Photo by Tara Stevens
Sarah Stothart was the head chef at Barcelona’s first clandestine supper club and restaurant, Tapioles 53, which sadly shut earlier this year. Never one to sit on her laurels, she let us in on where she’s going from here
The lunch: Can Kenji
Duck harumaki with summer shoots, creamy octopus bunyols, sardine tempura with anchovy miso and aubergine purée, secreto Ibérico with Ponzu sauce, beef tongue with artichokes.
What’s next after Tapioles 53?
Right now I’m focused on being a mum after the birth of my second child, but I’m also keen to start a blog—also named Tapioles 53—that will talk about my foodie upbringing, how my parents influenced me and taught me how to cook. I want to give a flavour of my own style and how I see food, and of course I’ll offer plenty of recipes along the way. Long term, I’d love to see it turned into a book.
What do you think about the Barcelona dining scene right now?
To be honest I am a bit out of touch...having a two-month-old babe does that, but I do think it’s a hard time to have a restaurant. Food prices are shooting up yet the prices in restaurants are the same, if not dropping and I still hear people complain about prices. The effect of the rising food prices is that the quality of the restaurant food is dropping. A few years ago, by mid-July the only tomatoes to be bought in the markets came from local gardens, deep red beauties bursting with a rich tomato aroma, but now it’s all cheap southern tomatoes, red but hard as rocks, and they are everywhere simply because they are cheaper.
What’s the most exciting thing happening in Barcelona in terms of food?
The Chinese community is growing fast, and they are bringing their food culture with them. There are going to be some great places opening up if you keep an eye on them.
Why did you choose Can Kenji for lunch today?
I really like this place. They do great food, simple clean flavours, but always something different, like shitake mushroom caps stuffed with a prawn mix, monkfish roe and tofu, or tempura of dried squid. They also have a short but good wine list. I tend to go for an Italian white...and I also like the space; it’s simple but pleasant with an open kitchen and opposite the kitchen, hanging on the wall, is a large and very beautiful painting by a Japanese artist.
Sarah’s top tips
I love the Santa Caterina market in the Born. Specifically there is a stall called Huevería Gomez-Maldonado run by a woman called Encarna Maldonado García who just sells eggs: chicken, ostrich, duck, pretty much everything. But her best eggs are those that have been stored with truffles and are heavenly. Soft boil them to just set and serve with toast soldiers slathered in salty French butter.
Rosselló 325, tel. 93 476 1823, www.cankenji.com. Approx €25 per person based on several shared dishes and wine. Open daily: 1pm-3.30pm, 8.30pm-11.30pm