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Silly Disciple

Cooking Schools / Classes in Spain & Portugal

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I'm lucky enough to have some time to spare, and since food is probably my top "non-professional occupation" :biggrin: I decided it was time to leave aside my kitchen hacks and get some proper training.

After looking around a bit I enrolled in Mey Hofmann's School near the Borne neighbourhood, and for about 3 weeks now I've been attending the twice-a-week sessions that make the 1-year professional cook course (as opposed to the more complete 3-year hostelling/chef one). The course is aimed mostly at amateur cooks and people working in the industry wanting to learn basic skills. Hofmann seems to be a well respected school here in Barcelona and is well known for its restaurant as well.

The course is pretty standard (I don't have any experience with other courses, it just seems so), and for now we've gone over vegetables, herbs and spices and just this week we started with knife skills and some cooking techniques. Next Thursday is our first day in the kitchen! (pretty excited about it).

I am enjoying it inmensely and getting more into it as time goes by, and so I wanted to share my experience with fellow eGulleters. If there's interest in the forum I'll keep adding weekly comments on how the whole affair develops.

Silly.


Edited by Silly Disciple (log)

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Indeed Hoffman is well respected! And we'll certainly appreciate your comments on how the course develops.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Yes please I'd be really interested in hearing more about it.

I'd also love to hear the experiences of anyone else who has or is going to take any kind of culinary classes here in Barcelona.

Thanks

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A somewhat hectic couple of weeks work-wise plus a not-so-interesting class last week forced me to skip the second report on this thread, but I'm back and won't hopefully bore you much with a quick recap.

The format of the course is Thursdays we have a 3-hour hands-on class in one of the school's kitchens, and on Friday a 3-hour theory/demonstration class.

On Fridays our instructor will show several techniques, sometimes on their own and sometimes as part of a recipe, and the following Thursday we are supposed to mimic it in the kitchen.

As I've said before, the first couple of weeks we went over herbs, spices and vegetables, and then on to knife skills/techniques.

On week 3, our first Thursday in the kitchen we practiced the different cuts (Brunoise, Chiffonade, Ciseler, Emincer, Escalope, Jardiniere, Julienne, Macedonie, Mirepoix, Paysanne) with a bunch of vegetables, so nothing terribly interesting to report. We also peeled tomatoes :cool: , and so it seems we're never having tomato with skin again :biggrin: . There's not much to tell about this class, except for the fact that the instructor had several folks throw their cuts away for not being good enough.

tomato.jpg

Practicing at home over tomatos and zuchinni.

Friday's class was about eggs: Mollet, Poche, Boiled, Fried, Omelette. We also went over Tournees (A La Cuilliere, Bouquetiere, Chateau and Cocotte) as well as potato-specific cuts: Alumettes, Chips, Gaufrettes, Mignonettes, Paille, Pont-neuf).

artichoke.jpg

Chesco shows his tourneed artichoke.

potato.jpg

Chesco tourneeing a potato.

Week 4 in the kitchen was of course our time to do eggs and Tournees. I wish I had taken pictures of it, but being the first time we were using the fires I didn't think it would be such a great idea. Overall the eggs were average, with a few exceptions (both good and bad). My poche was particularly bad :angry: , so we spent the next few days having poche for lunch and dinner :biggrin:

Then on the demonstration class the instructor went over several techniques/preparations: Pate Brisee, Roux and Bechamel for a Leek Ganiche (I practiced this one at home with somewhat good results. post to follow) and also dark meat stock (this is my literal translation, not sure if it's right).

So as I said I made the ganiche at home today, and on Thursday we'll have to make it at school.... we'll see how it goes. It should also be an interesting class, as I'll be having lunch at Comerç 24 beforehand :wink:

That's all for now.

Silly.

edited to add pictures. to the forum "gurus", is it ok if I host the pictures on my server rather than ImageGullet?


Edited by Silly Disciple (log)

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Interesting report, Silly. I am surprised that you don't actually follow up on the theory/demonstration for almost a week. Are you supposed to be developing your skills at home first?


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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Just came across this thread, Silly, and it's great. Thank you for taking the time to post and please continue, with pictures if possible.


Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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Interesting report, Silly. I am surprised that you don't actually follow up on the theory/demonstration for almost a week. Are you supposed to be developing your skills at home first?

John,

it is indeed surprising. Apparently our group was added at the last minute since all the other groups were full (there's about 6-7 groups I think), and so they had to find available kitchen/instructor time slots.

A note on my group. There's 14 of us. 4 currently work in kitchens, 1 works as a waiter, 2 study hostelling (including my brother), 1 owns a restaurant, 1 has a ready-for-microwave-food business, and the rest (including me) are amateurs.

So while a week is a long time to remember everything you've seen in the demonstration, I would think most of us have at least a moment to practice/use the techniques seen.

Silly.


We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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An interesting discussion from last week's class:

The instructor (his name is Chesco or Xesco, for Francisco) had finished the demonstration, and we still had some time to kill. He decided to field questions from us, and since he had mentioned that roux (which he had made in class) is not used as a liaison anymore (except for bechamel and such), I asked whether he thought there were "contemporary" techniques that should be taught in school rather or complementing classic ones.

His answer made a lot of sense: he basically put forward the idea that once you understand what a liaison is and how it works, it doesn't matter whether you go for roux or agar-agar, its mostly a question of practice and getting the recipes right.

What ensued was I think the most interesting bit. Agar-agar led to a discussion of some of these "contemporary" techniques, and of course to the ever-present Ferran Adria. To my great surprise, none but 4 of the people knew who he was. Chesco went into some detail naming a few of the usual suspects (Santamaria, Roca, Ruscalleda, Abellan, Balaguer, etc), along with descriptions of their food, the concept of a tasting menu, small portions, etc. Again, the group seemed oblivious to the concepts, naming local neighborhood joints when asked what they thought "great barcelona restaurants" were. Individual preferences aside, I might be witnessing a statistical anomaly or just a small sample problem, but given that this course is taught at a well known (and expensive) cooking school in barcelona I found it really surprising. I talked about this with Chesco after class, who with a resigned smile said "you should see some of the questions or answers I get teaching here" :biggrin:

Silly.

edited for spelling.


Edited by Silly Disciple (log)

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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An interesting discussion from last week's class:

The instructor (his name is Chesco or Xesco, for Francisco) had finished the demonstration, and we still had some time to kill. He decided to field questions from us, and since he had mentioned that roux (which he had made in class) is not used as a liaison anymore (except for bechamel and such), I asked whether he thought there were "contemporary" techniques that should be taught in school rather or  complementing classic ones.

His answer made a lot of sense: he basically put forward the idea that once you understand what a liaison is and how it works, it doesn't matter whether you go for roux or agar-agar, its mostly a question of practice and getting the recipes right.

What ensued was I think the most interesting bit. Agar-agar led to a discussion of some of these "contemporary" techniques, and of course to the ever-present Ferran Adria. To my great surprise, none but 4 of the people knew who he was. Chesco went into some detail naming a few of the usual suspects (Santamaria, Roca, Ruscalleda, Abellan, Balaguer, etc), along with descriptions of their food, the concept of a tasting menu, small portions, etc. Again, the group seemed oblivious to the concepts, naming local neighborhood joints when asked what they thought "great barcelona restaurants" were. Individual preferences aside, I might be witnessing a statistical anomaly or just a small sample problem, but given that this course is taught at a well known (and expensive) cooking school in barcelona I found it really surprising. I talked about this with Chesco after class, who with a resigned smile said "you should see some of the questions or answers I get teaching here" :biggrin:

Silly.

edited for spelling.

That is somewhat surprising, but then I think it is surprising to us because we are into it and up on it. Prior to our visit to Catalunya last year when we first met or catalan friends they were not particularly aware of the culinary heights being achieved in their own backyard. I managed to inform them of that and since then they have developed a great interest in the proceedings and have been enjoying their discoveries.


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 is somewhat surprising, but then I think it is surprising to us because we are into it and up on it. Prior to our visit to Catalunya last year when we first met or catalan friends they were not particularly aware of the culinary heights being achieved in their own backyard. I managed to inform them of that and since then they have developed a great interest in the proceedings and have been enjoying their discoveries.

Agreed, and as you say 4 or 5 years ago I had no clue who any of these "culinary stars" were. However, we are talking about people studying to be cooks, and you would think aspiring to some greatness, admiring at least certain food styles and the people who make them.

It's like saying you are just a casual jazz listener and you don't know who Miles Davis is. That's fine, but if you like jazz, you are studying the trumpet, and you have no idea who he was, that's an entirely different thing, isn't it?

Silly.


We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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What ensued was I think the most interesting bit. Agar-agar led to a discussion of some of these "contemporary" techniques, and of course to the ever-present Ferran Adria. To my great surprise, none but 4 of the people knew who he was. Chesco went into some detail naming a few of the usual suspects (Santamaria, Roca, Ruscalleda, Abellan, Balaguer, etc), along with descriptions of their food, the concept of a tasting menu, small portions, etc. Again, the group seemed oblivious to the concepts, naming local neighborhood joints when asked what they thought "great barcelona restaurants" were. Individual preferences aside, I might be witnessing a statistical anomaly or just a small sample problem, but given that this course is taught at a well known (and expensive) cooking school in barcelona I found it really surprising. I talked about this with Chesco after class, who with a resigned smile said "you should see some of the questions or answers I get teaching here" :biggrin:

I'm not all that surprised. My guess is that many people enter any profession without much knowledge of the major names who have, or are, changing that profession. We recently had a Q&A with Richard Hamilton, a relatively young American chef with his own rather luxurious haute cuisine restaurant in Rhode Island. He was well into his chosen career before he say it as much more than a job.

I went to France much later in my career. I had worked in many mid level restaurants as was quite good. But nothing really super high end. When I was 16 I worked with Paul Prudhomme in New Orleans and my family used to travel to N.O alot and I would visit the kitchen of Commanders Palace when Paul was there and later Emeril. So I started likeing more of the fine dineing world. When I got married we decided to go to France. This was my early 20's by then.

What changed me in France was that I learned there was a deeper meaning to food. It was not a craft but a passion that needed to be fed and there was a whole world of food I had never dreamed of, even with all my travels and experience before.


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'm not all that surprised. My guess is that many people enter any profession without much knowledge of the major names who have, or are, changing that profession. We recently had a Q&A with Richard Hamilton, a relatively young American chef with his own rather luxurious haute cuisine restaurant in Rhode Island. He was well into his chosen career before he say it as much more than a job.
I went to France much later in my career. I had worked in many mid level restaurants as was quite good. But nothing really super high end. When I was 16 I worked with Paul Prudhomme in New Orleans and my family used to travel to N.O alot and I would visit the kitchen of Commanders Palace when Paul was there and later Emeril. So I started likeing more of the fine dineing world. When I got married we decided to go to France. This was my early 20's by then.

What changed me in France was that I learned there was a deeper meaning to food. It was not a craft but a passion that needed to be fed and there was a whole world of food I had never dreamed of, even with all my travels and experience before.

Thanks for the quote Bux. As I said, I find this quite surprising.


We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Ok, so on to pictures of me and my brother practicing the Leek Ganiche at home:

leeks.jpg

Leeks emince.

miseonion.jpg

Rather spartan mise-en-place along with minced onions.

leekscooking.jpg

Leeks cooking on slow fire with some butter. This is "rehogar" in spanish, but I'm not sure about the english name... anyone?

brisee1.jpg

we start on the pate brisee. This is my brother's station.

brisee2.jpg

second stage of the brisee. This time my station.

brisee3.jpg

the pate is now a ball.

brisee5.jpg

and now flattened.

brisee6.jpg

taking shape.

roux.jpg

i throw it in the oven and start on the roux.

bechamel.jpg

roux is done... this is some hard bechamel action on my brother's part.

crust.jpg

First try, 15 minutes in the oven. slightly browned where the weights were added.

crust2.jpg

My brother's. bit better.

ganiche.jpg

The ganiche with the bechamel, leeks, etc and some cheese and sesame on top, ready for the oven.

ganiche3.jpg

Ok, first ganiche to come out is mine... a bit brownish, but I'm sure the family will like it.

ganiche2.jpg

And then comes my brother's, with a different finishing, a bit brown as well but works for the family.

And that's round 1, where the Silly Brothers come out fairly ok :biggrin:

Sorry if it's a bit long. I promise I'll work on my synthesis skills. Also these are my first few "food pictures"... hopefully will get better with time.

Silly.


Edited by Silly Disciple (log)

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Doing fine. Is "ganiche" the equivalent of a French Quiche?


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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Agreed, and as you say 4 or 5 years ago I had no clue who any of these "culinary stars" were. However, we are talking about people studying to be cooks, and you would think aspiring to some greatness, admiring at least certain food styles and the people who make them.

It's like saying you are just a casual jazz listener and you don't know who Miles Davis is. That's fine, but if you like jazz, you are studying the trumpet, and you have no idea who he was, that's an entirely different thing, isn't it?

Silly.

I think it is an anomaly, Silly. People may not know Ferran Adria is a world-wide celebrity or the interest Spanish -and Catalan and Basque- cuisine has received recently, but it is indeed strange for someone living here not to know who he is. I'd say either people were being shy or you must be careful you haven't run into a sect!

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Hi. I´m a new member and have been reading the Spain/Portugal thread for the past month or so. I´ve just moved to Barcelona, and will be here for a couple of months. I´ve some questions regd the school - do they have 1-3 day classes? How do I get in touch with them, and are classes conducted in Spanish or English?

A little about myself. I´m from Singapore and am crazy about food, and with all things food-related. Am currently putting up in a service apartment and am a little frustated at not having a proper kitchen to cook in, as I´ve been visiting various markets and going gaga at the amazing variety of fresh produce available :smile:

btw, i´ll be going to Cinc Sentis on Fri and am really excited, given all the fantastic comments i´ve read. Will report back.


Amateur cook, professional foodie!

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How do I get in touch with them?

Escuela de Hosteleria Hofmann

Argenteria, 74 - 78

08003 Barcelona

Tel: +34 93.319.58.89

http://www.hofmann-bcn.com/

do they have 1-3 day classes?

yes they do, although they are a bit expensive.

have a look at their "monograficos": http://www.hofmann-bcn.com/mono_ficha.ysi

are classes conducted in Spanish or English?

The course I'm taking is in Spanish, but I've see what look like short courses or demonstration given to German tourists (in English, I think).

A little about myself. I´m from Singapore and am crazy about food, and with all things food-related. Am currently putting up in a service apartment and am a little frustated at not having a proper kitchen to cook in, as I´ve been visiting various markets and going gaga at the amazing variety of fresh produce available  :smile:

btw, i´ll be going to Cinc Sentis on Fri and am really excited, given all the fantastic comments i´ve read. Will report back.

Wellcome to Barcelona and eGullet!!!!!!

I'm curious, what's a service apartment?

Enjoy Cinc Sentits: I'm sure Jordi, Amelia and Roser will take excellent care of you!

Silly.


We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Thanks, silly disciple!

A service apartment is what they call an aparthotel in spanish.

Hence, my trips to the markets are mostly for fruits and cheese, and ogling at the rest of the produce. How I long for my kitchen at home :sad:


Amateur cook, professional foodie!

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I had the chance to take a couple of pictures during class today.

John, I got confused with the name of the dish, it wasn't Ganiche but rather Flamiche what we made.

hofmann1.jpg

People setting up mise-en-place (seen from my station).

hofmann2.jpg

I had some time here to take a picture after we finished cooking the ingredients for the flamige. the three pots in the foreground are the milk, roux and leeks.

hofmann3.jpg

my brother finishing up the decoration.

hofmann4.jpg

A partial group picture once we were done. Everyone looks pretty happy!

Silly.


Edited by Silly Disciple (log)

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Okay. A flamiche is a savory tarte from northeastern France. I had thought it was made with eggs as well as leeks, flour and cheese. More and more, it seems as if your training is classicly French even down to the more homespun or regional classics.


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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Okay. A flamiche is a savory tarte from northeastern France. I had thought it was made with eggs as well as leeks, flour and cheese. More and more, it seems as if your training is classicly French even down to the more homespun or regional classics.

Bux, seems to me like you are right. The recipe calls for one egg and some cheese after the leeks and the bechamel have been mixed.

Silly.


We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Hoffman seems to have a classroom on the ground floor. We passed by several times, I think it was on our route to La Vinya del Sinyor, but never managed to catch a demonstration in session. Do you get gawkers on the street? Can one actually see anything from the street? We did catch groups of students hanging out in the street on a break, but never spotted a familiar face.


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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Hoffman seems to have a classroom on the ground floor. We passed by several times, I think it was on our route to La Vinya del Sinyor, but never managed to catch a demonstration in session. Do you get gawkers on the street? Can one actually see anything from the street? We did catch groups of students hanging out in the street on a break, but never spotted a familiar face.

Hofmann has, as you say, a demo classroom on the ground floor. We have our theory sessions there. Individual sessions are held there as well. You can see the demos from the street when they are held there. We've had people coming in from the street a few times, either asking for directions, believing it's an "open class", etc. We even had once a quite strinking and quite drunk german lady, who was promply rescued by her apologizing husband :biggrin:.

And the students you usually there are the young people from the 28-month program, either waiting between classes or getting ready for service, as the second years are the ones working during the restaurant's service.

Then the school has the restaurant and 3 kitchens (service, pastry and teaching) on the first floor, and a couple of classrooms and bathrooms/changing rooms (even showers i think?) on the second floor.

They also own another building behind the vasque restaurant Sagardi, just around the corner, with a similar disposition, although I've never been there.

SD


We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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      We've just come from 4 days in Madrid and an evening in Toledo. In Madrid we ate at Casa Salvador where my wife's oxtails were superb but I can only rate the flavor of my tripe as good, though it was cooked perfectly. I thought Barbara was going to swoon over the roasted marrow bone and beef at Sacha. She started with a fresh tomato salad in a very light balsamic vinaigrette that was perfection. I had the fried artichokes - paper thin slices of baby artichokes fried in olive oil that had the texture of potato chips but were pure artichoke flavor. I followed that with brains that were superb - lightly battered and fried, slightly crunchy on the outside, milky soft inside. Barbara had a chocolate thing for desert and she flipped. I had something akin to creme caramel, but I have no idea what it was, other than outrageously good. I think it had cielo in the name, but since I asked the maitre d' to just pick out deserts for us I'm not sure what we had.
      Then on Tuesday we went to David Muñoz's Diverxo. Extraordinary. And that's saying something because we got off to a really bad start. Twenty minutes to get a glass of wine ordered from the time we were seated. Then, when asked if I'd like chopsticks to which I replied in the affirmative, none ever arrived, but the food transcended all. An amuse bouche of edamame seasoned, perhaps with sumac and something else with a buttermilk-like garlic dipping sauce. Then we both had the seven course tasting menu (the other choice being the thirteen course menu). The seven courses were actually around eleven since a course would often be divided into two halves served sequentially, like the poached prawn (it was called something else) that arrived followed by the grilled, seasoned, head and body with the juices from the body drizzled over the poached tail. Somewhere in the middle were white asparagus wrapped in the skin of red mullet - actually the meal involved parts of red mullet in several of the dishes, such as a pate of red mullet liver on a thin crisp. The courses that I sort of remember include the soup served in a young coconut shell where eating the coconut meat was a desired part of the experience, a steamed roll with a quail's egg yolk barely poached on top, an extraordinary piece of tuna cheek that tasted like a sous-vide cooked short rib, and a piece of ox cheek that had been slow roasted for 112 hours, a small piece of hake served sauced accompanied by a horseradish cream and spherified lime, and a desert which I no longer remember. Very, very highly recommended.
      Yesterday, we made our way to Toledo, where completely by chance we went for lunch to Adolfo. It turns out that the chef, Adolfo Muñoz, is David Muñoz's uncle. And he cooks like it. Not modernist, but brilliantly. Barbara had a simple "small" salad ordered off the menu which was beautiful and then a scallops and artichokes starter with fresh baby artichokes and incredibly dense scallops barely accented with maldon salt flakes that were perfect. I had a risotto of black rice cooked with squid ink and baby calamari and manchego cheese that was off the charts followed by red partridge that was excellent, but paled in comparison to the risotto. Excellent.
      Now we're off to Lisbon.
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