​Fish, glorious fish, Catalan style

This is a version of an article also published by the Financial Times. There is no better harbinger of culinary pleasures to come than watching a heavily laden fishing boat heading for port. Ideally, this should be somewhere in the Mediterranean with the sea and sky the same deep blue. Most of these conditions were fulfilled as we drove along the beach at L’Escala, 150 kilometres north of Barcelona on the Costa Brava, except for one. We were lost. The modern buildings around us bore no resemblance to the unspoilt…






Captivating Catalunya

This article is also published in the Financial Times. There have been two constant factors in what has become our annual restaurant foray across the Pyrenees from south-west France into north-east Spain. The first is physical and involves me looking out for a particular sign on the A9 motorway as it skirts Narbonne and brings the Mediterranean into view. This sign reads ‘vent violent’, strong wind, and marks for me the entrance to rugged Catalonia, a region that has produced so many exciting chefs over the past 20 years. The…






Northern Tenerife – restaurants with views

This article was also published in the Financial Times. With its serried ranks of tables, heavy wooden chairs and a kitchen dominated by a large metal grill that produces excellent steaks, the interior of La Taskita de Eduardo looks very similar to many restaurants across mainland Spain. It is, however, located over 1,400 kilometres south of the Spanish mainland in the small town of Garachico on the northern coast of Tenerife and is the creation of Eduardo González Méndez, who describes himself as a ‘proud Canarian’. Having studied in Bilbao,…






Roca on!

This article was also published in the Financial Times. I opened the heavy wooden door to El Celler de Can Roca in the suburbs of Girona, north east Spain, and allowed my wife to enter before me for what was to prove to be the most exciting meal of the year. By the reception were all three Roca brothers, Joan the chef, Josep restaurateur and wine lover, and Jordi the pastry chef, standing side by side. After a handshake and a brief conversation, Joan and Jordi slipped off to the…






Rafa’s of Roses

I had long wanted to eat at Rafa’s in Roses on the Costa Brava, in the rugged and beautiful north east of Spain. In a region renowned for its reverence for simply grilled, very fresh fish and seafood, Rafa’s has long been talked about as one of the very best. And while everything about our lunch fully justified this reputation, it came with a bonus. As well as the freshness of the fish, and the pride and pleasure that grilling it so expertly obviously generates in Rafa himself, its chef/proprietor…






A warm welcome in Barcelona

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   Restaurateurs everywhere face a daily challenge – how to make their customers feel immediately welcome in what are often strange surroundings. This situation is compounded by the fact that the menu and wine list are not necessarily the first things on their customers’ minds. They may well be somewhat apprehensive, if it is an initial business meeting or a first date; preoccupied with the prospective seating plan around the table; and undecided as to whether they can nip to the…






Eating out in Empordà

This article was also published in the Financial Times. Cadaqués and Roses, on the Catalan coast 170 kilometres north of Barcelona, are just 15 km apart. Nature has, however, bequeathed these two very popular towns with a different perspective on the Mediterranean. While the smaller bays around Cadaqués act as a safe haven for many of the small boats that belong to those who live or holiday there, the much wider bay at Roses is an obvious point of call for those who travel in much larger sailboats. And, happily…






A town all at sea

This article was also published in the Financial Times. In January 2012, Tokyo restaurateur Kiyoshi Kimura paid the record sum of 56.5 million yen for a single bluefin tuna, weighing 269 kg, at the Tjsukiji fish auction. While this one fish would then provide up to 10,000 pieces of sushi, Kimura’s more altruistic aim in bidding so high was ‘to liven up Japan after last year’s devastating tsunami’. While Tsukiji has become synonymous with tuna in Japan and the world over as this fish has become increasingly popular with chefs…






Laying a ghost in San Sebastian

This is a longer version of an article also published in the Financial Times. I accepted the invitation to speak at the recent Gastronomika in San Sebastian, an hour east of Bilbao, northern Spain, for several reasons. Firstly, the audience I was asked to address about the future of restaurant service was an array of young, passionate and enthusiastic chefs. This invitation also obviously brought with it the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with the city’s tapas bars, many of which are conveniently located in the narrow, cobbled streets of the…






Ferran to dinner – what I cooked

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   On the night I cooked in my kitchen for Ferran Adrià, the world’s most exciting, highly respected and well-known chef, there was, not surprisingly, an abundance of cameras to hand, as you can see in Ferran to dinner – what we drank. But, unfortunately, there was no amateur photographer around to take a picture of the moment that I will remember longest. It was about 10 minutes after we had finished our main course, a roast grouse each, a dish…