IT’s that time of year when people dream of sharing authentic tapas in the Spanish sun.
Now the dream is holidaying on their doorsteps as top chef Jesus Niño Manchado brings a taste of Spain to Chesterfield’s Casa Hotel for its fortnight Festival of Spanish Food and Wines.
Spanish gazpacho soup with prawns, calamari with squid ink in the batter and a light version of Spanish rice pudding as foam flavoured with cinnamon and lemon are just some of the mouth-watering dishes in special tasting menus, buffets and speciality tapas.
“People can expect some really traditional Spanish food with a modern touch because we’re in a new century and the Spanish cuisine has moved on as well,” said Jesus (29).
“It’s a rare opportunity.”
Artisan cheeses, Iberian ham and specialities have been ordered at Casa, which uses local produce, much from owner Steve Perez’s farm Walton Lodge. A mutual friend brought Jesus, who has worked in six Michelin-starred restaurants across Barcelona and San Sebastian after starting as a dish washer, to the four star destination.
Asked about English cuisine, he said: “The products here are very good, paticularly in the hotel. It’s rare to get this kind of quality. The prices are very reasonable for what we’re offering - some meals would be 60 or 70 euros a person in Spain.”
Until April 17 is hectic as Jesus works with Casa’s Gordon Ramsay-trained head chef Matthew Rushton – yesterday’s five course degustation menu with matching wines, £35, sold out. But he hopes to see Chatsworth and try one national dish for the first time.
“Wherever you go you always learn something, even if it’s just a humble fish and chip shop.” he added.
To book a Spanish buffet (April 10-17), next pre-purchase degustation menu (April 14) or enjoy specials (April 7,8,9,15) call (01246) 275302.
•You can WIN a Spanish festival dinner for two at Casa and enjoy an exclusive reader offer. See this week’s Derbyshire Times for details.