Eating well is truly one of the greatest pleasures for visitors abroad. And for those looking for something extra special while on vacation, a visit to a Michelin-starred restaurant is a must. Yet for all the talk of “Michelin Stars” in discussions of food and dining, what do you actually know about the Michelin rating system? What does it take for a restaurant to get a Michelin Star, and how did this rating system even come about? And, most bafflingly, how did a tire company solidify itself as the go-to expert on where those with discriminating tastes should eat?
The first Michelin Guide was released for free in 1900 as a way of encouraging road-tripping (and hence, car tire buying) in France. As its popularity grew, reviewers were dispatched to anonymously review restaurants across the country, and in 1926, the three-star system was born. The reviews were supposed to concentrate solely on the “quality, mastery of technique, personality and consistency of the food and not on interior décor, table setting, or the quality of service,” and so, the Michelin guide grew to become the final word on eating well (if not necessarily in style). Today, the series highlights over 45,000 establishments in over 25 locations around the world.
Seeing stars? Here’s what the Michelin star system actually means:
While the Michelin Guide has taken on an international outlook, its roots are still in Europe, where many of the world’s finest dining establishments can be found. Spain, Italy and especially France boast numerous Michelin-starred restaurants that are worth a journey abroad in and of themselves. Luckily, if you’re staying in a Hosted Villas’ property, you won’t have to book a flight to eat well – many of Europe’s finest starred establishments are right around the corner!
El Celler de Can Roca (3 Stars), Spain
At this clever restaurant located in Girona and run by three brothers, Catalan cuisine is given center stage. Playful dishes such as caramelized onions served hanging from a tree, anchovy bone and deconstructed mushroom omelettes are complemented by fresh, raw shellfish garnished to perfection and expertly grilled fish marinated in traditional Mediterranean flavors.
Arnolfo (2 Stars), Italy
This Tuscan restaurant located just north of Siena offers contemporary cuisine featuring natural, organic ingredients from the nearby land and sea. While the menu is always changing with the seasons, specials such as carrè di agnello al vino rosso e sella alle olive (rack of lamb in a red wine sauce and lamb saddle with olives), is a perennial favorite. The sommelier will guide you expertly through the menu of over 600 vintages from Tuscany and further afield.
Lameloise (3 Stars), France
This cozy and historic restaurant in the town of Chagny, in Burgundy, offers straight-forward, high-quality French fare. Meat and seafood are on the menu, with classics such as Foie Gras, Scallops, Crab and Lamb all expertly prepared. The warm and friendly service, cheese trolley (!) and mouth-watering homemade pastries are welcome additions to every meal.