Classic Tortilla at Barrafina

image

There are some meals that break you. Of course, there are those so revolting, or so chaotic, that you end up exasperated and miserable. But others break you because they’re so good, so spectacular from both a culinary and experiential perspective, that you’re pretty sure your eating-life will never be the same again.

“Often the selected dish in the Time Out top 100 hasn’t been quite up to scratch”

This was one of those meals that broke me by being Just. So. Damn. Good.

James happened to me in town, so we made use of the fact that whenever he comes along we have a great Chowdown Showdown, and this was no exception. The highlights of the meal were so many it’s hard to even list them. Impeccable tuna tartare with a fresh avocado salsa. Tender squid on a spicy passata. A cheese fritter which oozed and delighted in equal measure. Indulgent pata negra (which we plotted how to steal). The black pudding was rich and not exactly to my taste, but James and Rachael practically fought over who got to devour the last morsel.

And every dish was presented like a work of art, feeding the eyes first, though definitely not  beautiful in a way that made us consider for a moment not diving right in.

So – the tortilla? Often the selected dish in the Time Out top 100 hasn’t been quite up to scratch when compared to others on offer in the relevant establishment. It’s also true that tortilla is never going to be the most complex dish, or allow chefs to show off and demonstrate the full range of their abilities. But this tortilla is a delight. We tried a classic version, plus one with ham and spinach. Both divulged a flow of rich, yolky flavour on being cut, delivering an instant aroma that the perfect, browned discs hid with their humble exterior.

“There are some meals that break you”

The flavour emphasised eggs (obviously), but in a way that showed just how good these miracles of nature can be when they’re allowed to take centre stage and not cooked till bouncy – in fact this is a dish as much about feel on the tongue as flavour. The ham and spinach match the rich, indulgent fattiness of the eggs, rather than trying to steal the limelight.

You’d be disappointed if you only ate tortilla at a restaurant that offers such a variety of spectacular colours, shapes and tastes. But I’d argue you’d be missing out if you didn’t have at least one small plate of this delicious, if simple, complement to any tapas meal.

Heaven and Earth at Hix

image

Black pudding isn’t for everyone. I know many people are squeamish about it, but I’ve learnt to like the stuff, though I doubt it’ll ever be my first choice.

“…this could be the best  blood-based dish I’ve eaten”

Hix has reinvented this bloody sausage, making an aromatic, soft, almost gritty ball, in a filmy skin that collapsed into a somewhat off-putting cobweb. Rather than being dense and tough, you couldn’t slice and fry this sausage. Its grainy form crumbles into dollops of not-too-irony, meaty flavour.

The “earth” half of the pairing is potatoes, somewhere between crushed spuds and mash. The pudding sits on top of this, with a drizzling of sweet appley, oniony sauce.

I can’t honestly say I’ll rush back to have this again (c.f. black pudding never going to be my favourite thing), but this could be the best blood-based dish I’ve eaten!

30/100 best dishes in London