All tagged carme ruscalleda
It's been an incredible year filled with culinary experiences in locations ranging from Toluca to Tokyo. Choosing my favorite meals from 2011 was very different from choosing favorite dishes. To create this list, I examined the dining experience as a whole, factoring in the progression of dishes and overall story they told. I can only hope 2012 will bring as much culinary excitement as this year has.
A few events in particular made 2011 one of the most exciting eating years in recent memory. The closing of El Bullí, perhaps the most hyped restaurant of the decade, passed the spotlight to other deserving restaurants like Quique Dacosta and Sant Pau for the first time. Hopefully 2012 will bring these restaurants the international attention they deserve. Sean Brock continued to promote the incredibly varied and delicious cuisine of the American South, inspiring other American chefs to look into the rustic cuisines of their childhoods and bring them to the dining room. Mexican cuisine started to gain more international attention, led by the refined cooking of chefs like Enrique Olvera. And chefs like Joshua Skenes reminded us that the simple cooking techniques are often the most diffiult, requiring unwavering attention and patience.
In selecting a list of best dishes from 2011 I faced the difficult task of choosing those which stood out on their own, outside the context of the meals in which they appeared. My favorite dishes from this year are very different from my favorite meals, which will be shared in a shortly upcoming post.
For me, 2011 was a year of many discoveries. It was the year I had the realization that Mexico is on par with some of the greatest culinary destinations of the world, including Japan, China, France, and Italy. It was a year where the food scene in Sweden skyrocketed forward and is now on track to catch up with neighboring Denmark. It was also a year where I realized one does not have to travel very far for exceptional eating. Some of the best restaurants are right here in the United States, and San Francisco, Charleston, and Chicago are leading the pack.
A short drive North of Barcelona lies one of Spain's best kept secrets. Sant Pau, restaurant of chef Carme Ruscalleda in Sant Pol de Mar, serves incredibly creative French and Japanese-influenced Spanish cuisine. My most recent meal sits right alongside El Bulli and Quique Dacosta. It's one of the best experiences in a restaurant I've had. Chef Ruscalleda has a unique ability to isolate and enhance an ingredient's natural flavors and present them in a very imaginative way.
We sat in the smaller of two dining rooms overlooking the Mediterranean. Subtle crashes of waves mixed with the whispers of waiters sliding about setting the remaining tables and bringing apéritifs for other early diners. The tone was calm and collected, and felt in many ways as if we were eating in a restaurant in Japan. What broke through the quiet was a sound I will never forget, the crisp crackling of our waitress slicing through our table's loaf of bread.