Sunday, 13 October 2013

ABaC Restaurant

The first thing I booked after booking my tickets to Barcelona was a table at AbaC. Topping most lists as THE place to eat (aside from Tickets), it has 2 Michelin stars and a very young head chef who won his first star at the tender age of 25. I remember the food I was cooking at 25, instant Japanese noodles with a fried egg was my go-to dish, that and melted cheese on toast (I didn't discover my passion for cooking until I was 27). So how does someone gain Michelin stars in their twenties? They cook with passion and creative flair, their menus are adventurous and daring and they put on an impressive spectacle, delivering on taste as well as presentation.

Truth be told, I didn't have high expectations when I arrived at ABaC. In the two days in Barcelona, I'd visited popular restaurants like Tapas 24 and Dos Pallilos and were left a bit dissapointed by both. It wasn't that it wasn't good, but I expected more from restaurants opened by ex El Bulli chefs. ABaC was on an entirely different level and restored some faith in the Barcelona scene. Chef Jordi Cruz knows how to keep a diner interested, by serving up a dishes that tickle the taste buds with their varying temperatures, textures, flavours and smells. It's a meal that excites all the senses. 

Frozen gazpacho and strawberries with dressing: Gazpacho tastes so much better when it's in ice cream form
Peach and Lime Nitro Lollipop: a subtly flavored palate cleanser at the beginning of the meal
Mediterranean mussel curry with fakir lime: we were pleasantly surprised by the exotic flavours and the liquid bubbles that deliver bursts of flavour. 
Shellfish Bloody Mary snow and cured meats
Liquid Parmesan gnocchi with summer truffle with raw and roasted mushrooms, cep water infusion with lemongrass. Loved this, these delicate liquid gnocchi bursted in your mouth and the addition of the lemongrass created a slightly asian dimension to the taste.
Foie Gras with figs, fig tree leaves ice cream and balsamic vinegar: Instead of the usual foie gras terrines or pan seared foie gras, here it is served as a cream atop a crisp bread, making it much lighter. 
Smoked steak tartar, beef with dressing, cooked egg yolk, veil of mustard and pepper bread brittle. The dish came with the glass dome with the trapped smoke
Not the best tartare we've tasted, but not bad
Palamos prawn, Iberian pork tail and cutlet, coral consomme and curry bread: The prawns came separately on a slab of pink himalayan salt then were cooked slightly before being added to the dish. The ball in the middle delivered on both taste and texture-- stuffed with meat with a sticky dough exterior. The prawn was ridiculously good and I found myself sucking on its head, lest I missed any of its juices. 
Casarecce Pasta with sea cucumbers, squid's water, "Comte" cheese and lemon basil: I've rarely encountered sea cucumbers in western cuisine but it worked beautifully here with the cheese.
Fried Mediterranean red mullet with onions, lemongrass aioli and confit tomatoes
"menuda" veal: again, texture and form plays center role in this dish. There are 4 different bits of veal cooked differently in this dish, one of which was a veal consomme that isn't pictured here. The veal was tender, but I thought it was a bit heavy at this point of the meal. 

Begonia's Pink Panther: This was the first of three amazing deserts. Strawberry, white chocolate and orange zest, so light I could have had another portion. 
On a bed of smoked bread brittle, roast biscuit, banana, coffee, vanilla and bourbon: Perhaps one of the most elaborate deserts I've ever been served, it delivered on every front-- presentation, taste, texture, smell. At this stage, my boyfriend and I agreed that ABaC had served up the best deserts we've had this year. 

This house made yogurt was incredible, its sweetness counterbalanced by the sour, it had little bits of biscuit in it. 
ABaC lipstick: raspberry ice lolli
Petit fours: even these were extraordinary. The white packets at the bottom were coconut flavoured with bits of crunch inside and that's a caramel-ly nut brittle above it. The chocolate truffles looked most average but delivered a burst of alcohol when bitten into. 

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