Days 4 and 5 at Quim’s; Monday at Alimentaria; Monday night at Lolita

27 Mar

And, so there is Team Quim (except we’re missing Marcos; he didn’t work that day). From left to right: Ricardo (in back), Christian, Yuri (Quim’s son), Quim, Joan, me, Jordi (standing), and Antonio (kneeling down).

This team has loads of fun.  So unlike most kitchens in the U.S., this team has stayed with Quim for years – some since they were in their teens, which means 10+ years. They are family.  Quim treats them well, they laugh a lot, and they work their butts off.  One day I hope to run a kitchen in which my staff would walk the plank with me, as well, if necessary.  Quim’s staff – family – is all in!

So, Carnet was onto something 20 years ago when he “invented” a sandwich at our favorite Italian deli in Oakland – the artichoke and quiche sandwich.  This is breakfast in Catalonia – tortilla inside toasted bread = bocadillo.  A tortilla, of course, is a frittata of sorts.   On Thursday, Quim made me a breakfast bocadillo.  Get ready for this: seared foie, grilled asparagus, tomato rubbed on the inside of one piece of sesame baguette, aoli rubbed on the inside of the second piece of baguette, a boneless pork chop, all toasted.   It was crazy good.  Foie for breakfast?  Me…. eating foie at all?  It was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.  Ridiculously rich.

Speaking of grilling, they do the most amazing things in a very small space at El Quim. They use 1/2 the grill (as the other half is used for pan storage), they use 3 gas burners max (most of the time 2) as the others are used for storage, 1 convection oven,  and 1 regular oven.  This is all in the main kitchen area that is roughly 5×8 feet. No lie.  In the main kitchen there are usually 6-7 people, total: 4-5 cooks and 2 servers, depending upon the day.  And, I add one more to that equation.  In the El Petit Quim area, which was an addition Quim added on not too long ago, there is another 1-2 people, but usually just Ricardo and occasionally Marcos.  The Petit Quim area is about 2 1/2 feet wide by 6 feet long.  This area is home to desserts, the coffee bar, other cold appetizers, and the area where Ricardo makes the sauces and desserts.

Thursday (Day 4), I hung out with Ricardo and Marcos and learned to make salsa brava (to put on the patatas bravas) and I cut and cut and cut vegetables for the vegetable and lobster crudo salad.  It was delicious.  Think carrots, zucchini, mango, and mushrooms – all raw – cut in uniform tile shapes, about 1/4 of the size of my pinky nail.  That all got mixed with lobster and then topped with vinegar, salt and pepper.

I managed to nick off just a bit of my pinky after a few hours of chopping, but it has recovered nicely.   I can’t say the same for my stomach. I finally had to break down and take some antibiotics.  My system is not used to the different bacterias in the food here, yet.  3 days of crazy stomach purges and it was time to take drastic measures.  The great thing about that is I went to the bathroom so much that one of the bathroom attendants made me my own key.  I wonder what she must have thought of me.  Crazy American!

More pics:

Papa and son.  Both of them are incredibly sweet, and very different than one another; Quim is outgoing and gregarious; Yuri if pensive and reserved. But, both love cooking and smiling, and are very intelligent.

Yuri and me.

On Saturday, my love came back into town. He is amazing. He was awake for over 48 hours and he wanted to go out to dinner when he arrived – probably just to please me. So, we walked about 100 yards into the cute little courtyard of my neighborhood in which there are 4 restaurants, Fo Bar (favorite cafe), microbrewery, and a bar with a pool table. We sat outside, as it was such a gorgeous night, and ordered a bottle of ribera del duero, a craprese salad (homemade mozzarella and tomatoes – yummmm), squid ink pasta with some sort of squash sauce that was outrageously delicious, tiramisu and lim sorbet with cava poured over it. I didn’t think Spanish-Italian food could be that good. Really nice fusion of the two.

Sunday, we went to Parque Guell, and then back to the apartment for a 4 hour nap, since Carnet had barely slept and my stomach was giving me a lot of trouble.

Monday, we met Quim and Yuri at the entrance of the boqueria. Quim drove us to a food and wine expo called Alimentaria, in which we walked around several great halls full of food and beverage distributors with other Quim folks and friends. We sampled several yummy things, including too much wine. Here’s Carnet’s tag (he’s now officially part of Quim’s marketing team, according to the forms we filled out. I lost my tag, but I was a “cocinera” – cook – for Quim).

Here’s the food and wine expo crew, minus Yuri who had had enough about 3 hours into it (we were there for 6 hours).

And, Carnet loving being amongst all the jamon:

We were way too tipsy from the small samples of food and the overly generous samples of cava and ribera del duero, so we asked Quim where we should eat. He suggested a friend’s place, called Lolita. It’s also an Albert Adria restaurant, if I’m not mistaken. It was Inopia, but then it closed and re-opened as Lolita. So, 10 courses plus dessert and a bottle of cava later, we were stuffed and so ready for bed. Unfortunately, Carnet had the “meat sweats” and couldn’t sleep. I’m rooting for him to get some sleep tonight, although we ate another extravagant meal at Quim’s today for lunch. You would think I was the princess of Spain the way Quim spoils me. He’s says it’s because I’m working in the kitchen for no money. Really? I think I’m doing more eating of his profits than anything else. Indeed, I might be the princesa of El Quim.

6 Responses to “Days 4 and 5 at Quim’s; Monday at Alimentaria; Monday night at Lolita”

  1. Pete Maguire March 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Incredible – Marvelous!

    • rachelogdie March 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Thanks, Chef! It is indeed Que Increible!

  2. Bee Leng Chua March 27, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    Rachel – where are all the pounds from all that good eating?? You look as svelte as ever!
    Bee Leng

    • rachelogdie March 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

      And, thanks, Bee Leng for your kind words, but I am indeed gaining some weight. Apparently, my choice of outfits is working in my favor 🙂 Thanks so much for continuing to follow my journeys and for your great comments, questions and suggestions!

  3. Shannon March 28, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    “craprese”… not intentional, surely?!
    Love the pics… and what you’re experiencing… you are amazing…

    • rachelogdie March 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

      Oh my gosh! My spelling is a problem. No, it wasn’t a crap-ese salad 😉
      Thanks for cheering me on and for leaving comments! I love them and they keep me going. Can’t wait to see you. xo

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