For those of you who have not heard of Manacare, it is a charity which was formed to help to assist the victims of the Tsunami in Sri Lanka. Mary has been to Sri Lanka to oversee the great work this charitable foundation has already achieved, but as with all charities the work is ongoing and fundraising never ceases.
The El Paraiso Country Club is in a wonderful setting, and as the kitchen is under the management of Garry Waite who is also director of the Restaurante El Rincon de Guadalpin the food promised to be brilliant. I asked Garry who the chef was that evening. ´Evan´. ´Is he Welsh I asked?´ ´Part of him is´Garry replied whatever that means! Often at mass catered functions the food lets the side down, so having known Garry for a number of years and been a big fan of his at his various locations I was very keen to see if this Gala Dinner would pass muster.
Just before we sat down I visited the stalls that had decked out in the gardens. Some stalls were selling items that had been made by children in Sri Lanka, Angie Morton from Crafty Things had her glass nail files on display. She gave my fingers a quick going over. Nervous Nigel had his range of spices on offer, there were beautiful cups on sale and a tombola. Much of the proceeds went to the charity.
Time to sit down for dinner. The menu looked sumptuous. Far, far more creative and imposing than the usual fare dished out at these events. Choice of 3 starters. Impressive. Mary and Barrie chose the spinach and ricotta ravioli with rocket pesto and parmesan shavings, I opted for the smoked fish platter with a wasabi and dill dressing. Both excellent. The third choice was a wild mushroom soup scented with truffle oil. Meanwhile the entertainment was getting into full swing – brilliant music from the West End and great gags well delivered. For the main course Barrie and I went for the rack of lamb with charred spinach, Dauphinoise potatoes and a thyme and baked garlic jus. Richard Davies, who had been looking after our table assured us the lamb was pink, just how I like it. Barrie´s was, mine wasn´t! I sent it back, and a beautifully pink excellent rack was produced, complete with apology from the kitchen. This is how service should be. The lamb was as good as any I have had on the Coast. Mary was ecstatic about her pan fried fillet of sea bream. The ´free-flowing´ house wines were also eminently quaffable, a Ruedo and a Monjardin 2009 tempanillo.
Then the wonderful Becky Tate got on stage and stole the show. What a performance from this talented young lady. We then had an auction. Donna and Clive Smith very generously bid 450 euro to have dinner with me. I hope when we go out the quality of the food is as good as it was at El Paraiso. I am now itching to try Garry Waite’s Restaurant de Guadalpin. Watch this space.
I am very excited because next week my Gourmet Dining section commences in this newspaper – more reviews, recipes, letters from readers and advertising from restaurants who have passed my reviews with flying colours. What more could you ask for?
El Paraiso Country Club, Urb El Paraiso, Ctra De cadiz Km 167, 29680, Estepona, Malaga
952 88 37 99
Ratings: todo 4´s, excepto service 5