We’re Moving to Barcelona!

Juanito Bayen of Bar Pinotxo

It’s official, at the end of this school year, my wife, our son and myself will be moving to Barcelona, the city of our dreams. This move has been predicated on our son’ acceptance into the FC Barcelona Training Academy at La Masia, which finally became official today. In addition, I have taken a position with the elBulli Foundation to study the effects of Creativity on Health and the effects of Health on Creativity. It has been a whirlwind that I am relieved to be able to announce to the world on this First day of April, 2015!


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Shellfish and Albariño – Galician Greatness at d’Berto

BU4A8795There are few, if any, foods that I enjoy eating more than top quality shellfish. Cracking open a just-from-the-sea lobster in Maine, slurping down a lightly dressed Gillardeau oyster in Paris, Barcelona or Lyon, devouring a grilled carabinero in Madrid, and diving into my my mother’s bucatini with blue crab sauce, amongst other great shellfish dishes, all bring deep smiles of pleasure at the memories and induce intense salivation as I recall them. With few exceptions the most memorable bites of shellfish have been those that have been treated modestly with the inherent flavors and textures allowed to shine forth. I have enjoyed great shellfish dishes in many places, including my own kitchen, but it is not so easy to find a restaurant that is brilliant through a wide range of the creatures. Perhaps the finest shellfish meal I have ever had, rivaled in memory only by Lisbon’s Restaurante Ramiro, was the one I had recently in the small Galician coastal town of O Grove. The restaurant was d’Berto, which is already well known to connoisseurs of shellfish and fish, but perhaps not so much to others. Continue reading


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Wining and Dining Around Spain with Gerry Dawes: Part 3 – North By Northwest

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Not every city or town in Europe is beautiful or charming, but fortunately, there are still plenty that are and Tordesillas, northwest of Madrid, in Valladolid, on the way to Galicia, is one of those small, charming and beautiful cities. From a vantage point situated in the lovely Hotel Doña Carmen overlooking the Rio Duero and the center of the city, it was beautiful lit up at night and even more so, the following morning. Unfortunately, it was to be a very busy day and we had no time to linger. Continue reading


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Wining and Dining Around Spain with Gerry Dawes: Part 2 – Ribera del Duero & Rueda

The vineyards of Los Hermanos Merino in Corcos del Valle

The very old vineyards of los hermanos Merino in Corcos del Valle

With a four day stop in Madrid for Madrid Fusión 2015 now history, it was time to begin the next leg of the trip. Bill Sciambi, a seasoned wine veteran and CEO of Gerry’s company arrived from NYC to join us. We rented another car and headed northwest. Galicia was the part of Spain that I hadn’t yet been to that I most wanted to visit. It would be the main focal point of the trip as we squeezed a ton of tasting both food and wine into a very abbreviated time frame. It would not be our first stop, however. Continue reading


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Wining and Dining Around Spain with Gerry Dawes: Part 1- Valencia and Alicante

20150131untitled-EF24-105mm f-4L IS USMBU4A6267482I have said this before and I’ll say it again, nobody knows Spain like Gerry Dawes. I sincerely doubt that there is another American, and very few, if any, Spaniards can approach, let alone surpass his knowledge of the people, food, wine and culture of Spain. He has been frequenting the depths, breadths and heights of the country as a second home for nearly fifty years, leaving no stone, and especially no wine, unturned during that time. I have come to know him as a good friend over the ten years or so and have now had the pleasure to travel around Spain with him on a number of occasions, including last year, when he led my son and I on La Ruta del Ibérico, a tour of the major Jamón Ibérico de Bellota regions of Spain, which is to say the finest pork producing regions of the world. This year, Gerry and I did something a little different and no less unforgettable – we visited the finest wine regions of Spain, wining and dining like kings along the way. Continue reading


Posted in At the Market, Bistronomic, Cocktails & Libations, Culinary Personalities, Culinary Shopping, Fine Dining, Food and Drink, Hotels, Pastry, Regional, Restaurants, Slow Food, Spain, Top Tastes, Traditional Ethnic, Travel, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Enjoying Disfrutar

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The legendary elBulli has passed into history. It is almost four years since the last meal was served there. With elBulli gone, its Vanguardist style of cooking has become largely overshadowed by the New Naturalism movement led by Rene Redzepi and others. A big reason for the eclipse is that the elBulli style of Vanguardism is very, very difficult to do well. It incorporates a special blend of technical wizardry, skill, culinary insight, creativity and perhaps most importantly, whimsy. A number of chefs who have developed their own Vanguardist styles still follow the path, but when it comes to the elBulli style, the field is very narrow when it comes to who does it and even narrower for who does it well. It should come as no surprise that Albert Adriá’s restaurants in Barcelona, especially Tickets and 41º do a great job of evoking the culinary spirit of elBulli and they make great substitutes for that experience. It should also not be a surprise that the new Barcelona restaurant owned and run by Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas, called Disfrutar (to enjoy), does it just as well. This is no surprise because this trio, along with Albert Raurich were, for years, the main men in the kitchen of elBulli along with the Adriá brothers. This trio of Casañas, Castro and Xatruch have done an outstanding job of not just keeping the past of elBulli alive, but in creating a whole new canon of dishes and techniques to extend the future of the movement and have done so with great style. Continue reading


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Home Cooking By Bill Telepan

20150109untitled-EF24-105mm f-4L IS USMBU4A1743073I have been fortunate enough to have had some chef friends come and cook in my home. This time, however, it wasn’t my home, but the home of my very good friends, Joe, and Donna. They along with Joe’s brother and his wife, won the dinner at a charity auction to benefit The Wellness in the Schools program in NYC. Their prize was a dinner for ten people cooked in their home by the noted NYC chef and restaurateur, Bill Telepan, a veteran of star NYC kitchens including Daniel, Le Bernardin, Gotham Bar & Grill, Judson Grill and his eponymous, Telepan. Largely under the international jet-set radar, Bill Telepan is a chef’s chef, a New Yorker’s chef, and after this dinner I understand why. Continue reading


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Back to Bodega 1900

20150210untitled-EF24-105mm f-4L IS USMBU4A9898003Bodega 1900, from the astounding Albert Adriá collection of restaurants, is one whose memory grows into the stuff of legend. I was there with my son a year ago and found it to be totally beguiling. One dish, the grilled Pluma Ibérica Joselito, was so good, that it stood for an entire class of grilled, fresh Ibérico steaks as my best dish of 2014. Finding myself back in Barcelona and focused on visiting restaurants new to me, I made a single exception to return to this one. This time, though, other than their house Vermouth and the same Pluma Ibérica Joselito, I did not repeat any dishes. I am thrilled to report, that this meal was every bit as delicious as the previous one. Continue reading


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A Chat With Paco Mendez of Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo

Paco Mendez, the chef of Albert Adriá’s two new Mexican restaurants in  Barcelona, Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo, sat down with me when I was there,  to discuss how the restaurants came about, some of the challenges and what the response to them has been. The chef has done a brilliant job translating the cuisine of Mexico to Spain.

A Chat with Paco Mendez from John Sconzo on Vimeo.


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Albert Adriá and Paco Mendez Make Mexican Magic in Barcelona – Part Two – Hoja Santa

Albert Adriá at Tickets

Albert Adriá at Tickets

Genius” is one of those words that gets bandied about, perhaps a bit too freely, in many cases diluting its meaning. One definition of the word from The Oxford English Dictionary is,

“A person who is exceptionally intelligent or creative, either generally or in some particular respect.”

There are few, if any, people in the world of food more deserving of this descriptor than Albert Adriá, the pastry wizard and one of the creative masterminds behind elBulli. His work creating new techniques and amazing culinary preparations certainly fit the above definition, but fewer people may realize the extraordinary talent he has in creating restaurants. At the moment, Albert Adriá and his team are operating 5 distinct restaurants in a single neighborhood of Barcelona, with a sixth,  41º/Enigma,  in redevelopment and relocation, and a new project on the island of Ibiza in conjunction with his brother, Ferran, along with the Cirque du Soleil. Each and every one of the restaurants is truly exceptional in terms of the quality of the experience from food, to service, to environment. What really makes Adriá and his restaurants stand out, though is that while they share a consistent style and approach, they are, each and every one, totally different in culinary conception. I have been extremely fortunate to have experienced each of the existing restaurants as well as 41º before it closed for its overhaul. I recently had the opportunity to dine at Adriá’s two newest restaurants, both of Mexican provenance. It is Adriá’s ability to take wildly divergent culinary influences and create restaurants that channel authenticity with originality, creating outstanding dining experiences in each, that make me consider that the word “genius” may apply to him in this capacity as well as his capacity of directly creating food. Continue reading


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