IT’S 11.30pm on a Monday night and chefs Ivan Alvarez and German Montes are still hard at work. While plating up the final dessert courses of the day, they are also planning for the busy week ahead at busy La Cala Resort.
Cooking for hundreds of covers a day at La Terraza restaurant is a daunting business, which is why the two talented chefs – who have worked around Spain at restaurants including Arzak and EME Fusion – spend hours getting their planning right.
Joined by Catalan maitre d’ Francesc, who trained at Can Fabes and Cellar de Can Roca, and they have a more than capable team.
It was certainly an exciting return to try the food of head chef Alvarez, who I had checked out in his first month at the restaurant two years ago. And he has thankfully matured well.
The first thing to notice is the menu, which is distinctly more creative than it was two years ago.
While there is a big meat and fish section the dishes had an added creativity I didn’t spot before, and the wine list has certainly grown.
I kicked off with the fennel and Bay Prawn bisque with scallops, which had a nice consistency and a decent kick with its handful of ‘pipas’ seeds, while a cream of asparagus and pea soup with shiitake mushrooms was a bit different.
Some ‘Udon’ noodles, served up with langoustines and numerous spices, including basil, ginger and red chilli, was rich and creamy, while the white truffle and mascarpone ravioli with some delicious duck rillette was a surefire winner to cheer up the very worst Monday evenings.
While I took a shine to the Osso Bucco alla Milanese. I went instead for the meatier local fish corvina, which is known in English as ‘drum fish’. Often used in cerviche, it was a great surprise, being cooked perfectly and served up with a medley of vegetables, among them courgettes, baby cauliflower and avocado.
I left more than happy as did a big group of normally fussy French diners at the table next to me.
LA Cala Resort and spa is an incredible spot hidden in a valley a couple of clicks inland from Mijas Costa.
Surrounded by three golf courses, this charming four star hotel has an amazing spa, reminiscent of the best in Thailand, and an excellent range of rooms.
A true valley of calm, it is little surprise to learn that its fantastic facilities have been used by England football teams, not to mention Everton, Steaua Bucharest and Zurich Grasshopper.
There are grass football pitches, a large gym, but most importantly an overriding sense of nature and peace, with stunning views to faraway mountains and Mijas village in the distance.