[*Translation: "Who says that I didn't like your article? I liked it very much, truly, your way of writing is like our way of understanding gastronomy, from a base as a professional, communicating (our dining experience)with knowledge, simplicity, humor and constructive criticism. A big abrazo, Albert Raurich"]
Raurich's reply came in an e-mail to after I sent him this article and did not hear back from him (I thought maybe he didn't like the references to the pig tits), then I sent him my version of his guisantes con jamón dish and wrote, "I guess you didn't like my article about Dos Pebrots."
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.
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.”
Albert 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 arrived at the appointed time on Friday, Feb. 3, walked in, and were 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.
Since there 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, braising, 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: the "toolbox" contains silverware, wooden spoons, chopsticks and skewers, you provide the hands) 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 rosat (rosé) sparkling wine from the newly formed from the Conca del Rìu Anoia D. O. (50 kms. west of Barcelona) 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.
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.”
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;
I was looking forward to the roasted cebolla negra, “blackened onion” with garum, which is a dish with great potential, but I found it begged for 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 “brutal” garum.
Anthony Bourdain and crew finished filming and began to file out past our table to get to their next shoot. Bourdain stopped to say hello and asked if I was living in Barcelona full-time now. (No.) And Albert Adrià, the genius—with his brother Ferran—behind Tickets, Bodega 1900, Pakta, Hoja Santa and more), whom I have known since 1997 and with whom I spent a little time at Madrid Fusión the week before and at his places in Barcelona last year, stopped by for abrazos and a few pleasantries.
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 had enough dishes of his super-star food and Juve y Camps Pinot Noir Rosat 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.
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 PhotoShopped color photograph of the main players at the legendary now-closed elBulli. Looking like a rather roughshod band of fishermen are the now superstars that made elBulli into a legend: chef de cuisine Albert Raurich, my old friend the late Juli Soler, chef Ferran Adrià and chefs Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas, Eduard Xatruch, and Albert Adrià.
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.
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.
About Gerry Dawes
Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He lived in Spain for eight years, 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
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.
Gerry Dawes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected): email@example.com