Photo by Tara Stevens
Chris Stewart is the celebrated author of Driving Over Lemons (Entre Limones in Castilian) first published in 1999. Since then all four of his best selling books have been translated into Catalan. We got together at La Taverna de la Clínic to talk food, books and Barcelona.
Has living somewhere as remote as El Valero changed the way you eat?
To some extent we’ve gone for the Mediterranean diet, but most importantly we eat what’s in season and what grows around here. Our friend Pilar in Madrid won’t make gazpacho until well into August. Even in Spain you see, there’s only a brief window where you get really good, fresh tomatoes.
Nearly all of our meat is our own, we eat sheep, sheep and sheep. There’s a wonderful quote from Garrison Keillor about his old aunt who was self-sufficient. “I won’t buy meat,” she said, “because you can taste the misery in it.” That pretty much sums up the way we feel about it. We spend a huge amount of time on the production and consumption of food compared to urban dwellers, but that’s how we like it.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just written a piece for Ox-Tales—a series of short stories written for free by different writers—the proceeds of which go to Oxfam. The new series is on travel, specifically ‘a journey to meet somebody’. I went to a village up the river to get a cure for a nasty little complaint I’ve had on that part of the body of which we do not speak. I’m also about to start work on the fourth, and probably final, book in the Driving Over Lemons series.
What brings you to Barcelona?
Work and food. Andalucia is the best place in the world to live, but it’s the worst place to eat. Barcelona’s markets are a treat. I’d rather spend a morning in one of them, than in any cathedral in the world.
What did you think of La Taverna del Clínic?
I was dazzled by the adventurousness and success of those little dishes. It was an inauspicious start out on the street in the freezing cold, yet we soon forgot about it. Every dish—artichokes with clams, morels with foie, trinxat with pork belly, poached eggs with caviar, chocolate truffles —were so artistic and beautiful. I don’t like huge quantities of food anymore; I like varied and exquisite taste sensations and that’s what I got.
Any other eating tips in Barcelona?
Sitting on a stool in the Boqueria is pretty special. I love the unorthodox-style of eating that you do so well in Barcelona. It’s way off normal, run-of-the-mill stuff.
La Taverna del Clínic
C/Rosselló 155, Eixample Esquerra. Tel. 93 410 4221 www.latavernadelclinic.com
Open: Mon-Fri, 7.30am-11pm; Sat, 1pm-11.30pm. Closed Sun. Approx €35 for several tapas to share and a couple large glasses wine