Taste of heaven

Casa Hotel Spanish Chef, Jesus Nino Manchado.
Casa Hotel Spanish Chef, Jesus Nino Manchado.

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.