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2/15/2017

Albert Raurich's Dos Pebrots (Two Peppers) in Barcelona - A Culinary Time Machine


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Palate Time Travel on a Plate (in a Bowl, in a Skillet and on the Bosom of a Ceramics Sow) from the Time of the Egyptians (and beyond) to the Middle Ages to the 20th Century
  


Albert Raurich's Timeline, which is on the flip side of his menu at Dos Pebrots.
(Slide from Raurich's presentation at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017, held January 23-25 at Madrid’s Palacio de Congresos)
  
 Former classic Bar Raval entrance was preserved.

Dos Pebrots
Carrer Doctor Dou 19, 08001 (El Raval), Barcelona
(+34) 938 539 598; Metro Catalunya/Liceu;  Weds-Sun 1pm-11pm.

 
Know these things about Executive Chef-owner Alberto Raurich before you go to Dos Pebrots in Barcelona: Albert was Chef de Cuisine at elBulli from 1997 - 2007; he is a serious student of food and the history of food; and he has one Hell of a sense of humor.   He is also the Chef-owner of nearby Dos Palillos (Chopsticks)–just around the corner from Dos Pebrots.  Raurich runs the creative open kitchen Asian food themed Dos Palillos with his Japanese wife-sommelier Tamae Imachi.  

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    At Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017, held January 23-25 at Madrid’s Palacio de Congresos, I went down to Albert Raurich’s presentation in the afternoon on January 23, planning to take a few photographs and them move on from the auditorium back upstairs to visit some of the stands
and see a couple of symposiums.   

         Albert Raurich at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017  
As I was photographing Raurich’s presentation, I became fascinated with his presentation, which showed his timeline for the dishes he serves at Dos Pebrots, a timeline that stretches from the paleolithic and neolithic eras to 1929 (bacalao al pil pil).   I stayed for the whole thing.  Someone, I did not pick up on the pig tits dish. 


 Albert Raurich's recipe's at Dos Pebrots are inspired by recipes he has researched as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Romans such as a terrific tabletop-made pan omelet with pine nuts, fresh perifollo (chervil) sprigs, honey and the very ancient fermented fish sauce garum-- too civilized garum IMHO--that is a star dish.  Photo at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017 by Gerry Dawes©2017 gerrydawes@gmail.com.  #dospebrots

 
Albert Raurich and Elena Arzak in the Press Lounge at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017  
    
Later, I ran into Raurich in the VIP lounge and told him that I was headed to Barcelona the following week.  “Call me and I will see if I can get you in to Dos Pebrots.”

    As luck would have it, our hotel was an easy block or so from Dos Palillos and Dos Pebrots, so my fiancee Kay and I walked down to Dos Palillos in the afternoon to see if Raurich was there.  He came out, greeted us and said, “Why don’t you come by tonight at 8 p.m.?  Anthony Bourdain and Albert Adrià will be there.”

    “Great, we will be there.”  He didn’t say anything about the pig tits, but I should have picked up on that at his Madrid Fusión presentation.   After all, how many restaurants in Spain have a ceramics pig, feet to the sky, whose underbelly is lined with four sliced off, grilled Ibérico pig tits, tetas de cerda Ibérica, as a star course.   (We are guessing that the tetas date much closer to the near end of Raurich’s Timeline spectrum, like from 2016 as an arbitrary vintage date.)


    So, we arrive at the appointed time on Friday, Feb. 3, walk in, and are told to stay by the bar since Bourdain, Albert Adrià Roads and Kingdom’s Chief Editor Matt Goulding are at the chef’s table overlooking the kitchen and busy being filmed.   We took a seat at table by the bar and began to peruse the long menu–carta dospebrots albert raurich versión VI--on the back of Raurich’s historical culinary timeline.   

Roads and Kingdom’s Chief Editor Matt Goulding, Albert Adrià, Albert Raurich and Anthony Bourdain at the chef’s table overlooking the kitchen at Dos Pebrots.  In front of them is the wooden "toolbox" of  herramientos, the utensils placed on every table  that you can choose from to eat each dish. Photo courtesy Dos Pebrots.

Since their were 34 dishes, plus seven desserts, and I knew I was going to swipe the paper menu anyway, I began to mark candidates for ordering with my pen.    The menu is composed of seven columns: elaboración final (the name of the dish), productos principales (main ingredients), técnica principal (roasting, brasing, frying, etc.), origen de la elaboración (period from which the dish originated; al-andalus 10th Century/ancient Persia 1500 B.C., etc.), herramiento (utensils, including hands, used to eat the dish) and, finally, precio (the
generally reasonable price in Euros of each dish).   A note on the menu says "if you do not understand this menu, ask a waiter, who perhaps may understand it."

    We ordered a bottle of Raventós i Blanc Nit, a superb Champagne quality rosé sparkling wine from the newly formed from the Conca del Rìu Anoia D. O., and began to zero in on our choices: 


Puerros ancestrales, three two-inch sections of leeks roasted with beer and vinegar, from ancient Egypt;
            

Beberechos con salsa verde, steamed cockles with a green sauce made with parsley, garlic and white wine, said to date “from the first week in May of 1723;


Mollete de Barbate, a David Chang-like bun stacked with Barbate tuna, cucumber, tomato and a dressing of Spanish pimentón, garlic, vinegar and cumin.

dos-pebrots_mollete-de-barbate

Guisantes con jamón, tender young peas in a jamón Ibérico broth with a perfect egg yolk in the center to further enrich the sauce.  The inspiration supposedly goes back to the time when the wine God Bacchus was known a the little “pea.”


Cebolla negra, a Neolithic blackened onion served with garum (the fermented Roman anchovy-fish sauce of legend).  Don't eat the hay underneath even at a attempt to get at the garum--it tastes like hay;


Tortilla unilateral de piñones, a single sided ‘tortilla” (omelette) with perifollo (chervil), garum (I really wanted to try some authentic garum!) and honey, inspired by a recipe from the 1st Century BC;



    The parade of dishes--Raurich uses a mix of different antique china pieces (few match) as serving plates and bowls--began with nicely done, but too bland puerros, leeks; then lovely, high quality beberechos that were reminiscent of many such dishes in Basque Country cooking and the exquisite guisantes con jamón, a superb peas with ham broth and that runny egg yolk, simple, but one of my favorite sauces.  The peas would be a star dish anyway.

    I was looking forward to the roasted cebolla negra, “blackened onion” with garum, which is a dish with great potential, but I found it needing a more flavorful roasted onion (I love  roasted onions) and a more assertive garum sauce, at least as I have long imagined garum.  I brought the gentrified garum up with Raurich later and he promised the next time he will serve me a garum “brutal.”  

    Anthony Bourdain and crew finished filming and began to file out past our table to get to their next stop.  Bourdain stopped to say hello and asked if I was living in Barcelona full-time now (No.)  And Albert Adrià, whom I have known since 1997 and with whom I spent a little time at Madrid Fusión the week before, stopped by for abrazos and a few pleasantries.

    After the film crew filed out, a server came to our table with pad to protect the table, a hot cast-iron two handled skillet, a pair of palillos, and the ingredients to whip up with the chopsticks table-center the 1st Century-inspired tortilla unilateral de piñones, the single sided omelette with chervil, garum (this time the dish called for the more restrained garum) and honey.  It was delicious, one of the most attractive dishes on the menu. 




    Kay and I had had an incredible lunch that afternoon on a taburete (barstool) at the counter of Quim de la Boquería in La Boquería market, a lunch that had not ended until after five p.m., when my friend Quim Marquéz decided we had enough of his super-star food and Juve y Camps Pinot Noir Cava, so we were fine with the dishes we had ordered at Dos Pebrots.   The menu recommends that if you do not have mucha hambre, are not very hungry, you should order only 5-6 plates. 

The best girl in the world, my fiancee Kay, at Dos Pebrots, Barcelona, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017

    We planned to finish our Raventós i Blanc Blanc de Nits and perhaps get a chance to talk to Albert Raurich once things settled down a bit.  High on the wall over the entrance, so you can see it on your way out, is a humorous Photo-shopped color photograph of the main players at elBulli.  Looking like a rather roughshod band of fishermen are the now superstars that made elBulli into a legend: Albert Raurich, my old friend the late Juli Soler, Ferran Adrià,  Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas, Eduard Xatruch, Oriol Castro and Albert Adrià. 


    Now that the filming ban had been lifted, I walked up to photograph the open kitchen, where the Executive Chef Borja García Ordoño, sporting some serious neck tatoos,  was putting the finishing touches on some dishes.


    However, we were not done.  The tetas de cerda Ibérica maldonado confitado (Madonado is a quality producer of Ibérico de bellota, acorn-grazed Ibérico pata negra pigs from Albuquerque in the Dehesa de Extremadura D. O.) would arrive un-ordered, served on the upturned ceramics “Ibérico” sow with the gelatinous looking rounds of sliced off, grilled tits confit--four of them, each strategically placed along where they might have been on a real pig.  And except for the Sherry glass with a side teta chaser of Ibérico broth, this dish supposedly dates back to the Romans, where it must have been the rage at orgies, sliced off real pig carcasses.  It is tempting to guess that the decline of the Roman Empire began precisely with the presumed rise in popularity of this dish. 


    The tetas not withstanding, I found the concept at Dos Pebrots fascinating, a trip down a little-known historical culinary trail that Chef Albert Raurich is blazing and no doubt soon, admiring chefs will soon begin to imitate.   Raurich’s ideas and execution are terrific and the history-based dish ideas will continue to grow as he expands his intellectual pursuit of long-lost culinary concepts.

     Albert Raurich is an amusing, fun-loving guy.  He sat down with us at the end of our meal and began to clown around for these photographs.





    Dos Pebrots is indeed a trip back in time, with some very refined modern creative touches from the mind and talent of a great chef. 
 
Albert Raurich in a pensive moment at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017.

All photos and texts copyright 2017 by Gerry Dawes.
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About Gerry Dawes

 Gerry Dawes at the bar at Marisquería Rafa in Madrid.
Photo by Docsconz (John Sconzo)

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
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Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 
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