la gastroteca

Lest you think Madrid has little more to offer in the way of gastronomic delights than tapas, cod balls, and the House of Ham, remember, please, that the Spanish are responsible for the whole molecular gastronomy craze.  The city has its fair share of fine – and experimental – dining; it’s just that – to a New Yorker anyway – it’s not nearly as engaging as Spanish comfort food. In the open kitchen of Córdoba-born chef Juan Carlos Ramos, however, those two concepts enjoy a felicitous liaison. La Gastroteca de Santiago deploys the freshest ingredients in homage to traditional Spanish cooking with experimental twists and international influences along the way. It’s an exemplary combination served up in an intimate and bijoux designer space on the Plaza de Santiago: pate with warm toast and olive oil, seafood paella, roast suckling pig, chocolate mousse.  Plus, you can make it a relative bargain and bypass the pricey a la carte blackboard specials in favor of the equally adventurous prix fixe.

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from the archives: du-cash

Ten years ago this week I had one of the best assignments of my early writing life. By luck I had a connection to Alain Ducasse at the time he was opening his first restaurant in  New York.  The foodie world was agog; not only because in the year Y2K Chef Ducasse held the record for Michelin stars accorded to a single chef but also because the menu would be a chefs tasting at the then-astronomical price of $160 per person.  My ability to score a table enabled me to land an assignment to write about it for Time Out New York, itself just a start-up in the city at the time and not yet enough of a coveted outlet to warrant the chef’s attention.

Needless to say, it was divine.  And while the city and I have gone on to bigger, bolder and more expensive meals in the ensuing decade, you always remember your first, right?  In fact, it was with a semi-famous actress that I first went to Ducasse, attempting to woo her into appearing in a play I was producing – as though  our posh surroundings were any indication of what was on offer to her theatrically.  She politely turned me down, nevertheless we had one of those amazing only-in-NYC evenings that ended with the dining room captain handing her a shopping bag as we left.  Outside the restaurant she ripped open the bag and removed a large item elegantly wrapped in tissue paper.  It was a cake, we discovered.  And soon  thereafter it slipped from her hands and fell rolling into the gutter of Central Park South.  She chased it down, hastily wrapping it back in tissue and returning it to the bag as though nothing had happened.  Then in her haughtiest imitation of Lauren Bacall, she gave her hair a toss before heading off down the block:  “Don’t you even think I’m not still going to eat it.”

Read the full story HERE. (then click on the image to enlarge)

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