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Aidan Brooks

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  1. I applied for a job at Dos Cielos in the New Year. My research and comments from friends in the industry told me that this would be a really good team to work with. Unfortunately, we don't always get our timing right in life - they were on holiday and by the time I received an invitation to come and visit I had already made the commitment to move back to London. So it's not to be, but reading your comments and especially that Jordi Artal had recommended the place to you gives me great confidence in my judgment and that of my friends. I'm sure this will really be a place to watch in the coming months and years and I wish them all the very best.
  2. I used to buy my chefs whites and other gear at this place when I was living and working in Barcelona: El Transwaal Carrer de l'Hospital, 67 08001 Barcelona Hope this helps.
  3. ← When you've completed your stage at El Poblet, you should come out to Bocairent and eat with us at Ferrero. Neither the restaurant nor eGullet will let me write about the place as it would violate the code of ethics for an employee, so I'm really interested to see independent reviews.
  4. My four would be Cervecería Catalana and Gresca for great food and a bubbling, fun environment; Cinc Sentits and Lasarte for food a class above and a lot more peace and quiet. I've published reviews of the last three on my blog (click on Restaurants in my header bar) and CC is probably the best value for money in town, though as I said before you must expect to queue.
  5. What I was trying to say is that your original list contained chalk and cheese suggestions - everything almost from formal dress code with silver service to jeans and trainers sharing tables and restaurants with prices from e20 to e150. If you are going to Cerveceria Catalana you will have to queue for a seat and the earlier you go the shorter the queue. Your shortlist will all give you a genuine experience of Barcelona's food, which is primarily Catalan and Basque with strong Italian influences.
  6. What sort of place would you normally enjoy? I ask this question because these are all restaurants serving very traditional food. That's not a criticism - Cerveceria Catalana is almost a second home for me and the first three on the list especially come with impeccable references. But there's nothing very radical and exciting here. Perhaps if you give us an idea of what sort of place, food and service you are most comfortable with we can make some helpful suggestions.
  7. Email me via my profile and we can discuss it. I'm on my second stage in Spain (having worked a full contract inbetween) and I've also helped others to get stages here in Barcelona. I can't promise to get you in but I'm sure I'll be able to offer good advice.
  8. John - thanks for the article from El Periódico, which I didn't see before I read your blog post yesterday. It makes very interesting reading, though it still doesn't sound like Albert is entirely sure about the future. I'd kinda figured that everyone knew that it was the beginning of the end for El Bulli. Things like the change of timetable, Ferran's work at Alicia and travels abroad gave plenty of hints. I'd give good money (if I had any) to know what and where the next El Bulli will be. We all want to be ahead of the game as we progress our careers.
  9. Sorry I didn't see your question earlier, Stephen. Very few restaurants will be open in Barcelona on Christmas Day or Saint Stephen's Day and most of those which are open will be offering special Christmas menus and are likely to be booked up well in advance. However, the Barcelona Tourist Guide website lists several places that are open during this period: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/...estaurants.html None of these are Michelin-starred. Given the restricted choice, I would try for Botafumeiro (seafood), Agut d'Avignon (classical Catalan), Amaya (Basque), Tragaluz (modern Mediterranean) and Elx (rice dishes), in that order. I hope you find somewhere with room for you.
  10. That's really interesting, Culinista. I ate at ÀBaC a couple of times recently and the one dish that I really had problems with was the clams with veal tendons. When I wrote up the experience the other day on my blog I said: "In my honest opinion I don't think this dish works. The individual elements were all cooked perfectly and were great by themselves, there's no denying that. But eating it all together just didn't quite make sense to either of us, so we ate the clams with the caviar and then the tendons with the broth and the broccoli." ( http://aidanbrooks.blogspot.com/2008/12/taken-bac.html ) My conclusion was that the food was for the most part very well executed as I would expect from a restaurant of this standing, the exceptions being the tuna "hamburger" which was seriously over-salted and the pumpkin and chocolate parfait dessert in which the flavour of the pumpkin was drowned by that of the dark chocolate. The best of the dishes were excellent - the sous-vide prawns, watercress, tomato and crunchy bread being the best of them in my opinion. The calamar with rossinyols, crema of almonds and cep broth was also a brilliant exhibition of relatively simple produce-led cooking. I was less enamoured of the pigeon à la brasa. The breast with spinach garnish, trompettes de la mort and sauced with its own jus was fine, but the separately served ballotine of leg stuffed with butifarra negra was accompanied by a very vinegary garnish that seriously detracted from the overall dish. My problem (apart from the size of the bill at the end of the evening) was conceptual. Neither my guest not I could really fathom how several of the dishes fitted into the flow of the meal. And I really had difficulty with the cultural diversity of the menu, with dishes varying between classical Catalan, French nouvelle cuisine, classical Castilian and modern eclectic. I'm no culinary conservative (I trained with Peter Gordon a couple of years ago and still love his fusion food), but I was getting dizzy with the clash of styles on the ÀBaC menu. Xavier is of mixed Catalan/French descent, trained in France and practising in Catalunya. I think the problem may well be that he's not really sure which of these two traditions he truly believes in.
  11. Returning from Barcelona to London via Girona last Thursday for a long weekend, I decided to seize the opportunity and visit El Celler de Can Roca. Having arrived at the railway station, I took a stroll up into the town and found the new premises very easily. My initial reception was welcoming and relaxing and the service continued in this vein throughout the meal. The waiters were so professional - always there when needed and never visible when not - and Josep was always available and ready to recommend wines and ensure that everything was OK. I ordered the menú festival, which seems to have expanded from a previous 11 courses (8 mains, 2 pre-desserts and a dessert) to 12 courses, with an additional main. I've described them all on my blog post at http://aidanbrooks.blogspot.com/2008/12/roca-n-roll.html and posted photos on my Flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/aidanbrooks/s...157610402411923. The price was €115+IVA, with paired wines at €45+IVA. This was my fourth experience of a Michelin 2* restaurant and one that I'll never forget. Never before have I been served a tasting menu in which I was unable to detect a single fault in execution. The meal was simply flawless. Creative without being excessive or experimental. And delicious - for the stomach as well as for the intellect! I don't know why they failed to achieve their third star last month, but it will surely come next year. I was especially thrilled when, after my meal, Joan invited me to tour his kitchens. I'd like to return there one day - in my jacket and with my knives, ready for work.
  12. Couldn't agree more with earlier comments. I was really expecting the Rocas to gain their third star and hoping that Alex would gain a second at Lasarte. But delighted at the news for Jordi, Amèlia & Roser Artal - especially so as I ate there on Tuesday night just hours before the announcement!
  13. It was my birthday last Sunday and my family came to visit me in Barcelona. We ate at various restaurants over the extended weekend, climaxing with a fantastic meal at Cinc Sentits on Tuesday night. Having quietly booked a table the same day without any mention of my anniversary, I was amazed when Jordi, Amèlia and Roser Artal came to my table with a birthday candle. They had spotted my name amongst the bookings, remembered from a previous visit that I publish a blog ( http://www.aidanbrooks.blogspot.com ) and checked it out. Now that's what I call attention to customers! The food was every bit as good as previously and they even managed to make my coeliac dad very happy despite bread in various forms being integral to the textural composition of several dishes. Jordi's food has all the intelligence of combination and brilliance of execution that you find on plates served elsewhere with a vast amount going on. Yet hardly a dish on the tasting menu on Tuesday involved more than four distinct elements. And while playing in various directions, they remain so unmistakably Catalan. Late last night I heard that Cinc Sentits was awarded its first Michelin star, just hours after I ate there. I'm delighted for the family and I can only urge everyone to visit this gem of a restaurant. Hopefully the award and the expectations that sometimes go with it won't be its downfall.
  14. Completely forgot to file a link to my blog post on Gresca</a>, so apologies: http://aidanbrooks.blogspot.com/2008/10/gr...-of-dinner.html As I said earlier, Gresca is a really great place to eat for good produce, excellent execution of dishes and a good balance between more traditional Catalan cooking and more experimental. Especially good value for money, as one of the new "bistronomic" eateries in town: http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/travel/06journeys.html Perhaps it's rather more for the younger set than for older, more conservative diners.
  15. Ingo - Gresca was really good. It'll take me a while to sort out my thoughts and I probably won't have time to write anything until next Monday, but I'll definitely be writing up the experience.
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