Put down those barbecue tongs – as delicious as a perfectly-cooked burger is, there is more to summer cuisine than the grill.
This first taste of summer sunshine might have you craving the finer foods in life – a mellow Pinot noir, tapas al fresco, a perfectly-mature chèvre topped with tomato and basil – freshly picked from the garden of course. If food is your passion, consider venturing a little further afield than your backyard BBQ or cottage this summer, and head straight to the source of seasonal epicurean excellence: Europe.
Europeans have had centuries to perfect their culinary dark arts and their mastery is in evidence everywhere. The continent is a true foodie paradise during the bountiful months of June through September, making this the ideal time of the year to indulge in local and farm-to-fork bounty. Enter Mr & Mrs Smith – we’ve asked the definitive experts in Europe’s best boutique and luxury hotels to recommend their top five epicurean destinations for Canadians this season – from the oh-so-affordable to the downright drool-worthy. Our stomachs were rumbling just dreaming about it, that we have already booked our flights in anticipation…
Visit Mr & Mrs Smith to book any of the tasty holidays listed.
ABaC Restaurant & Hotel – Barcelona, Spain
“Hotel with dining room” doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the ABaC Restaurant & Hotel, a two-Michelin-starred eatery in Barcelona – which also happens to have dreamy, minimalist bedrooms and a serene Elemis spa. The restaurant specializes in distinctive fusion cuisine (bamboo-steamed foie gras, Iberian suckling pig paired with mango tatin), and its unmissable 14- or 21-course tasting menu, fashionably served on Versace china, will please even the most sophisticated and adventurous palates. Rooms from $373/night.
Upside-down emmental soufflé and beef daube Provençale, followed by rice pudding pannacotta with marmalade; East London’s hip The Zetter hotel relishes in the cutting-edge and the unexpected, a philosophy that influences every detail right down to the menu at its new restaurant, Bistrot Bruno Loubet. Expect bold and beautiful flavours from head chef Loubet and some cheeky English-French fusion food. In the summer months, everything becomes thoroughly European with al fresco drinking and dining. Rooms from $230/night.
Tucked away in a quaint spa town near Portugal’s northern border, this fully renovated early 20th century royal palace is now home to the opulent Vidago Palace hotel. The exquisite hotel restaurant, the Salão Nobre Dining Room, is housed in the main building – the grandiose and gilded former ballroom – and helmed by Portugese chef Josu Sedanu-Martin who made a name for himself at London’s The Ivy restaurant. Diners can expect a gourmet take on local favourites, such as octopus carpaccio and quail eggs. The signature cocktails are divine – try the Palace Velvet, a chocoholic’s fantasy, or the Ruby Vidalgo, a creative concoction involving rose port and crème de menthe. Rooms from $280/night.
Worth the splurge:
Perched upon a cliff overlooking the Bay of Salerno, Monastero Santa Rosa is a rustic retreat, a fully renovated 17th century monastery surrounded by aromatic, lemon-tree filled gardens. Italian connoisseurs flock to the hotel’s restaurant, Santa Rosa Ristorante, which serves up over 400 varieties of local wine and authentic Campania dishes – such as homemade spaghetti with vegetables and baby squid – most of which are made from the organically grown produce picked right from the hotel’s garden. Expect to be wowed by both the spectacular ocean views and outstanding cuisine. Rooms from $870/night.
Any hotel that has been described as “castle-chic” is sure to have something special in store. Boasting a moat and drawbridge, Chateau de Bagnols offers guests a completely decadent and luxurious French experience. The hotel’s restaurant, La Salle des Gardes, is no exception, with a selection of traditional Gallic cuisine – picture fire-side spit-roasted meats and game – plus modern renditions of French favourites. In the summer, guests can dine al fresco on a terrace shaded by 100-year-old lime trees. Rooms from $830/night