Thursday, 27 November 2008

Catalan Cuisine. Creativity and Tradition

Catalan cuisine is currently riding a wave and experiencing quite a remarkable level of international exposure. Noted for its innovative capacity, stemming from a centuries-old tradition, Catalan cuisine is in vogue.

This has testified by the Michelin Guide, Europe's oldest and most celebrated gastronomic guidebook that lists the best restaurants and hotels in a dozen European countries. The Michelin star system is based on five basic and solely culinary criteria: the quality of the produce; the mastery of controlling the flavour, and cooking 'au poin'; the character of the cooking; value for money; and constancy.

My selection of Michelin restaurants in Barcelona

ABAC. Av. Tibidabo, 1. Tel. 93 319 66 00
This restaurant with two Michelin Stars, elegant and minimalist, is considered by many as one of Barcelona's very best restaurants, and it's one of my favourite as well. Famed chef Xavier Pellicer creates an innovative, experimental and original cuisine which is the culmination of a long and esteemed professional career. 

He follows prime produce through the season to constantly reinvent his ten-course tasting menu. Flash-seared tuna melts into crunchy, cumin-scented artichoke chips; crisp caramelized skin envelops fork-tender suckling pig; sea urchin royale with fennel foam; tendons, bamboo claims, broccoli mousse and truffle soup. Spain is well-represented on the cheese trolley. Reservations are a must and average dinner prices are from 80-110€

SAÜC. Passatge Lluís Pellicer, 12. Tel. 93 321 01 89
The latiest among Barcelona's new breed of intimate chef-driven restaurants, Saüc proves that you don't need El Bulli. The modest space is brightened by the presence of Anna Doñate, who's as passionate about service as her husband, chef Xavier Franco, is about food.

The menu changes seasonally, but always consists of eight starters, ten main courses (five fish and five seafood), and six desserts. A few dishes have become classics, including crispy ham with squid and artichokes, and magnificient slow-roasted suckling pig with velvety meet capped by a brittle crust of its own skin.  At lunchtime there's a menu that will rise up to 40€ with wine and coffee. So decide for the degustation menu, as the level of the simple one is not the same.

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