Olive Me Blog

Teresa Parker blogs about restaurants, recipes, and the reasons why she's in love with Spain's food and culture.

Speak, Spongecake

Barcelona chefs Jordi Butrón and Xano Saguer caused a commotion when they opened their restaurant, Espai Sucre back in 2000. This was before New York City's Chickalicious and other experiments in dessert-only menus were on the scene. They came out swinging with philosophical fervor about pastry chefs being chefs, not just twinkie-headed extras. Desserts, they argued, needn't always be sugary afterthoughts. And now, with a little forethought, visitors to Barcelona can get a taste of their techniques . Alongside the Escola's 11-month course for would-be pastry chefs, is an array of "monographic" or short courses in everything from getting over your fear of working with chocolate or spun sugar or those crazy new flavor products to employing all five senses in composing desserts, making confections that incorporate flowers and spices, or perfecting a collection of petits-fours. They've just posted the June through December course schedule on their website. The courses on offer reflect the founders' commitment to creating "a new understanding of dessert that is at once experimental and respectful of tradition," and their propensity for applying "technique and experience to blur the boundaries between sweet and savory." Bringing flavors like green olive oil, smoke, tomatoes, and truffles into superb and beautiful confections is their holy grail, and they've pretty much found it. While traveling cooks seek out the masterminds at Espai Sucre's Escola, serious eaters might just want to try the restaurant itself. Amanda Hesser loved the place, mostly, when she went in 2002: here's her review. Their approach doesn't seem so suprising anymore because others now share their philosophy, but this is still a place full of good ideas and flavors (it's small and popular, so call ahead to reserve for dinner). Restaurant Espai Sucre C/Princesa, 53 Tel: 93-268-16-30 and Escola Espai Sucre C/ Sant Pere Mes Alt, 72 Tel: 93-315-10-22.

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