By Emily Pickelson
4:40 PM EDT, May 22, 2013
Sometimes a meal is just a meal, and sometimes it’s an educational experience that will elevate the palate with new flavors specific to regional cuisine. The latter was the case at Barcelona’s recent Catalunya dinner – part of a series of evenings designed by Executive Chef, Alex Feldman, to highlight the diverse culinary offerings of Spain. Nestled in the northeast corner of the country, the Catalan region of Spain boasts its own distinct language and food style: which is heavily influenced by the coastal area’s spectacular seafood, as well as the lush country side of the area. For $35 (with an additional cost for a wine flight tailored to the flavors of the meal), we were treated to a perfectly balanced, four course meal which celebrated the traditions of Catalunya through the flavors of its food.
Course one – an Ensalada Catalana, was a simple dish of married flavors of boiled potatoes, eggs, and hand poached tuna fish, in a red wine vinaigrette. A Sumarroca Brut Nature Gran Reserva Cava provided a refreshing palate cleanser to the robust flavors of the egg and the fish. The small portion left us hungry for course two – a very traditional Langosto con Pollo. Expertly cooked lobster and chicken were married in a broth of hazelnuts, tomatoes, sofrito, herbs, brandy, and hint of chocolate. We were grateful for the accompanying Pan con Tomate – typical Catalan bread featuring a thin topping of tomatoes and garlic – to capture every drop of the sauce, whose complex flavors enhanced the simplicity of the chicken and buttery texture of the lobster. A medium dry Lustau Almacenista Sherry accompanied the chicken and lobster dish. The main third course – a superb pork chop roasted with eggplant and peppers, was accompanied by a shredded cucumber salsa. Cooked to a perfect medium with a glazed exterior, the texture of the pork was the star of this dish. An Altos de San Estaban Reserva Rioja created a nicely balanced flavor profile from the wine flight, with the medium acidity of the wine enhancing the flavors profile of the dish as a whole. For dessert, we were treated to a Spanish classic: a simple Flan Catalan with a creamy texture and contrasting caramel topping. The final wine pairing of sweet vermouth concluded the meal a sophisticated note.
Barcelona plans to continue rolling out regional dinners to highlight the myriad distinct regions of Spain: visit their website or call the restaurant for information on upcoming special dinners or cooking classes from Chef Alex. Also noteworthy: a vegetarian member of our party was treated to a spontaneous, meat-free version of the Catalan Dinner, which included a superb Vegetarian Paella and tuna free version of the Ensalada Catalana, plus appropriate and distinct wine pairing. Overall, Foods of Catalunya was a unique dining experience which engaged the brain as well as the taste buds in a tour of classic flavors of Catalunya.
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