1st day of staging at El Quim de la Boqueria

20 Mar

After 3 weeks of touring and having a blast, I started staging this morning at 7:30 a.m. at a place called El Quim de la Boqueria. Quim, the owner, is awesome, and pretty famous. All the restaurateurs in Barcelona come to his place to eat, and Quim travels around the world to work with other chefs. Most recently, he was in Singapore, and in May he’s off to Hong Kong with his son, who also works with him. You can read more about his journey to Singapore on his Facebook page, if you friend it at elquimdelaboqueria. His blog is at http://elquimdelaboqueria.cat/.

So, what did I do besides eat 5000 calories of their delicious food?  I met several other chef-owners of tiendas, a chocolate shop, and restaurants in Barcelona.   I met the owner of the best seafood shop in the market after I already bought atun (fresh tuna) from him this morning, unwittingly (other than it looked amazingly fresh).

I turned artichokes, made sofrito, cut several pounds of mushrooms, played with roasted vegetables, fried some eggs, plated a few seafood platos, talked to a few of the English-speaking patrons, got in the way a lot, tried to help with dishes, worked on my Spanish while teaching Quim some English, smiled a lot, and had an all around grande time.   The restaurant was hopping from 9 a.m. straight through until 4:00 with people lining up behind the seated and eating patrons, patiently waiting for their turn to dive into the delectable food.   I was the 9th person in the small kitchen, and all the 8 others were moving at lightning speed the entire time.  Most kitchens have some up time and some down time.  Not El Quim on a Monday.  It was all very exciting.

Some of the dishes that are his most popular:  the omelets, of course; his foie hamburger; gambas con cava (large shrimp with cava); fried artichokes; bacalao con crema (which was the cod of the day, made with a cream sauce – how very French/Catalan- and a balsamic glaze);  his seafood a la plancha (grilled); pulpo (his baby octopus); his squid.  Most everything is served with either a fresh salad or grilled vegetables, especially tomatoes, as tomatoes are a staple here.  And, there are so many versions of fried eggs with different seafood.  I love the way they fry eggs. Think:  a vat of combo oil (olive and vegetable) smoking hot, 2 eggs dropped in, and 1 minute later you have puffy, crunchy whites yet still oozy yolk eggs.

Even though I didn’t cook many dishes, I still managed to destroy my chef’s jacket and pants on day 1.  Things are moving so fast and food is flying everywhere.  I loved it!  I feel right at home, literally like I’m in my own kitchen throwing food on myself.

On my behalf, Quim asked a friend if he could get some seaweed, as Quim wants to learn different dishes from me (imagine that!).  So, my first dish is going to ahi poke, since their ahi here is really beautiful.  I managed to find all other ingredients I need for the poke, so I can’t wait to see what type of seaweed I’m getting.  It was rather hard for me to explain what I wanted in my limited Spanish-seaweed vocal – alga, verde, pequeno (algae/seaweed, green, small). Then, next week I’m going to attempt to show Quim how to make Thai curry.  My awesome husband brought kaffir lime leaves, Thai curry and coconut milk to me, as these items are not to be found here.  Should be interesting.

And, as an update to my sassy, prior blog post, EasyJet found my backpack – yeah!  So, all is well in my fantastic world, again 🙂

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2 Responses to “1st day of staging at El Quim de la Boqueria”

  1. Bev March 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Congratulations on your new position – sounds like a wonderful opportunity, and also that it’s a good thing that you’re little! Also enjoyed the London post. You know my maiden name is Finch. I too found some surprisingly good restaurants when in London, but most of the food was embarrassing. Ian expects me to know genetically how to make kidney pie. Kidneys . . .bleck! Thanks again for keeping up your blog.

  2. Bee Leng Chua March 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    Rachel – you asked for a suggestion for the excess seaweed. I don’t know if it will work. Make a pesto of it and you can use it as a spread or toss with salad or pasta. I saw it done with asparagus seaweed, pine nuts/macadamia nuts and maybe a hint of parmesan and it worked.
    Bee Leng

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