Carrer de Bailén, 56
Our last night & our last tasting menu in Spain. It really should have been lined up as one of our first. We were disappointingly blase about the entire affair. When Chef Gelonch himself came out for a chat, I must admit I struggled to come up with a favourite dish. But we had seen far too many spectacular treats & courses in the preceding nights to be swept away.
We opted for the tasting menu of sixteen dishes. The menu read well, and the courses were quirky, which I appreciated.
The chardonnay was a local one, from a little town 45 minutes just out of Barcelona. Spending 6 months in the barrel, classically creamy with a smooth almost sweet finish. Not on the wine list as yet.
The bread was ridiculously crusty & airy, with a catalan private reserve olive oil.
oyster leaf, apple gel, sweet ginger //black onion cake, sweet onion foams, fried onion // mojito paper
We start with a series of snacks. Having had the oyster leaf (tonight, from Holland) as part of Iggy’s enchanting chlorophyll, sea & soil, knowing what to expect - I wasn’t as taken as I should have been but the intense flavour of the sea is as remarkable the second time around, paired with sweet apple & ginger.
Caramelised black onions, a mini short cake, using a method I subsequently saw firsthand as kindly demonstrated by Papa Goose in their preparation of the banoffee during July’s Eat Street - quickly popping it in the microwave yields the moistest sponge. Soft fluffy and fragrant with crisp fried onions & onion cream. A myriad of textures in the simplest of bites.
Using cellulous paper, they paint it with mojito - the alcohol evaporates but the cane sugar mint & citrusy notes remain in the crackly shard.
carrot - orange nitro popcorn // rose lychee button // prawn crisp cod brandade
Housemade prawn crisp, the light airiness contrasting sharply with a creamy cod fish paste.
A chewy sticky sweet rose blossom petal with a touch of lychee cream.
Orange & carrot foam & liquid nitrogen, broken to form our popcorn, we’re instructed to pick it up with our fingers and exhale while we eat so it doesn’t freeze our tongues.
duck maigret mini burrito with foie gras
Duck breast with fresh foie gras, tomatoes & black beans, a streak of shiny edible silver foil highlighting the playful nature of this affair - a play on a takeaway burrito.
shitake broth with spider crab ravioli & iberian ham d.o extremadura
A light clarified consomme of mushrooms, intense in flavour. It’s interesting and pleasing to the tongue but visually it falls short. The execution, was lacking - the wanton wrapper concealing spider crab was quite rough, but the cured iberian ham & juicy shiitake matched the consomme’s intensity.
grilled red prawn with pisco, cabbage & hibiscus
Red prawns, with a touch of pisco, a south american liqueur I’ve had a dalliance with at The Estelle under different circumstances, a trio of cabbage - purple, chinese & the classical white. A confit hibiscus blossom for a tropical syrupy sweetness.
black turnip with veal marrow, egg yolk & black truffles
The black turnip, aromatic & less bitter than the white - sliced and foam. Truffled egg yolk, fantastically creamy & fragrant, reminiscent of the one I had at Duchess of Spotswood, highlighting the unique nature of the simple egg, in its ability to absorb all the flavour & the power of the truffle.
Soft jiggly veal bone marrow which melts, creating a lusciously slow sauce, and as if it weren’t decadent enough, finished off with grated black truffles.
24h sous vide iberian pork pancetta & grilled octopus with baked garlic sauce & honey vinaigrette, beech smoke
Sous vide in salt pepper olive oil at for 24 hours, achieving what they had hoped - this tender fatty almost jelly which melds into the meat that melts in your mouth. The smoking infuses and transforms the dish.
The octopus with honey vinaigrette was tougher in contrast to the pancetta.
beetroot gnocchi, veal sweetbreads, codfish tripe, padron pepper cream & carrot, passion fruit drops
Using the thymus gland of the veal, the sweetbread was splendidly plump & juicy, pristinely white as it should be. The fish tripe is gelatinous and smooth, with creamy dots of passionfruit, green padron peppers and beetroot.
secreto iberico 36 hours sous-vide with selectec root & season mushrooms
The pork, aptly named secreto, originates as a rare part that the butcher keeps for himself - marbled, full of flavour. Sous vide for 36 hours, it’s wonderfully luscious. A textural dish, with tapioca foam, french root, jerusalem artichoke puree, chips of purple potato, juicy shimeji & porcini powder.
assorted cheese course with banana honey cream, coffee crumble, caramelised endive leaves & baked aubergine sorbet
Textures of cream, crumble and smooth sorbet, paired with two cheeses - a catalan creamy camembert style & a stronger nutty firm comte, making for a salty sweet pre-dessert.
catalan creme brulee
I had been apprehensive of the guacamole dessert - comprising of avocado pistachio ice cream, lemon custard, tomato tile & coriander crumble but their machine was down. We were presented with a creme brulee of Catalan cream, airy from the foaming, with a refreshing sour apple liqueur sorbet, and an almond crumble at the base. Warm & cold sensations.
toasted wheat ice cream, milk foam, orange textures
My favourite for the night. Toasted bulgur wheat ice cream rich and creamy with an almost coffee flavour, with light airy milk foam, and almond crumble below. Textures of tear drop shards of liquid nitrogen orange, confit kumquat & orange granita for sweet citrus notes.
almanac truffle // madeleine
For what it is, Gelonch is quietly daring. As a prelude to our Spain leg, we would have been more receptive. But to cap off the series of what we had, it was an error on my part.
This was the night I forewent following with a dessert degustation at Espai Sucre. Better planning next time I promise.
Avinguida del Parellel, 164
Right next to Tickets Bar, 41º is only available for dinner service, with five tables made up of parties of two or four. It becomes a bar after dinner service. Before my trip, I had come across a few fallacies. That the menu between Tickets Bar & 41º overlapped - so going to Tickets then having drinks at 41º would suffice. Not true, out of the 50-plus bite-sized courses on the night, the only two courses that overlapped would have been the spherical olives & the chocolate lava rock which are both available on the Tickets menu. I had also encountered the issue of having a party of three, but we managed to get around 41º’s strict policy of two or fours.
41º’s degustation is a ridiculously indulgent affair, spanning over four hours - and it’s four hours of impeccable service, each course timed to perfection, the most minute of pauses between each course, to allow for slight reflection.
romero y julieta
We begin with a cocktail. The hip flask which was on our table, contained a concoction of vodka, grapefruit juice, lemongrass, rosemary & ginger. Our server whips up a strong heady sorbet with the use of liquid nitrogen. Incredibly fragrant of rosemary.
raspberry orchid with pistachio cream
Crispy sticky crackly petals with pistachio cream & crumble, garnished with atsina cress.
Resting in liquid olive oil, orange, lemon zest & black peppercorns, the soft silky spherical olives, El Bulli’s notoriousreverse spherification, need only be coaxed gently into releasing the smoothest harmonious blend of olives & anchovies which rolls to all corners. Taken as a single bite.
orange cocktail with sweet vermouth sorbet
Picking it up with your fingers, it’s airy and light, the sheer contact with the bed of mint leaves imparts a coolness, the icy sorbet with a crisp meringue shell & campari drops melts in your mouth.
infused watermelon & sesame seed shot
We open the tin to find a black sesame ball, small but potent like a shot. Accompanied by cool watermelon infused in beetroot and orange, wrapped around yuzu powder and yuzu peel. Both are earthy and sweet, yet incredibly distinct.
The thinnest glass campari sheets, with orange jelly. And yet unmistakeable in flavour.
gin & tonic 41
I love a good gin & tonic, in fact I make myself a pretty mean gin & tonic for a nightcap. Tonight there are two additional elements. The first, an infusion of shisha smoke, a Moroccan tobacco which is quite fresh. The second, is purple shiso.
Potent, with an added smokiness. To be nursed before & with the next course.
spicy corn tentacles // crispy seaweed with quinoa
As part of the gin and tonic, 41° course, from the sea we have a perfectly crisp seaweed lined with quinoa, and these divine squid tentacles, spicy from the kimchi powder, each suction cup a perfectly formed bubble, perched atop a half corn cob from Peru, continuity even in its presentation. The tentacle is a shade of purple, mirroring the purple shiso in the gin & tonic.
white anchovy with its fossil
The next three courses showcase the luxury trio. The first of which has three unusual offerings. A raspberry, filled with raspberry vinegar gel, a glistening sardine, whole & smoked with a touch of salt. And an intricate sardine fossil imprinted on a crisp wonton wrapper. We are instructed to place the sardine atop the fossil, and halfway through, pause for the raspberry as a whole, before continuing with the rest of the sardine & its fossil. The raspberry is sweet & fresh, and the anchovy gets milder after the raspberry shot.
parmesan ice cream sandwich // nigiri foie gras
A dainty square of parmesan ice cream sandwiched by crisp parmesan crackers & lemon marmalade, easily picked up with two fingers, is bold & intense. Each course merely serves to reinforce how perfect the entire affair is - from the service to the plates. You look at each component and you imagine how it should taste and feel, and it is exceeded. It’s crispier, crunchier, softer, dreamier than you imagine it to be.
The rich floaty caramelised foie gras, is perched on & complemented by a rich tonka bean marshmallow cloud, both are feather light to touch yet rich to taste. With a slice of sweet pear between the foie gras & the marshmallow. As you would with a nigiri, eaten with your fingers as one.
ham & melon 2012 // iberian ham sandwich
Showcasing two different takes of jamon iberico, a typical dish from Catalunya of melon and ham. Termed Joselito’s, to the left - a complete role reversal with shards of crystallised ham on a sheet of smoked canteloupe. As we did with the tuna belly & pancetta at Tickets, we create a roll with our culinary forceps. The delicate sheet of melon is sweet & soft and the transparent ham is so bold - a brilliant take on a classic pairing.
The next pairing is the crispiest crunchiest air baguette, with a gleaming coat of Joselito iberian ham (five years reserve) snugly wrapped around it. An intense divinely light, small ham croissant if you will.
I can’t even begin to fathom how much thought & effort has gone into ensuring each component is perfection in itself, the technique, of how it is presented, to each sensation, the pairing itself, in particular where they do something completely different to what you would expect. It’s nothing I have ever seen before. And it’s each and every course that is pulling you in different directions, causing you to marvel & wonder. The plates are gone so quickly and the next plate is before you.
wild alaskan salmon with salmon roe
As promised, we move onto the caviar trilogy. Salmon roe perched pretty on wild alaskan salmon & sour cream. The salmon is cooked on one side and raw on the other. From afar it appears to be suspended in mid-air.
We are instructed to manoeuvre the salmon onto our spoon with the culinary forceps, and firmly press the spoon downward against the plastic wrap, allowing the smoke within to seep out in wisps and graze the salmon & roe, gently infusing it. Albert Adria was on hand to assist us with the process.
oyster with wakame juice & caviar
Instructed to start with the caviar first then the the baby oyster. The caviar has gorgeous flavours of the sea, the baby oyster merely enhancing our experience. Clean & beautifully smooth.
caviar & hazelnut oil caviar, hazelnut vodka shot
Based on a duo of ingredients & flavours - caviar and hazelnut. Caviar has an inherent nutty flavour, making hazelnut a perfect partner. The hazelnut cream, dotted around hazelnut oil & fresh cream encased in smoked hazelnut skin. The hazelnut flavours are positively abundant, the sweetness of the hazelnuts complementing the earthiness of the caviar vodka and caviar goes well.
The accompanying shot of homemade hazelnut infused vodka is the perfect end to the course.
frozen banana daiquiri rose // mojito // ambar // mango mai tai
Four edible cocktails - we start with a delicate banana daiquiri rose with yuzu, picking it up from the base - crispy sweet banana. The next, the sensation of picking it up and biting into it still haunts me - gorgeous firm piece of sugar cane infused with rum, with the tiniest mint leaf peeking out.
The next two, are taken as a single bite. The mango maitai bonbon, with a silky white chocolate coat, breaks easily and creamy mango leaves a silken trail in your mouth.
And an amber sac of rosemary & honey with elderflower liqueur.
galicia: razor clam with codium juice & tempura
Our first destination is to the north of Spain - Galicia. First the crisp codium tempura, a seaweed. Followed by the fresh succulent plump razor clams in its shell, in a green bath of olive oil, salicornia & codium.
navarra: white asparagus with crispy cheese powder & chilled soup
An important region of Spain, Navarra being a big producer of white asparagus. Showcased two ways, we start with a icy creamy white asparagus soup. Followed by the sweet white asparagus spear cooked in a cacao butter bath for 30 seconds, coated in a fragrant parmesan biscuit.
peru: hamachi tiradito with leche de tigre
Our dalliance with Peru consists of fresh silky smooth hamachi infused with the famous Peruvian leche de tigre - tiger’s milk. With a bouquet of ginger, mango, papaya, cucumber & fresh herbs to cleanse the palate.
mexico: sweet corn ravioli with crispy corn
Mexico’s love affair with corn - a paper cornet with freeze dried sweet corn kernels dusted with mexican spices. Taken as a shot.
The next, picking up the half lime, carefully sliding the sweet corn ravioli topped with fried sweet corn, cilantro & chipotle in as a whole bite, and finish off with a squeeze of lime juice into your mouth, before pressing your tongue across your palate as the sensation of spicy chipotle, creamy corn, lime zest interplay. A beautiful homage to Mexico of corn, heat & lime.
japan: tuna temaki / red prawn with miso
We fly from the simple sweet heat of Mexico, to the fresh clean flavours of the seas of Japan. We have a seaweed cornet filled with fresh tuna tartare & tobiko. The seaweed is so crispy and salty, contrasting with the sweetness and the slippery textures from the tuna & the flying fish roe.
A whole pickled prawn with miso, soy and shiso. Using our culinary forceps, we start with the cold fresh prawn, so creamy & fresh with ginger. Caged within the crispy prawn head is the prawn essence pearl. The pearl, is so rich & creamy. A wonderful contrast between the first bite of the cold creamy body, the next bite, retains the creaminess and the sweetness of the prawn, yet warm and rough.
thailand: mango & the leaf
Sour sliver of mango, with finger lime, peanut, tamarind reduction, coconut butter, thai basil. Made into a roll with the culinary forceps, taken as one bite.
The second part, a kaffir lime leaf, which acts as a vessel for the glistening coat of cold smooth silky lemon jelly, its flavours mirroring the mango.
china: xa su bao
Clouds of steam unfurl as they open the steamer basket to reveal soft fluffy steamed buns, fragrant of star anise, eaten with our fingers. Warm juicy folds of pork belly, teriyaki, cinnamon & star anise. Accompanied by a romesco sauce, spiced with similar spices as the bun.
korea: kimchi of belgian endives
A play on a dish synonymous with Korea, untying the clear parcel to reveal endives & crushed pickled fennel, shiitake & shimeji mushrooms in a spicy kimchi broth, fragrant with sesame.
nordic: journey & carrot
Noma, having been at the pinnacle for the last three years, Denmark had to feature in our travels. I was particularly taken by the vivid images of snow covered terrains & white tipped greenery & the vibrancy of the colours. A most remarkable dish.
The baby carrot complete with green shoots & leaves, coated in purple beetroot gelatine, peeking out under a heap of malt bread sand & sour cream infused with horseradish, brightened by the tiniest dainty white blossoms. Beautifully sweet & earthy, almost as though it was freshly plucked from the ground by the stem.
Equally stunning - a crunchy malt bread toastie with tender beef carpaccio, white cream cheese, red onion, pickles & herbs, with freshly fallen white vinegar snow. Our hands were left dusty with the snow, a most entrancing course on all counts.
france: rabbit chop with its blood // potato with bone marrow
The tender rabbit is piping hot, instructed to pick it up with our fingers by the bone & dip it in its gamey viscous blood.
The velvety confit potato, with tarragon gel, pork jus & bone marrow is wonderfully rich & creamy. Both courses eloquently sum up the richness of French cuisine.
basque country: perretxico mushroom ravioli
The silkiest sheets of ravioli wrappers make for a sensational bite-sized pocket that quite literally bursts and a rich perretxico mushroom sauce spills forth as you bite into juicy perretxico mushrooms. Garnished with slices of white perretxico mushroom, cheese & garlic flowers.
catalunya: green peas with iberian ham consomme
We find our way back to Catalunya, a simple bowl of sweet green peas, served warm. Finished with a light broth, rich with iberian ham & mandarin.
A prelude to the fanfare of delicate sweets to finish off the night. The last one to join the series of edible cocktails, the cactus leaves have been infused in margarita, topped with sugar, honey powder & dark coffee gel.
Each table has their margaritas whipped up before them, our servers showcasing impressive cocktail shaking techniques. The classic salt rim on the accompanying margaritas are done away, instead we have a chartreuse foam.
cactus leaf // margarita
Another one of my favourites, the cactus leaves are an absolute dream. The slow jelly bite is preceded by the roughness & crunch of the sugar crystals, resembling the salt rim. The heat & strength of the cactus leaf shot is a precursor to the margarita itself, strong sweet fragrant with lime zest. One of the best margaritas I’ve seen in a while, the chartreuse foam in itself has a real punch.
mandarin bonbon // blackcurrant profiterole
The chocolate coat of the bonbon is so rich on your palate, yet light to touch & almost glides on your fingers, giving way to a drunken mandarin sponge, sweet & tart.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the profiterole. Ridiculously airy & light, a stunning violet, almost like a meringue that instantly crumbles & melts, the daintiest heart-shaped atsina cress sprouts from the creamy greek yoghurt filling. A blackcurrant cloud.
wasabi, lime & ginger // akakarai
The last cocktail of the night, akakarai - red & spicy in Japanese, of yuzu, vodka, pomegranate, ginger, lime, sake & soju.
And its partner in crime, the bitterness from the lime zest, the salty heat of the wasabi ice cream, tamed perfectly by the milkiness of the coconut & the fresh lime granita, and nutty black sesame.
caramel popcorn ice cream cone
What is it with their magical cornets, that crumble so gorgeously. The cornet, made of corn with creamy salted caramel ice cream. Topped with freeze dried corn & a chocolate biscuit, for a perfect pairing.
chocolate truffles // raspberry with saffron // peanut passion // black sesame rock //peach pit & peanut
Chocolate with salted caramel & sea salt, a luxurious creamy texture; freeze dried raspberries & chocolate, topped with saffron; passionfruit dipped in chocolate topped with a peanut; black sesame & white chocolate rock with yuzu puree; and the delicate peanuts of white sesame & white chocolate, freeze dried blueberry; and the peach pits crafted from hazelnut, gianduja chocolate & orange.
41 Degrees, is truly at the forefront of what it does. It’s wildly experimental, forward thinking, incredibly so and yet it all comes together seamlessly. You don’t question it, it makes complete & utter sense. They waltz you away on a journey, visually & on your palate. And at the end of it all, you’re really quite exhausted. Each course makes you think, leaves you in positive wonderment. The tiniest plates that are paraded out one after the other, perfectly timed, each one perfectly thought out - from the unique pairings, to capturing the essence of each country, tantalising & evoking a sense of familiarity for those that you have been before.
169 Domain Road
La Zuppa launched their What’s Your Flavour? competition in search of a new soup flavour for their 2013 range. I was invited by La Zuppa to join the panel to select the winning entry (the lucky duck gets a coveted trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast) from the five finalists.
As part of the event, La Zuppa has a giveaway for P&T readers, information on how to enter at the end of the post.
La Zuppa’s soups come in microwaveable bowls & prides itself on being all natural, free from additives and are 99% fat free.
The tasting was held at The Botanical, their private dining room is gorgeous, blue skies & sunshine streaming through the skylight.
Luke Burgess, The Botanical’s head chef, was tasked with creating the soups, based on the finalists’ submissions, some of which came with a recipe or just the name alone. As well as an accompaniment plate, which took its cue from the soup.
mexican corn // chipotle prawn, watermelon, chilli & corn salsa
The first soup, was a firecracker. Paying homage to the Mexican wave that has taken Melbourne by storm - real heat coming through from the chilli, the creamy corn itself was quite mild, not at all what you would expect from the bold golden hue, sweet crunch of watermelon slivers & a hint of coriander.
Paired with a mild 2010 Shelmerdine Sauvignon Blanc, Yarra Valley.
carrot & ginger, coriander // white cooked chicken, sesame, chilli & soy
Like the Mexican corn soup, another fresh unique flavour. A pleasant surprise, it’s lightly sweet & creamy, but perfectly so, it’s almost hard to pinpoint the carrot, with mild heat but strong flavours coming from the ginger.
Paired with a 2010 Te Mata Estate Woodthorpe Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Hawks Bay, more acidic than the Yarra Valley sauv blanc that preceded, full of citrus & lime.
chicken, sweet potato & corn // steamed hapuka, corn & coriander salsa
Chicken has always been at the forefront in terms of flavour profile, it’s light & comforting and makes you want more. The hearty sweet potato makes for an interesting twist.
Paired with a 2010 Curlewis ‘Bel Sel’ Chardonnay, Geelong good acidity and well balanced, buttery & creamy.
tuscan vegetable with beans // pork cotoletta, italian coleslaw
Wonderfully hearty & rich yet light, a play on the elements with the heaviness of the beans playing off the crisp lightness of celery.
Paired with a 2011 Red Claw Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, light, juicy & simple, with the pepperiness coming into play with the pork.
curried pumpkin // lamb rogan josh, raita
An established flavour, but the curry is the pumpkin’s edge. Crunch from the pumpkin seeds, not much heat and luxuriously creamy.
Paired with a 2010 Giant Steps ‘Sexton Vineyard’ Merlot, Yarra Valley, big & ripe.
chocolate mousse gateau with citrus, cointreau bavarois, citrus terrine // lime cheesecake, strawberry essence, kiwi fruit, candied celery
Creamy layers of chocolate mousse with aerated oranges, with a honeycomb texture.
Paired with a 2010 Mitchell Noble Semillon, Clare Valley, sweet with exotic quince & apple. Slight acidity with Clare Valley being quite cold.
The winner will be announced on La Zuppa’s Facebook Page.
In conjunction with the event, La Zuppa have been kind enough to give away a $200 food & beverage voucher for The Botanical valid for twelve months, so this giveaway will be open to anyone who will be in Melbourne during this period.
To enter the giveaway:
Comment below & e-mail me, telling me which of the soups featured in this post would be your pick and would have you running out to the stores to pick one up.
This giveaway is open for one week and will end on Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 at 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time. The winner will be announced here and will be contacted via email. Winner must reply back with their address within 1 week or a new winner will be chosen.
UPDATE: The giveaway has now closed and the winner is Lady Cupcake. PR Edge will be contacting you directly via e-mail. Thank you to all who participated in the giveaway! x
Carrer Nou, 10
Sant Pol de Mar
Sant Pau is tucked away in the gorgeously quaint idyllic seaside town that is Sant Pol de Mar. A coastal train ride meant neverending views of the beach & crystal clear waters, yet somewhat marred by the constant reminder of graffiti and barrenness.
And when you finally reach Sant Pol de Mar, it’s a world away from everything that preceded it. A picturesque town, complete with winding narrow streets & laneways, beautiful spanish homes & a glimpse of bright blue skies & gorgeous views of the water at every turn.
The simplest bakery - the aroma of freshly baked goods is so seductive. Everything looked fresh & golden and one can only wish they had such a precious little gem in their neighbourhood.
We had barely begun our exploration, but we didn’t want to be late. A weekend away would be well suited.
Overlooking the water & the train station. A decadent view yet grounded, simple yet stunning, incredibly befitting.
water & oil
Our starter broth consisted of red pepper, onion & garlic. It’s intensely fragrant, the onion, the garlic. Red pepper for colour.
An easy pick - the tasting menu over the carte menu.
To start, we are given a little folded menu, complete with crude sketches to identify the bite sized appetisers to follow.
cod tricorn // seasoned brioche // veal salpicon & caper ice cream // cheese piula
The micro menu for June, is in commemoration of the Feast of Sant Joan, a celebration of the first day of summer which takes place at the end of the third week of June. We have sky blue firecrackers made of cheese & chocolate, a neat little crisp parcel of salted cod, brioche with bright candied cherries and veal stew with peppers & cold caper ice cream.
cd roger mas la cobla sant jordi - ciutat de barcelona, sea & land
An homage to a Catalan artiste, the sleek black lacquer boxes are lifted one after the other to reveal our first course. The image on the second box is mirrored by the red bean & sausage base, which has a comforting grainy texture yet hearty with black sausage without weighing the texture down further. Neatly concealed below is a green basil paste, its smoothness & flavour in perfect harmony with the red bean & sausage as a bite.
A tasting adventure, with your palate to guide you, reveals the freshest sardine slivers, quivering olive jelly bubbles, crunchy textures of toast drizzled with olive oil, tomato, peppers. Paired with the bean & sausage or basil at your whim.
The crust just crumbles in your mouth. Breads are simply irresistible in Barcelona.
king prawn, tomato & strawberries velvet
This vibrant dish encapsulates the simplicity & uniqueness of Sant Pau. The prawn morsels are so plump & simply yet perfectly cooked - the natural salty sea flavours are enhanced by the gorgeous strawberry & tomato broth. A most unusual pairing, but the strawberry infusion in each mouthful is undeniably divine and feels right at home with the prawn & tomato. Accompanied by cucumber slivers wrapped around diced apple and topped with fresh cherries. A marvellous show of balance.
crawfish tail under greens - tender beans, asparagus, salicornia, pistachio, fine herbs
Trapped in a clear glass cylinder, the swift removal of which is theatrical in itself, with the fresh greens almost springing to life and at the same time tumbling across your plate like tic tacs in a careless yet thoughtful manner - mesmerising to the eye. The crawfish is cooked so simply yet it speaks volumes - perfectly plump, with fresh bright greens.
cuttlefish suquet - two colors potatoes, mangetout
You would think the warm curls of slippery melt in your mouth cuttlefish would be the star, but the dark horse was the two tone violet & cream potato rounds - one a deep royal purple with a hint of white snuggled at the base, and the other, the inverse of its counterpart. The suquet, almost a Catalan bouillabaisse of cuttlefish & vegetables is equally slow & full of flavour. Varying textures of slow creaminess, from the thick suquet, the velvety lush violet & mona lisa potatoes to the creamy sweetness of the cuttlefish ribbons which are seemingly much lighter in contrast. With snow peas for freshness.
cleaver wrasse 2012
Perhaps I ought to be somewhat distressed, given we had been acquainted with & swum with Wally the Maori Wrasse when we spent a few glorious days at the Great Barrier Reef a few years ago.
Our server was just incredible, she kindly brought us the cleaver wrasse having noted we had an avid interest in capturing most of the detail throughout the afternoon. The wrasse is only available during the summer season. The scales of the fish gorgeously crisp. With stems of tender carrot & a light curry.
It is around this time that chef Carme Ruscalleda makes an appearance, absolutely lovely & down to earth, making her way to each table. She is the first Spanish female to be awarded Michelin *** and the only female chef in the world with five Michelin * under her belt. Entirely self taught.
pluma of iberian pork, iberian pork sauce & tempura vegetables
For our last savoury, a choice of pork or goat. The cut of pork, between the shoulder and the neck, is red & rare, but it just melts. Spectacularly tender bites, with crunchy sweet tempura beans.
goat hamburger, aubergine & paper ‘tecno’
The aubergine is encased within the tender and fresh goat patty, topped with creamy goat’s cheese. But you can’t go past the iberian pork - ridiculously tender bites, despite being quite blue.
duet of cheese for june - serrat gros
Serrat gros, a Catalan goat’s cheese, presented three ways with cherry & cava, with the cheese in three different textures. Instructed to start with the dried cherries coddled by a pillow of creamy cheese on a crumbly biscuit.
three combinations with cherries, fennel & cava
Followed by jelly of cherries & cava with a cream cheese filling & fennel. And lastly, in its truest form, fresh cheese with fresh cherries. The bright tartness of the sweet cherries cutting through the creamy cheese perfectly, tying the cheese course together.
infusion of aromes de montserrat & thyme
A pre-dessert of thyme poured over Catalan sherry liqueur granita. Light refreshing with a small hint of the liqueur.
nacre, passionfruit, coconut, vanilla, cayenne
A pearly luminous sheet of coconut, the stiff folds are a mere deception. Nestled under the soft iridescent coconut gelee, is a passionfruit sac which bursts in your mouth, with bright tangy flavours, vanilla ice cream & cayenne pepper for some unexpected heat.
transparent cube - berries, shiso & raspberries // pineapple sorbet, creamy tocinillo & raspberries
In addition to the two desserts featured on the tasting menu, we boldly decided at the start of the afternoon that we would indulge in the option to have an additional two desserts added to our tasting menu, allowing them to showcase four of the six desserts on the carte menu.
A clear cube of cold crisp vegetable jelly, showcasing, quite literally, fresh apples, strawberry, blueberries & raspberry sponge.
A quenelle of fresh pineapple sorbet, three textures of raspberries - fresh, as a base and with a sticky crackly sugary coat, a tocinillo square - an egg yolk pudding, and a cointreau cube.
black chocolate, creamy, sponge & crunchy, pistachios, strawberries, rosemary, whisky
And the pièce de résistance. Having had the additional duo of desserts, we had glimpsed this final showstopper being brought out numerous times to the various tables. And yet, when it was set before us, this cleverly whimsy plate took me by complete surprise. Giving nothing away, you could not possibly tell what was to come by mere glimpses or glances, resembling no more than a chocolate cake & a quenelle of ice cream.
The dirt of chocolate cake crumbs & spices, the white chocolate golf ball, reveals strawberry & yoghurt within. Brilliant visually and when eaten, you couldn’t ask for more.
We are brought out to the gorgeous garden with tall leafy trees overhead and white cane cushioned lounge chairs in carefully selected spots for our private afternoon coffee. With the bright blue sea behind us, a complete view of the chefs in the kitchen ahead, and utterly satiated as the afternoon drew to a close, the petit fours of ten was the perfect finishing touch.
lollipop “remake”, rum financier, banana with chocolate, puff pastry cake & pumpkin angel hair, limoncello jelly, raspberry crumble, liquorice & sherbet stick, strawberry, moscatell & parsley, maple syrup & almond crunch, coffee marzipan
The petit fours were intriguing, from an amaretto icy pop to a strawberry encased in a cube of clear jelly with cake crumbs.
The service is just wonderful and there is a warmth to the dining room, and is reminiscent of, but the brilliant service at the Fat Duck still goes unrivalled and unparalleled. The food, simple, yet innovative and the quality of the plates are spectacularly fresh.