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Cooking Cataluna / Catalana


Simon Sunwoo
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I am sending out a bid for knowledge, so I would appreciate anyone who would be able to help. I have now been at Can Fabes for two months and we still have sold out weekends, even if weekdays have slowed a bit down, so I have little spare time to make requests. It seems funny--to me at least--that what I've been doing on my days off is returning back to the kitchen, but this time trying to learn more 'typical' Spanish cuisine. Its exactly these times I feel the most inadequate being a chef de partie in a world renowned Spanish or more precisely Catalunyan (I still don´t know how to spell it) restaurant. Sure give me a dozen dishes and a couple of weeks, and I can start an efficient game plan for mis en place and such, but get me in a home kitchen with other Spanish cooks and I am at a loss as to where to start.

So I just do what I do best and peeled some onions and tomatoes and started making, I guess a suffrito and then while this was slowly simmering in the oven, I made my way down to the Boqueria in Barcelona and saw much the same produce as most anywhere in Provence--normal. You see, I was in charge of coming up with an entree (being garde manger) for a dinner at going away party. A fellow cook, Albert,who worked formally at Louis XV, and then came for a one month stage at Can Fabes was leaving to become sous chef at a new Ducasse restaurant in Switzerland. We got to talking-- because not speaking much Spanish, he was the only cooks I could converse with in French-- about menu suggestions and this got a couple of others talking and it was set, we would all come up with one dish and my other French speaking friend, Can Fabes' sommelier, would pick out the wines. OK, it was set, we would all be eating around 10, Monday night. Great, I would just drop in at the Boqueria, find some inspiration, pick out some good produce and voila, a dish.

Then it dawned on me that, apart from the tortillas, paella and such I've eaten at tapas bars, I hadn't the foggiest idea of what really comprises Spanish cuisine yet alone Catalunyan cuisin. Well, lets just say thank god the produce was fresh and a salad started to materialize relatively easily. I know, not very interesting until you get down and look at some of the more unusual or high quality ingredients, such as cordifol, tetragon and glacial (all types of salads which I believe comes from France), the abundance of amazing looking nuts (I chose macadamian and Californian walnuts), of course hoja de robles, frise, and endibia--then I just went Californian with an aquacate. OK, it being Monday, there wasn't an abundance of seafood, or lets say fresh seafood in the Boqueria, so I opted not to take the chance on some overly strong smelling gambas--but what I thought this salad needed was some protein--seafood protein. Luckily, there was a salted seafood stand which had bacalao and such and there is where I first saw a salt dried morceau of tuna. I asked the dinner guest about what it was and they shrugged their shoulders and I guess the name mojama came up, and so thats what I'm calling it. The salad was uninteresting yet satisfying as most all salads are, but lets get to the "meat" of the story. Next came an abundant array of local specialties from Alberts home town of Terragon (sp?). We had a plato de cecima de buey (cured beef), two Tarragonian savory tarts, Coca de Ceba and Coca de Espinaca Panier i Pinyons. He also brough a non Terragonian soprasada from the Ile de Majorca. Then another cook came up with a sauteed beef dish with onions and bellpeppers, but he kick I guess was that the beef came from Castilla Leon (meant nothing to me, but it was simple but good--simply good). And then the last dish was a heartstopper which was called Sopa Boracho (I believe, tongue in cheek, this was not traditional). Picture a hearty dish with chickpeas, pork, chorizo, onions, bellpeppers and such. Not the most elegant of dishes, but when you ate it, you knew you were full. Finally for dessert, Albert made a chocolate sauce wh¡ch we poured over a local bizcocho of sorts--Pa de Pessic. We drank mostly Spanish wine, apart from the Grande Annee Bollinger 95 to start, and a Condrieu, Chery 2000. My impression of Spanish wine, which was again reconfirmed at this dinner only to be dispelled at the end, was that in general, they lack the finesse of French wines--although I proclaim to be nothing of a wine expert. I note some problems of balance, overly forward noses with lackluster finish. I haven´t been overly exposed to the Trempanillo so I don´t know if it is a peculiarity of the vinification or the grape itself, but lets say I much prefer the more French varietals in red--although much Grenache and Syrah as well as Cabernet Sauvignon is used here.

Again, I am no wine expert, and have not had a full Spanish wine tasting (even if it were possible) but the Rioja, La Cuevade Contador 2000 and Toro, Nvmanthia 2000 were only two more examples of less inspiring wines. Then, came the bottle of Ribero del Duero, Vega Sicilia, 1999 (not even supposed to be available yet). Everything was dispelled. Long discussion of this wine led me to argue that it was reminiscent of a Bordeaux Right Coast, to which my sommelier friend disagreed saying more Bordeaux Left Coast. I do as usual and deferred, really only trying to sound opinionated, but there was no doubt that this was a great wine. Even more, I could only imagine what this wine would do with age. My god, from the nose to the finish, there was a finesse, a notable equilibrium that I have not before seen in a Spanish wine. Than again, like I keep saying, and what I keep regurgitating (nasty for a cook to use such a word) is what has been discussed at many a wine tasting with my French colleague.

Well, I know this was supposed to be a bid for knowledge, and what I´ve learned from the dinner after being schooled in the three DO of Jamon (Huelva, Guijuelo, Etremadura) and the seven races of porc used (Lampino de la Serena, Lampino del Guadiana, Mamellado, Entrepelado, Torbiscal, Manchado de Jabugo, Dorado Baditano), and other such tidbits, I do not have any basis to compare the one ham to the other, or apart from marbeling, what I should look for in buying Jamon. What is your point--I guess what I am attempting to ask is what outstanding produce or dishes or techniques are unique to Cataluna and what should I not miss out on experiencing in my time here in Spain. I suppose I am also looking for context. Why, apart from the phenomenom known as El Bulli, has Spain emerged as the up and coming contendor in world cuisine. Yes, slow cooking, suffrito, escalibada and escabeche and such contribute, but what I have noticed is much French technique in Can Fabes with a terra/mar mix, which is exemplary of the style here. Whatever I can't put my finger on, I seem to be sensing. There seems to be larger liberty in Spanish cuisine mixed with a strong heritage. It seems as though after a long sejour under the Franco regime, Spain has emerged as a more tolerant and liberal society willing to experiment--maybe to a fault-but always with a degree of prudence. I guess that is why I am here. To see what will become of the cuisine and culture here--it seems the whole world is curious as well.

Simon

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We journalists tend to go on assignment to a new place after having amassed tons of information about that place. I now realize that cooks don't act the same way. So you're doing your stage in Sant Celoni but you could indifferently be doing it in Saint Petersburg (there's one in Russia and another one in Florida), huh? My advice: get yourself a Catalan cookbook, and use some of your free time around the Montseny to eat at humble local eateries like La Costa (La Costa del Montseny) or Can Barrina (at Montseny), enjoy a couple of things you'll taste nowhere outside Spain (including some of the wild mushrooms, especially the llenega negra), and get a taste of it all yourself.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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vserna, what's the season on the llenega negra - and some classic/preferred preparations? And Simon's not a stagiaire - he's a chef de partie - garde-manger. Interesting what you say about journalists and cooks - as a cook and a journalist, I realize that no matter how much recon I've done, things are different in the trenches.

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Victor, I think you're doing Simon an injustice. Fate and Santamaria's reputation have drawn him to San Celoni. As he wrote earlier, "I finally decided to pack up my now considerable belongings and see for myself where all the hype of the new Spanish Culinaria is coming from. No I am not at El Bulli, even though one day I might end up being a dead cat (you know what curiosity--anyway) but decided to go for the more "grounded" cuisine of Santi Santamaria at El Raco de Can Fabes. Thanks, in part, ... to what many of you have written about Spain and its emergence as a culinary tour de force, and to an old colleague/sommelier from my first year at L'Oustau de Baumaniere who now works for Chef Santamaria, I decided to make a reservation at El Raco de Can Fabes."

"one day out of the blue some three months after we had dined there, I get a call from Javier Torres, head chef at Can Fabes with not only a job proposal but a real position (chef de partie--something unattainable at Baumaniere) and a real salary."

That Simon is discovering Catalan food in Catalonia is not to his discredit. I doubt his two years staging and working in France left him time to do much research. As for his coming here for help, where else can one find such information in English, particularly on contemporary Spanish cooking and where else can find those willing to share knowledge on the subject?

Simon, I'm hardly an expert on Catalan cooking, but for me it's got to start with fresh seafood and maybe some intensely seafood flavored wet rice. Maybe that's not even what a local thinks of as local food, but that's been some of my most memorable tastes in the area.

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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vserna, what's the season on the llenega negra - and some classic/preferred preparations? And Simon's not a stagiaire - he's a chef de partie - garde-manger. Interesting what you say about journalists and cooks - as a cook and a journalist, I realize that no matter how much recon I've done, things are different in the trenches.

Well, being a chef de partie with no idea about the culinary roots of the country surrounding you is mindblowing to me. My 23 year-old nephew is now a chef de partie at Mugaritz, and despite his lack of Basque roots and the absence of purely traditional dishes in Andoni Luis Aduriz's kitchen he certainly knows what porrusalda, 'koxkera' codfish and leek-blood sausage are! Re "no matter how much recon I've done, things are different in the trenches" - yes, but when they're really different is when you've done no recon at all!

At any rate, a few basic pickings on Catalan cuisine:

From Totally Spain's web site:

"In Catalonia good eating is a matter of priority for most. Catalonian cuisine, which has been subject to so many influences, is sophisticated, flavoursome and varied. Fish and seafood are always fresh, and sausages and meats are of the best quality. This cuisine features delectable cold dishes like esqueixada (desalted cod salad), escalivada (roast aubergines, onions and red peppers) and xató (curly endive lettuce, cod and anchovies). Most popular dishes in Catalan gastronomy are butifarra (Catalan sausage with beans), longaniza (local spiced sausage) and fuet (a delicious type of salami). In addition, Catalonia is one of Spain’s great wine-growing regions and where its most popular beverage is the champagne-like cava (sparkling wine)."

More, from the Catalonian autonomous government:

http://www10.gencat.net/gencat/AppJava/en/...ple/cuisine.jsp

A link on the great late-winter tradition of calçots (baby scallions):

http://www.tertuliaonline.com/culture/arti...les/CALCOTS.asp

Catalonian cuisine in English-language cookbooks:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books

Finally, on the llenega negra (Hygrophorus latitabundus, a.k.a. H. limacinus), whose season is right now,

Llenega-negra.JPG

a few recipes (in Catalan) from restaurants specializing in fungal cookery, which is one of the great glories of Catalonia's cuisine every fall and spring:

http://www.gremihostaleriabergueda.com/cui...articipants.htm

Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Sorry vserna, I think it is to my discredit that I didn´t do more recon into Catalan and Spain before coming here. I certainly didn´t have the resources, the time nor the will to read through any Catalonian cookbooks, partly because I like to learn firsthand, partly because I didn´t have a computer thus no internet, partly because I didn´t have any money (26 month of first staging, then taking high pay cut because of my alien status do that to your wallet), partly because, in France, I was working some 10-14 hour days with only a day and a half off to spend thinking about things other than Catalan cooking. I was afterall only in Provence, trying to learn about Provencal cuisine. I know these are lousy excuses, but that is what I though this site was for. I certainly wasn´t prepared for buy yourself a cookbook and the token hyperlink.

I know somehow we are getting off on the wrong foot. I would like to make amends and start my amassing of tons of information now. I don´t know why I am being attacked for holding my position, it was afterall not my decision. Chef Javier Torres offered it to me and I kept it by what I think was honest hard work. What we do is not brain surgery and I do not think it requires a degree in Spanish Culinary Tradion to accomplish. Cooking in the starred restaurants depends more on hard work, attentiveness, cleanliness and prep than in actual knowledge of culinary traditions. Yes, I did not know how to make a sofrito the first time, but now I can make that sofrito faster and more to the chefs liking than my commis (who has cooked and lived in Spain all his life), simply because I can peel onions and tomatos faster, dice faster, organize my mis en place better, which leaves more time to be attentive to its cooking times, my other commis and their mis en place.

Case in point, I have worked with many Japanese staggaires in the past few years, and most have earned higher positions in the kitchen than their French counterparts. Is it because they know more about French cuisine? Perhaps, but I doubt it because they didn´t even know how to speak the language. They were good French cooks because they were attentive, cleaner, followed orders better and didn´t screw around in the kitchen as much as their French counterparts.

I am not afterall the chef de cuisine, but chef de partie, which roughly translates as chef who follows the orders of the head chef and makes sure what all the underlings are doing is within the acceptability of the head chef.

Sorry about the rant, but I am writing this between shifts and we have a rough night coming up, but I can say that I do respect all the posts I have read by vserna. I know you do your job well and I wish I could use you more as a culinary resource rather than defend myself on the inadequacy and deficiencies of my culinary knowledge.

I guess I was being vague in my last post, and definately came across as inadequate, but let me assure you that I am a very capable cook or I wouldn´t be enjoying the daily handshake from Santi Santamaria. Oddly, I seem to be the only one of the cooks he greets in this manner, apart from the head chef. I just felt that if I were to start overstating my knowledge and such, I would not recieve the helpful responses as readily. Also, writing on my time off from a cyber cafe means that I have little time for revision and no time for rewriting. And every journalist knows writing is rewriting.

OK, with that said, thank you vserna for the very informative hyperlinks and advice. Most of the cooks under me in Garde Manger went mushroom hunting in the Montseny. I did not go with them because I was pursuing my other great passion, Art, in Barcelona. When I returned they explained their interesting day and raved about one restaurant in the region whos name I can´t remember offhand. I´ll get back with that detail. As for llenaga negra, I´ve seen it in the restaurant, but have not have the opportunity to taste it. Will try the next time.

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I am sure you are excellent technically, Simon, and a very capable chef. In my first post I was just sincerely amazed about your basic point: that you had no inkling about the cooking traditions in the land you were working in. I know I tend to sound kind of rough, but my point was said very earnestly: on your off days (few and far between, I know), hit the good-but-not-great regional restaurants right around you that specialize in 'cuisine de terroir', chat (in a mixture of languages if need be) with the cooks, learn about the basic sauces of peasant Catalan cuisine (picada, romescu and all i oli), get a couple of tips on such things as local sausage making (very important!) and on the Catalan tradition of using fruit for savory dishes, jump over the shallow mountain range east of Sant Celoni and do likewise in a couple of coastal places like Arenys de Mar where fish and shellfish 'de petits bateaux', as they say in France, dominate the scene... Get a feel for what the locals eat, have a little chat with Santi on what his mother used to cook (tell him Victor de la Serna suggested this), and goodness, for $8 plus shipping costs, you can get in a week's time a copy of Marimar Torres' and Gerald Asher's 'The Catalan Country Kitchen', which is chock full of valuable information! Cheers.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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I don´t know if I should be posting this here or on vserna post, Madrid Fusion, but I spoke with Chef Santamaria about the chance of attending this most intriguing conference/exposition, and he told me that we will be making arrangements to go. I don´t know why he is not headlining the conference himself, or how this will materialize but I am highly looking forward to going to it. Also, I mentioned you, V Serna, to Santi to which he lighted up and told me what a good friend you were but that when you usually cross paths its not recently been in Sant Celloni but in Madrid. He asked me how I knew you but I didn´t have the nerve to tell him that I was scolded by you on an internet food forum for being an incompetent Spanish cook (just having some tongue in cheek fun).

By the way, my experiences so far in Spain has revealed to me at least one of the idiosyncracies of the cuisine here--the fact that some many of the flavors intermingle, interrelate in more penetrating manner. Yes we all talk about the slow cooking process, but never have I managed to eat so many dishes which combine so many different types of slow cooking in one dish (of course I consider the preservation of things in salt a type of slow cooking). The depths of flavors acheived in this manner have rearranged the manner in which I look at cooking and how I cook. It takes a lot more preparation and forsight as a cook because of the length of the times involved. That is not to discount all the fresh ingredients available as well.

I am not saying that the Spanish have a monopoly on slow cooking, but I feel that it seems to be convey the spirit of their culture more than anywhere else I have lived.

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Don't tell that to the Italians - they have founded the Slow Food movement and feel fully entitled to the very notion! :rolleyes:

Actually, Spain is a complex country culinarily as well as politically. We have, or used to have before modern cuisine changed everything, this old saying, "Southern Spain fries, central Spain roasts, northern Spain stews - and the Valencians cook big paellas." Indeed Catalonia and the Basque Country are 'stewing' places where slow cooking is paramount, as it is in my own part of Spain (Cantabria) and the Asturias. The alchemy of lower-temperature prolonged cooking is part of the culture here, and (now that I think of it) it may explain why lower-temperature techniques are becoming so successful in modern cuisine here: we were ready for it, perhaps.

PS Hope you can make it to Madrid Fusión, there should be a few interesting debates (everyone here is looking forward to Heston Blumenthal). I guess Santi is not in it this year because they can't have all of Spain's best chefs every year!

Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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  • 10 months later...

Hi all

First I would like to say that this is by far the best of the egullet forums I have used. Such elobarate descriptions and updated information.

I have a couple of requests.

Besides all the amazing creative chefs in and around BCN we are looking for older more traditional type places too, with more basic foods. Great Polpo, roast baby lamb or piglet, terrific steaks. That type of food plus Catalan cookiing I know nothing about. Such as stews and soups, etc. I know very little about the cooking of this part of the world and wish to learn. My maternal grandfather was Catalen (how they spelled it) French. Sadly, I barely knew him. Ambience of the restaurant is less important than the execution of the kitchen. Price is not an issue although about 30 euros per person is ideal.

Secondly I see so many people go to El Buli, yet we were told by E.B. that our reservation request for April would have to be rerequested in Oct. and probably will go unfilled. Due to high demand for 2005. So what is the secret to getting a table for 2 at E.B.? Of course we will try again in Oct. with a 5 day range of dates we could go. We have been told by a couple of places we tried via E-Mail that it is too soon to reserve for next April so I ask you all how far in advance will work?

I also have questions about BYOB in BCN. I have a decent cellar here in USA and would love to drink older red's and really old Germans with the great food in BCN at the really great places written about here. Is it possible to BYOB in BCN? Or do I leave the old Burgs and TBA's home? I would happily share these great wines with the restaurant since my wife and I drink very little.

I was told about a restaurant that specialized in mushrooms ( setas) in the Pyrenees area but can not remeber the name. Does anyone have a clue about this? Is April a good time for mushrooms in Spain? We get a nice Bolete ( cepes, porcini ) crop in the western US in May and June as well as a nice Morel crop. Does this hold true for Spain as well? Nothing like Asparagus and Morels with other spring delights.

We are only in BCN for 6 nights so we need to choose carefully. I know we want to go to Cinque ( sp ? )The restaurant of the family that posts here. It sounds wonderful and Egulleters like Slow Foodies are never a disappointment.

I lok forward to the advice and to passing the next 7 months whetting my appetite and anticipating BCN.

We spend the next 2 weeks after BCN traveling to Galicia via Roses area for a couple of great meals, San Sebastian for a return visit ( Arzak first trip MB this one ) to my favorite beach city in Europe, followed by a couple of days in Picos De Europa ( Sotres, Cain area) and off to the last few days in Galicia. We could use some rec's for Galicia as well. Probably set up in Santiago for 3 nights and have 2 or 3 to stay elswhere. We have 15 days total after BCN.

BUX, I am in California now but born and raised in NYC so I look forward to exchanging thoughts on food with you. We can compare notes on NY and you obviously know much about Spain. My last restaurant Job in NY was with Brendan Walsh at Arizona 206 . I left for west coast in '88

Thank You All,

David West,

AKA "The Mushroom Man"

California USA

Edited for content DW

Edited by dfunghi (log)

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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David,

FWIW, I'll be posting my Catalan and Basque experiences ina couple of weeks. I am very much looking forward to visiting Cinc Sentits amongst other restaurants.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Here´s a story they tell us here - Oriol Castro - one of the sous chefs and the partner with Albert Adria at El Taller - has a girlfriend of nine years. He asked for a reservation for her - his fiancee - and was denied.

You need to start calling, faxing, emailing starting in October.

BUT having said all that, the rare cancellations open up at 15:00. So if you happen to be in the area, check every day at that time.

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Louisa, glad to hear you're ensconced at El Bulli. Hope it's the experience I should think it would be. We were thinking of you last week when we were in Paris.

David, I sort of understand your desire to enjoy your wines in Barcelona, but when I travel, I always enjoy drinking the local wines, although it appears that so many restaurants these days are so international in style and cuisine that the effect is somewhat lost.

I've recommended Can Majo for simple traditional seafood several times. I suspect Ca L'Isidre also qualifies as traditional. L'Olivé, if I recall correctly, had a menu that bridged both new and traditional cuisine. If you have a car, and I assume that's how you are traveling north and then west, you might consider Hispania in Arenys del Mar. It's considered a preserve of traditional Catalan cooking and I've yet to hear a negative report outside of the fact that they screwed up on our reservations when we changed the date, but they managed to find us a table and feed us well. Their very extensive menu makes it very hard to make up one's mind and order however. There are so many first rate restaurants in Catalunya. The trick is to weed it down to suit the time you have in the region. Eating well north of Barcelona has left us with not enough time or appetite to eat well often in Barcelona. Luck and connections will sometimes get you a table in El Bulli. We had met Alberto Adria in Paris and pulled other strings. It got us a table, but outside the time we planned to be in the area. We changed our entire itinerary to accommodate the offer. We were happy to do so, but had we visited Catalunya and just visited Can Roca and Can Fabes we would have been in no position to be disappointed. I'm not sure when one should write, call, fax or e-mail for a reservation at El Bulli. I don't think they've set a consistent date for opening the books, but I believe they sold out the season the day they opened the reservations this year. It's only recently that they've stopped serving lunch and that coupled with the rise in demand has made it even more difficult to ensure a table. Anyway, I think I'm repeating not only what's been said by others, but what I've said.

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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If price is not an issue, since it'll easily more than double the 30€ per person tag, Gaig is the place that comes to my mind when thinking of the top of Catalonian cooking. Several steps above Hispania in technique (Hispania is wonderful, I'm strictly speaking about technique here), his menu combines author dishes with traditional dishes (canonical canelons).

I'd say it's as refined Catalonian cooking can get without ceasing to be Catalonian cooking.

Ca l'Isidre, where I haven't been, is usually named as one of the restaurants which loves mushrooms.

Take a look to:

asola on Inexpensive Lunch menus in BCN.

it wouldn't be totally out of question the possibility that you'd find traditional dishes scattered in some of the menus which those places offer.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Much too fancy and expensive, these recommendations - with all due respect and IMHO, of course! Good, entirely traditional Catalan fare, in Barcelona proper, in the 30-euro neighborhood (well, 40 is more realistic these days)? Go for Senyor Parellada and Casa Leopoldo, no doubt.

Re BYOB: call ahead and ask. Usually, regulars get easily permission to bring their stuff (I've done so at Gaig and Leopoldo), but it may not be so easy for casual customers, since the idea of a corkage fee is not well introduced in Spain and they may balk at someone bringing their own stuff for free.

Re wild mushrooms (and I mean really wild, not shiitakes or oyster mushrooms or portobellos): there is a much wider variety of those in Spain than in the US, particularly in the Fall and Spring.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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not a restaurant in the el bulli definition, but a fabulous eating and full of barcelona life experience, truly yummy, and lively, is el quim de la boqueria, in la boqueria market. there are a number of good tapas bars in the market, pinxto comes to mind, but i love el quim de la boqueria for its fried artichokes, its aubergine tortilla, its dishes of eggs covered with baby squid or tiny little fish (eels?) sort of a fishy huevos ranchers, though no tomatoes. lots of garlic. yum.

i like tomato bread to go along with whatever i'm eating. and alcohol for breakfast, of course: perhaps some wine would be good but i went for beer.

tell them i sent you, after i went there a few times they pulled out a handful of business cards and the cards turned out to be from foodie colleagues in california/ny.

on the other hand they might not remember me. but they did tell me that i spoke spanish/catalan well and i didn't have the heart to tell them that its only when the subject is food and ordering a meal, can I wax lyrical.

anyhow the market is fantastic, so you must go and go and go again, and when you're there, eat at le quim.

also antonios in the back is a proper restaurant that serves funky traditional food. i ate some meatballs there that still make me cry and try to remember what was in them, how can i reproduce them.

Edited by marlena spieler (log)

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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Bear in mind lunch menus are great values and you can try some usually more expensive places that way. The only problem is it's difficult to find in the net whether a restaurant has a menu lunch or not, but, for instance, Saüc, a restaurant recommended by vserna, has a 12.5€ lunch menu according to Gourmetour.

In my limited experience, places for good traditional fare are Bilbao and Set Portes, plus a host of seafood restaurants in the Barceloneta neighbourhood: Can Majó, Cal Pinxo, Cal Ramonet I have tried and are similar in price and quality -good-. They don't have a lunch menu but they won't go much higher than 30€. Also, I was disappointed last year at Senyor Parellada, the quality of the product was not very good.

BYOB is not common in traditional restaurants. Also, take into account that wine is quite cheap in Spanish restaurants. My advice would be to try BYOB if you must, only in the better, more expensive restaurants, and asking beforehand. If you want classic Spanish older wines, look for Rioja reservas, if you want to try the more modern ones try Ribera del Duero or Priorat, and if you're eating seafood ask for Albariños.

In Catalonia mushroom season is in the fall. The region where most wild mushrooms grow is around the village of Berga -just below the Pyrenees- and there's a festival there in Oct-Nov. where the better restaurants in the zone have special menus centered in mushrooms, though you'll still be able to eat them outside the festival's dates. There's info -restaurants and menus- on this page: http://www.gremihostaleriabergueda.com/cui...lbolet/menu.htm but it's only in Catalan -so local they don't even put it in Spanish- and it's not clear whether it's 2004 info or not.

If you have further questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Edited by asola (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

As far as wines go, I love albarinos, but on this last trip I really got turned on to the Verdejos from Rueda - great with fish and shellfish. These are crisp and clean and easy to drink with or without food.

I would second the notion of not bothering to BYOB to the restaurants there. Great wine is too inexpensive and there are too many to explore to make it worthwhile to carry them. This is true for whites, reds, roses, sparklers and sweet wines.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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As far as wines go, I love albarinos, but on this last trip I really got turned on to the Verdejos from Rueda - great with fish and shellfish. These are crisp and clean and easy to drink with or without food.

I would second the notion of not bothering to BYOB to the restaurants there. Great wine is too inexpensive and there are too many to explore to make it worthwhile to carry them. This is true for whites, reds, roses, sparklers and sweet wines.

For me, it's the exploration as well as the chance to make greater contact with the place. It's a kind of terrior of travel, although I'm not insistent on the wine being absolutely local. We discovered albariños some years back in the states, but have been tuned into Ruedas lately, especially verdejos in Spain. Generally we've found them both very nice white wines for food and generally inexpensive. It's a good point to remember that a wine labeled Rueda need not be made from verdejo grapes unless it's labeled as "Verdjo." The only albariños I've not particularly enjoyed have been the isolated examples that have been aged in oak. They are, or course, proudly offered at a premium price. Ditto for Ruedas, although I think over the years my tastes have changed back and forth on this. There are some whites from Catalunya worth trying as well.

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.

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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.

enjoy

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in his off season ferran adria takes people there to understand the essential catalan cuisine that he builds on.

That he builds on? I wouldn't say so. I would say it's the Catalan cuisine which he loves, but which he hardly ever builds on these days.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Pinotxo is very good. El Quim de la Boqueria is also excellent. In fact, I found it preferable (slightly). Another great option is Kiosk Universal. This is particularly superb for fresh grilled seafood. It would be very easy and good to eat lunch at the Boqueria every day. It also helps that all three places are located very near to each other.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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That he builds on? I wouldn't say so. I would say it's the Catalan cuisine which he loves, but which he hardly ever builds on these days.

'these days'...i agree with you... and i don't know adria's drivings...but i know that he eats the food of the bayen familiy, consistently.

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  • 11 months later...

Any input about chefs in Cataluyna for wild mushrooms and game dishes? We know and value both Can Fabes and Ca l'Enric! Other suggestions from the countryside are most appreciated.

Also, Valencia will be another culinary destination. Vinaros is famous for their prawns. An excellent seafood spot that is in Vinaros, or nearby such as Benicarlo or Peniscola? Any commentary before October 20, 2005 will be very welcome!

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