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Miguel Sanchez Romera


francesco
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Hi,

following upon a request by Bux, I post some info on Miguel Sanchez Romera's restaurant, L' Esguard, in Saint Andreu de Llavaneres, near Barcelona.

He's well publicized in Italy (he was even invited to demontrate at the last Salone del Gusto organized by Slow Food in Turin) but not well known in other part of Europe or the US. He's also famous because he is a neurologist and works 3 days a week in a hospital and cooks at the restaurant the rest of the week.

Here's a link to a recent very positive review in Spanish

L' Esguard

Anyone know more about him?

Francesco

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Thanks for that link. I did a search yesterday and it didn't come up. It seems to me that this name came up on eGullet.com some months ago. “Neurococina” huh? I hope not like in that guy has a lot of nerve serving that.

I see on the review from Hola magazine that the restaurant is recommended for:

Celebración especial

Cena romántica

and

Compromiso social.

I think I understand special celebrations and romantic dinners, but what the hell is a social compromise?  

:biggrin:

Okay, if we get to Catalonia this spring, this has to be worth a look, along with too many other places. There's a nice cluster of good restaurants. More than we can try while passing through.

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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We ate at L'Esguard for Sunday lunch last year in May. It is located about 35 km from Barcelona in the small village of San Andres de Llavaneras.

The chef, Miguel Sanchez Romero is indeed a neurologist Monday through Wednesday and a chef Thursday through Sunday lunch. L'Esguard already has 1 Michelin star and from what I understand it got its first star the first time it was listed in Michelin.

The restaurant is in a 17th century manor house on a plot that was once a vineyard. His wife, Cristina Biosca runs the front of the house.

When we first got there, we were the only ones in the restaurant. We showed up way too early - around 12:45. In Spain, you just don't go to a restaurant before at least 1:30, more like 2:00. However, the greeting was warm and friendly.

My notes on our meal are very sketchy - I honestly do not know why. We had the chef's tasting menu. Two memorable dishes that I remember were a warm sea urchin soup enriched with a poached egg and small bite-size pieces of shrimp and squid, battered and deep-fried that resembled tempura - very light in texture with just the right amount of crunch.

It was a long, leisurely lunch in the country - definitely worth a side trip. I have posted my other recommendations for Barcelona restaurants in another thread.

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we were the only ones in the restaurant. We showed up way too early - around 12:45. In Spain, you just don't go to a restaurant before at least 1:30, more like 2:00.

I remember our first lunch at Arzak. We made what we thought was a reasonable reservation for 1:00 pm. We got lost and arrived a half hour late. We felt bad until we saw the almost empty room. Then we felt worse. We felt better at four when we were leaving and other guests were still arriving for lunch.

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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Lizzie, we filmed and ate at l'Esguard last May 13, 2001 and loved it. Here is an article to be published in the upcoming issue of Great Chefs magazine.

MICRI - THE MIRACLE SAUCE BASE Marc Cosnard des Closets 2002

The sunny Costa Brava in Spain is best known for its beaches and tapas bars. Lunch is served at 2 pm and is followed by a siesta before returning to work and dining again at 10 pm. This leisurely pace is why millions of tourists flock to Barcelona and the surrounding area. A visit to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in the Catalan capital, a bullfight, a plate of smoked ham and marinated anchovies with a glass of hearty red wine are among the main attractions. Few go there to find the perfect ingredient for making sauces. Who could imagine that this area is a veritable laboratory of culinary innovation? In the past ten years celebrated chefs and food scientists have been churning out new ways to prepare and serve food. Foam desserts and multi-layered shot glasses of sweet and savory reductions are served in fine dining establishments around the world. These are just a few of the marvels developed by Catalan chefs in their laboratories.

Making a sauce can take hours of work and often requires many hard-to-get ingredients just to distill the essence of a particular product. Most sauce bases are made from animal products such as bone gelatin obtained after long hours of cooking. They need to be flavored with various ingredients, fat must be skimmed off and the sauce must be strained again and again before emulsifying with starches or butter to give it a smooth texture. This whole process results in high saturated fat content and reduced vitamins and proteins. The final sauce base is perishable, has one flavor and one color, usually brown. Professional chefs prepare different sauce bases every day: poultry stock, fish stocks, beef stocks, veal stocks, vegetable stocks etc. Restaurant kitchens have lots of room, many hands and a variety of ingredients to make this possible. At home it is a different story, you usually have to prepare your sauce base the day before you are going to use it and spend hours toiling at the stovetop to reduce your sauce to the right quantity and consistency. Then you store the extra sauce base in your freezer until you use it again or, as is usually the case, throw it out a few weeks later.

Now there is an alternative. Chef Miguel Sanchez Romera of Restaurant l’Esguard in San Andres de Llavaneres (Sant Andreu de Llavaneres in Catalan) just 1 hour north of Barcelona, Spain, spent five years developing a neutral sauce base that will revolutionize sauce making. Chef Romera studied fine arts as a youth until he entered the medical field. He is a noted neurologist specialized in epilepsy. He began his culinary career at age 45 and opened his restaurant in a former winery. Today he works in a hospital from Monday to Wednesday and helms the stove the rest of the week.

His quest for a perfect sauce base that would be healthy, easy to use and able to support different flavors and ingredients resulted in MICRI, a gel derived from Cassava, a starchy root vegetable also known as yucca or manioc. It is originally from South America and was introduced into Africa by Portuguese sailors. Cassava has a very high vitamin C content and must be cooked before being eaten otherwise it is toxic. The formula is secret but MICRI is being sold in Europe by Spanish company Solé Graells (sole@solegraells.com) at a cost of approximately $15 for a 3-pound container.

MICRI is odorless, colorless, tasteless and fat-free. It can be used hot or cold as a sauce base or emulsifier. The semi-hard elastic gel texture can be adjusted by adding water and hand whipping or machine blending. It must be stored between 32° and 47° Fahrenheit and stays fresh 3 weeks after opening. Gelatin has two textures: hard and crumbly whereas a MICRI sauce has a smooth texture. Its chameleon-like ability to retain color and flavor without cooking is unique. A lemon sauce tastes like lemon, rather than lemon and cream or lemon and butter. A Béarnaise can be made with shallots, tarragon, white wine, vinegar and MICRI substituted for the butter and egg yolks. Anyone who has made this sauce knows how fragile it is and how frustrating it can be to serve a beautiful piece of meat and put a broken sauce on the table.

Chef Romera’s cuisine is as colorful as it is flavorful. MICRI allows him to offer a variety of taste sensations and visual surprises in each dish. His Venison with Sobresada Tatin, spice sauces and currant sauce is an example of this. Spicy sausage filling, called Sobresada in Spain, is placed on sliced and sugared apples in a mold and cooked for about 18 minutes until the sausage is cooked and the apples have caramelized. Venison loin is seasoned, pan seared in pork lard and served with the Sobresada Tatin, currant sauce and 48 dollops of flavored MICRI. Chopped herbs, spices or blanched and pureed vegetables are mixed with MICRI to preserve their fundamental essence and color. Each bite of venison and Sobresada Tatin varies with the chosen sauce.

Like many doctors Chef Romera is modest about his accomplishments. Like many chefs Dr. Romera lets his food speak for itself. He has earned one star in the Michelin guide and his notoriety is growing beyond Spain.  A meal at l’Esguard is a pleasure for the palate and a salve for the soul.

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Marc--are you aware if any other chefs have begun using MICRI and if so, how?  I know that Sole Graells S.A. sells the fine powdered agar agar that the Adria's use at El Bulli--and as yet that product is unavailable in the US.  But I'm sure other Spanish and Italian chefs order and use it. (It's much easier and efficient to use it in this powdered form rather than as it is typically found, in the large flakes.) Seem's there is some parallel to be drawn to Adria here as well--as both have demonstrated enough inventiveness to search for the right vehicles to deliver flavor at a given texture--and eliminate other "traditional" elements like whites, yolks, dairy, etc.

Fascinating, well-written story/advertorial by the way!

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Marc, let me be among those to thank you for sharing that here with us.

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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Marc,

We were there on Sunday, June 3 of last year. Would you imagine that Miguel used Micri as the "stock" base for the sea urchin soup.

You have helped jog my memory in that I can certainly remember the intensity of the flavors.

I would appreciate it if you can describe, in more detail, the menu you had. As we were there roughly in the same season, I would love to further "jog" my memory.

Thank you again for a great post.

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I thought I'd mention that my Google search for MICRI turned up nought. Should anyone have more information about this product, please post in Cooking or General. I am very very interested in the tremendous possibilities.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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  • 2 weeks later...

Marc, Francesco or others--I'm still interested in any information members may have of other Spanish chefs recognizing the value of MICRI and employing it in some of their dishes?

Adria? Berasategui? Santamaria? Arzak?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Steve,

In response to this post and the one on the cooking board MICRI thread, as far as I know (and I film a lot of chefs) no other chefs use Micri. I will call Juan Solé at the Solegraells company and find out if he can give me some names. Would you like some as a sample? I'm sure if you asked him he'd be glad to send some to you. A letter on PAD stationary would do the trick.

Marc

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I'd love a sample Marc, but I can e-mail Juan directly.  I do appreciate your attentiveness, though!

I ask about the other chefs because in my experience, the truly new ideas and techniques spread like wildfire within Spain--chefs there are very attuned to what everyone else is doing.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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  • 2 years later...
I thought I'd mention that my Google search for MICRI turned up nought. Should anyone have more information about this product, please post in Cooking or General. I am very very interested in the tremendous possibilities.

Now it does: Micri Home page.

Some discussion on Hevé This in the France forum and his recent mention to constructivism (see Louisa's Movable Feast) made me think of Miguel Sánchez Romera and his construccionismo (term that he translates as constructionism).

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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  • 2 years later...

Miguel Sanchez Romera, an Argentine-born practicing Neurologist cum chef appears to be a bit of an outsider in the world of Spanish cuisine. The world of Spanish chefs or cocineros as they prefer to be called is a generally tight knit one with essentially all knowing each other. Even the apparent feuds as between Santi Santamaria and the Adrian Vanguardistas are based upon a rivalry borne of different approaches and familiarity. Not so much with Romera. His work is downplayed by at least some cocineros who haven't even tried it. Though I don't know the answer, i suspect that for whatever reason there is a mutual distrust or misunderstanding in the usually wide-open Spanish kitchens. When I presented my planned itinerary to one chef, he thought that everything would be outstanding except for L'Esguard which would likely be the low-point of our trip. he had never been there and couldn't have been more wrong as L'Esguard proved to be sensational.

The restaurant is set in a very old Catalan masia or farmhouse in the coastal town of Sant Andreu de Llavaneres, a scant 35 kilometers outside of Barcelona. Upon arrival, a hostess was awaiting us at the door. It was a brilliant Sunday afternoon and the approach to the restaurant was relaxing and beautiful. rather than whisk us immediately to our table she took us on a brief tour of the masia including the wine and cheese cellars as well as a curing room for hams including pigeon "hams."

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Part of the climate controlled wine cellar.

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Pata negra.

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Pigeon "hams."

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A Culinary library.

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Yours truly in the bottom of the cheese cave (literally). There are several levels of the cave with different cheeses ripening at each level.

To be continued...

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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Miguel Sanchez Romera is particularly known for a couple of aspects of his cooking. The first is "Constructionism" in which he builds a plate in front of the guest with different layers of product and ingredient. The process will be evident as i go through the meal. The second is the development of a food product called Micri, taken from the yucca plant. This is a gelling substance with multiple uses and forms. It is taste neutral and clear of color so it is eminently moldable in form and flavor. Its presence was of major import throughout our meal. The subsequent posts show the menu as planned and named by Romera.

Primera Parte

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Our table setting.

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The charger. Each place was illuminated by an overhead halogen light trained on the place to highlight the food.

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The Centerpiece.

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The menu. There is no choice. The menu is set, although I am sure substitutions are available upon request.

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Eiro from the Greek signifying the start. This is a cup of spring with extra virgin olive oil from hojiblanca, picual and arbosana olives, pistachio and mint puree, "thought" flowers, rose water and mini-fried potatoes.

This was a fine start and a creative, unique and beautiful way to provide bread service with olive oil.

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Our wine. This was an excellent match for most of the meal.

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Odran from German indicating richness and jewelry. Thin potato slices made into forms of a gnoccho and a raviolo with sea flavors with a mayonaisse of seaweed, thyme leaves and a rose sweet and sour sauce. Unusual and tasty.

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Nimma from the Greek signifying water that purifies. This dish was composed of transparent cold fideos served with conch and smoked trout eggs as well as dried flowers from their greenhouse in a seaweed soup with a curry of flowers, fruit, greens and spices. As with all of the dishes it was visually arresting and delicious. I would venture to say that it was also quite nutritious though i don't have any data to support that assertion.

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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Segunda Parte

Although the degustation was divided on paper into different "parts", the actual transition between the parts was seamless.

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Aprilis from Latin signifying the opening of spring. Shaved turnip slices formed into cylinders with the smell and taste of saffron, rose and rosemary and stuffed with a veloute of smoked white chocolate and seawater stewed scallops. This was my least favorite dish of the meal and the only one that I did not find particularly flavorful or particularly enjoy.

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Alsos from the Greek meaning sacred forests. Transparent "Lasagneta" of black truffle with queso fresco, dried cereals and twelve fresh micro-herbs cultivated in their greenhouse. Added at the end was black truffle water that had been flambeed with truffle alcohol. This beautiful dish was our introduction to Romera's two main elements - Constructionism and Micri. Over the past year or two the forest and its products seems to have received unusual emphasis in the world of haute cuisine. This was Romera's offering in this vein and a great one it was as not only was it beautiful it was delicious and evocative of the forest accomplishing the difficult feat of actually transporting the diner to an idealized place - in this case a forest meadow on a dewey spring morning.

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Unda from Latin meaning "smell of the sea." A transparent "suquet" of shellfish and fish overlaid upon "laminates" of fish and shellfish lacquered with seaweed, gold crystals and Madagascan white pepper flavored "micrifilm". Simply delicious and perfectly cooked this dish needed no additional accoutrements to transport the diner to the sea. This may have been my favorite dish of the meal and one of the best of the entire trip.

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Teres from Romano meaning "tender, fine and delicate". Fine, velvety purees of greens with beet, turnip, tomato, leek, spinach, chard and carrot along with a transparent puree of old potatoes from the Andes accompanied a scallop in orange papillote and crunchy sea vegetables, with a perfume of flowers and spices. This complex dish harmoniously wove together its myriad parts into a unified whole that simply tasted good. The individual ingredients other than the scallop were not readily apparent.

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Isis from Egypt the personification of the fecundity of nature. A mosaic carpet of dried vegetables lining their own hearts of vegetables in a Micri- butter sauce and a vegetable broth. This dish was simply brilliant in every respect.

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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WOW!!

This has to be one of the most beautiful presentations I have ever seen.

Thanks,

as always,

l.

Thanks! I'm not done with this yet though :wink: Romera's presentations are fantastic. Even better, they taste great too.

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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On the Isis dish, it does not look like the powders move when the liquid is poured on it?

That is correct. The powders stayed put until they were easily mixed with he agitation of the dining utensils.

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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Wow, this restaurant looks really beautiful and theatrical. The photos are spectacular. Thanks so much for posting... I don't want the meal to end.

P.S. I think they are taking some liberties with those etymologies, but I like the idea, nonetheless.

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Tercera Parte

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Our wine for this part of the meal. It was bold, but did not overpower the food. I particularly enjoyed trying wines from the regions we visited throughout the trip. The quality is exceptional. the value high and it was simply fun to become acquainted with wines I was previously unfamiliar with.

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Rosa del Azafran from Spanish meaning saffron rose. Their classic salmon in waters of beet, saffron, orange and ginger; cooked in an edible envelope of transparent and crunchy Micrifilm along with black olives, red ginger, crunchy dried seaweeds. Texturally this dish was phenomenal. It was also delicious though a tad sweet for my preference. Salmon is a fish that is now seen only rarely on high-end restaurant plates and that is a pity as it remains the wonderful fish that it has always been.

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Orestes from the Greek signifying "Mountains". Pigeon breast en "crochette", roasted and served on a barbecue at the table, perfumed by the incense of myrrh. At the bottom of the plate lie greens, caramelized truffle and spices. Overlaid on that were trumpets, porcinis and black truffle. A pigeon broth was poured over top of the constructed dish. This was the ultimate in constructionism, a beautiful and delicious dish. In addition to perfuming the pigeon breast the incense lingered over the table anointing us with a sense of the mysterious.

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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