Tag Archives: Iron Chef

Dinner Club: Barraca

Last night was the first meeting of my dinner club.  Greenwich Avenue was quiet and almost desolate on the cold midweek night.  In contrast, the crowd through the windows of Barraca appeared lively and warm in the soft glow of dim lights and glasses of sangria.

A fan of Chef Jesus Nunez and his cooking at Gastroarte, I had to head downtown to try his new venture, Barraca.  The specialty here is paella, and there are many to choose from.  There are also tapas and entrees.

Our group decided to get tapas.  Here they are, in no particular order:

roasted brussels sprouts with fava beans and ham

grilled cuttlefish with parsley ali-oli, preserved lemon and kale

fondue with hazelnuts, apricots

Spanish potato omelette, ali-oli and bread with tomato

mollete bread sandwich with pulled lamb, Manchego cheese, Guernica peppers and piquillo ali-oli

grilled octopus and baby potatoes, roasted peppers and pimenton de la vera

“broken eggs” served with crispy potatoes, pork belly, fried green peppers and Tetilla cheese

crispy potatoes with brava sauce and ali-oli

pork belly and collard greens

In addition to these, we also got bread with tomato, olive oil and salt and flatbread with oven-roasted vegetables and black olives. Some of these dishes were personal orders, so we all didn’t try everything that’s pictured. My favorite dishes were the brussels sprouts–roasted to perfection, the crispy potatoes and the fondue. The fondue added a sweetness to the savory dishes on the table.  Cuttlefish was new to most of us and we thought it a bit chewy.  Pork belly seemed to be a hit for the evening along with the omelette and breads.

The first dinner club meeting was a success.  If you’d like to attend a future event (one is planned for this Saturday), please let me know.

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Restaurant Week: Gastroarte

I always like to catch a few restaurants during Restaurant Week in winter and again in summer.  A lot of New Yorkers do not like Restaurant Week because they feel that the quality is not as good and that portions are smaller.  Most Restaurant Week regulars, however, know that there are a few great bargains for fine cuisine hidden in that extensive list of restaurants.  Gastroarte is one of them.  I’ve written about Gastroarte before, as I’m a fan of Chef Jesus Nunez’s beautifully artistic creations modernizing Spanish cuisine.

Chef Nunez greeted us before we ordered and recommended we try the pear salad and hake fishballs, as being signature dishes.

pear salad with Valdeon cheese, quince and walnuts

Where are the cheese, quince and walnuts, you ask?  Hidden beneath the pleasantly dressed mixed greens.

Another appetizer option: a creamy golden corn soup studded with English peas, fava beans and Serrano ham.


My friends ordered hake fishballs, mussels, shrimp and roasted cauliflower in a Mediterranean sauce. Hake, similar to cod, is abundant here in New York and very popular in Spain.


I ordered the marinated pork ribs with vegetables, a spicy sauce and cumin yogurt. I enjoyed this dish very much.  The perfectly cooked pork was topped with a lovely, spicy barbecue sauce.  With a sizable portion, it was quite filling.

For dessert, we all opted for the torrija with vanilla cream and strawberries. None of us had had torrija before, but it is similar to French toast. This dish was like a comforting, warm bread pudding with berries.

torrija

The Restaurant Week menu at Gastroarte provides an opportunity to try the restaurant’s classic dishes and whets your appetite for more of Chef Nunez’s creations. Chef Nunez will be put to the test against Chef Michael Symon on the July 29th episode of the Iron Chef. Judges include Jose Andres and Andrew Zimmern. It’s no secret I’m rooting for Chef Nunez!