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Archive for the ‘Catalan’ Category

Dining at Lasarte

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Before the most recent trip to Barcelona, I spent a lot of time researching various restaurants to dine at for a good friend’s birthday. In a city known for its food, narrowing down the choices was not an easy task. Obviously, the first place to look was anywhere with the name Adrià, either Ferran of elBulli fame or his brother, Albert, who runs the much-raved about Tickets, along with Enigma.

Making reservations turned out to be somewhat vague, with no clear confirmation a table would be available once in Barcelona. In the end, decided it was important we had a confirmed table to make sure it was an amazing birthday celebration. Running through various travel guides and, especially, the Michelin guide, found out about Lasarte, a three-Michelin star establishment located just off the Passeig de Gràcia.

The reservation process was straightforward and when inquiring about their menu, with regard to dietary restrictions, their response time was remarkable (they are very accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions). The reservation process alone was just about enough to confirm the birthday would be celebrated at Lasarte.

The day arrived and we took a walk down the Passeig de Gràcia, even stopping for tapas on the way.

Upon entering the establishment, it was amazingly clean and modern. We were seated right away and noticed a few of the other tables with elegantly-presented dishes and just as elegantly-dressed patrons. It was already exhilarating walking into such an establishment, it got even more exciting once the menus arrived.

The evening began with an array of ornate appetizers, each served in a unique way, with a variety of textures to start the evening. The first course began with an oyster dish served with an iced watercress slush, parsnip, and sea mist. For molecular gastronomy fans, seeing anything with foam arrive to the table automatically get the senses going.

Probably the most beautiful of the 11 courses was the red curry dish. Described as scarlet shrimp royal with red curry, raw artichokes, celery, and apple, the dish offered a variety of colors and textures. It’s the typical go-to photo when telling people about the dinner.

Scarlet shrimp royal with red curry, raw artichokes, celery, and apple.

If I were to name the most memorable dish, there is no doubt it was the charcoal grilled pigeon with citrus, capers, black olive, and smoked sauce with galangal. The idea of eating pigeon was a rather foreign concept, which made it the most striking option when first perusing the evening’s menu. There was a red meat quality to the flavor and texture and, overall, it tasted good – it was mostly about getting over the idea of a pigeon being on the plate.

Charcoal grilled pigeon with citrus, capers, black olive, and smoked sauce with galangal.

Dessert was amazing – and gorgeous. Almond and salt praline, apricot, and rum ice cream. It’s cliché to say “it was too beautiful to eat,” but this, in fact, was; and it was all worth it once getting that first bite.

Almond and salt praline, apricot, and rum ice cream.

There’s a reason places like Lasarte are acclaimed. The aesthetic really makes a difference in the overall experience. A quiet and relaxed room with perfect lighting made the dinner all the more appealing. Very attentive staff – who even walk you to the bathroom – add an appreciation for the care the restaurant puts into service.

Then, there’s the food. 11 courses, each with its own unique taste and beauty, it truly presents the soul of the restaurant itself.

All of it comprises the “dining experience,” and this was one of the most memorable ones.

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The Sardana

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The Sardana is a traditional Catalan dance. Danced in a circle, the origins remains unclear. Some report it began in the 16th Century, others say it rose to popularity by tne end of the 19th Century.

In 2010, the Generalitat de Catalunya added the sardana to the Catàleg del Patrimoni Festiu de Catalunya.

Written by Paulo Loreto

August 26, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Vichy Catalan

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An over 125 year old tradition of promoting health is underlined by the philosophy “to be the point at which nature and people come together.”

The first bottling plant was founded in 1889.

Beyond the expected benefits of water, it is said Vichy Catalan can help control cholesterol.

This photo was taken at Despaña, a Spanish food shop and café in New York City.

Written by Paulo Loreto

June 25, 2012 at 4:56 AM

Calçotada

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A Catalan tradition that happens between the end of Winter and April. A variety of green onion, called Calçots, are consumed by the masses. Typically accompanied by a salvitxada or romesco sauce, the calçots are barbequed and enjoyed with red wine or cava.

This calçotada took place in New York City, at a restaurant called Boqueria.

Written by Paulo Loreto

May 26, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Llibertat

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Wandering the streets of Barcelona in the morning, the quiet nature of an early Saturday brings some discoveries when finding new streets and pathways to follow.  A desolate street near the site of the Mercat del Born, politically charged graffiti found its place on a storefront cover.

"Free Catalan Political Prisoners"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily reminders arise everyday, in Barcelona, of the on-going conflict between Catalonia and Spain.

Written by Paulo Loreto

August 12, 2011 at 9:33 PM