated with La Sala, we have introduced a smoky and sexy colour palette inspired by a textured flamingo wallpaper with grey, charcoal and smoky gold colours. Anthracite grey stingray effect fabric and smoked glass pendant lights in reception are complemented by a backdrop of the flamingo wallpaper and an aged gold reception desk with slick black granite surface, creating intrigue right from the start.

In the main bar the theme has been continued with black iridescent hexagonal tiles bejewelling the bar front, a carpet effect granite polished concrete-look tile around the bar, oxidised gloss finish hi-top tables and bar stools in moody slate velvet fabric. The existing La Sala branded floor light will be given a new lease of life to shine all day and night whether you're enjoying a light lunch, a quick drink or dancing all night on top of it!

New steel grey velvet grey banquette seating will be placed in the main restaurant to provide seating both for large parties and smaller, more intimate groups. The banquette extends out next to a decadent wall of bevel-edged antiqued mirror tiles in brick formation, creating a stunning, glamorous full-length feature wall with an urban edge, as well as reflecting the beautiful smoked glass oversized bulb lights with Edison bulbs that are suspended in front of it. The arched window on this wall is to be replaced with a London-style factory window with black framed panes. A large chandelier will hang from the skylight over chairs which are being upholstered in four different fabrics: steel grey velvet and yellow embroidered hexagons, camel velvet and black vinyl covered in gold glitter sitting on a new floor which will be lightened with an oak effect tile, complete with deeper oak streaks and knots.

The Sun Room will feel like a tea room, with both classic and edgy interiors. The right-hand wall will provide more steel grey banquette seating under a wall of slate with hints of black and gold colours marbled through it and finished beautifully with some lush greenery and hanging macrame plant pots. When complete, courtesy of some carefully chosen accessories, it will provide a lovely bright space day or night with classy glass globe lighting.

The Piano Room is where the biggest transformation will occur, since we have created much more space there. The existing banquette will be extended dramatically and upholstered in the steel grey velvet under a feature wall of soft sheen pale gold ostrich effect wallpaper. Three smaller chandeliers matching the main restaurant will be dotted over the dining tables and the chairs will be upholstered in the same moody glam fabrics as before. At the far end is a new curved booth in camel velvet, surrounded by a matte gold chain curtain lit from above and creating a real wow factor when visitors enter. The existing stage has been designed to be retractable so that, when not in use, the space can be used to its full potential. When in use it pulls out, providing a full stage, complete with nature wall backdrop and fairy lights to frame some of the best entertainment acts on the Costa del Sol.

Bathrooms will be given a lift by placing more black and gold marbled slate in the back of the cubicles and, in the ladies', we are adding a small dusting of glamour with more bevel-edged mirror tiles and smoked glass pendant lights.

The exterior will change dramatically, with new teak coloured decking, retractable pergolas to provide shade on those famous Andalusian summer days and fairy lights wrapped round the palm trees for ambient evening lighting, while you dine and dance.

Famous for rarely closing, most of this operation must be completed in a week, so naturally we have two teams working day and night to ensure that it is carried out with military precision. We hope you are as excited as we are and that you will come along at the end of November to see it for yourselves - words won’t do it justice!

 
Turmeric the new Super food.

2016-09bettina

How we do we use ingredients to their best ability and how do we make them work for us in the best possible way? Turmeric is one of those ingredients that unless it is used the right way our bodies will not absorb it fully. Consume turmeric with black pepper. “Adding black pepper to turmeric or turmeric-spiced food enhances curcumin’s bioavailability by 1,000 times, due to black pepper’s hot property called piperine. Without fat, the active component in turmeric, cur cumin also has a difficult time making it past the stomach, into the small intestine, and into the blood where it can offer the greatest benefits. So the best way to use Turemric is by combining it with a pinch of black pepper and gently heating it with a fat - my personal choice coconut oil.

Turmeric is the new wonder super duper food on the market. Despite its use in cooking for several thousand years, turmeric continues to surprise researchers in terms of its wide-ranging health benefits. While once focused on anti-inflammatory benefits, decreased cancer risk, and support of detoxification, studies on turmeric intake now include its potential for improving cognitive function, blood sugar balance, and kidney function, as well as lessening the degree of severity associated with certain forms of arthritis and certain digestive disorders.
Use of turmeric in recipes can help retain the beta-carotene in certain foods. For example, one study has shown that the beta-carotene in carrots and pumpkins is better retained when those vegetables are cooked using recipes that include turmeric. Here are 5 surprising uses that I bet you didn't know about!

1 May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.
2 Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
3 Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
4 It speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.
5 Turmeric may help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Here's how to use it.

1. Spice up your food.

Add Turmeric to anything! besides sweets, for a new flavor and a ton of health benefits. You can use turmeric to add some zest to cooked vegetables, eggs, and even smoothies, breakfasts etc. You can also add it to boiling water you're using to make pasta, rice, soups, and more.

2. Drink it as a tea.

Bring four cups of water to a boil. Add one teaspoon of ground turmeric and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup, add honey and/or lemon to taste. Or make the famous GOLDEN MILK - google and there be hundreds of recipes on this topic.

3. Use a turmeric supplement.

Take it as a supplement but b¡make sure it is from a reliable source.

4. Mix it with castor oil for a skin detox.

Castor oil with tumeric powder is a powerful toxin releaser for your skin. For women, it is great to apply to the breast and under arm because it will pull out harmful toxins from the lymph nodes and fat cells of the breast.

 
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