A Barcelona food blog
The streets of the Gotíc barrio are very deceptive. As I’d arrived a little early for dinner at Project Codols 16 I contemplated how dark and cramped some of the apartments in this part of town must be as so little light hits the street level even on these glorious spring days when the sun is higher in the sky. Yet once the doors of C/Codols 16 were swung open I realised once again that behind those dark paving stones and slightly eerie streets there lie many surprises.
Opening up into an arched passageway, part of a former goods warehouse and one of Gaudi’s many uncompleted projects in the city, there was a dinner waiting that promised to be unusual and special. The narrow alleyway opened up into a candle lit, seated welcome area and indoors a similarly candle lit table under a beamed roof that was going to be the setting for a 7 course dinner, fusing cuina de l’autor with an intimate cello concert.
Our hosts Lucy, cellist partner Pepe and chef AgustinValinoti made us very welcome in this enchanting setting. We diners quickly got to know each other with a glass of cava outside as we waited for everyone to arrive and then amused ourselves as we sat for dinner and saw that our place settings and menus were written on pages of 1970s erotica from editions of Sir! magazine.
Originally from Argentina, chef Agustin trained and worked there before making his way to Spain in 2011 where he refined his skills first at Torre de Alta Mar and later as head chef at Foc where he started to develop and put together his own complete menus. Here is what we had been excitedly waiting for all day.
This was a menu that mixed up all the flavour experiences our mouths can appreciate. Salty, oceanic, creamy, sharp, earthy, sweet, smoky…..this was going to be an interesting and enjoyable roller coaster ride.
I’ll highlight the stand out dishes here. Firstly the Thai style ceviche, which before enjoying the fish we got to sample a ‘shot’ of the curing liquor. Although I was slightly hesitant about it at first itwas briny/lime citrussy and very gratifying and was the perfect introduction to the ceviche itself.
The next star turn was the home made ravioli with lamb stuffing and truffle sauce, which after the previous light fish dishes was velvety and indulgent. Sadly I have no picture to share.
The meal was punctuated by interesting conversation with the other diners..the naughty antics of au pairs, living, working and getting bored of life in Curaçao, weekends at Sonar that lead to sudden moves to Barcelona… If you’re looking for a quiet intimate corner as a couple or a space to dine alone in your own company this might not be for you, but if meeting new people and breaking bread with strangers and friends is your thing then this is recommended.
Punctuating the dinner service we were entertained by a private concert from cellist Pepe Arias. I’ll say now that Pepe is a very talented musician and his short pieces throughout the meal were a real highlight of the evening. As he played he was recording and looping sections as he went, which he then layered and built up so as the piece went on it was like listening to a one man orchestra. I’ve heard DJs do this kind of looping with records in nightclubs but never from a live musician. It was impressive and emotive and I would suggest listening to ‘Siempre Quiere Mas’ from his web page for a brilliant example of his talent and for a flavour of what you will hear.
But back to the food. Another centre stage dish was the Nebraska veal fillet with chargrilled artichokes and reduction. A beautifully balanced dish of that difficult-to-describe brassica/lemony flavour of the artichoke with the sweet, umami beef.
To finish we were grateful that we weren’t going to leave stuffed and could enjoy the light, palate cleansing dessert of strawberry soup topped with crème fraîche, mint and caramelised bananas which showed off the pleasure of this seasons strawberries without over sweetening them.
Project Codols 16 may be in its infancy but the food, setting and music is already growing into a refined and mature adult. The menu changes weekly and for those of us who subscribe to the ethos that ‘Thursday is almost the weekend’ it’s worth seeing what lies behind those huge doors down that dark alley.
Project Codols 16, C/Codol 16,
Dinner includes meal, welcome cava, unlimited wine and cello concert.
Reserve via their facebook page or call 678760783
All photos courtesy of Project Codols 16.