Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fine Dining with The Spanish Touch - A Dinner to Remember

I recently had the pleasure of taking Lynn and Herb Cantor around Barcelona for a few days, and we included a trip to the three-michelin-star Sant Pau restaurant to kick things off. The first thing that stands out is the restaurant itself, on the outside a relatively unassuming building with a small parking area for the guests. However, upon entering it was clear the restaurant was anything but typical. It balanced gentle colors and a simplicity that somehow perfectly fit the environment, and I found myself relaxing and drinking in the environment before we even got our seats. It promised to be a spectacular affair.

After starting with a welcome broth, we decided on the tasting menu, a 13-course carnival of tastes and contrasts. The highlights were many, and I could not, even now, choose a favorite, because each dish was a delicacy unto itself, so the crawfish with chamomile was a completely different experience from the lloritos, a Mediterranean fish only found in these waters during the summer months, which was completely different from the pork trotters with hot sauce, celery and hazlenuts. Perhaps the course that most stands out in my memory was the cheese course: 5 cheeses matched beautifully with a contrasting flavor, be it the local Garrotxa Bauma cheese matched with rasberry, vegetables and vinagrette, or the Barousse from the Pyrenees matched with nuts or the Cocagne with pear in eau-de-vie, each person at the table had a different preference, though everyone agreed it was sumptious.

The wines of the evening were a nice opening cava made locally for the restaurant, followed by a delightful young white wine (Godello grape) from the small Valdeorras DO. It went perfectly with the appetizers and the creative dishes. The second wine was a priorat, which was also an excellent selection and complimented the meat and cheese dishes without overpowering.

A surprise of the evening was meeting the chef in person, Carme Ruscalleda! All in all, it was a dinner that far surpassed all expectations, and left us discussing its proper place among the best meals of our lives.

Until the next time, bon profit and thanks again for the food and memories!