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Jean-Luc Figueras


victornet
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I'm off to Barcelona in about 10 days, and some of the posts here have been really informative. On my last visit there, about 10 years ago, our favorite meal was at Eldorado Petit. Has anyone eaten at its chef's current venue, Jean-Luc Figueras?

We're planning to visit Alkimia, and are sorting out our other meals.

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Jean-Luc Figueras' name comes up several times in a thread on Sant Pau, and not unreasonably in a thread on Barcelona One-Stars. You can click on the underlined links to go to the threads.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Thanks, Bux

I've been reading all the threads and have a lot more info. We'll definitely go to Jean-Luc Figueras based on his past performance, but I'm looking forward to some more classically catalonian stuff, and will report. From all reports (here and elsewhere) things have moved forward quite a bit in the last 10 years. Indeed, in a cooking class I took with Wylie Dufresne last night, both he and a bunch of the students were sugesting that Spain was THE happening place.

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Victornet, I was just talking to a friend of mine and of Wylie about the influence of Barcelona on WD50. An obvious example is the chocolate covered anchovies at Cacao Sampacka, the chocolate shop in Barcelona, and Wylie's foie gras wiith chocolate and anchovies; not to mention the ubiquitous foams, of course. It will be interesting to see how Grimes discusses this in his review that may already be on-line. But I am of accord with you. When I go to Barcelona in 16 days, I will be concentrating on the more classic, other than a visit to Espai Sucre, which sounds like something obligatory.

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You can travel the world over- you wont find a better place than Jean Luc Figueras.Do NOT miss it.

And while you're there, dont miss Can Gaig or Neichel, either. All three were superb a few weeks ago.

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Barcelona has an incredible attraction for gastronomes right now. I think there's a focus that's been a result of Adria and other chefs in Catalunya as well as a general attention to northern Spain. In fact the focus on San Sebastian may be older than the attention drawn to Catalunya and the Basques have long had a reputation as the best chefs in Spain. The questions in my minds are has there always been this wonderful Catalan cooking and why didn't we hear more about it in the past.

I suspect the answers are not as simple as the questions. The easy answer would be that it's always been there, but like the tree that falls in the forest, it didn't make any noise because there were no traveling food lovers to hear about it or talk about it. Now that people are traveling to the region to eat and the area is attracting those sort of Americans and British who travel to eat, those people are discovering the traditional food as well. They're discovering the food because there aren't enough avant garde chefs to fill their dining card and they're discovering it because the creative food is helping develop an appreciation for the local cuisine from which the creative draws. At the same time I suspect the traditional cuisine is traditional in the area, I also suspect it is undergoing changes and refinements that make it more competitive with better French cooking. Spain is more prosperous than it has ever been in the twentieth century. Spain has changed more in the last twenty-five years than the other western European countries I know. This change is not at all restricted to Catalunya or northern Spain and has been discussed in other threads.

I'm not sure what has me most excited about the prospect of returning to Barcelona. Certainly there are the restaurants that have been recommended and which I've enjoyed and the ones I've only read about, but which seem so enticing. That's enough to leave me assured that on my next visit, I will not have time to eat in every restaurant that interests me, but the one other thing that attracts me is the feeling I have that I can serendipitously find excellent food at reasonable prices off the beaten path and do it with greater ease than in Paris. I may be misguided as the result of one most fortunate walk in on an uppropitious evening following a general strike in Spain, when few restaurants were open. Pot luck in Paris or New York would not have been so successful.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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You can travel the world over- you wont find a better place than Jean Luc Figueras.Do NOT miss it.

And while you're there, dont miss Can Gaig or Neichel, either. All three were superb a few weeks ago.

Cy, it seems you enjoyed Jean-Luc Figueras more than I did, which is not to say that I didn't appreciate or enjoy it, just that it was not that high on my pantheon. Nevertheless, we found it interesting and satisfying from start to finish and enough so to want to return. I hope you will serve us up a review to whet my appetite and lend me some additional insight into the food. I guess I'm saying we found a one star meal in one star restaurant in a city with good food, but if there's a three star meal to be had there, I want to find it next time. :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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And to expand slightly, Can Gaig and Neichel were also magnificent,as good as as virtually anything in France.

We had the tasters menu in all three.

NOT to die for were Drolma, Botafumeiro, Cal Pep and Can Fabes, the latter an especial disaster.

El Bulli was a novelty, good fun, but really nothing more than a novelty.

The other gem was Jardin des Sens in Montpellier. I dont see how that one can be topped- anywhere.

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I'm really sorry to hear that Can Fabes was a disaster. We were there two years ago and thrilled. I find it easy to accept an opinion of El Bulli as novelty or great meal. I've had reactions from people whose opinion on food I trust go either way on this. We had several wonderful meals at le Jardin des Sens when it was a two star restaurant, but haven't managed to return since it's earned it's third star. I've also heard mixed reports since then. Two of our three meals there were gems and the other was good enough considering that we all took the least expensive menu and that just a few days earlier the same group of four had a more expensive bang up celebration of my wife's birthday at Daniel.

As for your lack of notes, I suppose I shall just have to wait twenty years until some memorable story comes to mind about the dinner and you post it then. :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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(somewhat off topic) For what it's worth: Since the topic of Spain had come up in the cooking class I asked Wylie Dufresne afterwards for any Barcelona recommendations. Very off the cuff he mentioned Espai Sucre, 7 Ports and Alkimia. By the way I feel Grimes' review today was very in synch with my one meal so far at WD-50. More comfortable than 71 Clinton, aiming even higher with the food, but still a work in progress. There were dishes, such as the Pork Belly, that are a spectucular taste, but a bit much as a full portion. I was probably the most positive of my party of 4, and felt many of the dishes would work even better as smaller plates in a tasting menu (sounds like Spain perhaps?). I have seen no mention of it, so I'd add that my scallop appetizer was terrific. Very concentrated flavor, but you wanted to eat the whole thing and more. The little bone marrow cakes that accompanied the lamb loin were quite tasty as well.

I'll post back about Barcelona when I return in early July.

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Indeed, in a cooking class I took with Wylie Dufresne last night, both he and a bunch of the students were sugesting that Spain was THE happening place.

Victornet, I meant to comment on this earlier. I think this has been true for some time. I remember talking to a couple who had recently been in San Sebastian where they spoke with Berasategui who they had previously met in NYC. Not only were there other American chefs eating in the dining room, but evidently young cooks and chefs from NY and California had been parading through the restaurant all summer long. Most recently, when I was introduced to the new French pastry chef at Blue Hill here in NYC, I mentioned that we were traveling more in Spain and his response was to say that's where it's all happening now.

We had some interesting food in Madrid and a most interesting and satisfying meal in what's really a god forsaken part of la Mancha a few months ago. Perhaps you've already come across my post on Las Rejas. Things are happening as far south as Andalucia where we also found a few creative restaurants. It's not just Catalunya and the Basque region anymore either. Nevertheless, they are the hotbeds and I'll look forward to your posts next month.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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It's indeed interesting that some people believe that either Catalonia or alternatively an imaginary Barcelona/San Sebastián axis monopolize what's happening in Spanish cuisine these days. It was fortunate that Bux could stop over at Las Rejas to get a glimpse at the rest of the action. Here's a further list of places (be they innovative or terroir-driven, great restaurants or taverns with a sizzling kitchen) that qualify as 'musts' in my book:

Echaurren, in Ezcaray (La Rioja)

Coque, in Humanes (Madrid)

Ars Vivendi, in Moralzarzal (Madrid)

Ca Sento, in Valencia

Pincelín, in Almansa (Albacete)

El Bohío, in Illescas (Toledo)

Molino Blanco, in Alcalá de Guadaira (Seville)

Viavélez, in Tapia de Casariego (Asturias)

Gamíniz, in Zamudio (Bizkaia)

In Madrid - and in addition to the more publicized places:

Viridiana, Dantxari, Tété, Ventorrillo Murciano, Kabuki, Cuenllas Wine Bar y Restaurante, Taquería del Alamillo.

I'll add to that another Catalan place that never seems to get its due on this board - the absolute best traditional cuisine in the region: Hispania, at Arenys de Mar.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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(somewhat off topic) For what it's worth: Since the topic of Spain had come up in the cooking class I asked Wylie Dufresne afterwards for any Barcelona recommendations. Very off the cuff he mentioned Espai Sucre, 7 Ports and Alkimia. By the way I feel Grimes' review today was very in synch with my one meal so far at WD-50. More comfortable than 71 Clinton, aiming even higher with the food, but still a work in progress. There were dishes, such as the Pork Belly, that are a spectucular taste, but a bit much as a full portion. I was probably the most positive of my party of 4, and felt many of the dishes would work even better as smaller plates in a tasting menu (sounds like Spain perhaps?). I have seen no mention of it, so I'd add that my scallop appetizer was terrific. Very concentrated flavor, but you wanted to eat the whole thing and more. The little bone marrow cakes that accompanied the lamb loin were quite tasty as well.

I'll post back about Barcelona when I return in early July.

Somewhat more off the topic, where were you taking the cooking class with WD?

Peter Kumps?

Just wondering.

Hope you enjoyed it :biggrin:

2317/5000

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The class was at De Gustibus at Macy's. Highly recommended. This was the 3rd class (over 3 years - these are one night demonstrations) I did with Dufresne. I find that you learn lots of tips, ingredient sources, and techniques. Though I do make Wylie's rye bread and edamame crust for bass on occaision, I rarely duplicate complete recipes from the classes .

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Hey Victor, I've been shilling on the board for Hispania, thanks to Bux. In fact I have a reservation for lunch this Sunday. I will try to write more about it. Thanks for confirming a hunch based on little empirical evidence.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just have time for a quick post, but will add more soon. We're back from Barcelona and the meal at Figueras was quite terrific. Definitely on the French/formal end of the spectrum, but with some of the wierd but tasty contrasting elements I look for in Catalan food. Our favorite meals were at Alkimia and Commerc 24.

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I will be going to Barcelona in September and looking for some recommendations. You're all probably thinking that I should read through all the comments, and I have and now I'm more confused then ever!!!!!!!! Please do not think I'm trying to take anything away from the recommendations and experiences everyone has posted, actually it's quite WONDERFUL!!!!!! (also read through Robert's El Gullet Guide to Barcelona, WOW!!!!). However I'm totally confused from the vast array of choices.

I was thinking of going to Neichel, (I found it on the Relais & Chateau website) however I havent read much about it on the site, I'm open to any recommendations (as I am not familiar at all with restaurants in Barcelona. Would have loved to go to El Bulli, alas it's out of the way; I believe it's a couple of hours away from Barcelona) , unfortunately I have to narrow it down to one or two places, PLEASE HELP!!! :smile:

Thanks

Irene

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On recent trips, I have agonized about where to eat in Barcelona -- there are so many choices and the types of choices are so varied. It's so much less likely I'd be able to choose for someone else. Tell us who you are, what you like, where you're coming from, what and where you eat when not in Barcelona and why you're going to be in Barcelona. Then perhaps we may narrow down a suggestion or two.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello Bux

I will be in Barcelona for a week in September for a vacation.I am coming for Montreal with my boyfriend who is a chef.We have eaten at most of the better restaurants in Montreal including those that belong to the Relais Des Chateaux.We are open to just about anything and are just looking for a few recomendations from people who have been and have a better idea as to what Barcelona has to offer.Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

thanks irene

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Irene, I found Can Gaig uneven last month. The roast suckling pig, however, was terrific. Can Majo was mediocre paella-wise. Go out of town a bit to Arenas de Mar and lunch at Hispania. It may be the place for classic Catalan cuisine at its best. A restaurant that hardly gets mention, but that I and Marcus liked a lot is Casa Calvet. The chef there, whoever he is, is sober and focussed. Inventive, but not nutty. Also it is in a Gaudi house and the dining room is authentic Gaudi, but just before his flamboyant period. Nonetheless it adds an engaging dimension to the visit.

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Sorry to hear Can Majo was disapppointing. We've never had paella there, preferring the Catalan arròs caldós, (arroz caldosa in Spanish) but I had heard the paella was good, at least several years ago. I think I've already posted on all of our worthwhile meals in Barcelona.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I just have time for a quick post, but will add more soon. We're back from Barcelona and the meal at Figueras was quite terrific. Definitely on the French/formal end of the spectrum, but with some of the wierd but tasty contrasting elements I look for in Catalan food. Our favorite meals were at Alkimia and Commerc 24.

Any chance of a write up on Comerc 24? It was one of my favourites in Barcelona also.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Here's my notes on Commerc 24 (I took better notes on this trip, inspired by some of the egullet posts on Barcelona).

We had a 15 course meal, with lots of explanation by the staff of what each course was. Among them were a red gazpacho, a tomato foam that you scooped up with potato chips, marinated clams and mushrooms, a piece of smoked salmon covered with salmon eggs which you dragged through an emulsion of clear yogurt flecked with vanilla (my favorite course - as with so many of the most memorable items in Barcelona the quality of the ingredients was every bit as high as the imagination that constructed a dish that enhanced them), a stack of goat cheese, anchovy, and toast.

Other dishes included 'Matisse carpaccio' a plate divided into 4 regions, each with a carpaccio, to be consumed in order:1.tuna, 2.cod, 3 beef with grain mustard sauce, 4. jicama (refreshing end to the sequence). They served late in the proceedings a tiny 'hamburger' with foie gras inside (with full knowledge of the DB burger- we even heard another new yawka at a nearby table proving her foodie bona fides to the waiter and discussing this). There was also a tuna tartar 'sushi' and a dish described as 'meat and potatoes' - a cup with a white cream top (potato cream) and a beef stew like bottom. I was never a big tapas fan, but the procession of small, strong tastes composed into a coherent whole was brilliantly demonstrated here.

There were 3 desserts. A mango liquid that was like a melted sorbet in flavor (best of the 3), strawberries in juice that looked like jello, and a chocolate pudding of sorts.

We sort of blew it with the wine, drinking a Remullari Riserva 98 that was pretty closed down (better later maybe) with only a few good moments.

Obviously this meal would not have existed without El Bulli (which I realize was a big disappointment to Matthew. I'm still hoping to go next Summer), but I suspect it was playful in a less serious way. The music was young, good and possibly loud for some ( I'm just recalling the mood, not the decibel level). It was a wonderful meal, but would not do for those who don't want the explanations, the many tastes (as opposed to the slow savoring of a large main course). For those I'd recommend Alkimia - which was my favorite meal of this trip anyway.

I'll be back in a minute, though.

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There was also a tuna tartar 'sushi' and a dish described as 'meat and potatoes' - a cup with a white cream top (potato cream) and a beef stew like bottom. I was never a big tapas fan, but the procession of small, strong tastes composed into a coherent whole was brilliantly demonstrated here.

These were two of my favourite dishes. I think the 'meat and potatoes' you described was the Bull tail Parmentier which was outstanding. The other thing that struck me about the meal was what good value ot was. I can't remember the exact price but was very surprised when the bill arrived.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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