Food & Travel / Words & Photos
Somebody sunk serious money into this place and I suspect they’re much richer for it. If you want an authentic Brussels experience, this might not be the place, but if you want a good time with a stellar beer selection, Bob’s your uncle at Delirium Café.
Scanning the Guinness World Record beer selection - 2,000 kinds of beer! - we start with a faro from Lindeman’s - sweet, tangy and kind of Smith-Brothers-cough-drop-y. Not for the faint of heart, but big fun. The ‘café’ gets its name from Delirium Tremens - the Belgian beer whose name, roughly, means ‘the shakes you get from alcohol withdrawal.’ It would be hard for that to happen here.
For our second round, the group gives me free reign and, feeling nostalgic for the beer of former interviewee Armand Debelder, I order a vintage oude gueuze and an oude kriek from 3 Fonteinen: - both kept in a temperature-controlled walk-in cooler behind Delirium’s basement bar.
I’m with El Bulli sommeliers Ferran Centelles and David Seijas and on first sip of the gueuze, they pucker and screw up their faces before saying. “Wow…wow.” The kriek is a curiosity, but the gueuze is true discovery for all of us.
Motivating a group of sommeliers and getting them to try something new can be like herding cats, but I love sharing that moment.
P.S. - Pick your visiting times carefully - this place is a zoo on a busy night.
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!
El Bulli interview finished, I head to Cadaqués to Can Rafa, a sojurn I’ve been trying to make for months…except every time I go, it’s closed and this time is no exception.
I’m alone and looking for a place where I won’t feel like too much of a chump sitting by myself and can still eat well. On this night, that doesn’t exist in Cadaqués. In desperation, I leave town and call my friend Twin Stomach for somewhere to try in the nearby El Port de la Selva but the phone rings and rings…
In town, I knock on the door where a set of stout-bellied accordion players are practicing and they point me toward El Celler, a family-run seafront place set apart from the town’s more kitschy offerings.
There are fantastic anchovies with gobs of good olive oil and a bit of tomato which are fantastic together on top of their warm, homemade bread. I have a great duck breast in fig sauce and the front of house owner does a perfect job of alternately chatting and leaving me to enjoy my meal.
Count on about 25 euros.
El Celler - MAP
C/ Llancà 8-10
El Port de la Selva
+34 972 126 435
Ferran Adria’s just announced that they’re ‘stopping’ El Bulli - starting in 2012-2013, turning their Barcelona lab and Roses restaurant into ‘research centers’.
Sounds like it’ll be business as ‘usual’ in Roses through 2011 (two more seasons), though exactly what happens after that and what happens for the 2012-2013 season remain a bit vague. 2014 remains very mysterious. Return from a sort of sabbatical, perhaps in a different ‘format’???
BARCELONA – While the Tour de France approached Barcelona today, I took a different sort of bike ride – The Tour Gastronomico.
The tour was hosted by a food group called Cassaques – a band of guys who get together, blow loads of money on incredible food, jump around in circles and do a call and answer that goes: “Festiiii….” “….valll!!!!!” Apparently, they once went to El Bulli together dressed as a bunch of toreadors.
Today’s buckets of rain ride stopped at a host of Barcelona foodie hotspots; most worth noting was a sneak peek at chef Carles Abellan’s new digs – the appropriately-named Velódromo – which is supposed to officially open today.
Chef should make a lot of money here as it’s well decked out and the papas bravas – these shaped like fat French fries with a tasty, sweet aioli and an addictive saltiness – are very tasty. I’m guessing a high turnover of beautiful people.
Other Tour highlights included bacalao bunyoles at Fonda Gaig – which is saying a lot, as I’m still on the fence about bacalao, but not about these.
Favorite part of the day? Hoisting Joanito Bayen of Pinotxo at La Boqueria on our shoulders. The guy’s in his mid seventies and should UNESCO classified.
Two separate BCN notes I discovered today on a run – restaurant Xemei in Poble Sec bumped out into an adjoining bar-like space where they’re specializing in drinks and tapas while still offering a full menu.
Further up, at the top of Montjuic – the city’s monster green space and home of the ‘92 summer Olympics - I found La Caseta del Migdia, a world away from the city and a great spot to grab a drink or enjoy cheap – 10 euro – barbecue. I’m heading back this weekend to have a drink and watch the world go by.
Velódromo - MAP
+34 93 430 6022
La Caseta del Migdia - MAP
Passeig del Migdia
+34 617 956 572
NOTE: open Thursday through Sunday – call ahead for hours