Almería will be passing on the baton – or serving spoon – to Murcia in 2020 as the official Capital of Spanish Gastronomy.
The region has also gained a new Michelin star, to add to the two held by Cabaña Buenavista in El Palmar since 2017.
Organised by the Spanish Hospitality Federation and Spanish Federation of Tourism Journalists and Writers, the prestigious gastronomy award recognised Murcia’s proposal for an innovative 2020 culinary programme, “La Huerta de los 1,001 Sabores” (“Market Garden of 1,001 Flavours”).
This programme will comprise 1,001 activities throughout the year, divided into the four seasons: “Lemon Winter Colour”, “Eternal Spring Blossoms”, “Live the Summer” and “Autumn with a Glass of Wine”.
The jury members said the concept was highlighted by “creative, innovative and participatory initiatives”, including museum visits, gastronomy routes, fruit and vegetable festivals, healthy cooking workshops and culinary competitions – many with a regional scope, not just the capital city.
They noted that Murcia was known for its wines, migas (traditional fried crumbs speciality) cheeses, rice dishes, vegetables, meat and fish, “with garden and sea products coexisting and making it clear that variety is one of the hallmarks of this region”.
The “1,001 Flavours” project stood out for its “loyalty to local products and strong commitment to gastronomic tourism”.
Murcia has several “denominations of origin”, for Calasparra rice, Jumilla pears, Murcia paprika, and Bullas, Jumilla and Yecla wines.
According to José Luis Yzuel, president of the hospitality federation, Murcia won the award not only for its culinary variety but also for being a “very attractive region in all aspects”.
The awards were launched in 2012, and since then they have been won, in order, by: Logroño, Burgos, Vitoria, Cáceres, Toledo, Huelva, León and Almería. Murcia thus becomes the ninth recipient.
Welcoming the award, Murcia mayor José Ballesta invited other towns to join the celebration, and announced that 45 gastronomy days would be dedicated exclusively to each municipality.
“Our sincere wish is for this event to reach the entire region of Murcia. We want it to be an open and participatory celebration, showcasing the region’s culinary creativity and products to Spain and the whole world.”
New Michelin Restaurant for Murcia Region
The 2020 Michelin Guide will include a second Murcia restaurant with one of the coveted stars.
During the annual presentation gala in Sevilla (for the Spanish and Portugal edition of the guide) it was announced that Magoga in Cartagena would receive its first star.
This represents further 2019 recognition for Maria Gómez, who in January was a finalist for the “Best Chef Revelation” award presented during the Madrid Fusión gastronomy fair.
The Cartagena establishment thus joins Cabaña Buenavista as the only Michelin-star restaurants in the region. Located in the Murcia city suburb of El Palmar, and run by chef Pablo González, Cabaña Buenavista received its first star in 2010 and a second one in 2017, which it retains for 2020.
Set in verdant landscaped gardens, the restaurant features an exotic architecture based on the trunk of a 15-metre-high American sequoia The roof comprises thousands of reed bouquets, while access to Cabaña Buenavista is via a promenade formed by two lines of 50 palm trees.
The cuisine is described as “ethereal sensations, memories and flavours, like steam or smoke, impossible to keep in a box”.
Born in Murcia, chef Pablo González began his culinary career at Flanigan in Palma de Mallorca, before moving to Cuatro Estaciones in Madrid, back to Palma and then to Arzak in San Sebastián. One year later, he returned to Murcia (Gran Taberna) and subsequently the Hotel NH Restaurant before, after three years, creating La Cabaña Restaurant in 2004 (now known as Cabaña Buenavista).
For more information about why Murcia is a “very attractive region in all aspects”, check out our Local Area Guide.