Allioli from El Taller.

Now that our big news is out in the open I can return to my previously-scheduled food blabbering. Once again I find myself two months out from our trip to Barcelona and with very few posts capturing all of the amazing food we had this time around, but I hope that a preoccupation with figuring out where we were going to live next was at least a decent reason to be distracted. With many of those details finally being ironed out, it’s time to talk about one of my top-five restaurants of all time: El Taller in Caldes d’Estrac.

We were introduced to this place by a front desk employee of Kalima two years ago: still very jet-lagged and also exhausted from twenty hours of travel to get there, I asked him for a recommendation for a good place to eat. He asked me if we wanted peix or carns, and quickly jumped at the latter. Giving me a card for a place called El Taller, he assured me it was the best place to get meat in town. The meal we had that night was exquisite, and one of our few regrets during that trip was that we weren’t able to return there for one more meal later during our stay, so when we were planning this most recent trip Michael assured me that we’d probably eat there every night we were there. Read More

Asian Tuna Tartare via Eric Ripert and Le Bernadin

There are at least a half-dozen drafts saved that I’ve been wanting to write, but I’m dissatisfied with all of them because I was trying to write while ignoring a major life change simmering in the next room. To be short and to the point: we’re on the move again, only this time it’s a pretty serious change. No longer will we be a 45-minute train ride into Manhattan; instead, we’re headed just south of the Mason-Dixon line to Baltimore, a city that is far more foreign to us than either Stamford or even Morningside Heights because it’s been an age since either of us has been there.

I am approaching this move with way more mixed emotions than I initially expected, mostly because I’m really sad to leave a group of awesome coworkers I see (or in certain cases did see) every day in addition to losing ready access to Fairway, Dinosaur Barbecue, Barcelona Wine Bar, The Cask Republic, and aforementioned easy access to New York. Michael has reminded me time and time again that if we weren’t going to miss anything it would only prove that we spent the last three-plus years in abject misery, and that certainly wasn’t the case. The thing about Connecticut is that it’s one of those places that it’s very difficult to love as an outsider, save perhaps for New Haven which thrives on its transient student and professor populations, so we always knew that this place was not for us when it came to settling down permanently.

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Fedelini with Creminis, Guanciale, and Sage

This post marks the start of a series of experiments that can be credited to none other than Mimi Thorisson of Manger. A few days ago I came across her most recent post in which she chronicles foraging for porcinis to make the most beautiful homemade ravioli I’ve ever seen, and while initially I wanted to make the recipe she posted, I realized there were some issues:

  1. The only porcinis I can find are dried. (Not a dealbreaker, but they aren’t really in the spirit of the recipe.)
  2. The recipe also calls for pork cheeks. Pork cheeks, sadly, are not readily available near us, at least in a way that would make them easy to transport home.

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Lorraine Pascale’s pan-seared mascarpone gnocchi | The Manhattan [food] Project

For years, my normal weekend morning ritual has been parking myself on the couch and watching cooking shows while I figured out what we were making that night for dinner. There were shows I loved, those I tolerated, and others I would either tune out or treat as open season for my snarking. As the Food Network specifically has moved further and further away from its traditional dump-and-stir shows, the ratio of shows I actually love and derive inspiration from to those I mock has tipped wildly towards the latter category so when Cooking Channel was once again made available through my cable provider I was thrilled. Not only would regular reruns of Good Eats be back on our TV, but I was excited to see what new shows have come on since we last had the channel three years ago.

Admittedly, anything I’ve seen that’s been produced by the channel hasn’t blown me away, but two hosts from the BBC have left me delighted: Lorraine Pascale (currently of Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food and Rachel Khoo (Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London and Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo). Unlike certain cooking hosts out there, both Rachel and Lorraine primarily cook food from scratch without being overly fussy or precious about it, and the recipes they present are actually interesting. My one complaint is that not every recipe is readily available online (Lorraine’s are a little easier to track down) so if something intrigues me I’ll sit with my notebook and furiously write down the ingredients and instructions, but it’s also refreshing to be engaged with a cooking show again so I’m not really complaining.

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Tomato-Onion-Grana-Padano Pizza

One thing I was hoping we’d be able to do following our vacation was to make one last jaunt to our local beach, and thankfully this past weekend gave us two picture-perfect days to choose from. While everyone else in New England descended upon their favorite orchard in which to go apple picking (or so it seemed based on my Facebook feed), we spent a few hours on Saturday enjoying the unseasonably warm day—warm enough to even make a quick dip into the Sound. Even with these little heat snaps though I am only too aware that we are in a new season, as daylight is slowly becoming less and less prevalent in the evening and the notion of turning on our oven isn’t completely abhorrent anymore. So what better way to mark that shift than by cranking it to full blast in order to make some pizza? Read More

Autumn Gintonic “La Tasqueta”/ El gintònic tardor La Tasqueta

Like I had predicted a few weeks ago, our trip included many a good gintonic, especially when we were on the beach in Caldetes. While the lion’s share of them were traditional—served in giant balloon stemware and garnished with a hefty lemon peel—the creative  minds at La Tasqueta de Caldes had to be the ones to make the slightest tweak  to the formula to not only make it a little more unique, but also make it the perfect transitional cocktail between summer and fall. Even better is that no pumpkin-spiced-anything had to be involved in its creation.

Truth be told, this is a much better combination than that expected mix.

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Montserrat

Well, it was a whirlwind of a week, but we’re back and rested and tanned. This trip was exactly what we needed: days spent sitting on the beach and swimming in the sea, long walks around neighborhoods both familiar and new, and meals filled with delectable food and drink. We covered a lot of ground and still didn’t manage to fit in everything I wanted to see…but then that leaves plenty to explore on our next visit.

La Riera in Caldes d’Estrac

Michael likes to tease me that I’m always content to go back there versus trying somewhere else new, and it’s true that if I could go there as often as I pleased I would, but this trip convinced him of the value of revisiting a place that is already somewhat familiar. This time we were not only able to revisit favorite restaurants, but also try out a bevy of new ones and squeeze in a half-day trip to Montserrat, in addition to indulging in significantly more beach time than the last time around.

Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

Another difference from the last trip is my eagerness to write about this one. I’m still not sure what prompted the writer’s block that plagued me two years ago—I still think the cold and grey weather was the culprit in addition to the shorter days—but despite feeling a familiar twinge of melancholy, I’m also incredibly eager to capture all of our experiences to paper. I won’t subject them all to you in this space, but you’ll have to forgive a number of Catalunya-specific posts likely over the course of the next few months as daylight becomes shorter and plumb this trip and its many meals for inspiration.

¡Jamón jamón!

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