Photo by Tara Stevens
Carla Tarruella’s latest venture Cornelia and Co is part restaurant, part market with some clever, 21st-century add-ons. She calls it a ‘daily picnic’ store, where you can hand in your shopping list while you sit down with a cup of coffee or meet friends for lunch or dinner, then pick it up on the way out. There’s good variety too, ranging from British cheeses to French patisserie, to fresh pasta sauces and salads, all of it carefully chosen to reflect Carla’s philosophy that to make food well takes time and bucket loads of love.
Patatas bravas with strawberry chutney, beautiful Tuscan burratta drizzled with truffle oil, avocado and tuna tartar nachos, artichoke and prawn ravioli, beef tagliatta with rocket and Parmesan, lemon meringue pie and decadently boozy tiramisu.
Tell us about the Cornelia concept
I’ve had Acontraluz (Milanesat 19, tel. 93 203 0658) for many years, but I was increasingly interested in how lifestyle was affecting what, when and how people ate. We have more interest in food than ever, yet less time for preparing it. So Cornelia is intended to nurture, with a focus on top quality, artisan products and on reconnecting people with the pleasure of putting together simple ingredients. Sort of like having all the specialist food shops of the barrio tucked under one roof.
What is a ‘daily picnic store’?
When we were doing our research we travelled to different cities all over the world to see how other people were eating and what we found was that people weren’t so much cooking from scratch as buying primary, artisan ingredients to ‘put together’ quickly back home. At Cornelia we make sure that everything is ready to go – the pasta, the sauce, the cleaning, the chopping – so it’s a way to ‘cook’ when you don’t really have the time for it. Our approach is to modernise the romantic idea of a picnic, put it in an urban context and turn it into a practical solution to the reality of modern living.
What do you think of the restaurant scene in Barcelona at the moment?
The crisis has changed the game plan significantly. Expensive three-star places are struggling to get people through the door, while lower-end places are skimping on quality to save money, and that doesn’t work either. The true pioneers these days are those returning to our culinary roots and offering accessibly priced, imaginative, high quality food like the middle-ground kind of places that France and Italy are so good at. The notion of a ‘modern Mediterranean cuisine’ is something that we’re going to see a lot more of.
What’s your favourite place to eat off-duty?
I like the Torres brothers at Dos Cielos (www.doscielos.com) for high-end eating, and Xemei (Paseo de la Exposicion 85, Poble Sec, tel. 93 553 5140) for authentic, unpretentious Venetian cuisine. Their passion is tangible the minute you walk through the door and I love that.
Cornelia and Co
Valencia 225, Eixample Esquerra. Tel. 93 272 3956. Open 8am-1am. Lunch/Dinner €15-€30. www.corneliaandco.com