Almost one month till I set off for my year abroad and its first stop - Peru. To get myself in the Spanish speaking mood I was off for a week-long stay in Cadaqués, channeling my inner mountain goat and clambering up the corkscrewed, steep cobbled streets of the charming white stoned coastal village and eating my way through plate after plate of local tapas and seafood.
Cadaqués, set on the Costa Brava of Spain is home to eclectic beach bars and tapas spots and most importantly Compartir, a restaurant founded in the spring of 2012 by Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch - a trio of former chefs from the world renowned El Bulli. The restaurant brings each table together as you gather in awe at stunning plates of food, with one common theme - compartir (to share).
Seated in the candlelit, canopy covered courtyard we were welcomed with a dainty glass of complimentary gin fizz and cups of popcorn. The cocktail was delicate and sweet with flecks of celery and apple and velvety white foam. The sprinkling of popcorn, though flavoured with black olives and pepper, had a slightly odd texture. But, this was my sole and very minor disappointment of the evening.
As the menu is centred on sharing we were able to order a huge array of dishes 'para compartir'. Every dish seemed tempting, and after much deliberation we settled on our starter selection:
Beetroot and fruit salad with Ajoblanco sorbet
Miniendives de la “Maison Sales” with miso, walnut and black olive
Warm potato salad, mushrooms and pork jowls with pine nut vinaigrette
Razor clams “a la gallega” with Ibérico ham
Ham croquettes with melon and mint
All came one after another so every plate got the attention and time it deserved. Every dish was beautifully assembled and balanced. Each morsel was shared and devoured.
The beetroot, curiously appearing like a dessert with its flashes of fuchsia and strawberry, was wonderfully refreshing and light. It served as the perfect introduction to what was to be an incredible meal.
The bite of bitterness from the endives and sprinkle of black olives was perfectly balanced by the creamy rich foam and salty miso.
The potato salad was warm and comforting, but still intriguing with its zingy sweet-sharp dressing and shavings of soft pork.
The sophisticated, sweet and fishy razor clams were presented with a Spanish twist of salty ham and paprika.
During a week in Spain you get through a lot of ham croquettes, A LOT. However, these were some of the best. The croquettes, with a soft, rich cheese and ham filling, crisped outer coating topped with a shaving of traditional Ibérico ham, stood alongside sweet and cooling melon layered with an ingenious mint foam. This accompaniment counteracted the salty croquettes and elavated this tapas staple to the next level.
Next came our train of main courses:
Salmon and green asparagus “shabu shabu”
Turbot Thai style
Iberian pork tenderloin with Moroccan cous cous
Catalan style chicken
Each of us, presented with a set of metal tweezer-like chopsticks, sat in awe as our platter of salmon arrived. A pot of rich and salty aromatic miso-style soup followed, in which we were instructed to dip and cook our slithers of salmon. The soup warmed the salmon and infused it with an oriental smack of flavour.
The fresh turbot was simply covered in a salad of fresh herbs and a crumble of nuts to combine with the fish's natural, powerful flavour.
The pork was perfectly rare and tender with a middle eastern raisin-sweet sauce and tart, citrus cous cous.
The simply named 'Catalan chicken' veiled a seemingly complex and impressive dish of moist chicken in an almost moorish spiced sauce topped with iron-rich green leaves and sweet sultanas.
After such ornate starters and main courses the desserts seemed rather plain and simple in appearance.
Their flavour was far from plain and simple.
The Catalan cream foam with strawberries was a feather-light foamy mousse with all the flavour of the traditional Catalan dessert - burnt, caramelised sugar, a hint of citrus, cream and vanilla. The foam melted and disappeared on the tongue as its flavour spread and hid a bed of refreshing strawberry.
The mysterious “Omelette surprise” with coconut, pineapple and mango appeared merely to be a delicately whipped line of coconut. But, this was a mask for the intricate dessert, which lay beneath: mango sorbet and crunchy biscuit with hints of pineapple under a blanket of airy coconut mousse. Its folds encompassed the tropical layers of flavour like any ordinary omelette might.
Lastly, the liquid chocolate balls with blackcurrant sorbet. The solid, crisp spheres immediately burst as they hit the heat of your mouth, giving way to a decadent liquid centre. The cassis sorbet finished the meal with a deeply sharp and refreshing note.
Compartir allows you to share not only beautiful food and flavours, but the fun and experience of a communal meal. I strongly suggest you travel to Cadaqués and share it too.
I am an amateur cook blogging about the food I eat and cook, and my travels along the way.