Spain notches up seven three-star restaurants

Spain now boasts seven three-star restaurants after two new establishments won the coveted top-notch status in Michelin's 2013 guide released here Friday.

"The Iberian peninsula continues to distinguish itself by the quality and diversity of its culinary offering," said a statement by French group Michelin on its new guide for Spain and Portugal.

"Moreover, in Spain and Portugal together, some young chefs continue to progress and to surprise with the quality of their creative and characteristic cuisine prepared with local ingredients," it said.

The first of the two new recruits to three-star fame is Azurmendi in the northern Basque Country's Larrabetzu "where the chef Eneko Atxa offers a cuisine in his image, creative and harmonious".

The other is Quique Dacosta in the eastern Valencia region's Denia "where the cuisine, made with a good dose of creativity and originality, plays with textures and is anchored in the region's roots."

Most of Spain's triple-starred restaurants are in the Basque Country, which is famed for its gastronomy. Others already honoured are Akelare and Arzak in San Sebastian and Martin Berasategui in Lasarte-Oria.

Catalonia is also well represented, with two restaurants in the top category: Sant Pol de Mar in Barcelona and El Celler de Can Roca in Girona.

Two new restaurants in Barcelona won two stars, bringing the total to 19, while across Spain and Portugal there are now 132 restaurants with a single star including 17 new arrivals.

Spain lost one of its three-star restaurants last year when elBulli, the beachside Catalan restaurant repeatedly crowned the world's best, closed in July after two decades under acclaimed chef Ferran Adria.

The famed eatery overlooked a cove in the Mediterranean in Cala Montjoi near the resort of Roses, a two-hour drive north of Barcelona. It used hi-tech methods to take apart and rebuild food in innovative ways.

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