Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2010

El Diablo; Timanfaya National Park, the Canary Islands

The world's most awe-inspiring barbecue eschews coal and gas, powered instead by an inferno boiling up beneath the earth's crust. The glass-walled El Diablo restaurant crowns the Islote de Hilario, the tallest of the "Fire Mountains" that mark Lanzarote Island's Timanfaya National Park. Watch as the semi-dormant volcano's internal heat chars your meaty kebabs on a grill laid flat across a cavernous black pit that reaches into the ground. Designed by artist/architect/eco-warrior César Manrique, responsible for much of Lanzarote's development, the circular dining room offers panoramic views of the blistered site, devastated centuries ago by a series of volcanic blasts. The fallout from these eruptions — lumps of dark, hardened lava and layers of coarse ash — makes for a lifeless landscape often likened to the surface of the Moon. Indeed, NASA uses photos of the park to brief astronauts preparing for lunar missions, where they'll be able to enjoy similar views, sans the perk of volcano-roasted chicken.