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Apponiente, in search of salty man

Ángel León is a star, an artist who plays with seaweed, plankton and marine deli and whose maximum is the minimum. We have visited Aponiente, the restaurant called "chef del mar", one of the most lucid minds of Spanish cuisine.

Searching for Sugar Man is a (wonderful) documentary that tells the story of a man that nobody ever met. It is also the story of an obsession, of the most basic love of music; of failure and dreams we don't live. They do not arrive.

Angel lion. You know the history of this salty man born in the Bay of Cádiz and settled in El Puerto de Santa María. It is portrayed by the (essential, if you ask me) beautiful book dedicated to him from the Montagud publishing house: The chef of the sea. His journey starts in Seville, sails to Bordeaux and reaches El Faro and La Casa Del Temple in Toledo. Finally, Aponiente. His house. Its sea, its crew, its Port of Santa María.

Then the glory. Lights. Aponiente is elected by The New York Times in 2011 among the ten restaurants in the world that are worth taking out a plane ticket and The Wall Street Journal places it in the top ten in Europe. Michelin. Repsol The pleitesía of the flat major; from the gastronomic nibs, from the noise of the blue bird and - most importantly - from the customer waiting for his table as a child the gift of Melchor and his colleagues. One expects everything from this restaurant that is a Nautilus of emotions, plankton, discards and the sea on the table. Eating is also dreaming, of course.

Arcadi Espada says: “I can't write author's cuisine without the words falling apart. But nothing more true and unique. Now in Spain there are only two authors in the kitchen, Ángel León, in Aponiente, and David Muñoz in DiverXo. Everything else is franchises. ” Does it exaggerate? Well of course. But you have to understand it, hell; and is that this Aponiente is a toy that we want to play a thousand times. A million times.

A game that has to be played there, facing the sea. What I say, under the sea. For that reason - and for so many things - I hope you forgive me what I am about to (not) do. I can't (I don't want to) name a single dish from the 2013 Grand Menu 'Cravings of a sailor on land'. It would be unfair to the child who reads this and waits for his table in Aponiente. Neither a clue, nor a plate, nor a spoiler that ruins a nuance of this unique trip in bathyscaphe to the bowels of your kitchen.

The crew of Aponiente © Aponiente

I want to talk about Angel. From this crazy man with a mission: Cook the sea: “make the kitchen I always dreamed of, a tribute to the sea from the purest marine biological reality at the mercy of everything, deliver my true self, the one I always fantasized about… A vision of the sea in the 21st century. ”

And it is that beyond its history and its future, beyond its gastronomic universe and its salty homeland, one thing fascinates me about this sailor: Your absolute conviction to an ideal. His madness (obsession, rather) translated into an absolutely radical, hieratic and Thomistic coherence. Not a millimeter yields to what comes up (covers, interviews and spotlights). Ángel León and his Holy War, his Camelot sunk under the sea. That unwavering faith in something better (more beautiful, more true) is worth more than all the stars in the world.

Aponiente or how to cook the sea © Aponiente

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