Last year, I was a guide for Butterfield and Robinson
and Canadians on bicycle trips throughout Catalunya
. What just so happened to be my last trip for Butterfield ended in a side contract with a family to help them organize their living arrangements in Spain
throughout the summer of 2007. However, what started as me organizing a three months adventure for the family was pared down to a two week summer camp for the kids after a 10 day Mediterranean cruise. Although their final product was 180 degrees different from the original proposal, they were content and happy with the arrangements, wanting to celebrate with us in Barcelona
before their bon voyage with an extravagant dinner.
June 4, 2007: Please pick the best place to eat that you would like to visit. In addition to paying you for your time, we really want to treat you and your husband.
What to do!? How often do you get an invitation like this? There was no denying that the minute we received this email, our eyes became saucers and our imagination madly started inventing possibilities. Barcelona has more bars and restaurants than it does streets, so it took no effort for us to come up with potential options. Do we go ethnic or traditional? Quaint or sprawling? Seafood or Catalan? Yet in the end, we decided that the choice was clear. We wanted to experience a 1 star Michelin restaurant. In the heart of Barcelona, the Hotel Majestic contains an elegant and cozy restaurant tucked in the corner of the second floor called, Drolma, famous for its internationally renowned Catalan chef, Fermí Puig.
Was it good? Oh yeah, it was absolutely fantastic. We were served twelve courses of some of the most amazing food and wine Ryan and I have ever tasted. Here is the quick run through of what we had the privilege of experiencing:
- Course 1: An assortment of small appetizers including a cheese stuffed ravioli pastry, pate on toast and shrimp wrapped in phyllo.
- Course 2: Corn pudding under a gelatin infused truffle. Creamy, subtle and a good start.
- Course 3: Miniature springroll filled with broccoli, zucchini and carrots (as we remember it) marinated in a fish based broth. Although it was nice and simple, it was nothing to set itself apart from the rest of the meal.
- Course 4: White Asparagus covered in Truffles Zabaione and Parmesan Cheese. Whereas I really enjoy the flavor of the asparagus, I agree with Ryan that it is almost always served over-cooked and quite bland. In this particular case, although we felt it was quite tasty alongside the Truffle Zabaine, the subtly was once again lost on us.
- Course 5: Foie-Gras, Asparagus and Truffle Gelée within a Morel Cream Sauce. THIS BLEW OUR MINDS. Cubes of seared foie and truffle gelée alongside mini morels, served with an earthy, brown flecked broth of the most rich and amazing morel mushroom soup you’ve ever tasted. Ryan wasn’t sure what the protocol was for licking bowls in a Michelin star restaurant, but he used every ounce of restraint he possibly could not to find out!
- Course 6: Large Sea Scallops with Pumpkin stuffed ravioli. Seared to perfection with one side crispy and delicious, these scallops melted on your palate, while little bright orange packets of pureed pumpkin offered a sweet earthy contrast to the sea flavors of the scallops. YUMMMMY
- Course 7: Seared Sea Bass on a bed of Bacon and Salicornia. What is Salicornia? It’s a small thin baby green asparagus, which are found growing along the river. They appeared creatively tossed around the plate under a large piece of seared sea bass which sat royally on a thick chunk of smoky rich bacon. The flavor was absolutely ethereal as the contrast of the crispy bacon paired beautifully with the soft and subtle texture of the sea bass. Incredible and not a morsel to found when the waiter took our plates!
- Course 8: Barberie Duck adorned with julienne vegetables. Whatever kind of duck this was, we both thanked it for its sacrifice as we slowly savored every bite. The duck was served with a side of tomato, pistachios and other small sweet bites, which blended together in perfect harmony.
- Course 9: Variety of Spanish Cheeses. Ok, this course was amazing, especially when they wheeled over a two level serving tray with more cheese on it than the moon itself. You name it, and they either had it, or they had something very similar and potentially better. Ryan and I both REALLY wish we could tell you the cheeses we had. RYAN: What was overwhelming became a joy to experience as our waiter asked me what we wanted, and upon seeing my expression of joy at the choices, transformed the allotted three cheeses include din the meal, into a sampler plate of 6 different treats, alongside wedges of Membrillo, or quince paste. We had a basque cheese in two forms: a creamy young style that was almost cream cheese like but more acidic, and its grown up version after a blue mold is added which created a spicy flavor while retaining a creamy succulence. We also tasted one of the best Manchegos in Spain, or at least they claimed, and with its nutty richness and firm texture, I’m not of the mind to disagree. The Compte was…let’s just say that I really miss French cheeses! Finally, and I hate to say this but my eyeballs were floating in wine and food by this point, but I believe we had a goat’s milk cheese: pure white and racy with a zesty acidity to it. I vaguely remember when the waiter saw my smile and asked if we wanted to lay out another round, my mind was screaming yes but my stomach was reaching for a white flag of surrender.
- Course 10: Pure Vanilla Bean Ice cream. Pure, Pure, Pure, Pure, Pure, Pure, Pure….Vanilla bean, mixed with PURE creamy, cream rich, cream infused, and cream laden ice cream. One bite and you’ll still be tasting it 3 days later, as we are now.
- Course 11: Rum Baba – Rum Infused Cake. Talk about an incredible presentation. After big puffy pillows of cake were brought to the table, our individual servers cut each cake open lengthwise and drizzled sweet, delicious rum down the center. Wonderful? Yes! But Ryan wished that he could have had a snifter of the rum and a lounge chair to reflect over the tastes and smells of the night, rather than eating in within a pastry. I, on the other hand, was the happiest girl on the planet! Screw the snifter and bring me a liquor infused dessert. And to accompany this, the creamiest “cortado” (coffee with a touch of milk) you’ve ever tasted.
- Course 12: Variety of Petits Fours…Petite fours, or fives or OH MY GOD THESE ARE GOOD! All small and sweet and delicious. While Ryan was a bigger fan of the pear gelatin pastry cup than I was, we both fell off our chairs over the Coconut snowball. Ryan is convinced that Gilligan, himself, delivered the fresh white coconut flesh because this little coconut bomb still tasted of a desert island breeze. Unbelievable!
As for the wines, well our hosts/guest had just arrived from the US and were a bit jetlagged, and therefore, didn’t want to experiment with the wine list as much as we did. Sad really, but we made up for it, and did enjoy three very nice wines. We began with a 2002 vintage Cava from the bodega, LLoprat. Bready and critic at the same time. The small bubbles and creamy nose gave way to a racy palate that while mature and round showed a laser like acidity that kept the palate fresh and alive.
During our second course, we opened a white wine from the Priorat estate of Clos Mogador. Probably one of the most important and most influential wineries in all of Spain, this was my first time tasting their wine Nelin. Made up mainly of Granacha blanca, a grape I love to introduce to people who are unfamiliar with Spanish wine. Rich and unctuous, this wine is filled with flavors of flowers, fleshy fruits, and stony minerality. While the morel soup was a heavy and very rich dish that most likely could have benefited from a red wine, the body stood on its own quite well, offering a great addition to the meal.
Finally, and I hate to say finally so soon, but the last wine we had was an attempt to convert a white wine drinker to red. Tanajara, is a red wine from the Canary Islands, 100% Vijariego Negro. What is Vijariego Negro? I don’t know, but I can tell you this the wine was divine. Rich in the mouth with obvious oak influence, the fruit held its ground nonetheless, showing ripe red berry flavors framed by a mineral background. They say with Canary Island wines you can taste the volcanic soil and now I understand why. It’s not that wet earth quality you commonly taste in so many deep red wines, but rather a more primal nose, like spices from a terrestrial moon. Really a fun drink and worth the effort to seek out!
As we write this article together, we are still still thinking about this dinner three days later. We are still tasting the crispy delicious bits of foie-gras among the creamy and smoky flavors of the morel sauce. I remember the sumptuous and sweet flavors of the duck, the soft and tender texture of the scallops and the unbelievable flavor of the rum infused cake.
The only downside is that Ryan and I were so focused on our kind hosts that we couldn’t give the dinner the attention we so wanted to. As many of you know, if you go to dinner with people who like, but are not in love, with food and wine, very little of the dinner will be focused on how your knees buckle and your heart drops when your palate encounters and rare and beautiful sensation. But such is life. We had a wonderful time and are looking forward to our next mouthwatering experience!
Sidenote: We have purchased today the young version of the Basque cheese we had during dinner. We will be posting an article within the week regarding our findings!
Gabriella and Ryan
Name: Restaurante Drolma
Catavino, where we build custom tours in Portugal and tours in Spain. Contact us if you are interested in learning more! We'd love to make your dream trip a reality.
Chef: Fermí Puig
Address: Hotel Majestic, P. de Gracia, 68 Ã‚Â· 08007
Telephone: +34 93.496.77.10
Hours: Monday through Saturday 1.00pm – 3.30pm, 8.30pm – 11.00pm, Closed on Sundays