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Friday, June 04, 2010

UPHILL FROM ANCHOVIES

We roll out of “the place with the amazing anchovies” and head next door to the new Cal Marino - which, with walls lined with bottles, barrels and a bar full of tasty vittles, looks like Quimet & Quimet’s little cousin.

Toni brought me here for a quick snack a month ago and I wanted to check in again and see what’s cooking.

They don’t cook much, actually, they source. There are gourmet snacks a gogo - lots of good things to skewer with a toothpick and a few combinations à la Quimet. There are plates with excellent olives, tasty shrimp, or little bites of octopus; you’d have to make a concerted effort to make a meal out of it, but paired with, say, a good cider, they get the appetite racing, the conversation moving.

They’re still working out a few kinks; I tried flagging the waiter for some tomato bread and he made a long-distance stiff-arm gesture that said, “Can’t you see I’m overwhelmed?” Come in at a quieter time, however, and the barman/owner will be happy to teach you about the products he stocks.

They’ll work it out. Can Marino is a great launching point, a future neighborhood reference as a watering hole and part of a great one-two punch after you have some of those anchovies.

Count on 5-15€ depending on how much of a meal you want to make of it.

Can Marino - MAP
C/ Margarit 54
Barcelona
+34 93 329 45 92

Follow me on Twitter: @joe_diner.



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Sunday, May 23, 2010

ANCHOVIES IN THE CAVE

BARCELONA - Similar to the way he divulges his kitchen secrets, Toni’s stingy when it comes to sharing his favorite places to eat in Poble Sec - my favorite Barcelona barrio.

We were out picking up supplies for a soup he was making and as we walked down the street from La Cova, he casually mentioned how their anchovies were the neighborhood’s best.

I did not fail to take note.

Ari and Diego (my hot-stuff Web designers), Meri, the queen of all wine, and I went up to check it out a few weeks back. Truthfully, I dragged them along, but nobody complained.

You’d walk past La Cova 1,000 times, but once you’re in, you never want to leave. Anchovies are served up six to a plate and there’s a fantastic bit of skin on the underside adding extra flavor and silky texture. Twice, my notes read “fleshy goodness” and they’re bathing in a tiny pool of house-blend olive oil, vinegar and secret spices - if you ask, the owner might divulge his secrets.

Ari will later refer to La Cova as “The place with the amazing anchovies.” Toni would turn red.

Four beers, two plates of anchovies and pa amb tomaquet (tomato bread) came to about 12 euros.

Hard to beat.

La Cova MAP
Margarit, 52
Barcelona
+34 934 411 063

Follow me on Twitter: @joe_diner.



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Friday, May 21, 2010

SNACKS: TONI ROSSINI

BARCELONA - While we’re prepping the calcot sauce in Toni’s kitchen, we get talking about our favorite artery-cloggers and I mention steak Rossini - a big steak with a slab of foie gras, preferably seared, melting over the top - at Le Tambour.

Or, well, anywhere.

He grins and walks toward the fridge which, is a Pandora’s box of high-cal goodness and pulls out two steaks and a slab of foie gras.

Lunch is served.

Follow me on Twitter: @joe_diner.



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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

COVERING MY CALCOTS*

I met Toni (see above) this morning to learn salsa per calçots - the sauce for the celebrated spring onion that’s barbecued into a coma (see above) for the masses, dipped into the romesco-like sauce and eaten by the dozens in wonderfully-sloppy sword swallower style.

Trying to get an invite into his kitchen to help, he was reluctant to have me over. “You’re going to steal my secrets!” he bellowed.

When I got to his house, however, he asked if I was going to pull out my pen.

Around the kitchen, there are two hocks of jamón, at least three active bottles of wine, including one with the bottle neck cut off, a bag of bunyols - (seasonal Munchkin-like mini donut/fritters, often flavored with a bit of anise) and three different kinds of oranges.

For the sauce, he’s got separate trays of roasted tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onion ready and once those are done, it’s pretty simple.

“[The nearby Catalan towns of] Sitges and Villanova fight to see who makes the best,” he claims.

For his entry, he throws the following into the blender in batches:

- the flesh of a rehydrated ñora pepper in the blender (substitute, if you must, a sweet, mild dried red pepper)
- a dangling handful of roasted red peppers
- one roasted onion, skinned and chopped into rough chunks
- 10 roasted tomatoes
- 5 cloves of roasted garlic
- 2 cloves raw, peeled garlic
- 1 cup almonds
- ⅓ cup hazelnuts
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- two shakes of pepper
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 cups water
- ¾ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 ½ tbsp salt

Run the blender slow for 5-10 seconds then fast for about 20. The sauce should be thick and still slightly chunky.

Salsa per calçots is also fantastic for making xató (pronounced “chateau”) - a salad made with curly endive, black olives tuna belly and/or bacalao.

*Admittedly, this is running a bit late, but I’m playing catchup after a month in India. Besides, if you’re in a cool climate and have access to spring onions to grill, they’d be wonderful doused in this sauce…



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