Can Jubany

The connection with Catalonia grew stronger when I got super lucky when a friend invited me to join her for pastry training in a Michelin starred restaurant in Vic (pronounced as Bic). Vic is a small town near Girona, which is the heart of Catalonia. An hour away from the BCN city, its simple quaintness and proximity to some of the region’s smaller towns made it so very special. The 3 weeks at Nandu’s restaurant – Can Jubany – was an experience I will cherish for a long-long time. Nandu was kind to say the least. His chefs were amused to have us there but in their broken English and with some help from Google translator I got by. Nandu believes in details. I didn’t know much that happened in the hot kitchen but as far as the pastry section is concerned – every mint leaf on the dessert plate, every flower petal on the plate had to be fresh. Every plated dessert that went out had to be on the customer’s table in less than a minute of plating. The kitchen is a hard place; it’s everything you see on TV – abusive , abrasive , stressful (I made sure I learnt the abuses in Catalan so I would know when someone was hurling them my way). I was a trainee, translated to ‘piece of shit’. I plucked fresh mint leaves, grated the rind off 100s of lemons, picked out fresh eggs from the farm, always had a cleaning wipe in my hand and hell, I worked 15 hrs a day! And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Can Jubany in Vic, Catalonia

Can Jubany in Vic, Catalonia

Chef Nandy Jubany helping us with our staff lunch

Chef Nandy Jubany helping us with our staff lunch

Thank God for my time earlier at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, which made the Pastry Chef discover my possible talent and capability and I was moved-up from slave labour to what may be a commis chef level. I began to work on the Petit Fours and later plated desserts. And, things got better. I made friends, they spoke broken English and I broken Catalan and with all the help from the phone apps, we had conversations that I will cherish a lifetime. It was a glorious 3 weeks of learning and I don’t really care about the Michelin stars, but in my opinion Can Jubany is one of the finest restaurants in Catalonia. Please do visit.

Dessert at Can Jubany

Dessert at Can Jubany

Dessert at Can Jubany

Dessert at Can Jubany

The staff at Can Jubany ready to take their summer break

The staff at Can Jubany ready to take their summer break

My time and the few weekends in Vic got me eating at a few other places. Clearly, the world has to know that Catalonia and the Basque region (San Sebastion) has really the best food in the world. I had the pleasure of meeting one such chef – Chef Ignasi – at his restaurant Cal Ignasi. What an absolutely wonderful meal. His kitchen was so different from Nandu’s, but both masters in their own way. Then there was Sant Pau, a wonderful restaurant in Sant Pol de Mar, a town between Barcelona and Girona. In 2009 it was awarded three Michelin stars and three Campsa-Repsol suns. The restaurant is headed by chef Carme Ruscalleda. I had the tasting menu ‘Carnet de Ball’ where every dish was a piece of Art. A restaurant I’d definitely go back to.

Cal Ignasi, Catalonia

Cal Ignasi, Catalonia

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I tried calling El Celler de Can Roca; they were booked for the next 6 months. I guess the heavens insist that I just go back.

My Barcelona Diaries

Where do I begin? Yes, I love Paris but Barcelona was and will always be the closest to my heart. I didn’t know much about Barcelona, except that it was Spain. Till a self-respecting, mildly arrogant and terribly good looking Catalan explained the difference to me. And rightfully, I never went back to Spain again. But I went back time and again to Catalonia. Every time I flew across the European continent, I paused in Barcelona. It had everything I ever looked for in a city. Streets to walk on and gaze at architectural marvels ( by that I mean mostly Gaudi’s work), museums, the ocean, the cathedrals and food. Perhaps, Barcelona is the region that has produced the best food and certainly has produced some of the greatest culinary geniuses.

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Gracia Suburbs, Barcelona

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The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona

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Barrigothic, Barcelona

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Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

My Barcelona connection just kept getting stronger with every visit. My Catalan friend helped me discover BCN and I saw it through the eyes of a local. I ate Catalan food at the Michelin starred restaurants as well as at the street side cafes. Mind you, I never ate Paella on La Ramblas; that’s a typical touristy thing to do in BCN. I discovered the by lanes of beautiful suburbs of Gracia, Eixample, the Gothic Quarters. I’ve never walked as much anywhere as I did here in this exasperatingly beautiful city. And no, I didn’t stop and waste my time at Zara or Mango. I never missed an opportunity to get to del Liceo, Barcelona’s opera house, or to have a tallat (a short cappuccino) at Palau de la Música.

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del Liceo, Barcelona

On weekends I ran away to Ripoll, Cantonigros, Rupit, Figueres where I saw the works of Salvador Dali – the mad genius!

Somehow, I never feel bad leaving Barcelona because I know I’ll be back soon.

My favourite places to eat at in Barcelona:

Petite Comite
Llamber
Bar Pinotxo
Tapas 24

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Petite Comite, Barcelona

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Petite Comite, Barcelona

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Cafè de l’Òpera, Barcelona

For Desserts:

Bubo – At the trendy El Born area, outstanding for its chocolates and desserts; there is something for everyone.
Hoffman – I hate to say it , but I’ve never had a better croissant ever, not even in Paris! The mascapone croissant made me weak in the knees. It’s every bit worth the hype. I would suggest you wash it down with the beautiful sumatra coffee from El Magnifico. Just divine!
Escriba – Arguably the best Barcelona has; the exploding cakes, chocolate walls and sugar jewellery look straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Oh, and the hot chocolate is to die for.

 

Bubo, Barcelona

Bubo, Barcelona

Bubo, Barcelona

Bubo, Barcelona

Hoffman, Barcelona

Hoffman, Barcelona