THERE is no room for complacency when setting up a new restaurant in Cadiz’s food capital of Vejer de la Frontera.
So it is great to see chef Benito at Peperoncino arriving at 9am each day to prep for each evening’s service, not to mention growing a large amount of his restaurant’s vegetables and insisting on the best Italian ingredients money can buy.
The results are second to none and you will be hard pressed to find a better Italian meal in Andalucia.
Aside from the entirely original Italian menu, there was not a pizza in sight.
This is serious Italian with a capital ‘I’, split into antipasta, pasta, ‘ferri’ (charcoal grill?) and ‘contorno’ sections.
Make sure to take the optional bread basket of olive oil drizzled focaccia and ciabatta freshly baked each day.
The starters include a ‘fegato’ of sautéed chicken liver which was a rich dive-in dish, rustic and tender and served up with the most wonderfully sweet cherry tomatoes, mascarpone and Frascati wine. The deep fried Portobello mushrooms were gimmicky but great as a snack with parsley and alioli.
Best of all was the 24-hour marinated pork chop served on a wooden slate with a side order of delicious grill-steamed courgettes and aubergines from the garden.
Last but not least, puddings included a mascarpone vanilla cheese cake with lemon which was unbelievably good and thankfully a small portion. I certainly didn’t need the home made truffle that hotel owner Ana stuck on my plate afterwards.
It was little surprise to learn that Iranian Benito has spent a couple of years cooking for Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant chain Jamie’s Kitchen in the UK.
But, I have eaten at a couple of them and in my opinion this guy is streets ahead.