Canalla Bistro by Ricard Camarena, Valencia ES

Canalla Bistro by Ricard Camarena

Kir Royale – Cava and Cassis

Nigiri Sandwiched Beijing Duck / Roast Chicken Croquette / Creamy Crunchy Cod Fritte and Miso

Russian Thai Salad, Peanuts, Brown Coconut, Herbs

Squash Ribbon Salad, Green Mango, Parmesan Cheese

Iberian Pork Pressa Tiradito, Fried Quinoa, Spicy Sweet Potato

PizzaJapo with Chinese Cabbage, Bacon, Bonito, Mozzarella, Okonomiyaki Sauce

Katz’s Style Pastrami Sandwich alla Canella

Roast Apple Ice Cream and Biscuit Mousse

“The Amazing Banana”

Caramelized Torrija with Milk Ice Cream

As in many European countries, dining in Spain on a Sunday becomes largely a question of “what is open?” rather than “what is best?” and with a flight leaving Valencia early the following morning the situation seemed even more limited than usual, most places offering Paella closing after lunch service and every Michelin Guide spot in town dark all day, Chef Ricard Camarena’s Canalla Bistro fortunately standing in for his eponymous Starred space and fairing very well.

Described as the Chef’s most eclectic restaurant, his reputation at both Ricard Camarena Restaurant and Mercat Central’s CentralBar built on local sourcing, good Produce and Fish, Canalla Bistro sets out to take guests on a “gastronomic trip around the world” to some of the Camarena’s favorite countries, the 20h00 opening finding a queue of locals in addition to a few out of town visitors from Russia, Slovenia and the United States.

Bridging the price-point of his other two restaurants, the intention here to be both globally inspired and affordable to all, it was shortly upon entering the Bar area of Canalla that reservations were confirmed by one of two men before guests were handed off to a team of servers, the seating tight amidst kitschy decorations including everything from chalk artwork to bathroom signs, Chef’s whites and bicycles.

Similar to many gastropubs in terms of volume and energy, the music sometimes too loud and the conversations of others often difficult to ignore, it was with both Food and Beverage menus in hand that parties ranging from one to twelve guests were invited to explore for several minutes before placing orders, the offering of several “half-portions” a welcome sight that eventually led to eleven items being ordered in addition to a brisk Cava-based version of the Kir Royale.

Now open since 2012 and only improving with time according to many, several whimsical service pieces including an enormous ear of Corn plus a Pig’s Head used to serve plates around the room, it was with three small bites from “A Very Different Kind of Fried” that the meal got underway, both the fried Baccala and Chicken Stew Croquetta hitting all the expected notes while the Nigiri Beijing Duck was curiously delicious with shredded Meat shielded from the fryer by a wall of Vinegar-scented Rice that took on a crunchy shell without becoming oily itself.

Moving next to two Salads, the descriptions and half-portion availability making each more appealing than the typical pile of greens, it was with both plates served simultaneously that a “Russian Thai Salad” competed with thinly sliced Squash for center spotlight, the former both sweet and spicy with the toasted Coconut playing well off flavors of Tomatoes and Peanuts.

Growing in heft and portion as the meal progressed, the order in reality enough that two adults could have left happily sated for under €100 total, it was with item number six that Camarena and team presented several slices of roast Pork with crispy Skin amidst a tangle of Greens plus toasted Quinoa and orbs of mashed Sweet Potatoes, everything about the dish pure comfort Food while the follow-up thick-crust “PizzaJapo” was an odd but delicious way to present Okonomiyaki with the salinity of Bonito flakes given added depth by way of Mozzarella and Bacon.

Previously winning a Sol Repsol award with special mention of the housemade Pastrami, a Sandwich intended to honor Katz’s Delicatessen performing well in terms of the fatty Beef’s texture and spice profile but doing the classic a disservice by adding Cabbage and toasted Cereal Bread instead of the Lower East Side Rye, it was with half of the dish packed up to go that three Desserts were presented to finish the night, “The Amazing Banana” a visual replica of the real deal but made entirely of Fruit Mousse and White Chocolate on a bed of Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crumble while the Roast Apple Ice Cream presented its Fruit in no less than five textures alongside subtle toasty notes, the Caramelized French Toast more straight-forward with eggy Custard at the center and a restrained sweetness that was absolutely delightful.

http://www.canallabistro.com

Posted in Canalla Bistro, Canalla Bistro by Ricard Camarena, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Pizza, Pork, Spain, Vacation, Valencia Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ABaC Restaurant, Barcelona ES

ABaC Restaurant

Lime Cactus, Tequila, Green Leaves

Galician Salmon, Cured Egg Yolk, Trout Roe, Soya Butter, Nori Textures

Bloody Mary On the Rocks

Barnacles, Lemon Froth

Melon with Iberian Ham – Melon Meringue/Ham Ice, Melon Soup/Ham Spheres

Lobster au Naturel – Coral, Seaweed

Sun Dried Tomatoes, Salmorejo, Egg Yolk Cocktail, Frothed Toasted Honey

Cereal Bread, Apricot Bread, Olive Oil

Rock Fish, Crusty Scales, Thorns Consomme, Sea Beans, Citrus

Stewed Tuna Morillo, Sour Sherry Consomme, Mushroom with Tuna Marrow and Spinal Jelly Buñuelo

Tuna Rice, Mediterranean Stew, Tuna Belly, Pecorino Romano

Duck Rillettes, Spicy Blinis, Crunchy Nervures and Tongue Salad

Catalan Bean Stew with Butifarra Blanco, Butifarra Negro Pods, Beans, Pork Broth, Pistachios, Bean Leaves

Pigeon Royale, Offal, Garlic, Whey

“Fragile” Pillow with Strawberries, Roses, Yogurt, White Chocolate, Citrus

Infused and Frozen Wood, Vanilla, Chocolate, Sunchoke, Treacle, Resin

Double Espresso, Ice

Apple Tartin-inspired Tartlet

Mignardises – Raspberry ‘Lipstick,’ Lavender Meringue, Raspberry Cheesecake, Hazelnut Chocolate, Chocolate Tablet, Melon, Citrus Drops, Cocoa-Mint

Toqued by Chef Jordi Cruz since 2010, the 39 year old now holding two-Michelin Stars for the past five guides, ABaC Restaurant was booked as the final meal in Barcelona largely as a result of afternoon reservations available on Sunday, a 13h30 arrival at wooden gates where guests are buzzed in unfortunately followed by an excruciatingly long lunch featuring disinterested service and gaps as long thirty minutes separating one course from next.

Part of a Historical Building, the former home of photographer and film-maker Doña Madronita Andreu since renovated and converted into a boutique Hotel, ABaC Restaurant resides on the lower floor of a space containing rooms starting at roughly €225 and with a location far outside city-center those looking for a something a little more quiet and luxurious than average lodging are invited to partake in both Spa Therapies and several other amenities in addition to their meal.

Described as Modern Spanish Cuisine, Chef Cruz’s talents highly acclaimed since he was a teenager and the first of several Michelin Stars earned at the age of 24, guests arriving at ABaC from off-premises will immediately find themselves seated on a lush patio on arrival, the decision to forgo an Aperitif nonetheless followed by a lengthy wait before being led to a brief visit to the kitchen’s exterior, the meal starting off oddly as “Bloody Mary’s Macarons” listed on the menu were never presented, lunch instead beginning with a frozen Margherita Meringue served atop a Cactus and followed by foam-covered Salmon Tartare.

At this point finally led to a seat, the menu choice confirmed in a room with Grey drapes, thick linens and table ornaments reminiscent of those at Martin Berasategui’s 3* Lasarte, it was here that the concept of a Bloody Mary was apparently to be repeated in the form of a Eggplant-shaped Ice Sculpture intended to be cracked and eaten as a palate refresher, the idea better than its execution as the flavor was fairly bland while the follow-up of tender Barnacles in Citrus Broth was slightly briny but otherwise tilted towards acid.

Never having staged at ElBulli or other modernist temples like so many of Spain’s great young Chefs, Cruz’s talents instead learned in culinary school and honed across several Restaurants prior to settling at ABac, it was with a highly modernist duo of Melon Meringue with Ham Ice and Melon Soup with Porky Spheres that that the meal lurched forward after the first of several lengty waits, the space picked up slightly for chunks of tender Lobster served in a broth made from boiled Carapace, Roe and Seaweed.

Taking a big step away from subtle flavors with the next plate, traditional Salmorejo served with additional Tomato flavor thanks to three Sun-Dried Fruits resting in the creamy Potage beneath lightly sweet Froth, it was here that another twenty-minute gap would be bridged with two styles of housemade Bread and a tiny silver decanter of Olive Oil, both loaves quite good as was the Rockfish to follow, though much as with the Barnacles the flavor of Lemon mostly overwhelmed the Bone Broth.

Finally embracing the expected Catalan flavors with plate nine, a vertebrae topped in stewed Tuna with Spinal Jelly and Sherry served alongside a Donut packed with more Marrow and roasted Fish, it was in continuation of this concept that tender Rice arrived with Tuna Belly, Cheese Foam and Tomato Stew, a truly comforting dish that kicked off three meaty courses including smoky Duck Rillettes intended to be eaten like Tacos with a Salad made from fried Tongues and rich Bean Stew enriched by Pistachios and Sausage in two textures.

At this point bringing forth a tableside steamer, the waitress informing patrons that this would be used ‘later’ it was as the device bubbled away that meal’s final savory was presented, a thick cut of Pigeon served in mineral-rich sauce atop a Mousse of its insides funky and rich with just a bit of Garlic soon to be washed away by a the flavors of Strawberries and Flowers served as a light Cream wrapped in Sugary glass.

Apparently making a Souffle at the table, a small cake slowly rising and soon to be revealed as Chocolate infused with the flavors of “Wood and Vanilla,” it was alongside a much-needed Double Espresso that the moist Cake was enjoyed despite a dirty hint of Sunchoke, the “Apple Tartin-inspired Tartlet” an interesting blend of rounded Fruit Pieces and Dippin’ Dot-style Ice Cream while the Sweet Pumpkin suggested on the menu was again never seen, the meal concluding at nearly 16h45 with several Mignardises including a smooth Raspberry Cheesecake and a Popsicle made to resemble a tube of Lipstick.

www.abacbarcelona.com/

Posted in ABaC, ABaC Restaurant, Barcelona, Bread Basket, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Lobster, Pork, Souffle, Spain, Tasting Menu, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Xurreria Trebol, Barcelona ES

Xurreria Trebol

Baccala Fritters

Chocolate Churro

Vanilla Churro

Dulce de Luche Churro

Originally opened in the 1950s by Juan Bacells Xurreria Trebol is said by many to sell Barcelona’s best Churro, and although he and his wife have long since retired with their son and grandchild left to operate the storefront it appears little has changed in terms of Trebol’s popularity, the walk-up counter currently doing so much business with the late-night crowd that it is even open consistently from Friday at 09h30 until the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Situated at Carrer de Còrsega 341, a quaint street sandwiched between the picturesque Gracia neighborhood and an area heavy with tourists taking in Guadi’s Sagrada Familia, it is with limited nearby parking that guests approach Trebol by foot and although the façade may not look like much it is truly what’s on the inside that counts, several warming trays and store shelves lined with fried treats ranging from hand-cut Potato Chips and Hotdogs wrapped in Pastry to at least a half-dozen styles of Churros plus Donuts, Empanadas and Cookies.

Friendly and efficient in service, a bilingual young man behind the counter explaining the choices while casually chatting with a Police Officer, it was without much hesitation that the decision was made to invest in a total of five choices tallying less than €10, an unphotographed bag of Chips said to be very crispy and well-salted by the person who ate them while two golden orbs described as Baccala Fritters were unfortunately a bit too much dough and not enough Cod.

Opting for filled Churros instead of the traditional thin ones, none of them made to order and thus questionable as to when exactly they were prepared, it was after getting back to the car that first bites were taken of a thick-cylinder filled with Vanilla Cream, the exterior golden and crunchy with a whole lot of Granulated Sugar while the inside was unfortunately a bit soft thanks to the Cream’s thin consistency.

Moving on to two additional Churros, both the Dulce de Leche and Chocolate Cream thicker than the Vanilla and thus maintained in the Churro’s cavity without soaking in, suffice it to say that Trebol’s Dough fairs similar to most in terms of both texture and oil content, though one would imagine the product is better when hot and fresh from the fryer.

Posted in Barcelona, Dessert, El Trebol, Food, Spain, Trebol, Vacation, Xurreria Trebol Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Federal Cafe, Barcelona ES

Federal Café

Americano, Iced Coffee with Sugar and Cream

Chocolate Caramel Bar, Apple Streusel Cake, Raspberry Coconut Cake

Serrano, Comte and Basil Croissant

Warm Ginger-Banana-Hazelnut Bread with Whipped Espresso Butter

Located within walking distance of ARTiSA, its address at Passatge de la Pau 11 in Barri Gòtic making the restaurant quite popular with international visitors, it was in continuation of Breakfast that two guests sat down at Federal Café just past 10h00 on Saturday, the menu offering everything from Avocado Toast to Pancakes easily the most “American” found in Barcelona, the fact that Federal Café is part of a chain with locations in several Spanish cities only found out later, but really not surprising.

Intended to reminisce of a city in Australia where “there’s not much to do but dream, and watch the rain fall on quiet streets and the phonebox,” an odd description for the open floor-planned space with modern design and a soundtrack playing Silversun Pickups at a volume that can be heard outside, it was after perusing the Pastry Case that the decision was made to take a seat and although the place fairly busy for the weekend service was mostly efficient, Coffee and Pastries delivered in less than ten minutes with hot items from the kitchen ready in about twenty.

Celebrated by fans for the exact reason that diners seeking authenticity may wish to forgo a visit, the menu not remotely ‘Spanish,’ it was with high hopes of seeing how an Australian ‘idea’ planted in Europe would execute foods from back home that first bites were taken of the Jammy Coconut Cake that tasted wholly natural and thus mild but elegant while the Apple Strudel unfortunately went a bit too heavy on the buttery Crumbs and thus came across one-dimensional and heavy, though not in a good way like the Chocolate Caramel Bar which was essentially a wedge of soft Toffee topped in a thin layer of Ganache.

Breaking up the sweets with one savory, “Neck of the Woods” still playing loudly overhead from beginning to end, it was with a far better base than at ARTiSA that Federal Café built it’s Breakfast Sandwich with a thin layer of Serrano, lightly melted Comte and a Basil Leaf, the Croissant maintaining its crunchy exterior atop soft layers while the griddled Banana Bread was moist and delicious with plenty of spice notes and lightly sweetened Espresso Butter.

http://www.federalcafe.es/barcelona-gotic/

Posted in Barcelona, Breakfast, Coffee, Croissant, Federal Cafe, Federal Cafe Gotic, Food, Pork, Spain, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ARTiSA, Barcelona ES

ARTiSA

Mocha Frappe

Iberico Baguette

Serrano Ham and Brie Croissant

Raspberry Croissant

Apple Streusel Square

Bread Pudding with Rum Syrup

Churros and Chocolate

Having now checked off several Pastry shops throughout the city and with a long drive back to Valencia following lunch it was after securing street parking near Las Ramblas that a party of two entered ARTiSA just past 08h30 on Saturday, a table fortunately opening up just as an order was placed and the tab was paid with a number provided and table-service soon to follow.

Considered by some to be one of Barcelona’s more tourist-friendly Brunches, the menu spanning several Spanish classics as well as American mainstays like Eggs, Sandwiches and simple Salads, ARTiSA originally opened in 2009 and quickly made a name for itself thanks to fast service and an accessible location, the in-house Bakery no doubt a focus and turning out more than thirty styles of Cookies, Cakes and Pastries daily.

Charging a bit more than other places due to their exclusive use of Organic Milk, Eggs, Produce and Flour, a non-GMO sign prominently posted next to the small Market inside for those who value such things, it was with all items delivered on a plastic tray that Breakfast began with two Sandwiches, the Ham and Brie Croissant one of many border-crossing dishes that fell flat largely because the Pastry itself had been rendered flaccid by re-heating while the crisp Baguette topped with Jamon Iberico faired far better thanks to both the quality of the Bread and the cured Meat.

Passing on Coffee from Illy while another enjoyed her hefty Mocha Frappe topped with a spiral of canned Whipped Cream it was with Sandwiches finished that Breakfast continued on to three baked goods plus a bag of lightly cooked Churros served with thin sipping Chocolate, the Raspberry Croissant not much better than its savory counterpart but thankfully quick to be forgotten in the wake of a delicious square of poached Apples, Butter and Cinnamon as well as the warmed-on-request eggy Bread Pudding with Raisins and boozy Caramel Syrup.

http://artisa.es/

Posted in ARTiSA, Barcelona, Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Coffee, Croissant, Croissants, Dessert, Food, Pork, Spain, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Suculent, Barcelona ES

Suculent

Vermouth, Italian Cherry, Orange

2016 Brut Natural Cava

Olives

House Sourdough

Waldorf of Celery, Apple, Blue, Grape

Oyster, Iberico Jowl, Pistachio Cream

Croquetta of Lobster, Cuttlefish

Tomato, Water Lilly, Caper, Olive

Beets, Mandarin Pil-pil

Lobster Tartare, Chicken Skins

Almond and White Garlic Cream, Trout Roe, Apple

Baby Vegetable Tart, Roasted Garlic ‘Spread’

Tuna Belly, Cherry Tomato, Smoked Cream

Black Olive, Corn

Mushroom Carbonara

Zucchini Blossom Samosa, Lamb, Mint Yogurt

Cabbage, Herb Butter, Spicy Potatoes

Figs, Yogurt Mousse. Pistachio Cream, Pine Honey

Strawberries, Vanilla Cream, Rosewater Gelee

Brie Cheesecake, Muscat, Maria Cookie

Toqued by Antonio Romero, a graduate of the School of Hospitality Costa Azahar with subsequent stage at elBulli as well as Akelarre and Maison Pic it is surprising to many that Suculent has managed to fly underneath the Michelin radar for so long, but if dinner on the last night in Barcelona is any indication this may actually be a good thing for diners as the €75 Menu SucuXLent proved to be an unequivocal bargain for a party of two seated at the counter where they were treated to sixteen courses of innovative market-fresh cuisine paired to excellent service.

Well regarded by his peers and several well-traveled gourmands for creating a simple and honest Restaurant not far from Las Ramblas, several tourists mistakenly stopping in during service expecting another Tapas Bar kindly directed next door to Romero’s more casual La Taverna, those making reservations at Suculent are welcomed by a staff of three servers including one bilingual bartender and with the menu divided into four individual tastings tailored to the guests’ liking the decision is simply one of appetite.

Long and narrow with less than two-dozen seats, the walls of the former Cellar dark green and wood with little adornment, it is shortly after sitting down that guests are presented with a bowl of Olives alongside a stiff Cocktail of Vermouth and Fruit, the choice of a menu quickly seeing the first of several appetizers offered in the form of “Our Waldorf” featuring a crisp stalk of Celery topped with sliced Apples, Blue Cheese and Grapes.

Choosing to sip Cava along with dinner, the Chef’s description of his Food as “Produce based and focused on the pure flavor of each product” making anything dry particularly well suited to more than half of the night’s plates, it was after a brief delay during which housemade Sourdough was served that two plump Oysters draped in Pork Jowl and blanketed with Pistachio Cream were presented, the flavor fresh with tempered minerality and a smooth finish while the Croquetta was gold and crispy around a center of Cheese, Lobster and Cuttlefish.

Stepping back and forth between Spanish and Mediterranean flavors, modern technique frequently used to intensify Sauces or Stocks, it was with a refreshing Ceviche of Market Tomatoes in cryoconcentrated Water Lilly Tea that the first of four ‘Starters’ was served next, the ingredient quality readily evident just as it was in the following Salad of Beets in spicy Mandarin Broth.

Growing heavier with subsequent plates, but quick to scale back with a lighter dish after particularly intense flavors in the manner of his teachers, it was here at the third intermediate plate that Chef Romero sent out his famous whole Lobster made into Tartare and served with Chicken Skins, everything about this dish comforting yet elegant with each bite a little smaller in hopes of making it last.

Next focusing diners’ attention on Garlic, first as a fragrant Soup with Apples and Trout Roe and then with a whole Clove intended to be squeezed and smeared on flaky Vegetable Flatbread, it was after these two plates that eight squares of Tuna Belly were served between dehydrated Cherry Tomatoes with Smoked Cream, the latter not particularly necessary given the quality of the Fish but nice for adding a little dimension just the same.

Playing off the idea of Mexican Street Corn next, the apparent “char” actually a smear of Black Olive that was messy but worthwhile in adding salinity to the otherwise sweet Kernels, it was once again here that Suculent chose to show off their sourcing with several styles of foraged Mushrooms cooked tender atop Black Pepper and Cheese with grated Parmesan, the beautiful Zucchini Blossom “Samosa” to follow far lighter than one might expect for something stuffed with Lamb Sausage.

Rounding out the savories with a “Steak” of Cabbage served next to thinly sliced Fries slicked in spicy Egg Yolk, the slab of Herb Butter adding a both flavor and succulence to the tender Crucifer, it was after wiping up all the residual sauce with another slice of Bread that Dessert commenced, plates one and two focusing on the simple sweetness of Figs and Strawberries next to textural condiments while the Cheesecake was intended to be eaten by hand with the flavor of Wine and Maria Cookies making for a elegant, lingering finale.

http://suculent.com

Posted in Barcelona, Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Lobster, Pork, Spain, Suculent, Tasting Menu, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Enigma Concept, Barcelona ES

Enigma Concept

Plum Tea

Fresh Pine Nut

Ginger & Flowers

Raspberry Pods

Clarified Kiwi

Shiso Leafs with Grapefruit

Frozen Coconut

Kombu-Kumquat

Esencia Vermouth

Ahmar

Demistrawberry

Red Lake

Cherryboshi

Shikiso

Parmesan Sphere

Frozen Caviar with Yogurt Whey

Nori Cube

Fresh Pistachio

Jonquil & Avocado

Summer “Stew”

Blini Cannelloni with Smoked Cream and Fish Roe

Squid with Soya

The Prawn

Espardenya with Kalix

Abalone in Sherry Sauce

Cheese Bread

Tucupi with Pequi Oil and Pumpkin Gnocchi

Acid Razor Clam

Lemon and Seaweed

Anchovies and Earl Grey

Sea Anemone

Wild Pigeon with Peach and Black Currant

Sourdough Bread

Terrine in Escabeche Sauce

Pigeon Skin and Olive

Eel, Aubergine and Black Sauce

Mirror of Daikon

Rabbit Brain and Walnut

Chocolate, Hazelnut and Passion Fruit

Cherry, Elderflower, Black Sesame

Lulada

Potato Millefeuille, White Coffee Ice Cream and Vanilla

Strawberry, Miso and Yuzu

The Pearl / The Watermelon

Double Espresso

Dried Peach / Panloton

Mato Yogurt / Popcorn Bon Bon

Dragon Egg

To say the food world got a little bit excited when Albert Adria finally opened Enigma Concept earlier this year would be an understatement, he and brother Ferran’s most ambitious project since El Bulli long shrouded in secrets and made all the more mysterious by an early no-photos policy and a reservation system that seemed fairly arbitrary…at least until two seats at 14h15 on a Saturday appeared while randomly browsing the website at lunch some 13 weeks prior.

Divided into a series of five “Enigmas” and accessible only via gate-code provided via E-mail after booking, the sprawling space built from the ground up as a crystalline catacomb with opaque resin dividing one room from next, it was minutes after the assigned time that entry was granted after passing by the largely unmarked entrance more than once on foot in the rain, the meal’s other guest found waiting in a sort of foyer with staff quick to escort both patrons to the second Enigma after a wet umbrella and jacket were checked, plus a few welcoming snacks.

Seating just 24-diners at a time, the majority spaced from other tables by at least four-meters in the primary Enigma while others are intermittently escorted to two additional chambers featuring a standing Cocktail Bar called La Barra and a sit-down grill and flattop station dubbed La Plantxa, it was after settling into comfortable custom-made chairs that beverage selections were confirmed and with one opting for pairings while the other stuck with water the meal resumed, a crisp Shiso Leaf topped in frozen and fresh Grapefruit cells continuing a theme started in the lounge with the concentrated flavors of Fruit, Herbs and Flowers.

Tallying 49 individual plates or glasses over the course of four hours, many less than a mouthful but all of it adding up to quite a bit of Food and Beverage served in an “eat first, discover the ingredients later” manner, it was quickly after the Leaf that an icy Wafer of Coconut was presented prior to sliced Kumquat dried between sheets of Kombu, La Barra now ready for more guests and beginning with a single drop of Vermouth concentrated 1/1000 intended to be licked off the hand and followed by three drink and bite pairings including a boozy Pink Slush made with Sake that worked particularly well with the accompanying Parmesan Sphere.

Passing through the kitchen en route back to the table, a team of at least twelve working the multi-stationed area where most of the meal is prepared, it was again shortly after seating that a bowl of “Frozen Caviar” not unlike Dippin’ Dots arrived, the Cube from Tickets next served as a sheet of Nori topped in Golden Fish Eggs with the palate soon brought back to neutral by un-roasted Pistachios and a slightly bitter cloud of Avocado and Daffodils served next to a cold Soup perfumed with herbal Oils.

Again playing off a Tickets dish with Summer “Stew,” the peeled late-season Tomatoes here given a lot more intensity by way of Mushroom Powder and vibrant Gazpacho that tasted like Fresh Peas and Basil, it was again that the flow was changed as guests were invited to La Plantxa, an area said to be a highlight for many immediately proving to be just that with the presentation of a Buckwheat Sponge piped with smoked Cream and topped by nearly two-dozen Salmon Eggs.

Watching each dish created from beginning to end at the Grill, a nearly thirty-minute experience featuring mostly Shellfish including a particularly stunning sustainable young Abalone in Sherry and the Animal’s Liquor, it was with Cheese cooked on the griddle and wrapped around Brioche that guests were returned once again to Enigma #2, the soup of Brazilian Roots and Nuts with tender Pumpkin Dumplings unlike anything tasted prior with up-front sweetness and a funky Cheese-like finish that was unexpected as opposed to unpleasant.

Serving several dishes on wire mesh similar to the luminescent ceiling, though most are offered on crisp white China to focus both diners and cameras on the eye-popping colors and textures, item 28 was served in a monochromatic fashion with tender Razor Clams beneath white Cream, Olive and Orange Peel, the follow-up titled “Lemon and Seaweed” featuring both flavors prominently with a Wood Ant also contributing its formic acid and a bit of texture.

Working in arcs of flavor, the frequent shifts from savory to sweet and salty to sour likely familiar to those who had the opportunity to visit El Bulli or fans of Grant Achatz’s work at Alinea, it was picking up on the residual Umami of the Seaweed that a Foam and Cream construct of Anchovies and Earl Grey Tea surprisingly worked, the deep-fried Sea Anemone to follow every bit as gooey and briny as those prior but a good lead in to a three-part Pigeon presentation starting with the Breast and progressing to an Offal Meatball in aromatic Sauce before finishing with a small morsel of crispy Skin.

Continuously impressing with Sauces, the Black Currant, Peach and Pan Jus served atop Pigeon Breast encouraged to be sopped up with a slice of Housemade Sourdough, it was beneath a velvety veil of Fermented Beans that Eel and Eggplant were served before cleansing the palate with a semi-solid Radish, the bitterness mellowed by Wasabi and a touch of salt but still a nice bridge to the savory Walnut Sauce served with creamy Rabbit Brain.

Failing slightly in the transition to sweets, those ordering the pairing expectedly given a new Wine but those not doing so left to make the jump from Offal to Chocolate all on their own, it was avoiding the Passion Fruit Gel that Dessert one tasted largely like Nutella before moving onto a more logical palate cleanser of Icy Columbian Fruit followed by Cherries in Black Sesame Meringue, a curvy Potato Mille-feuille finishing things strongly before guests were invited next door to finish in the transported 41° Cocktail Lounge Enigma.

At this point just-over 210-minutes in, the transition from elegant dining room to a dimly-lit Bar at almost 18h00 somewhat disjointed but apparently enjoyable to many as more than half of the afternoon’s diners sat around chatting and enjoying addition Cocktails, it was with yet another pastry Chef creating dishes in an open work-area that eight more bites were offered, the Peach Marshmallow, Popcorn Truffle and Panko-fried Nougat “Dragon Egg” all quite good but at the same time also perhaps better incorporated into the actual dining-room experience.

No doubt a future Michelin Star and “World’s Best” list member, the ambition already admirable and execution only likely to improve with time, Albert Adria has suggested in the past that Enigma would “reinvent the way we go to restaurants” and although it is still too early to know whether he will be successful in that quest there is no doubt that the Restaurant is already a reservation worth the effort.

http://enigmaconcept.es/

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Caelum, Barcelona ES

Caelum

Chocolate Biscuit

Crema Catalana Tart

Honey Walnut Torrone

Apple Rum Cake

Vanilla Almond Cake

Focused on the baked goods of monasteries and convents across the Northeastern part of Spain, Caelum proved a most interesting diversion on the last full day in Barcelona, a visit to the corner Café during heavy rainfall providing not only temporary relief from the weather but five sweet treats that proved very enjoyable later.

Set up as part-Market and part dine-in area, the former filled with both Wines and Candies bearing the names of their makers while the later offers a number of baked goods lined up as a glorious display in the window, it was with time somewhat limited that the decision was made to select a handful of Pastries that were boxed and paid for, a lunch-reservation in waiting unfortunately preventing a visit to the medieval Jewish Bath below that has since been turned into additional space for diners to gather.

Saving the vast majority of items for later, only a Crema Catalana Tart eaten straight away for fear that the Chinese Egg-Custard style item would soak through its Chocolate-lined Pastry Shell in the intervening hours, suffice it to say that neither the Chinese nor Taiwanese have anything on the Nuns responsible for this dish, a crackling bruleed layer quickly yielding sweet Cream with the shell very flaky and chock-full of Butter.

Enjoying the rest of the Pastries later that day, the complimentary Chocolate Biscuit little more than a dipped Shortbread, it was with utensils grabbed elsewhere that a Cake of Vanilla, Meringue and Almonds was carefully cut as Confectioner’s Sugar launched skyward, the sweetness coming quick but dissipating fast and leaving behind a nutty linger.

Warned that the Apple Rum Cake was “full with Alcohol,” a fair warning for an item that ate much like a Baba au Rhum with a thin layer of Fruit Jelly on top, it was finally in a messy Honey-Almond Torrone that the tasting finished, everything about this item save for its visual presentation absolutely perfect as it married the flavor of Baklava to soft, sticky Nougat.

http://www.caelumbarcelona.com/

Posted in Barcelona, Caelum, Dessert, Food, Spain, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Granja La Pallaresa, Barcelona ES

Granja La Pallaresa

Hot Chocolate and Churros

Ensaimada Farcida

Crema Catalana

Like many of Barcelona’s historic eateries La Pallaresa is tucked away in the Gothic Quarter, and although the space originally opened as a Dairy it has undergone many changes since 1947 to become the destination it is today, everything about the snack shop opening at 9am Monday through Saturday proving better than the rest of the city’s “Granjas” in terms of food, service and setting.

Located on Calle Petritxol, an interesting little side street accessible by only foot or bike, it was shortly after the small Restaurant opened its doors on Friday that two out-of-town guests entered in search of a few more sweets before making their way to Montserrat, the bartender and two servers each offering a welcome (in direct contrast to Granja Dulcinea the day prior) and immediately providing a menu printed in English before returning less than five minutes later to answer questions and jot down the order.

Offering some sixty items from a list containing both Food and Beverage, everything from Hot Chocolate or Coffee to Ham Sandwiches and housemade Pastries included, it was with little indecision that an order of Hot Churros and Chocolate were requested in addition to the morning’s second Crema Catalana and an Ensaimada Farcida that was warm and sliced into strips with a texture far lighter than any seen previously in Barcelona.

Not yet sporting a queue, something apparently not uncommon closer to lunch and the later evening, it was perhaps after ten minutes wait while nibbling on the flaky Pastry that the three made-to-order items were delivered, the Crema Catalana unfortunately only torched at its center and thus lacking a bit in texture while the Churros were clean in flavor and crisp without any residual oil, light and tasty on their own but all the better when dipped into Chocolate so thick that it could have stood the Donuts up straight despite remaining just fluid enough to be sipped.

http://www.lapallaresa.com

Posted in Barcelona, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Granja La Pallaresa, La Pallaresa, Spain, Vacation Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

El Quim de la Boqueria, Barcelona ES

El Quim de la Boqueria

Double Espresso on Ice

Pan con Tomate