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Latest News from Akorn Spain & Portugal
The latest fine dining venture in Barcelona
Joining the rich range of haute cuisine options in Barcelona, Compartir opened its doors to diners for the first time this month. The sister restaurant to the successful venture of the same name just down the road in Cadaques, Compartir is the result of a collaboration between chef Nil Dulcet of Disfrutar fame and a trio of chefs from the legendary El Bulli project: Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch, and Mateu Casanas. Their unique sense of innovation will combine in a creative menu made for sharing (hence the name of the restaurant), with platters featuring traditional produce that's been given the modern, cutting edge treatment - expect to choose from the likes of tuna cannelloni, hazelnut coulant, and liquid chocolate bonbons when you take your seat in the contemporary designed space in the heart of the Eixample district.
New high-speed rail line to transform Granada access
Rail travel is already the most convenient mode of transport for covering the vast distance between Madrid and Barcelona, due to the comfort and speed of the AVE line. However, until recently this has not necessarily been the case elsewhere in Spain due to the lack of a high-speed service for other destinations. That has now changed for Granada though. Following over a decade of delay and numerous construction works that involved building 122km of new rail line, 7 new tunnels and 31 new viaducts, Granada is now connected to the world’s second largest high-speed rail network and services are available for the public. This cuts two hours off the previous quickest train journey from Madrid to Granada, and also means that the AVE journey is the quickest way of travelling between the cities without flying – you can save up to an hour off the road transfer time with this new rail route. The likes of the majestic Alhambra Palace and the whitewashed streets and alleys of the Albaizin district are now more accessible than ever from the Spanish capital.
An Urban Paradise
Aside from the abundance of history and culture, more laid-back travellers can also enjoy some of the finest beaches around while in Spain. La Concha has seen the praise come flooding in for a few years now, and TripAdvisor’s user-based awards are just the latest accolade to add to the list. The urban beach in the heart of San Sebastian, capital of the Basque Country, is a 1.5km stretch of golden sand, bookended on either side by the mountains of Urgull and Igeldo, which offers stunning views across the bay, and the picturesque Santa Clara Island within swimming distance. Not only has this city centre paradise retained its rating of best beach in Europe, it has also broken into TripAdvisor’s top 5 beaches in the world. Those tired out by all that sunbathing will be pleased to know that San Sebastian’s gourmet reputation is no smaller – no city in the world has more Michelin stars, and the exquisite cuisine is considered one of the primary reasons why Spain was also named healthiest country in the world in a recent Bloomberg study.
Zaragoza's week-long party underway
Spain and Portugal are famed for the rich variety of local and festivities that seem to be celebrated in one Iberian town or another almost all year round. Aragon and its capital of Zaragoza are not always on every tourist's must-see list, but their celebrations, known as the Fiestas del Pilar (after its patron saint, the Virgen del Pilar), are among the most enjoyable. Originally a religious feast day, October 12 is now also a national holiday, deliberately chosen to coincide with Columbus Day and the Discovery of the Americas, meaning that the whole country can join in the revelry. The festivities include the Offering of Flowers, during which hundreds of thousands of locals in traditional dress set up a huge pyramid of flowers that remains on display throughout the celebrations. If you're making your way to the party, make sure you also catch a glimpse of the Comparsa de Gigantes y Cabezudos - large papier-mache figures of local characters with medieval costumes and, as tradition dictates, disproportionately large heads!
Paella chefs prepare for kitchen clash
Food and drink festivals are celebrated in towns and villages across Spain throughout the summer months and the Valencia region is home to some of the most entertaining examples. You may well have heard of La Tomatina, in which revellers hurl tomatoes at each other for the best part of an hour, but another competition in nearby Sueca pits competitors head to head in a kitchen challenge. Paella is arguably the best known Spanish dish overseas, but its origins and spiritual home lie in this corner of the country, which is why professional chefs will flock into town on September 10th and attempt to prove that their version of the local rice dish is the tastiest!
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