Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller and receive a free salt and pepper set - offer ends 26 March, 2017

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Flour and Stone Recipes

Baker extraordinaire Nadine Ingram of Sydney's Flour and Stone cooks up a sweet storm for Easter, including the much loved bakery's greatest hit.

Fast autumn dinners

Autumn weather signals the arrival of soups, broths, roasts and more hearty meals.

Roasted cauliflower salad with yoghurt dressing and almonds

The cauliflower is roasted until it starts to caramelise, which adds extra depth of flavour to this winning salad. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

Savoury tarts

Will your next baking project be a flaky puff pastry with pumpkin, goat's curd and thyme, or a classic bacon and Stilton tart? As autumn settles in, we're ticking these off one by one.

Melbournes finest meet Worlds Best

Leading chefs descend on Melbourne in April for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We asked local hospitality folk who they’d abduct for the day and where they’d take them to show off their city. There may be coffee, there may be culture, but in the end it’s cocktails.

1980s recipes

Australia saw some bold moves in the ’80s, and we’re not just talking hairstyles. Greater cultural references started peppering the menus of our restaurants, and home-grown ingredients won a new appreciation. The dining scene was coming of age and a new band of pioneers led the charge.

New cruises 2017

Cue the Champagne.

Roti canai

Here, we've made the dough in a food processor, but it's really quick and simple to do by hand as well. If the dough seems a little too wet just add a little more flour.

How not to reserve a table at El Capricho, Spain

Illustration by Lara Porter

Illustration by Lara Porter

Fatima Bhutto hopes you'll learn from her mistakes.

I am in León, the heart of Castilian Spain, for one night only. I have braved Spanish highways (and a manual car, which I am only basically qualified to drive) to come to this Gothic city that was once the heart of the Spanish Reconquista. But I'm not here to catch up with 13th-century cathedrals or revisit my Umayyad roots. I'm here for dinner. And I am late - very late.

Just when I imagine I must have scuppered my chance to eat at El Capricho, said to be the best asador in Spain, if not the world, the phone rings. It's El Capricho.

"Where are you?" the man on the phone asks. Did I lose my table? "Oh, no. We just wondered where you were," he replies. "Are you close?"

When you are 45 minutes late to a world-renowned restaurant and they call to check up on you, this is a bad sign.

El Capricho, surrounded by an oak forest and housed in a semi-converted wine cellar, is a regular on those best-restaurant lists that seem to abound. Time, The Telegraph, and even Vogue swoon over the farm-to-table asador. Franck Ribière's documentar Steak (R)evolution includes our humble Spanish restaurant in an epiphanic moment: the steak, you are assured, is of a quality that exceeds wagyu.

I Google the restaurant, find a phone number, and reserve. There are two numbers. One doesn't answer and the other does. Of course, they have space tonight, the gentleman on the phone says, with some effervescence. In two hours, on a Thursday night? Yes, absolutely.

El Capricho sits just outside León in Jiménez Jamuz, a town populated by a thousand people. José Gordón, the head chef and owner, was trained in agriculture and has 20 years of devoted expertise. He travels across Spain searching for the best oxen (superior to beef as their muscles don't hold as much water), raises them himself, even ministering to the animals before their death - "I talk to them before the slaughter" - before quartering and cooking their meat. I read countless articles extolling this communion with nature and beast as being part of the restaurant's charm.

Gordón is famous for serving his diners at El Capricho himself, advising what cut to choose, cooking it personally and then returning to recommend exactly which morsel of meat to take as first bite. It is only natural, I assume, that he also telephones customers when they are late to dinner.

Another phone call. Are you near?

I'm on my way. When I reach a small cobbled street rather than an oak forest, it begins to dawn on me.

An elderly gentleman, wearing a bow tie and a tidy apron around his waist, lifts his arms and waves at me from across the street. "Hello!" he shouts. He is standing under the dark-green awning of a restaurant also called El Capricho. He is not the swarthy José Gordón. This is not an oak forest. And this, I realise too late, is not El Capricho.

The cheek of riding on the coat-tails of an internationally acclaimed restaurant has not, sadly, done El Capricho numero dos any favours. The owner solemnly leads me to my table and presents a menu bound in a spiral notebook. The walls are lime green and, except for a teenage girl sitting at the bar watching a football game, there is no one else here.

Of all León's tourists, only I have fallen for this most basic of ploys tonight. The gentleman's wife is roused from slumber and as the kitchen door swings open I see her watching me expectantly. Everyone, except the teenage girl, who makes sure to raise the volume of the television and periodically surf through all the sports channels, seems so happy to have the company I don't dare leave.

There are no oxen here, no milk-fed lamb cutlets, no red peppers stuffed with tuna belly, no beef-fat cookies crumbled over biscuity ice-cream swaddled with coffee jelly and white chocolate foam.

"How did you hear about us?" The owner claps his hands delightedly, his eyebrows arched, excited for the night ahead. "From the internet," I sulk.

GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Recipe collections

Looking for ways to make the most out of seasonal produce? Want to find a recipe perfect for a party? Or just after fresh ideas for dessert? Either way, our recipe collections have you covered.

See more
2017 Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Restaurant Guide is online, covering over 400 restaurants Australia wide. Never wonder where to dine again.

See more

You might also like...

Neil Perry: My plans for the Rockpool Group

As Neil Perry announces the sale of his Rockpool Group to th...

Neil Perry is rebooting David Jones’ food halls

Expect quality over quantity next time you pop in for a bite...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×