Friday, March 19, 2010



• By Rupali Dean

My trip to Spain could not be complete without a visit to the local wine region nearest to Barcelona called Penedes. I researched and signed up for a one-day tour of Miguel Torres’s vineyard complete with the winery visit & tastings, as well as lunch at “Mas Rabell” the family owned restaurant. My visit included not only a tasting of their higher end wines, but also a bottom to top view of their vineyards and viticulture practices.

A wine expert met us at the reception and took us around. After a brief presentation, we went into the “Tunnel of Seasons”, a stupendous Multimedia experience in honor of the vineyards. It was the contemplation of the wine through all the seasons and following the climatic changes, until the harvest and the transformation of the grapes into wine. Next was the Tour by a train through the vineyards, crossing the “Finca Mas La Plana” which has been their flagship wine since 1979 when, in its earlier manifestation as Coronas Black Label, it trounced an array of clarets at a tasting organized by the French foodie sages Gault Millau. The visit also took us around the facilities, and to the interior of the new cellar “Bodega de Vinos de Finca”. Inside I discovered an atmosphere as inviting as the wines themselves. I gathered on my tour that White wine production dominates with a variety of traditional grapes in use such as Parellada and with innovative wine making techniques over the last few years, new wines being created with Chardonnay, Riesling and other noble varietals are coming to the fore. (Take home produce is also available from their shop). I could see that the winery is one of the most modern (and biggest) there is.

Best was next, lunch at “Mas Rabell” along with wines to match and I can say that Chef Sergi Millet ( has worked under Ferran Adria of the “El Bulli” Fame) serves some of the best contemporary , fresh and thoroughly flavorsome regional produce; celebrating the link between wine and food . I was particularly impressed by wines such as the elegant “Fransola” , which matched very well with my Cream of Navarra Asparagus with a decadent fish cake in the centre, it couldn’t have been any better. My roasted Iberian Pork with apple sauce was a culinary Paradise along with the “Gran Coronas” which was Superb and a great wine. Though of course the star of the show was but of course the “Mas La Pana 2005” , lush, spicy wine with density of fruit and smooth tannins and very elegant….Great with Cheese.

Truly it is difficult to understand the history of Spanish wine in the past 50 years without speaking of the family Torres. Miguel has taken his wines and, therefore, the wines of Spain to the highest benchmarks of quality to the last corner of the world. Having said that, although there is so much to see and do in Barcelona, I’m glad that we spent some of our time taking this trip to experience the picturesque wine country.

published in Asian Age


Wednesday, March 17, 2010



By Rupali & Bakshish Dean

(The writer and The Chef)

Some of you foodies would know that the best restaurant in the world is a restaurant near Barcelona, Spain called “El Bulli” and We are sure most people would be familiar with Chef Ferran Adria a name synonymous with “molecular cuisine” and for those who do not know Adria is a Living Genius, a great icon of international culinary avante-garde and owns a 3 Michelin star restaurant called “El Bulli” in Roses (Girona) near Barcelona in Spain. The restaurant is operational only six months in a year (Mid June to Mid December) and bagging a table is like winning an Oscar! And to dine there is like watching a great theatre performance. Unfortunately we haven’t been yet successful in getting a reservation as the dates we plan to travel are always booked somehow.
A year and a half back I (Bakshish) purchased the book "El Bulli 1998-2002”, in which Ferran Adria has published his menus that he did during this period along with all the base work that went into producing the dishes, its detailing and evident hard work prompted me to try the techniques and search for the base ingredients required to work on food like a scientist and today after a year I am comfortable with a lot of techniques. After all this attending “Madrid Fusion” was always in my (Bakshish) mind and so we planned a trip to Spain especially to be a part of this. So Bakshish filled in a registration form (fee of 600 Euros) and enrolled himself whereas I (Rupali) being a Travel and food writer planned the itinerary for further down to Valencia (where the famed “Paella” originated) and Barcelona as well to make the most of the Spain trip.
At Madrid Fusion…Madrid turns Gourmet Capital of the world!
This is a World Gourmet Summit and plays host to high profile cooks. It happens every year in January and 2009 was the seventh consecutive year. This time round the audiovisual gastronomy provided the base for three big debates. Cinegourland – that dealt with exciting themes such as the futuristic restaurant, problems with hall service and high risk avant-garde dishes. Interactive debates accompanied the famous cinematographic screenings. There were also talks on “quality cooking on a budget” (great for crisis time) and of the most viable business models for today. There was space for play food, imagination and humour supplemented by culinary creativity. This year Mexico took the stage with five great stars demonstrating how its cooking has come into contact with modernity while respecting the code of its traditional flavours. And but of course Madrid Fusion also dealt with cooking with ecological awareness and a gourmet display along with courtesy lunches served by different Spanish regions.
Ferran Adria at Madrid fusion
Day two witnessed the most important debate “Cuisine and Science” Does it really go together? Does it really interpret as it should? Is molecular gastronomy the right term for the advancements in cuisine? These are all the most important questions that I (or any chef who studies and practices molecular gastronomy) have been seeking answers for and there it was on the stage being discussed by the most important cuisine experts of the century – Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, Harold McGee, Andoni Luis Aduriz and Davide Cassi (Physician) Each of the participants discussed what they personally think of the term “molecular gastronomy” and ideally how it should be interpreted, the debate shed light on the continuous advancement (in both cooking and technology) in cooking processes and how slowly everyone has embraced them without any issues. The process of cooking is a scientific process where complex forms are broken down into simpler forms thus making the food palatable; a deeper study of these processes reveals that this same food with advanced applications can be further enhanced to create more curiosity or surprise for a consumer as he would not have witnessed that form, aroma, texture, taste and presentation before. Ferran concluded the debate by announcing that the term “molecular gastronomy” is misleading as one starts immediately connecting it with chemistry, molecular formulas, complicated apparatus, chemicals etc. thus distorting the understanding of this advanced cuisine. This he says is advancement in cuisine and should be completely viewed like that and it should be just termed “Gastronomy”. With this conclusion by the cuisine wizard I (Bakshish) was a happy man as over the years I had been making people understand it exactly the same way as it was meant to be.
Luck By Chance at C 24 a Tapas Bar at Barcelona
We were invited for Tapas at C 24 in Barcelona by our Spanish Friend Andres Jover who is the International Direct for a company called “Eat Out” which has about 11 Fast food casual eating out places across countries and Infact there is one called “Fresco” at Ambience Mall in Gurgaon and another one to open shortly at the Domestic Airport In Delhi. Tapas C 24 is a venture of Chef Carles Abellan, who has worked in “El Bulli” for six years with Chef Ferran Adria. Needles to add that the Tapas were extremely decadent and we recommend the Fried Anchovies, Fried Fresh Nevada Asparagus, Mc Foie Burger served with foie-gras mayonnaise , Patatas Bravas and the Spanish toasted tomato topped bread.Anyways as we ordered our Tapas, we see “Ferran Adria” entering with two of his friends and held our excitement so as to not bother the celebrity Chef though after he was comfortable we went over for a little Chat and some photo-ops and Thanks to Andres the conversation was a whole lot easier as he played interpreter really well!
Summing Up!
We are back in India a Happy couple, Spain was mesmerizing , for its amazing culture , history and the famed “Tapas” and “Valencian Paella” and more so because both of us got to meet one of our very Favorite Chefs.