Spain’s SHA Wellness Clinic offers health-conscious cuisine that also indulges taste buds.
Two summers ago, after closing elBulli, his Michelin-starred mecca of molecular gastronomy, Catalan star-chef Ferran Adrià decided that the time had come to detox. Rather than escaping to one of Asia’s famed holistic-living retreats, however, he headed to SHA Wellness Clinic, a bit south of Valencia. Like many, Adrià came for the 4-year-old spot’s specially tar-geted treatments that combine Western medicine and Eastern modalities to cure and prevent illness, stave off sleep disorders, and reduce the trials and tribulations of aging. But he also came for the food.
That’s because SHA’s kitchen is run by Pablo Montoro, an Adrià acolyte who subsequently trained with Michio Kushi, the octogenarian founder of the modern macrobiotic movement, a program that uses a carefully calibrated, nutrient-rich diet to increase wellness and lengthen lives. But that doesn’t mean it scrimps on flavor. With an emphasis on whole grains, fresh vegetables, and legumes, Montoro sources for SHA the best organic products in the region and uses his carefully honed skills to turn out nightly five- and nine-course tasting menus that might include anything from a sake-marinated baked octopus appetizer, served with grilled cabbage, sweet potatoes, and smoked paprika cream, to an entrée of crispy cod confit with hot potato foam, vanilla oil, and wild mushrooms.
The result of this decadent but diligent diet? Current SHA guests, like Adrià before them, are finding themselves falling for the place as much for its cuisine as for its curatives.