Dinner at BoqueriaPosted: August 11, 2008
>Kip and I met Laura and Amy at Boqueria tonight for dinner. It was really superb. The longer I live here, the more I realize that it’s not so much for the theater, the art, the culture, the opportunities. It’s really just about the food. (This, from a guy who for many years ate only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What can I say, I got bored.)
What we drank:
A 2005 Uriondo Txakolina. I knew nothing about this, only that it was the bottle recommended by the server that was in our price range. It was delicious, and seemed to please the entire table–not too dry for me, a little bubbly for Kip, and crisp and clean. Laura and Amy also seemed happy with the choice.
What we ate:
Pimientos de Padron–these are Shishito peppers, sauteed simply with some sea salt. (These are also all the rage at the Greenmarket lately, where Yuno’s Farm cooks them up as samples. They fly off the table.) At Boqueria, the peppers are smaller, a bit less spicy than Nivea’s, but still fantastic. If you can find these near you, or grow them yourself, do.
Brandada de Bacalao–I’d never actually eaten bacalao, although it’s all over the grocery stores in my neighborhood. It’s not difficult to prepare, although it’s a bit of work, and I usually don’t spend more than a half hour in the kitchen cooking anything these days. Boqueria’s version is whipped and served hot on toast points. It’s clean, salty, mineraly, fresh; like the sea.
Datiles con Beicon–dates stuffed with almonds and Valedon cheese, wrapped in bacon. Whenever I try to make stuffed dates in bacon, I overdo them. These were quite good, although I would have picked a different cheese; the Valdeon is a bit too pungeant for the date, and the bacon is somehow lost. (Still, we practically licked the plate.)
There was a special of Greenmarket romano beans in a romesco sauce. Romanos are the wide, flatter green bean, much more substantial than a regular green bean. If you go and this is on the menu, try them. There was also a snap pea dish on the menu, (which isn’t listed on their website,) that came with some cubes of what I guess was bacon, or some other pork thing, a tart Greenmarket apple, and a milder Valdeon sauce.
We also had some tetilla cheese, which is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese, and manchego with a rosemary rind. Manchego is perhaps my favorite cheese–other than the cabecou feuille–and this was really tasty. The rosemary is interesting, offering a piney, vegetal tone which actually enhances the creaminess of the cheese.
For dessert, we went all out:
Helado de Avellanas–a hazelnut ice-cream, with chocolate and coffee mouse. Honestly, the mousse was less spectacular than the ice cream. But there was a little bite of salt here and there with the hazelnuts, which I always like.
Churros con Chocolate–I saw these churros go out to another table and knew we had to have them. I heard once that every culture on the planet has a version of fried dough covered in sugar. I’ll take churros over doughnuts any day. These were served with a teacup full of thick hot chocolate for dipping. We took turns sipping the leftovers like communion.
Crema Catalana Clasica–I wasn’t sure what exactly would emerge from the kitchen when we ordered this. It turned out to be a creme brulee, but without the vanilla bean. Normally, I steer away from this kind of thing at restaurants, it’s the kind of dessert that people think is fancy, but really isn’t, and it’s often pretty underwhelming. But this was a nice surprise, not too sweet, and it sort of reminded me why this kind of thing is so often on a menu: it’s just plain good.