Food & Travel / Words & Photos
I love the hype surrounding the announcement of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants* – it somehow points out how goofy and subjective it is to rank them (where are Pinotxo and the Agawam Diner?!?!) while reminding us how wonderful they are.
For anyone interested in a trip down memory lane to the places on the list where I’ve been lucky enough to eat, here we go…
noma – Rene Redzepi (see photo)
El Bulli – Ferran Adria
El Celler de Can Roca – Joan Roca
Pierre Gagnaire & Plaza Athenée - Pierre Gagnaire & Alain Ducasse
*Congrats to my pal Lexy Topping for breaking the 50 Best story for the Guardian – woop woop!
Walking out of the flat with two visiting friends, I point out the Celler del Nou Priorat - a local favorite in the Sants neighborhood run by a trio of Cubans that’s exactly the kind of place you pray to find when you’re wandering around looking for a place for dinner.
Instead, my idea is to get out of the neighborhood and do a Poble Sec tapas crawl. I drag my pals around to find that the three places I want to go - Quimet & Quimet, the new bar at Xemei and inopia are, respectively, closed, full and full.
I put in a desperate call to the Cubans and we hop in the metro and head toward home.
Once I sit, it takes only a glass of Cava, some sweet potato chips and a plate of pimientos de padrón for me to go from feeling like I’ve lost my touch back into the Food Leprechaun.
Olives help, too. And maybe some mushrooms sautéed with little bits of jamon. And there’s an octopus dish that has a friend from Lisbon take a mental return trip home with one bite.
There’s a famous brownie for dessert, but we get perfect, sweet and minty mojitos instead.
Cuban? Catalan? Spanish? Not really. More like fresh-from-the-Catalan-market inspired Cuban/Catalan/Spanish goodness. More like yes, yes and more please.
Count on 15-30 euros, redemption included.
Celler del Nou Priorat - MAP
+34 934 905 952
Now, I understand.
For years, I’d tried the classic faves a la Catalana - a broad bean dish without ever understanding why dish makes up part of the Catalan canon. Wrong places? Bad luck? Who knows? It’s all over now.
I’d wondered about the Sants’ neighborhood’s Can Manel - which typically has, say, a whole roast suckling pig and some grilled artichokes in the front window - looked like it could be great or a dud and the only way to know would be to try it.
I finally bit the other day - they have a menu del dia for 10 euros and I was hungry.
It was clear when the beans were set in front of me that I’d have a new outlook on things.
Sitting by myself, I must have said, “Man, these are good!” to myself 25 times. The beans are rich, hearty and buttery-textured, brought to life with small quantities of - get this - three kinds of pork products.
“Bacon, blood sausage and jamon,” explains the waiter.
While my main - slices of pork loin (more pork!) with fries - is admittedly less interesting, they use good product.
I’ll be back.
Restaurant Can Manel - MAP
+34 93 339 10 47