Tuesday, 17 June 2008

When the chemistry is right

A trip to Barcelona for three days to visit a friend who was down, became a bit of a gastronomic adventure. Tamara and I met through a mutual interest in illuminated manuscripts, but it was a love of cooking that really drew us together and made us fast friends.

When I found out she was feeling a bit down, I decided that it was my solemn duty to get my butt over to Barcelona to see her. And if, during the weekend, I managed to get a bit of shopping done, and maybe even eat some good food...

Maybe? HA! I arrived at 7.50pm on Friday night and by the time I wound my way through the public transport system to meet up with Tamara it was 9pm. But the Spanish are late night people so the late hour was no reason not to eat, and Tamara had made a booking at a restaurant called "Les 11 Virtuits" for 10pm with two of her girlfriends. We took the degustation menu (with a bit of fiddling because of my sensitivities to shellfish and Tamara's dislike of chicken), and settled ourselves down for some eating. I won't share with you the full menu just yet, as the photos are in Tamara's camera (I will do something a bit more comprehensive once she emails them to me), but it wasn't bad at all, and the company was, of course, superb. Tamara's friends were kind enough to try to speak mostly in English because I have absolutely no Spanish, and we had a few good giggles together.

Saturday started with brunch of lovely fresh bread, spanish ham, fresh cheese and matured cheeses. My kinda start to the day!

After returning from the hunt (shopping bag in hand) we decided to have a quick tapas to give us the energy to survive until dinner. Tamara produced some anchovies from the depths of the fridge and brought out the toaster.

I had brought for her a little gift from Geneva, some of my dried strawberries, and in a moment of brilliance (I admit inspired by something I had seen on the net but I hasten to add not the same thing), suggested that we combine the two. Now I can just tell that some of you, dear readers, will be reeling in horror at the concept of this combination, but have faith... they were great! The sweetness of the strawberries was a great foil to the citric saltiness of the anchovies and together they were sublime.

That evening, we met with another girlfriend of Tamara (all her friends seem to be ridiculously intelligent, charming and nice) at a spot called Inopia for a bite to eat. Sadly since we were all dressed up to go out dancing, I didn't have a camera with me, but you will just have to take it on faith that the crunchy lemon battered anchovies were divine, the mixed olives were a gastronomic adventure and the patatas bravas were so good we just had to have seconds. The fact that the waiter was more than a little decorative didn't do any harm to the atmosphere of the evening too. ;-)

The next night Tamara cooked up a lovely vegetable risotto, and while she bemoaned the fact that the transport strike meant that there was no fresh asparagus to be had anywhere in Barcelona, it was still very tasty.

We followed that up with fish cooked on top of potatoes and garlic, and topped with ever so sweet tomatoes.

I can't tell you how we managed to fit in after that (she cooked a WHOLE fish each!) a local speciality of sweet cheese flan, but you know, I felt that it would be rude of me to refuse.

Monday, my last day in Barcelona got off to a late start. Well actually every day did, because I slept in. Late nights, big comfy bed, very dark room and earplugs will do that for a girl. But the quick snack we grabbed at a tapas bar was only a brief breakfast to keep us going until we got to the main event... Alkimi.

One of the many Michelin starred restaurants in Barcelona, Alkimia is actually very reasonably priced. The amuse bouche+three course+dessert menu is only 32 euro, making it about the price of an average restaurant in Geneva.

and believe me, there is nothing average about Alkimia.

To be continued....


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

How thoughtful of you... Gorgeous food!



Cynthia said...

You are a treasure of a friend.