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Our dinner with members at Viridiana


Bux
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Sabina and Abraham's sense of humour and knowledge made a most interesting afternoon, completed by a good dinner at Viridiana with some friends. But that's another thread.

Abraham García, for those who haven't heard about him, is the cook who has been doing fussion food before it was named, he's been doing something different to anyone else since 25 years ago and has become an institution in Madrid. His cooking is far away af all the new technichs, foams, etc. In his cooking everything needs to be tasty not just surprising.

His food is not for everybody, it's kind of you love it or you hate it, and you probably need to go there several times to understand his filosofy, but once you do, you become a converted.

Some of his signature dishes are: Gazpacho (Just a simple gazpacho, but probably the best one I have ever tasted), Fried eggs with boletus mousse and truffels, smoked foie grass over brioche and rose chutney, Iberian pork with mole poblano...

Perhaps unknowingly, I am one of the converted. I can't see hating García's food. Even if it's not one's subjective style, even if you begin to ask yourself why he did something, and even if you think a dish falls flat, there was for me, a basic sense of almost comfort food. Perhaps García can take some questionable leaps of fancy, but there was an underlying sense of satisfaction that permeated the meal we had there.

I'm hardly an expert on Spanish cuisine, but I've seen my share of the avant garde and the traditional; the richly flavored and the bland; the exceptional and the banal. García seems to be an iconoclast as Rogelio says. It's a credit to him and a service to Madrid that he can operate successfully apart from a mainstream. In a way, Viridiana is precisely the sort of place I had in mind when I referred to Mario Batali's Casa Mono as not reminding me of any particular restaurant I knew in Spain, and yet I wouldn't be surprised to run across such a place in Madrid.

The overriding sense of the food is one of old fashioned sensory pleasure, but while there's little sign of current fads, foams and deconstruction, there's evidence of enough creative thinking behind the food for it not to be dismissed as unintellectual. It's a great place for old friends to meet and a good place to eat with new friends who are gastronomes, or so it seems to me. Either that's an obvious truth, or I'm very much influenced by our dinner there. It was the restaurant chosen by Pedro, Rogelio and Eduardo as the place for us all to meet for what turned out to be a long and stimulating evening of good food, fine wine and good cheer. We had invited Victor to dine with us, but he begged off saying he had to be up early. I thought that odd as Pedro had made the reservation, I would have been embarrassed to enter a restaurant except in the company of Madrileños. I though it odd at least until we returned to our nearby hotel some five hours later.

We had been warned not to eat lunch and every one laughed when Mrs. B said she hoped the courses were small. They were less than gargantuan, but there was something of a rabelaisian quality to the meal, if you eliminate the vulgarity. Our friends are fans of Garcia and regular diners at Viridiana and they had him prepare a menú degustación suitable for visiting gastronomes. The ambient lighting was a little too low for many of our photographs to have come out clearly and there was far too much conversation and good wine for us to have kept notes. The meal was enjoyed for the company and the moment without regard to telling you all about it after the fact, but it was too good to forget and not enough has been written about Viridiana on eGullet. This is a hole I'd like to help fill. I'll take a breath, take care of some other business and post about our meal next.

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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Just a word to say that I agree with what Bux has said, and would only add an impression regarding Abraham García's cooking: balance and common sense.

And a really great list of wines!

I must say also that, to my mind, he is really a wonderful writer (in terms of 'being a writer', not just in those of 'being a cook').

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Menu translation, (with Pedro's assistance):

- Córdoba's salmorejo with iberico ham and quail egg.

- Maple smoked foie gras over vanilla bread and rose chutney

- Morels au gratin with white shrimp and green asparagus

- Cold potato salad with chicharro (trachurus picturatus)

- Snails in two different recipes:

- - Stewed with Saracen wheat

- - A la llauna (see the thread "On snails" for more info)

- Grilled large red prawns (carabinero in Spanish, aristeus antennatus) with Iberic pork jowl

- Fried egg over a boletus edulis (king mushroom, cep) mousse with fresh truffles [not listed on the handwritten menu]

- Iberico pork with sauted season greens, mole poblano and wheat tortillas

Unfortunately, by the time the rest of the meal came along, we were too engrossed in the conversation and too many wines to take more pictures.

- Assortment of cheeses

- Sorbets and ice creams

- Sheep milk flan with pacharán (Navarrian's liquor made with sloes)

- Light cake of chocolate stuffed with chile chipotle

- Moroccan tea (with mint, leaves from the lemon tree, etc)

Edited by Mrs. B (log)
WorldTable • Our recently reactivated web page. Now interactive and updated regularly.
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Some photographs of our food at Viridiana:

gallery_9_141_1096231401.jpg

Maple smoked foie gras over vanilla bread and rose chutney

gallery_9_141_1096231372.jpg

Cold potato salad with blue jack mackerel en escabeche

gallery_9_141_1096295027.jpg

Snails stewed with Saracen wheat

gallery_9_141_1096231270.jpg

Grilled carabinero prawns with Iberico pork jowl

gallery_9_141_1096231429.jpg

gallery_9_141_1096231345.jpg

Fried egg over a boletus edulis mousse with fresh truffles

gallery_9_141_1096231293.jpg

Iberico pork with sauted seasonal vegetables

gallery_9_141_1096231452.jpg

Iberico pork with sauted seasonal vegetables, mole poblano and wheat tortillas

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...

How did I miss this earlier? This looked like an absolutely delightful and delicious meal and with such company! Yet another reason to visit Madrid. The egg with the mushroom mousse and truffles looks incredibly tasty not to mention the foie gras. The other dishes weren' too shabby looking either. Mole? Is that typical?

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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Mole? Is that typical?

It is. In México. :wink:

Now seriously, chef Abraham García gets inspiration from many sources. I'd say that among the major ones, Spain's cooking aside, you'll find México, Japan and Morocco.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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