The interior dining room glows with an antique chic, a dash of modern colonial and laidback Mediterranean style. Head chef Lucia Ferrer has spent the winter travelling and percolating ideas for the new season menu, which is as fresh and exciting as ever. “I love to travel,” says Lucia. “Every place I go I always bring something back with me and add our own Mediterranean touch, or really, I should say an Ibicenco touch.” The 2017 La Veranda menu is testament to her imaginative cuisine and illustrates her deep respect for the produce of the island. “When it comes down to it, I just love it here,” she says of her role in the restaurant. “Everything is made with love.” Which also pretty much sums up what Agroturismo Atzaró is all about.
New dishes on the menu this year cover the gamut of everyone’s preferred local ingredients. Grilled octopus has been a favourite of Mediterranean fishermen for millennia and Lucia’s version brings it full circle into the Atzaro vibe. Juicy, locally caught octopus sits on a bed of mashed yellow potatoes with tender vegetables, all of which are suffused with a smoky, chilli piquancy. It’s a classic dish brought to a whole new level. Another of Lucia’s favourites are the chicken tacos, a dish inspired by her travels through South and Central America. “We are very particular about the provenance of the chicken we use,” she says. “It is always free range, country raised. The tacos are so simple yet so tender.” They’re served with tomato tartar, fresh avocado and the sweetness of pineapple to bring out the flavours.
Sweet and delicate Santoña anchovies served with Arbequina infused tomatoes are another delicious example of a Spanish classic done to perfection. Lucia describes the Bluefin tuna from Galicia as “spectacular” and is particularly enamoured with this year’s local red prawns, which she sends out with potatoes and suquet. “We use produce from the island – a lot of it from our own gardens,” she says. “My inspiration comes from the natural flavours of local, seasonal produce. I love simple things.” This is Lucia’s fourth year at the helm of the La Veranda kitchen and she is as enthusiastic as ever. Overseeing the two daytime menus, plus events and fine dining offerings in July and August, she has developed a keen sense of what people are looking for. “It’s very intuitive,” she says of evolving the Atzaro menus. “This is my place. I instinctively know what is going to work”. This year, that means creating a new daytime menu that reflects the changing ways clients’ view food and wellbeing.
Working with Oliver Morgado Alfonso, a long-time friend and now collaborator, Lucia has launched a new daytime menu available on the terraces, in the pool area, spa and for delivery to the private villas of the hotel. The theme is based on the principles of Ayurveda, an ancient Hindu system of medicine that balances the body using food, herbs and conscious intent. It may sound complicated but the culinary results are completely sublime. “We put a lot of intention behind the preparation and development of each dish,” says Oliver. “Each ingredient carries a healing property and acts as preventative medicine.” Despite, or perhaps because of, this intention the menu is brimming with healthy, light and incredibly delicious dishes. “We wanted to continue on from the theme of wellness that stems from the Atzaró Spa,” adds Lucia. “Its about people relaxing, sharing a plate by the pool or on the terrace and knowing that it is good for them as well as being tasty.”
Contrary to preconceptions, Ayurveda does not mean vegetarian and the menu features a Vitamin C Antiox salad of langoustines with wakame seaweed, pomelo, edamame, spouts and chlorophyll alongside Oliver’s favourite Revitalising Cold Soup made with coconut, turmeric, garlic, ginger, avocado, and hemp salt. “It’s probiotic,” he says. “All the ingredients are in harmony both at a health level and a taste level.” Regular La Veranda diners can still get their classic Atzaró dishes, such as the juicy Hamburger Duo – one made with legumes and the other with ‘happy’ Wagyu beef. And the Peruvian Ceviche remains a lunchtime pleasure, as are the popular Beef Tacos and Falafel Royal. As always behind the innovation and imagination at La Veranda lies a Mediterranean heart and soul. Lucia sums the Atzaro concept perfectly: “In the end, people do want to try new things as well as their favourites. For me it is always about fresh, quality ingredients and love.”