Writing about Tapas 24 in Barcelona has been on my to-do list since we finished our lunch there three and a half months ago, but I hesitated only because I was determined to offer a reinterpretation of one of the dishes we had and it took a little time to get it right. My notebook is covered with sketches of ideas and I’ve tried a few different iterations over the past few months, and I think I am satisfied enough to provide you with a delicious, very simple canapé for any New Year’s Eve celebrations. Better yet, it will not require to you get your hands on a fresh black truffle. (I know, I know—how magnanimous of me. You can hold your applause until the end.)
Tapas 24—it probably helps to add some context—had long been on my list of must-visit places in Barcelona (it’s strongly recommended by the crew at Barcelona Wine Bar via its guide to the best in Spain), but it was only on our most recent trip that we were able to make that a reality. The chef Carles Abellan was an acolyte of Ferran Adrià before setting out on creating his own little empire of restaurants, and Tapas 24 became the more casual offshoot of his first restaurant Comerç 24. Michael rightly likens the atmosphere of the place to that of a bustling train station, only I can assure you that the food is far better even than the likes you would find at Grand Central Terminal. There’s a set menu of classics plus daily specials, and during our meal we were both able to find a favorite off of each menu. While Michael preferred the pork belly with cabbage, shallots, and butter lettuce, I was partial to the bikini Comerç 24 for reasons that will be wholly unsurprising.
To be completely honest, I was a little mad at this sandwich because it’s simply black truffle, mozzarella di bufula, and jamón ibérico pressed between two pieces of white toast and cut into triangles, but all was quickly forgiven when I bit into the first one. My eyes bugged out (so much that Michael kept taking pictures of me diving into the rest of the plate) and I had to pace myself from wolfing down the whole plate before he could even get a taste. Even in the haze of a sandwich-induced stupor I knew that I’d want to revisit this again and again, so once we got back from our trip I started my experiments shortly thereafter.
As of this writing, the combination that works for me is a lightly toasted round of baguette rubbed with a fresh garlic clove and then topped with some ham (or lomo), burrata or mozzarella di bufula, and finally a good sprinkle of white truffle salt. Even with the cheese being at times a bit wobbly it’s an elegant little toast and it’s so easy to pull together that I feel slightly silly for writing it out as a recipe at all, but I’ve waited too long as it is to not share something with you. In my various iterations I’ve even tried sobrasada instead of the ham or lomo and was very satisfied with the results so there is definitely some room to play around with this assembly. If jamon ibérico or even jamon serrano are not readily available prosciutto would work nicely, and if you happen to see some wild boar salami or other interesting, gamey meats at your local deli they could work wonderfully here too.
Open-Face “Bikini Comerç 24” Crostini
Makes 12-15 toasts at minimum
- ¼ lb jamón ibérico, serrano, prosciutto, lomo (dry-cured pork loin, ideally ibérico), or Sobrasada
- 1 8 oz ball mozzarella di bufula or burrata, cut into small slices (quarter larger slices)
- 1 French baguette, sliced into thin rounds (12-15 slices)
- 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- White or black truffle salt (sources here and here as examples but readily available all over the internet)
- Optional: olive oil for drizzling
Place bread on broiler rack and toast until golden brown; remove and rub well with fresh garlic cloves. If desired, lightly drizzle toasts with good olive oil.
Place a small slice of the ham or loin or about a teaspoon and a half of sobrasada onto each toast, and then gently add cheese; arrange on a platter for serving and then sprinkle well with truffle salt and serve immediately.