As the cold winter evening draw in, our recent holiday to Lanzarote seems such a long time ago. Since we've come back I have managed to post up a couple of food stories so far and hope to get a couple more written up in the coming weeks.
The resort of Playa Blanca is peppered with a large number of 4* hotels, as well as a few 5* hotels, all of which blend in with the luxury villas spread across this growing resort. Within a short walk from our own villa, stood the Princesa Yaiza, a hotel that is often regarded as the most attractive of all of the islands places to stay. (often the destination of the rich and famous)
We had enjoyed drinks at one of the hotels bars during our first week and as we sat in the luxurious surroundings we decided that we wanted to try out one of the restaurants within the hotel before our holiday was over. After a quick chat with Elisa on reception it was decided that the gourmet restaurant, Isla De Lobos, was the best place to experience 5* dining, so with that advice taken on board we booked a table for the following week.
Restaurante Isla de Lobos is located deep within the Princesa Yaiza Hotel complex, overlooking the sea and the cluster of Islands that the restaurant takes its name from. We were seated promptly by the Maître d' and left to get comfortable as we looked over the menu. Whilst we waited, our waiter arrived with some warm breads, flavours butters and wonderful homemade grissini before taking our wine order.
I've written before about the rising popularity, and our own love of Lanzarote wines which meant that we had no difficulty in choosing wine to accompany our dinner and before long we were savouring the fantastic rosé produced by Bodega Stratvs from just up the road in La Geria.
As we cast our eyes over the a la carte menu, there were so many starters and mains that sounded great so we were delighted to see that there was a well priced 5 course tasting menu that just happened include some of the dishes that had caught our attention.
The restaurant uses organic and locally produced product where and when it can, and also works along the Slow Food philosophy, ensuring that it's diners have the time to enjoy and appreciate the skill of both the kitchen and the hardworking producers across the island. So without further ado, we ordered and sat back in anticipation of what hopefully would be a meal to remember.
The menu boasted five courses plus an appetiser and sorbet. It wasn't long before the appetiser arrived. Any this point I'd like to apologise for some of the poor photography. Out table was halfway in, halfway out of the dining area and a sush, my camera was struggling to work out whether to use or not use it's flash.
The appetiser was a little glass with chilled chunks of poached chicken with pineapple in a sour cream and horseradish sauce, which seemed like an odd combination of flavours but was very nice and helped cleanse our palette before the first of the five courses arrived.
The first actual course was a starter of goats cheese salad with caramelised pistachios, palm honey and mustard vinaigrette. What a way to start a meal! The sharp goats cheese was balanced by the sweetness from the pistachios and palm honey and an almost perfect mix of textures made this possibly my favourite course.
After a short gap, the next course arrived. A huge succulent slightly sweet scallop was cooked to perfection, in a cream of white asparagus, topped with a grilled spears of both green and white asparagus and lime crystals. We both love scallops and asparagus so it's fair to say that we were both happy with the second course. A simplistic dish that didn't lack flavour - I just wish that there had been another giant scallop on my plate!
After two delicious starters, it was time for our fish course, and time for the presentation to be stepped up a notch. We were served Canary Island Stone Bass served on creamed potatoes with confit tomato and almond vinaigrette. There is a lot of debate about the local island fish in Lanzarote, the locally named stone bass, cherne or wreckfish is often attributed to both sea bream and sea bass. The grilled fish that we were served was a well seasoned fillet of what was most likely grouper. Regardless, the giant flaked fillet of grilled fish on our plate was great. Again, the varying textures and flavours made this a plate of food to remember.
So far so good. We were just over halfway through our tasting menu and our taste buds had been thoroughly tested. At this point we were served a palate cleansing Mojito sorbet, packed with plenty of lime and mint flavour. I love the idea of serving a sorbet between courses, especially when moving from a fish course and onto a meat course. We had to make quick work of the sorbet before nature took its course and it melted away. It may have been the start of October but the outside temperature was still in the low twenties at 9pm!
Refreshed after our sorbet palate cleanser, the fourth dish to arrive took our breath away. The roasted Canarian suckling pig with lemon gel and honey glaze was delightful. The suckling pig, or piglet to you and I, was slow cooked at a low temperature for over 8 hours, resulting in the most tender piece of pork that I've eaten. The sweet flavours from the honey glaze, as well as the sweetness from the pumpkin purée was countered by the sharp lemon jelly. The only criticism I could pass here is that I would have liked there to have been more pumpkin or potato to accompany the decent chunk of tasty pork.
So with starters and mains done, we expected our dessert course to make an appearance, however this was interrupted by the arrival of the sommelier and a couple of chilled glasses of dessert wine. When we booked our table the previous week, I 'might' have mentioned to the receptionist that I write a food blog and was looking forward to some fine dining - Id like to take this time to mention that that the Bodega Stratvs Moscatel that was served to us on the night was deducted from the bill , and say a big thank you to the staff at Princesa Yaiza.
Until recently, I hadn't really tasted dessert wine much but always had the impression that it would be sickly sweet and unpalatable but the Stratvs Moscatel was great, with aromas of dates and apricots and a rich taste which lingered on the tongue. I could definitely get used to enjoying this after a meal.
As we nursed our Moscatel, the chef wowed us again with his adaptation of a sailboat. The dessert was a warm pumpkin coulant filled with melted white chocolate, accompanied by a sharp mango sorbet, raspberry coulis and a white chocolate sail. The word coulant means 'flowing, of a spring or river. In cooking terms it is more often seen in the classic dessert - Coulant au Chocolate, or melting middle chocolate fondants. Tonight we had a deliciously light pumpkin sponge with a lush white chocolate gooey middle. Super sweet with sharp mango and raspberry helping to balance things out.
The last two and a bit hours had been wonderful. We had been served five beautifully presented plates of food, in addition to this we had our appetiser, a zingy sorbet plus the moscatel, and our evening was coming to an end. Of course, after such a wonderful meal, it would be wrong to end our meal without a coffee. We both ordered a cortado, the Spanish staple, which were served with some petit fours. The coffee was rich and bold, the frozen cheesecake and ganache filled dark chocolate cups were just enough to leave us feeling properly stuffed.
In recent times we have eaten a couple of very nice meals, and this tasting menu was right up there with the best. The cost for the 5 course tasting menu was €48, about £40, which represents fantastic value - especially when you think of the quality of food that was served up. What made the night even more enjoyable for me was that my gorgeous wife decided to treat me and paid the bill herself! What a result!
If you enjoy good food and like to be treated well, then spending the evening at the Princesa Yaiza is a great way to spend the evening . If you happen to be staying in Playa Blanca, in fact anywhere on the island, take time to visit Restaurante Isla de Lobos - you'll be glad that you did!