Can Pineda Restaurant – My absolute and a local favorite off Barcelona’s beaten path

Restaurant Can Pineda

As most of you know, I am living in an empty house, with just a few kitchen utensils, waiting on my impending move to Madrid.  Eating out has become more of a necessity rather than a luxury.  But, all that said, Can Pineda is a luxury only reserved for special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversary’s etc.  It isn’t somewhere you can make it to everyday, or once a month even.  Your wallet and your waistline would suffer, that I can assure.  It most definitely is somewhere you HAVE to go one time, or 3 as I have been.

This time around the special occasion was my birthday a few weeks ago.  Paolo introduced me to this place way back in 2009, and go ever so often to whet our appetites when we can.

Again, Can Pineda did not disappoint.  One look at the menu and I knew I was in culinary heaven.  Being truffle season, the menu did not disappoint.   We decided to go the full monty, and order whatever tuber-inspired item was on there, with a good measure of Chuleton!

The place itself is fantastic.  Packed with knowing locals, who return time after time, it is a nice change from my neighborhood, which caters mostly to tourists.  The decoration is slightly kitsch bordering on outdated, more like your grandmother’s kitchen, rather than culinary hotspot.  But, all those insignificant details are forgiven the moment you place your first forkful in your mouth.

Our first plate was a simple, and the only way it should be really, yet perfect plate of Tagliatelle with White Truffle-

White Truffle Pasta

 

Butter, pepper and a small fortune of the good stuff, Tuber Magnatum, or better known as White Truffle from Alba.  The reigning queen of the truffles.  We decided to share all of our dishes, so we could taste more than just two, and I was left wanting more.  Not that the portion was small, it was perfect, it’s just that I don’t get to eat white truffle very often so I wanted to go all Miss Piggy on it.

Next up, is a Can Pineda classic.  None other than the orgasm inducing Poached egg, Seared Foie Gras, Shaved Black Truffle over a bed of blood sausage.

Poached egg, foie gras, black truffle

 

This is what I call paradise.  The egg, that humble ingredient, is totally elevated to royal status in the company of foie and truffle.  For being a half sized portion, this was enormous.  We each got a whole egg, (otherwise, how do you separate a poached egg?)  Loaded with the good stuff, there was nary a crumb left when we finished.

Up next, a Catalan classic, meatballs in a wild mushroom ragout –

Iphone 2012 599

 

The meatballs were as soft as pillows, the ragout was rich and unctuous.  This is Catalan food through and through, these flavors are unmistakable.

And our final plate, the pièce de résistanceChuleton de Vaca Vieja,  which is basically bone in prime rib from “old cow”.

Iphone 2012 601

 

And no, we don’t eat it this rare, we were brought our own very personal hot stone to cook it on, which I love.  Paolo likes his very rare, and I medium rare.  That way, each of us gets our way!

Iphone 2012 600

 

Iphone 2012 602

 

Can Pineda will always be one of those places that we return to on our visits back to Barcelona.  And it should be on the top of your list too, whenever you come!

Carla

Can Pineda

Calle Sant Joan de Malta 55

08018 Barcelona

+34 93 308 3081

http://www.canpineda.com

 

 

Restaurant La Estrella – A fantastic surprise in Barcelona’s Borne Neighborhood

Restaurante La Estrella

I have lived in Barcelona for 10 years.  Currently, I live in the Borne neighborhood, in the heart of the city’s old town, where tourists out number the locals.  Restaurants in this area generally cater to the former, so as a local it is almost impossible to find some place that isn’t completely overrun by snappy waiters bringing you over priced and totally under-whelming food.

Not so in this case.  Tucked in a side street next to La Estacion de Francia, you would pass by this place and not even give it a second thought.  I myself have passed by about a thousand times, and only because a very good friend of mine, whom I trust completely when it comes to food and restaurants, told me that this was a pretty spectacular place.   Last night, Paolo and I decided to try it, because it was close to home and we really didn’t feel like cooking.  From the look of it on the outside, I honestly expected very normal food, more like these places you go to that have some salads, some croquetas, some beef, some fish but nothing out of this world.  One look at the menu, and boy, how wrong I was.

The first thing I realized, that if you like cod, this is the place to go.  Barcelona is a city that adores its cod.  You can find it in so many different ways, from fritters to salads, to croquetas and then more than 20 main dishes.  Stuffed with foie, “a la llauna” which loosely translates in the can, but that just means it’s braised in sauce in an earthenware dish, al pil pil….the list goes on.  La Estrella had about 6 different dishes paying homage to this humble yet delicious fish.

The Maitre, Jordi, came to our table, and started to explain all the dishes that were off the menu that night.  First of all, let me tell you it is a true joy to go to a restaurant that has no Michelin stars and find such impeccable and truly passionate service.  You can tell that this is what he loves to do, and it comes through.  After he explained the aforementioned, we chose 3 dishes off menu.  How could we not?  We were completely enthralled and practically salivating at the descriptions.  And I kid you not, they surpassed our expectations.

After we placed our order, I chose one of my favorite white wines.  Vallegarcia Viognier, from Castilla- La Mancha.  He replied that it was an excellent selection, and promptly brought out a very large decanter on ice.  I was incredibly thrilled, because not many restaurants decant white wine for you, and I thought it was a wonderful touch.

Vallegarcia ViognierJordi explained that he loves decanting this wine, because it changes as it breathes.  I wholeheartedly agree.

We were brought out an amuse bouche of Codfish Brandade, very popular here in Catalonia and also in Southern France, it’s a smooth mousse of cod baked in cream and spices.  Rich, decadent and delicious.

Codfish Brandade

 

It’s more common incarnations is actually stuffed in piquillo peppers, but I love the stuff, and was very happy that it was schmeared on some buttery toast.  Perfect small bite that was a harbinger of the rest of our amazing meal.

Our first appetizer was razor clams from the delta of the Ebro river with walnuts sautéed in olive oil.

Razor Clams

 

Our maitre explained that these razor clams from the delta, are much smaller than the ocean variety that you find here.  Also, being much sweeter and fatter on the inside, the one very big difference is that they contain no sand.  We were pleasantly surprised to find he was right, not a trace to be found.  The walnuts were a perfect match, giving it umami, and not even salt was necessary since the razor clams were super sweet and tender.  I personally devoured about 8 of them in the matter of minutes.

Next up is one of the house classic specialties, Gratineed Asparagus with Cabrales cheese and sautéed walnuts.

Gratineed Asparagus with Cabrales Cheese and Walnuts

 

Cabrales cheese is a very strong blue cheese from Asturia.  On its own it can be overwhelming in taste.  Combined with the nuttiness of the asparagus and the walnuts that tempered it, it became softer and more nuanced.  Something that needs to be mentioned, is that the asparagus were cooked to perfection.  Perfectly crispy.  There is nothing more horrible than limp watery asparagus.  This dish is meant to be eaten with some bread, because you will be mopping up the cheese after you’ve eaten all the asparagus.

Now on to our main dishes.

I went for another reiteration of “Surf and Turf”, this time with something that I just started eating this year.  Pigs trotters.

Pigs Trotters with Porcini mushroom and shrimp sauce

 

What a fabulous combination!  Completely de-boned pigs trotters, lightly crusted with bread crumbs, with porcini mushrooms and a shrimp sauce.  This is Catalan food at its best.  Taking one of the most unassuming and honestly peasant like foods and pairing it with royalty, the porcini and a smooth veloute of shrimp.  The layers of flavors is amazing, the brininess of the shrimp veloute, then you get a punch of the smokiness of the trotters, lastly being rounded out with the earthy umami of the porcini’s.  I was glad that we chose off menu.

The star of the night, in my and Paolo’s opinion was the tuna.

Yellowfin Tuna with smoked salt and tomato confit

 

The über fresh (brought it at 9pm that night) Yellowfin Tuna, with a touch of smoked sea salt and tomato confit.  One bite and fireworks went off in our mouths.  The tuna, being so fresh, was treated like any fresh fish should, let it sing on its own.  The smoked salt elevated the tuna, and the tomato confit was the perfect partner in this amazing duo.  I secretly wished I had ordered this, not because mine wasn’t amazing, but I just know that tuna this fresh and perfect is hard to come by.

Now, on to our desserts.  By this time, I realized that the chef, a.k.a, the Maitre’s wife, had attended the same culinary school that I did.  That basically means, the desserts are going to be spectacular.

Tiramisu with chestnut ice cream

 

Tiramisu with home-made Chestnut Ice Cream.  It was delicious.  One of the best tiramisu’s I have tried here in Barcelona.  The Mascarpone was creamy and light, the biscuits soaked in espresso were dense and moist without falling apart.  The addition of chestnut ice cream was an excellent choice.

Paolo chose the homemade Salted Caramel ice cream.

Salted Caramel ice cream

 

Whoa Nelly!!!  I love caramel.  I love salted caramel.  I kept on going back between the two and uttering “Oh my God, it’s so good.”  Honestly, they were both amazing.   I can’t wait to go back because they have all these other desserts that I want to try, like a six layer homage to chocolate in different textures, a cactus and lemon sorbet, goat cheese ice cream….and a few more that I can’t remember but I know that when he mentioned them, I wanted to eat them all.

This is an absolute “must go” restaurant in Barcelona.  Service, food and wine all impeccable.  Go with an empty stomach, you won’t want to leave a thing on your plate!

Restaurant La Estrella

www.rst-laestrella.com

Calle Ocata, 6

08003 Barcelona

+34 93 310 2768

 

Kiosko Universal: Fresh fish in Barcelona’s Boqueria Market

For about seven years now, I have treated myself to a few lunches at Kiosko Universal.  Back then, it was full of people who worked at the market who knew that the time that you spent waiting was well worth it.  But, as Barcelona’s tourist boom hasn’t stopped, it is now filled with hungry tourists who visit the market and have been tipped off by someone that knows this is THE place to get a quick bite of some extra fresh grilled fish.

There’s nothing fancy, no molecular cuisine, no Michelin stars, just plain old great grilled seafood.  The restaurant is on the left side of the market, at the entrance.  A very large bar and some 7 tall tables make up the seating area.  You have to give your name at the bar, and the number in your party.  Then some 15 minutes later, your name will be called and you will be seated.

Around the bar is the best place to sit, because you can see all the fresh fish that you can just point to and they will grill it for you, with just a touch of parsley and garlic oil.  Always cooked to perfection, it comes with some very homey french fries, like the ones your mother used to make, kind of soggy, but always good.  The menu is large, but simple.  Starters are mainly mixed grilled veggies, mixed grilled wild mushrooms, some Pimientos del Padron, or a salad.  Then you have your 10 different types of fish, from Swordfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Sole, Sea Bream, Hake…..the list goes on.  There is beef also for those of you who don’t like fish.  Then, there’s also the selection of grilled squid, razor clams, mussels, clams, cockles, shrimp, scampi…..it doesn’t get better than this!

Yesterday I met up with a couple of my girlfriends, and we ordered our mixed wild mushrooms, since they are in season now.

With the parsley garlic oil and a touch of Maldon Sea Salt…..they were absolutely delicious!

Then, I decided to try something different from my usual, yesterday they had a special, it was a Cuttlefish and Pea stew, in a gorgeous tomato sauce.

I loved it.  You definitely tasted the mild brininess of the cuttlefish, but the sauce was meant for sopping up with some fresh, crusty bread.  I would never have thought to make a dish like this, so it was a real treat for me.  And since the weather is cooling down a bit, every bite kept me nice and warm.

The girls shared a mixed seafood platter.  This is the house specialty.

Beautiful Scampi, with some hefty shrimp, over a couple of razor clams, and mussels, clams and cockles.  This is practically on everyone’s placemat when you go there.

The great part is that you don’t pay a hefty price either.  You can eat there for 25 euros, including wine, and your tummy will thank you profusely.  I always recommend it to out-of-town guests, because it’s great to eat in the hustle and bustle of the market, and you know the fish is fresh…..brought to you from only a couple of stalls away!

So, next time you’re in Barcelona, and you make the pilgrimage to Boqueria, you must have a bite to eat at Kiosko Universal.  You won’t regret it!

Carla

Kiosko Universal

Boqueria Market

93 317 82 86

 

 

 

Mosquito: Cheap and Cheerful in Barcelona’s Sant Pere District

I’ve been going to mosquito for years now.  It is a place I discovered through friends, and what a discovery.  It is possibly, hands down, the best dim sum and authentic Asian food I have tasted here in Barcelona.  It has been, at sometimes, a weekly tradition with a friend of mine, and every time I go, it always delivers the flavours that I am looking for.
It is a small, unassuming space, if you were walking down the road, you would probably pass by it without a thought.  Once inside, you know immediately that the food will be Asian.  Is it the little paintings on the wall?

Or maybe it’s the Chinese newspaper plastered along the wall of the bar?  Or just the smells emanating from the kitchen?  Anyway you realize, it always satisfies, and your wallet will be happy as well.  Never have I paid more than 35 euros, for two people, and that is a lot of food, wine and water included!

Today was like any other day, we ordered the same things as usual.  The only difference was I didn’t order the Peking Duck or the Sichuan Beef, because my friend is vegetarian.  But I did sneak in a tid bit just for myself!

Yup, the Pork Bun.  I have no idea if it is as authentic here as in China, but let me tell you, it’s delicious!  It’s soft and fluffy, yet dry and moist at the same time.  I love it.  It is a  new discovery, as of 2 years ago.  But, I am happy to have included it in my repertoire!  I love it.  But that is the only “meat” thing we had.  (Ok, I had.)  Can you tell that I love it?

Next up was our Shrimp Shiujiao.  Now, I have to order two of these, because I love eating all six of them on my own.  They are so good, it doesn’t matter how many times I come here and order them, I always, always end up moaning in delight.

They are always made as you order, never frozen, and don’t come from a package.  (As most dim sum here in Barcelona do.)

Of course we had to have our veggies.  We decided on steamed Bok Choy with Shiitake mushrooms, and an order of my absolute favorite….Kimchee.

 I can’t get enough of Kimchee.  I know it isn’t Chinese, it’s Korean.  But, one of my favorite things in the world.  I could eat it non-stop.  Really, I could.

Then, our last order was for Thai style Fish Cakes.  My friend Michelle loves these.  She could eat the whole basket, and then some.  And the dipping sauce….a sweet vinegar concoction with fresh sliced chilies…..heaven.

4 glasses of wine, and 2 large bottles of fizzy water….it all came down to an affordable 32 euros.  In Barcelona it is extremely difficult to find such amazing and affordable food!

So, if you’re in Barcelona, and you tire of tapas, try mosquito, you won’t be disappointed!

mosquito

Calle Carders 46

+34 93 268 7569

http://www.mosquitotapas.com

 

Gaig Restaurant: One Michelin Star restaurant with roots in traditional Catalan Cuisine

Last night, my boyfriend and I were lucky enough to eat at this amazing restaurant.  I’ve lived here for ten years, and this is the first time I’ve been, and I am so incredible pleased.  I know the now defunct El Bulli changed food forever with the inception of molecular gastronomy, but that has never been nor will ever be my cup of tea.  Yes, I recognize the importance, and have had a lot of fun trying some of the things that they have come up with, but if I never had to eat another foam or spherification of something, I would be a happy girl.  I like FOOD.  I like composite plates of perfectly cooked food, be it simple or complex.  But to give me a spherical olive, that isn’t an olive but tastes like an olive, well, the first time you’re impressed and surprised, the second time, it’s like, just give me the (expletive) olive for God’s sake.

Gaig is not one of those types of Restaurants, and I am so, so happy.  A week ago it was my boyfriend’s “Santo”, which is Saint’s Day.  Here the celebration of your Saint is almost as important as your birthday.  In Catholic tradition, you are generally, if not exclusively, named after a saint, and there is a Saints Calendar which tells you what day your name-saint is celebrated.  Anyhow, I digress.  So, as a present to my man who has almost everything, I took him to Gaig.  We both enjoy food, be it casual burgers and ribs, to places like these.

Gaig can be found in the second floor of Hotel Cram, in the center of what we like to call midtown Barcelona.  It is a small, warm and inviting space, the decor in red, white and black.  It is very calm and elegant.  It’s very much understated, and I believe that it to let the food be the star.  Which it is.

I always like taking a picture of the place setting and the menu before the meal.  It gives me an inkling into the personality of the restaurant.  This was beautiful and simple.  The menu was beautiful as well.

A head of garlic, star anise, the third one looks like an apricot stone, and a vanilla pod.

The house hors d’oeuvre were, from left to right, Ham crisp, Cod fritters, Croquettes, and Wonton chip with parmesan cream and sage.

We started with the wonton, because of the delicate flavor.  The sage was powerful for its tiny size, complementing perfectly with the creamy parmesan.  The cod fritter was creamy and subtle, the ham crisp was just that, a tiny morsel packed with that wonderful Iberian ham, and the croquettes, well that was the best I have ever tasted.  These are simple, Catalan flavors.  Done well, they are truly incredible.  And these were just that.

  Our first starter, on the left, creamy scrambled egg with yellow chanterelle mushrooms.  Ok, I have mentioned in the past my love affair with eggs.  For me, an egg is a thing of beauty.  This was a PERFECT scramble, super creamy, the only addition to it was the delicate chanterelle.  Such a humble, yet divine dish.

Next to it was a cold Vichyssoise.  Also perfect in its simplicity.  Food that is well done does not need any smoke and mirrors.  I really applaud chefs that present food like this, because, no they aren’t giving us anything we haven’t tried before, but it shows their confidence that they are giving you the best of an already amazing dish.

Here we have a beautiful and colorful plate.  This was Oyster, mussels, scallops, razor clam with pickled (escabeche) vegetables, with tuna lightly marinated in soy sauce.  I really commend the Chef on this dish.  This dish was über delicate.  The vegetables were almost raw, and there was almost no seasoning.  The accomplishment to this was that the seafood sung.  I have never tasted mussels this good.  The oyster was sublime.  I loved my razor clam, my boyfriend found his too chewy.  In the mix was a little bit of shiso…..and that was just about all the flavor this dish needed.  Shiso is such a delicate and lingering flavor.  It paired well with all the crustaceans without taking away their natural sweetness or briny flavor.  And the tuna.  It was again, perfect.

Meat cannelloni with a Truffle Bechamel.  This, my friends, is what I am talking about.  This is what put Carles Gaig, head chef and owner of Gaig, on the map.  This is heaven on a plate.  I cannot tell you how incredible this was.  If I was at home, I would be running my finger over the sauce to sop up every last teeny bit of it.  It was that good.  Why mess with perfection?  He didn’t.  By far, hands down my favorite dish of the night.

Baby octopus with artichokes in a red wine sauce.  This is a dish that is just fantastic.  The octopus was so tender, the artichoke hearts perfectly cooked.  The red wine was never overpowering but lending it a depth that it could not have had without it.

On the right, is another very traditional Catalan dish called “Suquet de Peix”.  I am not sure how to literally translate, but to sucar is to dunk.  I imagine the reason is because the sauce begs to be dunked or dipped by your fish, potato, bread, spoon….whatever.  This was a perfectly cooked piece of John Dory with potatoes.  The sauce is very rustic, onions, tomatoes and peppers, slowly cooked until their natural sugars come out.  Lightly seasoned with Pimenton, which is spanish smoked paprika.  It was heavenly.  Another one of his triumphs.  Why mess with it, again?

Now we are starting off with the meat courses, the first one is pan seared foie gras, with salsify and a baby red swiss chard leaf. I have never tried salsify, which is a root vegetable.  But it was caramelized, and paired with the foie, along with the swiss chard, it really lightened up the whole dish.  It was equally umami, tart and bitter.  Wonderful.

Our last savoury dish was “Pichon”.  Pichon is a young pigeon that is bred for eating.  Not the street pigeons.  It is a dark, very tasty meat.  But, this was my least favorite dish.  Although the preparation was fantastic, on the left you have the breast that was grilled, and on the right the leg was in confit.  The only thing that made me not enjoy this dish was the sauce.  It was made from the birds own kidneys.  I am not a fan of kidney.  It just reminds me of my mother making me eat kidney as a kid, and as soon as the plate came out, that brown hue just took me back there.  It was delicious, but I didn’t enjoy it, having my thoughts plaguing me with images of me crying as soon as I saw what my mother was putting on the dinner table.  But, to you kidney lovers, this was a very, very good dish.  The kidneys were very delicate, and I am assuming if you love them, you would give this a thumbs up.

Here we have the cheese plate.  This was lackluster, at best.  I love cheese.  But I think that my boyfriend and I have had so many cheese plates, and buy cheese so often, that this just did not measure up to our standards.  By no means was it not good, just not what we have gotten used to.  The plate is amazing.  And the apricot and orange marmalade was fabulous.  But you had to use it sparingly so it would not over power the delicate cheeses, except the Stilton.  And even with that one, it only needed a little bit.  The one to the left was a Petit Nevat.  It’s a creamy goats milk cheese, from Catalonia.  In the middle we had a dry and cured sheep’s milk, which I don’t remember the name.  It wasn’t my thing.  Very reminiscent of a Manchego, which I am not a huge fan of.  And on our right, Stilton.  I love Stilton.  So, obviously this was my favorite one.

When our first dessert was brought out, I was about to cry.  I knew exactly what it was going to be.  A deconstructed Crema Catalana.  I was going to cry not because I don’t like crema catalana, but because I make this on a weekly basis for my cooking classes, and cannot have another bite of it.  But thank God I did.  It was incredible.  On the bottom, Lemon jam.  Middle, caramel ice cream.  Top, catalan crème foam with the caramelized sugar.  Amazing.  Delicious.  I ate the whole thing with reckless abandon.  This is probably the best Crema Catalana I’ve had in my life.

Having said that, the chocolate textures dessert was rather disappointing.  Yes, it was chock full of “African Chocolate”, but it was lackluster and failed to deliver that rich chocolate flavor I so crave and desire when I eat it.  But the dish and presentation was beautiful.  It was a chocolate sponge cake, with chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache, and dark chocolate crisp.

My favorite part of the night, was when the Carles Gaig, the head chef, came to our table, and invited us into the kitchen.  I am definitely starstruck with chefs, as how some people would be with celebrities.  They are my celebrities.

Except for those two teeny things I didn’t enjoy as much, this evening was perfect.  It was a special night for both of us, and it was an incredible meal.  If you can, you must make it to Gaig.

Gaig Restaurant

Aragon 214, 08011 Barcelona

+34 93 429 1017

http://www.restaurantgaig.com

Tortilla Espanola : Spanish Potato Omelette

It took me a while to get onto the Tortilla bandwagon.  I just didn’t see the amazing simplicity of this fabulous dish.  Obviously it was because I had not had a good specimen until I had a really good home-made one.  And now that I’ve mastered it, I make it at home more often.

Now here comes the great debate:  Onions or no onions?  And, as any true Spaniard will attest, the other great debate, is runny or dry?  Well, as all things, I think it is really preference.  I personally like mine with onions, it lends it a certain depth and sweetness.  Now the runny and dry bit, well, that was another point.  As you all may know, I used to hate eggs, so when I first moved here, the obvious answer was a dry tortilla.  I now love the runny ones, but not as runny as some of my friends.  And here in Catalonia, it is served with the ubiquitous “Pa amb tomaquet”….which is our version of the bruschetta.  (Shh, don’t tell anyone, it isn’t as nice as the Italian version, although it is still delicious).

Tortilla is one of those simple, feel good dishes that is great to serve as a light dinner.  Mind you, it is not easy to master, and it does take quite a bit of preparation to make a perfect tortilla.  It’s not one of those things that you say, two minutes into your famished guests arriving, “I’ll make a tortilla!”  because you will all be eating the cutlery by that point.

Since I teach how to make tortillas on a weekly basis, I have mastered the technique which I am going to share with you.  Step by step.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

6 eggs

2 potatoes, peeled, cut in half, and sliced horizontally

1 large onion, sliced

Salt

1 liter of olive oil (trust me on this)

In a large stockpot over medium high heat, add 3/4 liter of olive oil.  When it is hot but not smoking, add the potatoes and onions.  Lower heat to medium.  Cook, poaching the potatoes and onions until the potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, crack your eggs and beat.  Add salt.    At this time, get all the things you are going to need for the tortilla.  A large plate, two frying pans, one medium, one smaller (optional).  IMPORTANT NOTE:  THEY MUST BE NON-STICK FRYING PANS.  If not, your tortilla will stick and the whole process is ruined.


When your potatoes and onions are done, strain them, reserving 2 tbsp of oil.   Let cool for at least 10 minutes.  When your potatoes are cool enough to touch, then mix them in with your scrambled eggs.

In a medium frying pan, add 1 tbsp of your reserved oil.  Heat over medium heat until almost smoking.

Now add your egg and potato mixture, and as soon as it hits the pan, start stirring the eggs so that they coagulate and the uncooked part goes to the bottom, and you get some cooked egg on top……like this:

simultaneously, as you are stirring the center, with your wooden spoon, drag it along the edges to make sure that it is drying up.

This enables you to make sure that the tortilla is not sticking on the edges, so it will flip loosely onto your large plate.  Keep doing these movements until you see little runniness in the middle, and it seems like it is drying up.

When you feel that there won’t be enough egg mix lost when you do “The Flip”, then place your large plate (it must be larger than the circumference of your frying pan) on top of the pan,

And with a flick of your wrist, flip the tortilla onto the plate, and then slide back into the frying pan.

At this point, you can choose if you want to place it into a smaller frying pan.  I learned this tip from a proper Catalan, who said always move your tortilla into a smaller frying pan to get that nice rounded shape.

If you do switch to a smaller frying pan, then add the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil, and heat over a low flame.  Either way, if you do or you don’t, you have to start to tuck in the edges of the tortilla, to give it a nice round shape on the edges.  And, now the key is if you want it a bit runny, or “JUICY” as they would say here, you either cook it for 2 more minutes, or 7 more minutes.  Since I like mine in between, I cook it for 5 more minutes.

Slide it back on a clean plate, let rest for at least 5 minutes, and serve warm with nice crusty tomato bread.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Negro Carbon: Cute litte Argentine Burger Joint in Barcelona’s Born

After our event, and then last night’s barbecue for St. John’s Eve……I did not feel like lifting a finger.  I feel as if  I’ve washed enough dishes to be able to treat myself to having lunch prepared for me.

So, I was craving a burger.  To me, a well prepared burger is one of the most divine dishes ever.  EVER.  I always think of Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, and I think to myself, I could probably dedicate a song to quite a number of foods, and a good Cheeseburger would be on the top of my list.

But, even though burger places are cropping up like weeds here in Barcelona, I truly do not think not one of them have a) tried a burger in the US, or b) asked someone American to teach them how to make a burger.  You see, my benchmark for burgers is when you bite into them, you get that teeny little bit of grease on your chin.  There is nothing worse than a dry burger.  Here though, they seem to think that you should make burgers with lean beef, so you never get that juicyness.  But Negro Carbon has made a good effort, and I give them a B+.  Their burgers are made with Argentine beef, which is amazing, and they are substantially better than all the other burger places that abound in my neighborhood and others.

But, the service is terrible.  We waited 35 minutes for our burgers……I mean, were they picking up the beef from the airport?  Thank God they brought us out the fries and onion rings, because I was about to have a mini-meltdown!

The fries are definitely home-made, they remind me of the ones my mom would make when I was a kid.  I am not sure if the onion rings are made there or not, but they are really, really good!

My boyfriend ordered the “La Gringa” burger, which if you don’t already know, Gringa and gringo means American.  The “La Gringa” is made with cheddar, pickles, bacon, lettuce tomato, barbecue sauce and an onion ring.

And I chose my favorite, “Pipi -Cucu”, which has Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms.  When I first came to this restaurant, I wondered why on earth they would call a burger by that name.  And the waiter told me it’s a story about an Argentine boxer who did a press release in France, and all he had to say was Merci Beaucoup, but instead he said “Pipi Cucu”.  Anyhow, funny story or not, I love it.  I have a thing for mushrooms and onions, so I can’t go wrong with this burger.

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten dessert here, because I am usually so stuffed after the burgers.  But I am sure they will have something nice, maybe next time I should try something else……nah!

So, if you’re in Barcelona and are in the mood for a good burger made with excellent quality beef, come to Negro Carbon!

Negro Carbon

Pla de Palau 16

Barcelona, 08003

+34 93 319 1123

http://www.negrocarbon.com

Final Hurrah to Brit Week: Barcelona’s One and Only Fish and Chips in the Raval

5 years ago, Fish and Chips in Barcelona was born.  Two lovely young ladies and good friends of mine, opened up Fish and Chips, after having a hankering for their countries’ ubiquitous food.  Barcelona is full of Doner Kebap shops, Pubs, and Burger Joints, but there was nary a Chippy in sight.  So, after travelling to Leeds to complete their National Fish Fryer’s Association course, they came back to their new home town and embarked on a new path in life.

Yesterday I went down to the Chippy to have some Fish and Chips, because how could I possibly have Brit Week without having probably the most English of dishes other than Chicken Tikka Masala? 😉  The Raval is an area of Barcelona that is chock full of Kebap joints, making the chippy stand out if you are in the mood for something that is completely different.  I grabbed a friend, and we plonked ourselves on the terrace, under the shade of Acacia trees and hungrily waited for our food.

Which took a while, since the chippy was plagued today with a group of British students having their lunch.

But no worries, it was such a gorgeous day that with a beer in hand, and idle chatter with good friends, I didn’t mind waiting. We ordered the fish and chips menu, with all the sauces, because my friend is Catalan and he had never tried any of them.

Baked Beans, Mushy Peas, Curry Sauce, Onion Gravy

My favorite is the curry sauce.  If you are missing all your typical chippy food, well you are so in luck.  They have just about everything an expat Brit’s heart can desire.

They also serve a Full English Breakfast, and an American one, all day long.

And now….for the Food.  I have tried Fish and Chips maybe once or twice in London, and was not impressed.  These ladies, to me, make hands down the best fish and chips this side of the english channel, and probably on that side too.  They only use flash-frozen fresh Cod fillets, and they made sure they got the highest quality potatoes that have very little water content, which are perfect for frying.  And I was not disappointed!

It was perfectly crispy on the outside, and juicy and tender on the inside.  We both ate everything off our plates.

But, those of you that have been there before, and those who haven’t will have a big surprise.  This year marks the Chippy’s 5th Anniversary, and they are having a big blowout this Sunday, 10th of June, from 3 pm onwards.  There will be mini-canapes of yorkshire pudding and roast beef, all sorts of baked goodies, and lots of the usual stuff too!

But, the best part is that they are unveiling their new menu items.  I will certainly be going there really soon, to try all the new yummy things!

Apart from the regular menu, they are doing a Burger menu, with 100% beef, Chicken, Fish and Veggie burgers; a Hot and Cold Sandwich menu that will have the regular Sausage, BLT, Bacon…..and then Egg and Cress (LOVE),  Cheese and Pickle (LOVE LOVE) Chicken Salad and Ham and Mustard.

And for those who want something completely different, there will be Lasagna and Veggie Lasagna.  And another option of sides will be the coleslaw!  Can’t wait to try it all.

So, if you want to have a great time on Sunday, with some great British grub, drinks, music and fun, go down to the Chippy for their 5th Anniversary!  And if that weren’t enough to make you want to go, all their bestseller’s will be sold at a discount!

Fish and Chips
Rambla del Raval 26
08001 Barcelona.
Tel: 93 4411134
info@fishandchipsbarcelona.com

Say hi to Julia while you’re there!


Tomorrow, I am off to Switzerland and Italy for my 20 year high school reunion,  so will be photo blogging all my wonderful eats and sights!

Ciao e ci vediamo Lunedi!

Anfiteatro: A hidden gem in Barcelona’s Vila Olimpica

This last friday was my second visit to Anfiteatro, a marvelous little restaurant in Barcelona’s Olympic Village.  This area is particularly full of tourist chain restaurants, pandering what the unassuming traveler would deem “authentic spanish cuisine”.  But not so….what you get is mass market food that has little to no quality, banged out in less than appetizing fashion.  If you cross the road from the two towers (Hotel Arts and Mapfre building) you will find this gorgeous and tranquil spot, where from the moment you enter you feel like you are in another city completely.

Anfiteatro is a small, inviting space, with large windows overlooking a water fountain and pond.  You are greeted warmly and taken to your table and immediately you can just sit back and relax and let the night roll out in a wonderful way.

As usual, we had the tasting menu, and every bite was delicious.

To start off we had a cold pumpkin cream with rosemary sorbet.

On its own, the pumpkin cream is good but not surprising.  The rosemary sorbet made the difference, turning around this classic into something worth writing about.

Then we had prawns in a parsley sauce.

I love this presentation.  The prawns look so in love!  The delicate taste was balanced well with the parsley oil.  Prawns here in the Mediterranean have a more “briny” taste than our American counterparts.  Ladling them with sauce would do them a huge injustice.

Our third appetizer was an Avocado, Salmon Roe and Shrimp cocktail.

This was by far my favorite dish of the night.  The colors were beautiful, and the addition of the Salmon Roe transformed this dish into what would be an entirely creamy puree, into bursts of ocean flavors.  I am not sure what the puree on the bottom was, but to me it seemed like a very lemony and light hummus.  I was yearning for seconds!

Our starter was Lobster “Ravioli” with a Shellfish Beurre Blanc.

Ravioli is in quotations, because this wasn’t actually pasta….this was very thinly sliced cuttlefish that was wrapped around the lobster to make these mouth-watering morsels.  I love the innovative way in which they presented a classic.  It was extremely light, and the filling was dotted with crispy veggies.

And finally, our main was a Slow braised beef with Crispy Pan-fried Potatoes

I absolutely adore demi-glace.  It needs to be used much much more, and it is often overlooked here in Spain because of all the molecular gastronomy, thanks to our local chef/scientist Ferran Adria.  I am more of a classics girl, I want to eat food, not have it in a bubble or a foam, or air…..  The beef was fork tender and juicy, and the potatoes were just perfect, crispy but not oily at all.

And finally, our dessert was a Mascarpone Cream with Raspberry Sorbet.

This was a perfect dessert to our meal.  It was sweet without being overpowering, tart enough to counter balance the creaminess of the mascarpone.  All in all, this was a splendid meal, that was not too heavy, but just enough to make you full.

If you are wandering through the Vila Olimpica and don’t feel like getting swindled by “El Rey de La Gamba”, cross over and try Anfiteatro.  Definitely worth it.

Anfiteatro

Parc del Port Olímpic  Avinguda Litoral, 08005 Barcelona

+34 659 69 53 45

http://www.anfiteatro-restaurante.com