Saturday 8 June 2013

Moments – 2 Michelin Stars, Barcelona

Overseen by her son Raül Balam, Moments is the 2 Michelin Star restaurant from legendary Catalan Chef Carme Ruscalleda – the holder of six Michelin stars with 3 at Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar and 1 at San Pau, Tokyo.

Housed within the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, the dining room with its abundance of natural light, plush seating and fabrics, punctuated by gold, could be described as modern understated opulence – the quality of ingredients, presentations and service helped to make the whole experience magical.  

I selected the ‘Gastronomic Tasting Menu’ with the optional cheese course – they were also kind enough to exchange the listed Iberian Pork main for the horsemeat dish from the a la carte.

Commemorating the fact that their Tokyo outpost had been open for nine years, the Japanese inspired ‘Appetisers’ of the ‘Micro Menu’ consisted of a powerful shot of Romesco Dashi; the delightful Slightly Smoked Bonito with spring onion, orange and cauliflower; Pork Maki, courgette, soya and wasabi and a filo pastry wafer of Coca with almadroc* sauce, black and white sesame.

(Almadroc* sauce, a recipe found in the classic Catalan cookbook ‘El Llibre de Sent Soví’ by an unknown author from c.1342, is an emulsion of egg yolk, grated cheese, garlic and olive oil.)

Sea Water Cannelloni with shrimp and vegetables (courgette, pea, carrot) – a synergy of sensational fresh summery and sea flavours with the salty crunch of tasted almonds – a beautiful dish, both visually and on the palate. 

Crayfish – wonton pasta, coral bonbon and juvert sauce. Juvert sauce (or green sauce) is another medieval recipe found in the Sent Soví (14th century chefs would blitz up parsley, marjoram, mint, garlic, hazelnuts, breadcrumbs, egg yolks, sherry vinegar, oil, honey and seasoning in their Thermomix.)

Mediterranean Sea Cucumbers – parmentier, soft pesto and courgette. Sea cucumber could possibly be my favourite seafood; they are interesting creatures and taste wonderful.

Sea Bream with citric sauce – a good dish with a subtle balance of flavours; fresh, light with apple and celery.

Colt Steak with vegetable textures and mushrooms – my first horsemeat (to my knowledge) Some say the flavour is somewhere between beef and venison but to me it was neither; it had a subtle sweetness, which may have come more from the jus. It was magically lean and tender and is something I’d certainly order again.

5 cheeses of the month – this was one of the best pre-selected cheese courses and condiment pairings I’ve had in ages. An interesting selection of cheeses that avoided the commonplace and brought together an artisan selection from four different countries – that star of the show for me was the American Rogue River – an excellent blue, up there with the finest!

Arzúa-ulla (Cow’s milk from Coruña) with a peanut, cucumber & coffee vinaigrette; La Buche de Pussigny (Goat’s milk from Pays de la Loire) with hazelnut biscuit, chocolate & acacia flower; Sant Miquel de Cuixà (Sheep’s milk from France) with bread, Banyuls’ wine & sugar; Fontina (Cow’s milk from Italy) with carrot & strawberry jam and Rogue River (Blue; Cow’s milk from Oregon, USA) with candied plums & biscuit PX.

Fruit & Vegetable Salad – orange, endive & arugula – an unusual sounding dessert that worked really well. The endive ice cream was heavenly.

New Chocolate – thin brownie, chocolate mousse, raisins, raspberries and brandy cream – classic combinations, created with artistic flair and precision.

The Pastry Divertimienti – served on a witty broken plate, the petit four selection was a fitting end to an excellent meal. Minifinacier with rum; Rock of crispy rice & almond; Millefeuille with candies pumpkin & pine nuts; Filo Pastry Straw with sherbet & liquorice; Cat’s Tongue with chocolate & dried fruits; Mini Ice Cream chocolate & vanilla and, my two faves, Marshmallow of spicy yoghurt and a Raspberry Crumble.

Carme Ruscalleda was present on the day I visited and visited each table – a genuinely warm and lovely person who clearly takes great pleasure from seeing people enjoy the cuisine and experience she, her son and her team have created – magic Moments indeed! 

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