Travels with a Gourmet

a food lover's travels, memorable meals, culinary trials and gastronomic experiences

On Tuesday afternoon, another good friend from Moscow days arrived in Marbella. C currently lives in Portland, Oregon but has a holiday home in Provence so she decided on the spur of the moment to fly to Malaga from Marseilles and join us on the last week of our holiday.

I had booked a table for six at SKINA, my favorite restaurant in Marbella, for dinner on Wednesday evening but F and S had just arrived from Seville and opted to stay at home with the kids while my husband, A, left the three of us to have a girl’s evening out.

We arrived around 9:30 after having a difficult time to find a parking space. SKINA is located in a little side street in the Casco Antiguo. On our way to the restaurant, I spotted a fantastic photo opportunity and tried to take the shot and found out that the screen of my digital camera had cracked so I couldn’t take the photo which is why this post has no photos yet. I used T‘s mobile phone to take the food shots unfortunately, I still haven’t had the chance to upload them.

SKINA is tiny and has about 8 tables in total, seating about 40. During the warmer months, the restaurant sets up all but two of their tables outside in the cobble-stoned alley off Calle Aduar. We were given a table for three right near the entrance.

As soon as we sat down, a complimentary glass of Juve y Camps cava from Catalonia was offered to us while we perused the menu. There were lots of things to toast to: C‘s getting over lymphatic cancer, T‘s separation from her husband and us being all together this summer after a seven-year hiatus. The last time we three shared a meal together was at my wedding reception lunch at the Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley in April 2000.

We had a look at the menu and received a test tube filled with passion fruit and basil juice and a tiny plastic bag of spiced sweet sunflower and watermelon seeds. We decided to go for the 5-course tasting menu accompanied by a bottle of Costera del Gravet from Montsant that is a combination of three varietals: tempranillo, grenache and merlot. Soon after the first amuse-bouche, a second one – coconut leek vichysoisse – was set on the table.

  1. Our first course – a foie gras terrine with a layers of, from the bottom, chicken, goat’s cheese from Ronda, fig jam and a caramelized top – was an interesting combination of ingredients.
  2. Marinated slices of rare veal with mushrooms on top of paper-thin slices of white radish sprinkled with sesame seeds was our second course which was simple but good.
  3. Then, came a lightly seared tuna with wasabi foam, shredded seaweed, corn cream with toasted corn kernels – the combination of flavors and textures in this dish was outstanding;
  4. The fish course came next – seared sea bass with strips of roasted red pepper and mango – simple but again, an interesting twist of fruit with fish;
  5. The best course came after – sauteed Iberian presa (pork sirloin) served with a chickpea puree and cubed pumpkin. This succulent piece of meat was offset by the smoky chickpeas and the sweet punmpkin.
  6. The cheese course was a very small portion of cheese shavings with sweet syrup.
  7. Finally, dessert was chocolate served in different textures: frozen grated chocolate, cold chocolate cream, mint flan with a strawberry coulis – a cold chocolate concoction that was a good end to the meal.

It was after midnight at this point and we just wanted to get home so we asked for the bill and skipped the coffees. While waiting for it to be brought, we were served a final treat of three types of mignardises – a small cube of sweet cantaloupe sprinkled with popcorn, a passion fruit cream with tiny cookies and a crunchy hazelnut toffee that tasted like a gourmet Ferrero Rocher.

I had been to SKINA a few times before and this was definitely the best meal I’ve had so far. Come to think of it, it’s the best meal I’ve ever had in Marbella. The degustaion menu was paced properly with not much wait in-between courses and the service by owner/headwaiter Marcos, was impeccable as always. If you have to eat at one modern Andalusian restaurant in Marbella, make it SKINA and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

*P.D. 10 Sept. 2009 – SKINA received it’s first Michelin star in 2008 and is now even better than before.

__________________

SKINA

Calle Aduar, 12

Casco Antiguo, Marbella

Tel: +34 636 837 566

***** Food – Modern Andalusian cuisine with creative dishes and an interesting flavor mix

**** Atmosphere – I prefer it in the winter when the few tables are close together in the tiny and cramped dining room than sitting in the alley with people walking by and squeezing through right beside the table.

***** Service – Excellent, courteous and helpful with Marcos at the helm whose passion for food, wine and his work shine through.

Tip: order the tasting menu to have a chance to try the wonderful dishes this tiny restaurant comes up with.

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2 thoughts on “SKINA

  1. Hello will travel for tuna!Thanks so much for writing in and letting me know that you had a good time in Marbella. SKINA is a favorite and Playa Fantastica is our weekend hangout. Maybe we were even having lunch there on the same day? (Let me know if you need a reliable real-estate person/website if you're planning to rent a place for the summer.)As for Paris, I was there twice this year already and had some fantastic meals. The last time I was there, I made sure to choose restaurants with prix-fixe three course meals at around 35 euros per person (very reasonable for Europe). Click on the link for PARIS and the most recent blog posts are there. Really worth it were "Itineraires" in the 5th arrondissement and "L"Epigramme" in the 6th. Severo in the 14th is out of the way but the meat was very, very good,For your son, a trip to Angelina for some thick hot chocolate or to Laduree for some macaroons would be fun. You could also get a picnic lunch and take him to either the Luxembourg or the Tuileries gardens and get him one of those sailboats that they float on the pond. Enjoy your trip!!!

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  2. Just returned from a week's family vacation in Marbella and wanted to tell you that your blog was our "bible" of great places to go. The day we arrived we went to Casanis Bistro for dinner, and it was the perfect place for us tired travelers – low key, relaxed and good food. We had lunch and spent one afternoon at Playa Fantastica, which we loved so much that we are already trying to figure out how we can rent an apartment nearby and spend an entire month next summer or the one after that. Our son ate chouros in the morning and chouros in the afternoon. On our last night, we went to Skina, and although our son, being twelve, and not always in the mood to "try something new" in the way of food, could not find anything on the menu that he wanted to eat – we compromised by agreeing to go somewhere else for pasta if he would sit with us at Skina while we had a glass of wine and an appetizer. Being the tuna lovers that we are, we ordered the trio of tuna – and all I can say is WOW! We have eaten lots of tuna, lots of great tuna (and some really bad or boring tuna), but this was amazing. Not only was the presentation incredible but each preparation was absolutely delicious. We haven't stopped talking about it since we're back to New York. In short, your blog made us feel a little less like hopeless tourists and a little more like insiders which is so helpful when you are visiting a new place for the first time. And we're planning a short trip to Paris in November to celebrate my 50th birthday – any recommendations?

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