This isn’t your normal poolside lunch. Yes, we’re watching people splashing about in the water below the sun-drenched terrace at Tenerife’s Bahia del Duque resort, but the procession of small courses in exquisitely made dishes couldn’t be further from your usual club sandwich or limp salad.
That’s because my teenage son and I are at the Michelin-starred Nub, which opened earlier this year at the hotel – and the food is as good as it is unusual, mixing influences from Italian chef Andrea Bernardi and his Chilean wife Fernanda Fuentes-Cardenas.
There’s a take on Italy’s caprese salad using fermented cream rather than buffalo mozzarella, and ossobuco with black pudding-filled pasta and a corn-foam sauce.
Bahia del Duque in Tenerife, which not only boasts high-end cuisine, but also tennis courts, a gym and pools
A tasty sensation: A dish at Nub in the Bahia del Duque resort
The most delicious dish, though, is a version of carbonara using celeriac cooked for eight seconds so it resembles pasta – a dish so popular they have not yet replaced it on the menu, which changes every six weeks.
It’s heavenly, but it’s not Heaven, which turns out to be a room specifically for desserts, complete with cloud-shaped lights, photographs of the sky and a counter full of waving kitties, gnomes and other kitsch ornaments.
Why? Why not, shrugs Bernardi, whose next dish shows how much he likes to play with ideas.
‘I used to dislike the Sicilian salad my grandmother used to prepare with orange, black olives, onions and pepper,’ he says, ‘but I wanted to see if I could make a pudding using the same ingredients.’
Served with black pepper ice cream, it’s as strangely compelling as the room in which we are eating. Thank goodness Bahia del Duque has tennis courts, a gym and pools so we can counter some of the calories ingested during the meal.
Built to resemble a grand 19th Century colonial villa, albeit one with 346 rooms, the hotel is spread out on a hillside, which means guests get in a lot of walking just going to the beach and back.
Michelin-starred Nub (pictured) opened earlier this year. The menu changes every six weeks
Although after a meal like the one we’d just had, you may want to do nothing more than wallow in the outdoor spa pool, where you can lie back on bubble beds and feel the therapeutic benefits of sea water as the hydromassage jets pummel your flubber.
At some stage you will want to eat again, and there’s plenty of choice. You could stay for a week and eat dinner somewhere different every night, picking Italian, Basque or Mexican as the mood takes you.
The Brasserie by Pierre Resimont is particularly good – he has two Michelin stars in his Belgian restaurant, L’Eau-Vive, and it shows, particularly in French classics such as the duck confit.
If it’s more stars you’re after, just a short drive away The Ritz-Carlton Abama has not one but two Michelin-starred restaurants. Two-starred MB is where Erlantz Gorostiza interprets chef’s Martin Berasategui’s vision of a Basque-inspired menu. The restaurant is closed until October 13, but the one-star Abama Kabuki is open from October 9, serving Japanese fusion food, with a tasting menu for children, too.
Book: Seven nights’ B&B at Bahia del Duque costs from £1,149pp with flights leaving September 30 (sovereign.com). The 11-course menu at Nub costs £116, with a vegetarian version at £99. Seven nights’ B&B at The Ritz-Carlton Abama costs from £1,050pp with flights (sovereign.com). Set menus at Abama Kabuki cost £94 to £116, and at MB from £103 to £137.
But gourmands are spoilt for choice all over Europe. The Algarve, for example, has three hotels with Michelin-starred restaurants within a 45-minute drive of each other.
Pick of the bunch is Vila Vita Parc, as much for its landscaped gardens on the cliff above the beach as for its two-star restaurant, Ocean. Here, the sublime sea views are the perfect backdrop to Hans Neuner’s food, with a new menu this year inspired by Portugal’s islands of the Azores, Madeira and Sao Tome. It’s one of ten restaurants at the sprawling resort, with its Sisley spa, tennis courts and pitch and putt course.
Vila Vita Parc’s Ocean restaurant is pictured above. There, the ‘sublime sea views’ are the ‘perfect backdrop’ to the cuisine, according to Jane Knight
For something a little more boutique, try the Relais & Chateaux Bela Vista Hotel, with its turret, stained-glass windows and 38 super-stylish rooms.
It celebrates its seafront location in its one-star Vista restaurant, where Joao Oliveira’s seafood tasting menu features clams, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, turbot, sole, anchovies and squid.
If you’re not bothered about being bang on the beach but like the idea of a golf concierge and modern stripped-back rooms, check out the Conrad Algarve in Quinta do Lago, where Heinz Beck’s one-star Gusto restaurant is described by Michelin as ‘particularly interesting’.
Michelin described the one-star Gusto restaurant, pictured above, as ‘particularly interesting’
Expect contemporary Mediterranean food, such as pigeon with roasted onion puree, in its Scandi interior.
Book: Seven nights’ B&B at Vila Vita Parc from £1,659pp, menu £180. Seven nights’ B&B at Bela Vista Hotel from £1,899pp, menus £112 to £137. Seven nights’ B&B at the Conrad Algarve from £999pp, menus £103 to £129. All the packages include flights. Book before September 21 (ba.com).
Lemons are what’s it’s all about on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, and at the 66-room Hotel Santa Caterina you’ll even find them in the spa treatments, with essential oils made from citrus fruit, and at Michelin-starred Glicine.
Pictured is the Michelin-starred Glicine, which offers views over the Bay of Naples from the wisteria-draped terraces
Here, with views over the Bay of Naples from the wisteria-draped terraces, chef Giuseppe Stanzione’s dishes might include tagliatelle of cuttlefish with cucumber, avocado and salted lemon, or pasta with lemon sauce and local shrimp.
It’s a stroll downhill through scented citrus groves in the tiered gardens to reach the hotel’s beach club.
For a different view of the Bay of Naples, head to the island of Capri. Here, the 68-room Capri Palace Jumeirah is designed in the style of an 18th Century palazzo and has a beach club and medical spa as well as two-Michelin-starred L’Olivo. Chef Andrea Migliaccio has created a tasting menu featuring the most iconic dishes from his decade at the restaurant, including lemon-scented tagliolini pasta with burrata, red prawns and sea asparagus.
Two-Michelin-starred L’Olivo, with chef Andrea Migliaccio at the helm, is located in the Capri Palace Jumeirah
Book: Seven nights’ B&B at Hotel Santa Caterina from £2,545pp, menus £94 to £129. Seven nights’ B&B at Capri Palace Jumeirah from £2,345pp, menus £172 to £189. Both include flights (elegantresorts.co.uk).
It’s hard to eat badly in Puglia, a place of farmers and fishermen at the heel of Italy that is bursting with local produce.
At Borgo Egnazia, chef Domingo Schingaro has 30 varieties of tomatoes, ten kinds of artichokes and eight types of chicory at his disposal for the dishes at the hotel’s Due Camini restaurant, much from its own vegetable gardens.
Jane recommends trying the chef’s twist on Apulian street food in the Due Camini restaurant, pictured above
Be sure to try his versions of Apulian street food, including friggitello pepper and lentils with lampascioni onions.
The resort, built to resemble a typical Apulian village, is a symphony of white and cream, with paved alleyways between the villas and cottages and plenty of arches and arcades.
There’s a spa for chilling out as well as four pools and a beach club, with golf and cycling for the more active and a trattoria among the other restaurants.
Book: A week’s B&B from £2,469pp with flights (inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk), menus from £120.
A table tucked away in a secret garden makes a Michelin-starred meal from Yoric Tieche even more special at the swanky Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat on the Riviera. You can also order a picnic to enjoy in Provencal vineyards or tantalise the appetite with gourmet canapes on board the hotel’s yacht, before returning to the main event at Le Cap restaurant.
Le Cap restaurant, above, is part of the ‘swanky’ Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat in the French Riviera
Here, Tieche gives a fresh twist to Provencal food, with his signature dishes of razor clams and cockles with seaweed and fennel followed by grilled red mullet with olive tapenade.
The hotel, with spectacular sea views from Nice to Monaco, a beach club and spa, has attracted everyone from Winston Churchill to Elizabeth Taylor.
Book: Four nights’ B&B from £1,999pp with flights (abercrombiekent.co.uk), menus £136 to £153.
Forget the sea view from the terrace at the Blue Ray restaurant in the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort – the table to bag is the one in the open kitchen with the perfect view of Marcel Ravin as he creates his fusion of Caribbean and Mediterranean dishes.
Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel, where guests can spend time in the hotel’s pool complex between meals
The chef, who also oversees the less formal L’Orange Verte restaurant, specialises in creations such as green papaya spaghetti carbonara and organic egg with cassava, truffle and passion fruit.
Between meals, spend time in the hotel’s pool complex with its indoor pool in a glass-panelled conservatory extending to a sandy-bottom lagoon and outdoor pool. This being Monte Carlo, there’s a casino, too.
Book: Three nights’ B&B from £439pp with flights (ba.com). Menus £120 to £155, chef’s table costs £447 for two with wine, aperitif and Martinique rum.
For a real sense of history among the floral fabrics, dark-wood furniture and wicker chairs, book in to Belmond Reid’s Palace, where Churchill went to paint and where the gourmet restaurant is named after hotel founder William Reid.
The gourmet restaurant in Belmond Reid’s Palace, pictured above, is named after hotel founder William Reid
Sit in this clifftop eyrie in Madeira and take in the panoramic sea views while devouring Luis Pestana’s open lobster ravioli and other seafood after a day spent out on the water, exploring the subtropical gardens or in one of the hotel’s pools.
Book: Seven nights’ B&B with flights at Belmond Reid’s Palace from £1,477pp, menu £103 (classic-collection.co.uk).
- Unless stated otherwise, all holiday packages are for October.