Friday, November 23, 2007

The Michelin man disses Spain

They are spitting tacks here that the new Michelin guide to Spain has failed to up the star number count in any meaningful way.

There are no new 3* restaurants beyond the six already established (three in Catalonia and three in the Basque country). Quite what 'El Celler de Can Roca' in Girona has to do to get a third star is unclear. It would also appear that the wonderful Cinc Sentits in Barcelona is not pressing enough wonga under Bibendum's ample rump as it remains starless.

Abac's second star is merited but it seems a rum time to do it as it prepares to move house, while Commerc 24 deserves its star, although I doubt it is any better this year than it was last year or the one before.

But as my brother, who knows a bit more about this than I do, says 'Michelin are hugely unreliable outside France and no one should take them too seriously.' And right now Michelin wants its focus to be on Japan where it has just published its first guide with all the astonishing lateness of an England defender. A drastic uprating of Spanish stars at the same time would have thrown the spotlight off Tokyo. Or am I being too suspicious?

And boy has it worked. The multitude of stars showered on Tokyo's eateries had the cretinous end of the food writers such as the awful Jay Rayner slavering in awe at what a clever dick Mr Michelin is.

'Do the math' as they would say in Didsbury. As Nick points out:

'If Tokyo has roughly 12 times more restaurants than New York, London or Paris then if what Michelin is claiming is true it should have proportionally the same number of starred restaurants. But this is not the case either for the total number of stars or the number of three star restaurants.'

So bugger Michelin. Look instead at how many French cars cross the border into Spain (many on Michelin tyres) in search of great food at astonishingly low prices, served with grace rather than Gallic attitude, and how few are heading in the other direction. And look at the wonderful new restaurants opening in Barcelona over the next six months as listed in La Vanguardia last week.

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