By the time the year is over, I will have attended five weddings. This breaks my 2008 record, a fact I’m commemorating by wearing all of the same dresses. Or at least the one(s) that still fit(s), a category which shrank significantly after the second wedding, in Spain, where all personal ham consumption records were shattered.
That wedding was in Menorca, a beautiful place. I didn’t want to leave. It was early June, before the high season but warm enough for the beach. Perfect, in other words.
We also managed to squeeze in a few days in Barcelona at the end, where we ate very, very well (the single rogue padron that left me a teary red mess notwithstanding). Lunch at El Quim, in La Boqueria was fine — I loved the squid with white beans — but the best meal was at La Torna, in the mercat Santa Caterina. There we had squash blossoms, stuffed with salt cod, lightly battered and fried in small batches on the stove top, and served with romesco sauce. It was one of the best things I’d eaten for a long time.
I was back in France for most of August, for more nuptials. The wedding was near Avignon, but I had some time in Paris, too, and I found myself at old favorite Kunitoraya not once, but twice. I love their delicate, tonic soups and slippery udon, but the katsudon rice bowl, topped with a crispy pork chop and fried egg, is what I crave.
I also tried Pierre-Sang Boyer, a new Oberkampf address serving a small plates tasting menu from an open kitchen. The food was ambitious, fresh, and full of bright flavors, but not quite there, like early drafts of dishes that could be very good with a little more work. This lightly battered morsel of fish (cod, perhaps), over a zippy, caper-laden mayonnaise, with a Sicilian lemon slice for a fascinator, was close, but the lemon, which is (believe it or not) mild enough to eat, was way too thick to be pleasant. That sounds picky, but it’s precisely those details that elevate a dish, especially small portions like these.
The chef is quite young, and may yet come into his own. But I don’t know if Parisians know how to deal with no-reservations, counter dining, a system that only works when diners are willing to give up their seats shortly after eating.
Finally, on a quick side trip to London, I had a perfect lunch at NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi’s Soho table. I loved the pea fritters with cardamom yogurt, and the roasted eggplant with pomegranate and walnuts. Eating the simple herb salad, napped lightly with yogurt and coriander seed dressing, was like tasting parsley for the first time. And I can only hope the fruit tarts I’ve made in my life were half as good as the delicate puff pastry topped with a fan of rose-tipped peach slices I had here.
A girl can dream, I guess.
Mentioned in this post:
La Torna in the Mercat Santa Caterina ave Francesc Combo, Barcelona 08003
El Quim de la Boqueria in the Boqueria Market, just off of Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Tuesday-Saturday, 7am-5pm
Kunitoraya 39 rue Sainte-Anne, Paris 75001 +33 (0)1 47 03 33 65, no reservations
Pierre Sang Boyer 55 rue Oberkampf, Paris 75011, no reservations, closed Monday
NOPI 21-22 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NE, +44 (0)20 7494 9584