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The seven-course menu is scribbled onto pages of 1970s erotica magazines, which also serve as great conversation starters.
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Text and photos by Amanda Astramowicz
You may have already heard a thing or two about ‘secret dinners’, the latest trend in eating out. Already booming in New York, this pop-up restaurant concept invites you to dine in the homes of perfect strangers, enjoy delicious homemade cuisine and share a unique experience with people you’ve never met before. It’s an alternative approach to an intimate dinner party or supper-club-style dinner out and referred to by some as the “Airbnb for hungry people”.
Project Codols 16 in Barcelona has taken the idea and made it even more exceptional. Four clever individuals have come together to design the ultimate secret dining experience. Lucy Beckwith from the UK has opened the doors to her enormous, historic flat in the Gótic, welcoming city dwellers, travellers, friends and strangers to indulge in a night of fine food, live music, art, and conversation.
Lucy greets me at the door and takes me through an arched passageway where other guests are chit-chatting, and the amiable Dutch hostess Chloé Quellhorst immediately hands me a glass of chilled cava. Light jazzy music sets the ambience, and soon enough we are called inside where two, long and luxuriously-set tables are pushed together and dressed in white cloth. As we take our seats, Lucy reveals that the apartment is an unfinished work by Gaudí.
In the open kitchen the chef works away alongside rows of plates on the countertop, just about ready to be served. Set up in the corner is a makeshift stage, lit by dimmed blue and red spotlights and surrounded by vintage suitcases filled with wine bottles, synthesisers, a DJ setup and a cello.
Wine and cava bottles are passed around the table as Argentinian resident chef Agustin Valinoti introduces himself and his wonderful dishes, both in English and Spanish. Highlights of the evening include Thai-style ceviche, homemade ravioli with lamb stuffing and truffle sauce, and a dessert strawberry soup topped with mint, crème fraîche, and caramelised bananas.
The seven-course menu is scribbled onto pages of 1970s erotica magazines, which also serve as great conversation starters. “It’s unique in the sense that it’s personal but then again not so. It’s like having dinner at a friend of a friend’s, yet it doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in someone’s living room,” says diner Edger Meij, 32, who is from Amsterdam and has lived in Barcelona for over a year. As we talk, singer and musician Pepe Arias from Chile pours his heart out, performing his original music, switching between classical cello and synthesisers.
As the soirée comes to an end, envelopes are carefully placed in front of each diner where we leave our contributions for the evening. The lights dim down and Pepe Arias performs his touching single, ‘Siempre Quiere Más’ followed by a high-energy electronic set, ending an unforgettable evening on a suitably high note.
Project Codols 16
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Listen to Pepe Arias perform with his voice, cello, synthesisers and drum machines.