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In the middle of the 80s, it was a picnic area on the beach at Daimús (only 15 minutes away from Oliva by car). Nowadays, it is a leading gastronomic reference. This restaurant is a must for the refined palates. A major place to enjoy the best dishes created by the wise and dedicated hands of the chef Manuel Alonso. Awarded two Sun-ratings by the Repsol Restaurant Guide in Spain and one Michelin star, the restaurant Casa Manolo hides an unusual history. The clear reason why it is the capital of the Valencian gastronomy, a place of worship of the local produce coming from the sea and the orchards.

In 1985, there was only a small picnic area by the beach where the restaurant Casa Manolo stands today. A modest wooden structure on the sand where people used to buy the refreshing drinks to eat with the sandwich they had brought from home. There landed a family directly from Madrid, with two little children. One of them was Manuel, the chef. Little by little, the mother of the family, Matilde, began cooking rice and typical dishes from the Mediterranean beach enclaves.

With a great sensitivity when it comes to cooking, the vivacious child Manuel enjoyed helping their parents, messing everything in the kitchen and playing around the tables in the picnic area. Those recipes, those teachings, the heady scent of soups and stews, the heavenly bubbling of the simmering pots strengthened his roots in the traditional cooking. “I have been wanting this for my entire life”, explains the adult Manuel.

Just like the extensive range of gastronomy offered in those square metres of beach, Casa Manolo is in an unbeatable location: by the calm sea and with the infinite blue horizon as a background. This landscape can be appreciated form any of the tables in the restaurant.

Manuel Alonso took the reins of the kitchen in Casa Manolo in 2011. Since then, he had been more a maître than a chef, but from then he threw himself into the restaurant with determination. New curiosities quickly aroused, although they had already been dormant in him somehow. Evolution was spectacular in just a few years and awards arrived with it. A meteoric change of the restaurant concept.

Casa Manolo is now among the hundred best classic restaurants in Europe, according to the list published by Opinionated About Dining (OAD). The restaurant located on the beach at Daimús is ranked 60 in the 2019 list. Moreover, it is the only Spanish representative in this range of quality restaurants, together with the Restaurante Sant Celoni by the chef Óscar Velasco in the 94th position. This list was created by the Steve Plotnicki, a New Yorker who started documenting his own gastronomic experiences in a register.

Manuel Alonso makes an instinctive cuisine, full of sensations and feelings. He is inspired by the sea, by an Exchange with the surroundings. He dips into his roots and strips the produce. Firstly, he needs to see the soul of the product to get to know it. Then, he can develop the thought and create all his dishes. He is an unconditional lover of the seasonal product and his cuisine is determined by the marked. The word “flavour” is pushed to the limit. His main challenge is to play the flavour up to the maximum while preserving it at the same time. Perfectionist, tenacious, creative, restless… He looks for perfection. “The produce of a dish can never be selected at random. Everything needs to be thought and meditated. Everything has a meaning, a reason” explains the master chef.

Manuel studied for making desserts. This was his first step and, step by step, everything else followed. He worked as a pastry cook in the kitchen of the restaurant ‘Ca Sento, a singular and prestigious restaurant in Valencia, stuck to the chef Raúl Alexandre. Sometime later, he worked the same way but as a kitchen assistant. “I learnt how to cook produce with Raúl, the cooking time, the doneness in fish and meat, the perfection of details” he declares. Manuel Alonso is the result of the aforementioned experience and also of the later experience gained in the restaurants of Arzak and Martín Berasategui. It was an easy-going experience with both, and he learnt a lot: the importance of hierarchical organization in a kitchen or discipline, for example.

“I wanted to have a restaurant in capital letters, a gastronomic restaurant, and thus I started working for it. People had always eaten well in our outdoor restaurant. In fact, my parents started trudging in an unpaved track. I started on the highway. Here I put in technical creativity, a new concept- what I had seen by going out of the house- and little by little built my pathway. In 2014 the Michelin star arrived. “The star puts you on the gastronomical map, you acquire a commitment. In reality you do the same as before. The house doesn’t change, just like it didn’t with the Sol Repsol” (now he has two).

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