No fewer than 51 Michelin stars fell on Barcelona’s Hotel Arts on Thursday night, June 12, as the iconic 44-story waterfront landmark put on a UNICEF benefit gala to celebrate the hotel’s 20th anniversary. With 21 chefs from all over Spain preparing their most creative tapas in the hotel garden under a full moon — and under Frank Gehry’s mammoth goldfish — offerings ranged from the rustic to the innovative and exotic.
Francis Paniego’s homemade croquettes from his restaurant Echaurren in La Rioja’s mountain resort of Ezcaray were a nod to his maestra and mother Marisa, while his callos de piel de cerdo a la Riojana, (pork belly made with the skin of the pig instead of the typical insides or tripe), a hearty upland stew served on a 90º Barcelona night, was powerful and intensely flavored.
Callos de piel de cerdo a la Riojana
Marisa Echaurren’s croquettes were, as always, filled with taste, combining chicken, ham, eggs, beef broth and butter. Albert Adrià was on station, preparing and serving up his foie gras en escabeche (pickled foie gras) and looking fit and rested despite now running a total of five restaurants: Tickets, 41º Experience, Pakta, Bodega 1900, and his new Mexican place, Yauarcan.
Ramón Freixa's esponja de jamón negra mar y montaña (black ham sponge surf 'n turf) was an exciting combination of tastes and textures with the ham crisp, crunchy, and salty against maritime fragrance of the shrimp and salmon eggs.
Albert Raurich of Dos Palillos offered white asparagus with kimizu (egg yolk vinegar), a perfect representative of his Asian-Spanish fusion cuisine.
Andoni Luis Aduriz of Errenteria's Mugaritz served a sandwich of kokotxas aliñadas (hake or cod cheeks in a vinegar dressing), Carme Ruscalleda from Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar, Sant Pau in Tokyo, and Barcelona's Moments, presented a prawn on sea toast; Joan Roca, of Girona's El Celler de Can Roca and Barcelona's Roca Moo, proposed a terrine of white asparagus and truffle; Martin Berasategui, of his eponymous restaurant in Lasarte, his Barcelona Lasarte, and M.B in Guía de Isora (on Tenerife, in the Canary Islands) assembled a jalapeño foam with black garlic ice cream, cucumber mayonnaise, and snails, razor clams, and cockles.
Paco Pérez, home chef and chief organizer as the director of the Enoteca restaurant in the Hotel Arts, Miramar in the Costa Brava's Llançà, and Cinco in Berlin, presented a vegetable gnocchi with langoustines. Dani García's foie gras yoghurt with caramelized orange and smoked eel ice cream was a crowd favorite. Among the other participants were Pepe Solla from Pontevedra in northwestern Galicia, Dani Garcia from Andalusia's Marbella, Paco Roncero from Madrid's La Terraza del Casino, Fina Puigdevall from Les Cols in Olot, and Jordi Juncà from La Vall de Bianya's Ca L'Enric, in the foothills of the Pyrénées.
All in all, some 21 tapas, accompanied by wines and cavas from the Empordà's Perelada winery, covered a vast range of geography and culinary creativity.