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Posts posted by trsierra

  1. i agree with victor.

    vilaviniteca is the best place here.

    and, as the weather heats up, or during the afternoon, you might want something lighter:

    cérvoles blanc del 2004 from costers del segre...i love this white, but their red is good too.

    viña tondonia rosado from rioja...bone dry and complex.

    nadal brut salvatge cava.

    though not exactly the cheapest wine you'll find...they are all well priced.

    for daily table wines...they will lead you in the right direction at vilaviniteca.


  2. we just went up last week- 5 of us, just for one night.

    it was fantastic, and i will agree that the cheese board is more than impressive.

    the tasting menu was well planned and very well prepared.

    and the wine list was decent and well priced.

    it was too early to take advantage of the swimming pool,

    but we were there to eat anyway...

    as for the rooms, we all stayed in the tower-- they were very spacious and recently re-furbished...

    and very well priced. in fact i have paid more to stay in run-down chain hotels in paris...

    (not that that was my intention!)

    i will definitely return...

    nimzo, i had thought about staying there for our last visit to el bulli, but it seemed a long drive...

    do you usually take a taxi? and if so, what does that run?

    ...we usually stay at cala montjoi --which is basically glorified camping...but you get the added bonus of a short walk home...

  3. hi jammin,

    i did say it was tiny and always full and you NEED reservations.

    if i don't call by 10 am, they tell me the same thing on the payphone in the middle of the rest.:

    sorry, we're full....it's not going to happen...try again tomorrow.

    i've never ever been treated rudely there-- but brusque, sure...

    it's not exactly a rarity here...but it isn't either in new york for that matter.

    call in the morning...it is worth it.



  4. i say especially for those who live here because this little place is not the easiest to get to.

    (nor is it the easiest to get into...)

    it's a bit out of the way in the zona franca, it's only open for breakfast and lunch,

    and it's tiny and always full and you need reservations...

    granja elena is not a destination restaurant at all, but the kind of place you wish was in your neighborhood.

    at least-- i wish it was closer to mine...

    the menu is in catalan, the prices are good, and the food is excellent.

    that said, if you don't know castellano or catalan, i doubt anyone would be disappointed by just eating whatever they brought you.

    which is usually the best way anyway.

    a few years back the chef from bar pinotxo (albert asín) took me there for lunch because the chef was a friend of his. he said i wouldn't be disappointed.

    it's been a little bar/cafe for over 30 years owned by abel and his wife olga.

    with a great selection of cheeses and meats and a very good and well chosen wine list,

    it always had loyal regulars.

    but it has become a top quality restaurant, this probably has something to do with their son,

    who is now the chef.

    some of the appetizers include:

    extra thick asparagus with warm truffle oil.

    a whole raff tomato filled with cantabrican anchovies, sweet figueres onions and olive tapenade.

    smoked pork belly, seared and served on a puree of potxa white beans with foie gras.

    --this is probably the best pork belly i have ever had...and that includes 2 of my favorites (from cinc sentits and fagollaga.)

    a revuelto de tripitas de bacalao which is a scramble of eggs, cod stomach and fresh chanterelle mushrooms.

    arroz cremoso-- a creamy rice with fresh truffles and foie gras...which is rich and perfect, but not as heavy as it could potentially be.

    the big white ganxet beans stewed with pig snout and ears.

    (these dishes don't sound all that elegant in english...but this is real catalan cooking.)

    for the mains:

    a fantastic lechazo...suckling lamb, traditionally roasted with potatoes and a whole head of dry roasted garlic.

    a roasted pigeon from bresse.

    wild turbot with potatoes and arbequina olive oil.

    ajoarriero which is a stew (from the navarra region) of salt cod and sweet red peppers, but here the dish also includes lobster.

    and last week i had a plate of 6 fresh galician scallops grilled a la plancha with just a bit of parsley oil and the liquor...

    as for prices,

    the appetizers start at 5,90€ for a mixed salad with jamon and warm brie, to fresh beluga caviar ( 85€ ). (that won't be for long..!)

    for the main courses, there is a mini-filet with mustard oil (5,90€) to the salt cod and lobster stew (45€).

    normally there are only a couple of desserts...but they are good.

    last time we had a molten bitter chocolate soufflé with vanilla bourbon ice cream,

    and an amazing mousse of mel i mato-- fresh cheese and honey --with pistachio ice cream.

    the ingredients are the best quality, and the region from where they came is always noted if they are not local.

    this is a very informal place that manages-- just like bar pinotxo-- to bring the highest quality cooking to a neighborhood restaurant.



    granja elena

    pº. zona franca, 228

    93 332 02 41

    oh, and the menu at cinc sentits changes this week...

    i am going to miss the chupito of warm maple syrup, cream, cava sabayon and maldon salt--

    but i am really looking forward to seeing what is coming up...

  5. we just had the rare and fortuitous opportunity to eat at el bulli two times within two weeks.

    [i requested a res. to surprise my partner for his birthday, and he requested one for our anniversary...through an odd stroke of fate- we both received our table...yes, an embarrassment of riches...]

    the coverage of the food here has been so thorough, and the photographs so detailed... so i won't belabor it...

    but there are a couple of things that i would mention:

    one thing that struck us was how much the food reminded us of real catalan home cooking.

    the presentation and the techniques were completely modern, and many of the ingredients were foreign, but when you closed your eyes and swallowed, the ballast of the dish was pure catalan... just the essence of home cooking.

    the staff was incredibly gracious and did their best to make sure that our meal was as different as possible for the second dinner. our waiter informed us of the few dishes that would be the same...but of course we were more than happy to taste them a second time. the dinner can be such a barrage to the senses, so it was like watching a great film again...you had the opportunity to see things that you missed the first time.

    other people have written about how the different tables receive a variety of different courses in the evening, (different cocktails, snacks and morphings) and i really enjoyed that, as it seems very fluid and spontaneous.

    ...it is a true credit to the kitchen that a menu that is so studied and perfected can appear spontaneous in the dining room.

    the first night we started out on the patio for the cocktails and snacks, then after our dessert they moved us back outside to enjoy the breeze for coffee and digestives. the second night the patio was closed and we went straight to our table...(we had a big storm here and the weather was a bit cooler...) i did notice the second night that they started a few tables in the kitchen for their cocktails and nibbles, which would have been great, i imagine. (but i'm a bit of a klutz; if there is a pan somewhere-- i'll knock it over, if there is someone within 5 feet of me-- i'll bump into him...so perhaps it was better for everyone that they took us directly to our little table in the corner!)

    between the two nights the majority of the dishes were different, and yet the dishes that were the same were actually some of my favorite ones: the corn soufflé with corn broth and tallarina clams, the mackerel belly 'escabeche' in chicken broth, and that perfect 'terroso' dish. the first night, we got the goodbye hands with the white chocolate/wild strawberry candies...the second night we didn't. i really appreciated the variance...it made it feel like each table had it's own intimacy or individuality.

    it was a lovely, professional touch.

    i can't say enough about the staff, their professionalism was balanced perfectly with their human-ness.

    3 star michelin service is always efficient, but it can often feel antiseptic or impersonal. dining at ell bulli makes you feel as if you are at a friend's home. (albeit a gorgeous home on a secluded cove, filled with art and good smells...)

    on the hotel note, we stayed both nights at cala montjoi (city of vacations!) ...which is slightly strange, glorified camping...but you cannot beat walking home in the sea air by moonlight, and then waking up in the morning only to drag some towels to the beach and lie in the sun...the water in the cove is perfect swimming temperature.

    thanks to luisa chu for her reservation warning ... and to everyone who posted their photos and impressions.

    until next year? [with luck]


  6. i know that they had closed for a couple of days for a fiesta semenal at the beginning of sept.,

    that could be one of the reasons for the delay...

    they are usually quite prompt, but i also have been trying to make a res. for a week or so and i haven't had any reply either...

    hopefully it is a temporary glitch.

    but do keep trying nimzo-- it is most certainly worth it.


  7. Masochist? well, possibly...but let's just call it thorough...

    I eat out a lot...It's part of my job.

    And that was exactly my point: In a city like Barcelona, these things really need to be addressed because there are too many good places to eat.

    Yes, I live there, so I'd be in the area and decide to give it another shot.

    (and there have been times that I have had friends who wanted to try it; it seems as if it is known a bit in London chef-circles. )

    So, hopefully all of my hard work will save someone else the bother.

  8. I really want to like this restaurant. And I have tried. The food has often been very good,

    and I will give any restaurant the odd off-night...but I have been disappointed too often, and for reasons that should be easy enough to fix.

    Simply, the service should not be rude. I don't mind gruff, perfunctory or even a bit grumpy as long as the basic elements of service are met. I have worked in restaurants, (both in the front and the back) for over 10 years, and I know that a surge in popularity can overwhealm a restaurant, but they have had enough time to iron out the kinks.

    I have eaten there 8 times over the span of 3 years, and have had decent service twice.

    (I know, I keep trying...as I said, I want to like the place.)

    I always sit at the bar, because I think that is the best place to be...as at Cal Pep, or

    Bar Pinotxo, I don't need white tablecloth service....just good food served with a bit of decency.

    Any diner can tell the difference between harried service and inept service. I won't bore you all with the rant....but if you want just a few examples for substantiation: I've waited 40 minutes between tapas courses when it wasn't busy, but the server was talking to a friend, I've been overcharged on 3 occasions, and ignored on many others... The final time (April, 2005) I paid 12 euros for 5 clams and 2 were still closed.

    (That's NOT the server's fault, but she should have noticed that nearly half the dish was inedible,

    ...she didn't care. On the same night, she accidentally broke the cork while opening a bottle that we ordered...not a big deal at all... normally you pour the wine into the glass and remove the bits of cork with a spoon, instead she left the bottle for 10 minutes, came back, removed the last half of the cork and poured a bunch into the sink (my lovely wine!) then put the bottle in front of us. She didn't look at us, didn't pour the wine, and went back to sending text messages on her cell phone.)

    From now on, I'll give Estrella a miss, and go to Santa Maria or Comerc 24...sit at the bar and be fed better. Or maybe I'll just catch a cab to the Zona Franca and go to Granja Elena.

    I'll be quiet now...It's time for a cocktail anyway.

  9. sid,

    i can't say enough about the falk culinair pans.

    easy to care for, and they look beautiful,( and not in the overly-precious shiny way that demands constant salt/lemon scrubbing or polishing.)

    they have a very thin layer of stainless, and a very generous guage of copper, thicker than most.

    2 main french brands use a thicker layer of stainless and less copper, (which defeats the benefits of cooking in copper) and they use a type of metal glue to fuse the two together. under intense or uneven heat, they have a propensity to unlaminate in places...it looks as if the pan is slightly warped or blistered.

    i went to the little factory in belgium to buy mine (i live in france) because it was a bit difficult to order them online. (french laws make it very difficult.)

    it is easy to purchase online from the u.s. or u.k., and i believe germany.

    ...but i have to say, it was worth the drive...paul van achter will show you around and describe everything you would ever want to know about his pans. he is a true artisan, and cook.

    i have 4 of his pans and i never use any others. i put all my other pans in the basement, save for two. [a very large stockpot because it's lighter than copper , and a wok because you want to develop that wok-hay seasoning.]

    i could go on.

    but i hope this helps.


  10. i would like to thank luisa for her original post...each year the date changes a bit, and i would have been unaware...

    just received a gracious conformation for our requested dates, and i should add that every conversation i have had with luis garcia has been gracious and sincere.

    (unlike the average maitre d'hotel i deal with in france...)

    perhaps it is like bux suggested; that everyone who seriously tries, eventually has luck.

    i also think flexibility and persistance really help.

    quite a few times this season i called after 3pm, to check for last minute cancellations, and they do come through...of course this only helps if you live nearby.

    [and to blakej: i seriously doubt writing in english is a problem, although if you call, i think spanish would be necessary]

    again, thank you luisa...


  11. once when i was eating in a neighborhood restaurant in rural china, i had to use the bathroom (as one does after a couple beers)...i went into the hutong bathroom...the one for the whole neighborhood (no stalls, no doors)... there was no electricity in it, just candles set out everywhere. there was a mom busy helping, like 8 tiny kids to squat over the little trough, and they had obviously never seen a mexican woman with red lipstick before. so as i am peeing, knees to my ears, i have a whole assortment of kids sitting down next to me...waving to me.

    all i could do was smile...

    i felt like such a cultural embassador.

    ....so if a bathroom has a door, or no audience...you're living in style...


  12. and i'm not even looking for great...just something that is more authentic than tepid duck dishes that are more french than anything ...with a cheese course on the menu....

    i have been fortunate (as has everyone who lives here) to have found great and real vietnamese food...from all different regions; but i miss true chinese food. this is no slag on paris...i haven't found good chinese anywhere in continental europe. but if anyone knows of some tiny place,

    i would be greatful. (and a loyal customer)


  13. Oooh boy, a topic I am actually qualified to post on! *grin*

    Mary & Tito's - 4th Street near Menaul. Outstanding red. Very homey.

    Chilepeno's - Sandia Park, on the left just before the ski area (Crest Road) turnoff. Hopefully the *location* isn't a turn-off, as the food is excellent. Owned by the same family as:

    Perea's Tijuana Bar & Grill: North Valley, not positive on the exact location.

    Garcia's, downtown (Central & 10th or thereabouts)

    Mariachi - NE Heights, Juan Tabo near Candelaria. Little dive of a place, the owner/mistress/waitress can be a bit tepid in her attitude but the food is very down home.

    All of the above are inexpensive (less than $10).

    ....and in Santa Fe, Horseman's Haven. On Cerillos near the autopark, next door to a new Phillips gas station. Hot hot hot green, but very flavorful.

    Need more? I'll think of some....


    thanks andrea,

    i look forward to trying them. all of them.


  14. does anyone have a good suggestion for homemade quality traditional food in albuquerque?

    pinto's has great salsa, but they don't cook their tortillas before they stack the enchiladas and it drives me crazy...they use pre-fab taco shells...

    rancho de corrales is hit and miss, the old mansion down in old town (i've forgotten the name)

    is lovely but the food is average...

    any little hole in the wall traditional new mexican restaurant that you could take your mother to...the mother who taught you how to make tortillas...

    i find myself having to go to cafe pascual's in santa fe for good enchiladas...(or make them at home)


  15. david,

    if you are interested in real catalan cuisine and if a white tablecloth atmosphere is not your number one priority-- go to bar pinotxo in the boqueria- a true family restaurant. albert cooks the true dishes he learned from his grandmother and mother. (salt cod, rabbit, snails, mushrooms, baby lamb chops, revueltos with shrimp or tiny tallarina clams, stews...i could go on). he runs the restaurant with his brother and uncle juanito who is 70 and works as long and hard as he did at 20. in his off season ferran adria takes people there to understand the essential catalan cuisine that he builds on.

    there will be breakfast or lunch everyday besides sunday. they open early and close early. you would do well to eat there more than once, as the menu changes daily and is dependant on only what is fresh...though usually on mondays you will be able to get salt cod...tuesedays, his exquisite rabbit. they have a very good house cava, and a good house crianza. leave yours at home...just push up to the bar...you might have to wait, and ask 'what is good today?' they won't steer you wrong, and will give you the food that keeps catalans coming back.


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