The second instalment of the three-part 50 Best Explores travel series returns to the Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha with Brazilian chef Manoella ‘Manu’ Buffara to sample the best of its hospitality, produce and experiences. Find out what culinary delights are in store for the winner of Latin America’s Best Female Chef 2022 title on her expedition later this month
Following a highly-successful maiden voyage, which saw legendary chef Eric Ripert of New York’s Le Bernardin (No.44 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023) feast on Manchego cheese and mazapán de Toledo, 50 Best Explores Castilla-La Mancha will make its sophomore expedition to Spain’s third-largest region from 25th-29th of September. Where the previous culinary-focused trip was centred around the spring harvest in Toledo province, the upcoming exploration will shine a spotlight on the region’s world-class summer produce from the Ciudad Real and Albacete provinces.
Within the upcoming gastronomic tour, 50 Best will be joined by renowned chef Manoella ‘Manu’ Buffara, whose restaurant Manu in Curitiba, Brazil, was named No.46 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022. Buffara, who was also the recipient of the Latin America’s Best Female Chef Award in 2022, will join 50 Best in packing their bags for the Iberian region for an unforgettable four-day adventure.
Want to follow the trip from home? Tune in via @TheWorlds50Best and @50BestDiscovery Instagram pages and follow the #50BestExplores hashtag for live, behind-the-scenes access between 25th-29th September, then stay tuned for the videos to follow on 50 Best Restaurants TV.
The third and final episode of the 50 Best Explores Castilla-La Mancha trilogy will then take place from 23rd-27th October, where chef Jeremy Chan from lauded London restaurant Ikoyi (No.35 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023) will dive into the region’s autumnal offerings, including game meat, truffles and mushrooms – so stay tuned for more.
For now, get a taste of the upcoming trip below, featuring cutting-edge Manchegan restaurants, artisan producers and much more.
Day one: Modern Manchegan gastronomy
Chefs Miguel Ángel Expósito (left) and Jose Antonio Medina each curate individual interpretations of Manchegan cuisine
The first day of the expedition will see Buffara sample two of Ciudad Real province’s most celebrated restaurants. The Brazilian chef’s debut exposure to Manchegan hospitality will come via Retama Restaurant, located in the beautiful foothills surrounding Torrenueva town. Here, chef Miguel Ángel Expósito, who trained at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants regular Mugaritz in San Sebastian, delivers his love letter to the ingredients, people and history of gastronomy in Castilla-La Mancha through a modern degustation experience. This will be followed by a memorable dinner at Restaurant El Coto de Quevedo, where chef Jose Antonio Medina’s penchant for pickling, foraging and stews – a regional specialty of Castilla-La Mancha – shines through in a contemporary tasting menu.
Day two: Exploring the lakes
Manu Buffara will kayak across the beautiful lakes of Ruidera Nature Reserve
The second day of the trip will commence with an excursion to the breathtaking lakes of Ruidera Nature Reserve. Here, Buffara and 50 Best will take to the water in a guided kayak tour to learn more about the area and soak in the stunning surrounds. The 50 Best Explores team will then be welcomed at Ababol Restaurant in Albacete, where chef Juan Monteagudo will prepare a feast of Manchegan dishes, created primarily from the produce of two farms that have been operated by his family for over 400 years. The day will come to a close in the quaint hilltop village of Jorquera to witness one of the region’s famed sunsets on the banks of the Júcar river.
Day three: Local treasures
Chef-duo Javier Sanz (left) and Juan Sahuquillo founded Oba Restaurant to platform forgotten ingredients and recipes of the region
Exemplary restaurants and produce showcases remain on the menu for the third day of the gastronomic expedition. Buffara will head to the small-but-mighty Oba Restaurant, created by Javier Sanz and Juan Sahuquillo, where she will tour the vegetable garden and orchard that supply the lauded 14-seat restaurant. Buffara and team will then have a chance to sample its creative menu that specialises in often-overlooked ingredient varieties and animal species from the local area, such as Castilian rooster and Celtiberian goat. They will then travel to the town of Almansa, where they will explore the historic streets and wrap up the day with some traditional tapas.
Day four: Vegetables and viniculture
Organic winery Bodega Matamangos will serve as the final stop of the culinary-focused tour
The final stops of the culinary-focused voyage will see Buffara and 50 Best enjoy a lunch at Maralba Restaurant, one of the region’s most celebrated culinary establishments and the only eatery in Albacete province to hold two Michelin stars. Led by chef Fran Martínez, the kitchen will deliver its signature showcase of Manchegan cuisine bolstered by touches of Mediterranean flair, with a menu that changes daily depending on the produce available from the local markets. The team will then head to the final destination of the trip, Bodega Matamangos: a multi-generational organic winery located on the border of Castilla-La Mancha and neighbouring region Murcia. The experience will be completed with an exploration of its expansive vineyards and helping with the harvest of grapes, before sipping its wares and enjoying one last sunset over the Spanish hillsides, bringing the unforgettable itinerary to a close.
Miss the first episode of 50 Best Explores Castilla-La Mancha with Eric Ripert? Watch the video below and subscribe to the 50 Best Restaurants TV YouTube channel to make sure you don’t miss any updates:
Follow 50 Best on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for the latest news, features, videos and stories from the best chefs and bartenders across the world, and browse 50 Best Discovery for travel inspiration in 2023.