Wednesday, 24 September 2008 by kinakoJam
OK, everybody, breathe out. I finally found the perfect tortilla.
It's from Tapaç 24, a restaurant run by Carles Abellan (an El Bulli protegée). The menu has a selection of traditional Catalan tapas, which is mostly pretty straight up, with a few diva twists. Like the fois gras burger, which is a small patty of beef and fois gras fused between 2 thin buns on a hot plate and presented in waxed paper like a real take out burger.
This is yummy (and the baby squid 'a la plancha', grilled, are dope too) but the best thing I had from there was the bacalao tortilla above, on my first (solo) visit. This is the kind of dish that changes the way you see the world.
First of all it has the soaked salt-preserved cod called bacalao, and white beans and a bit of spinach in it, which gets it off to a roaring start. But unlike every other Spanish tortilla, it is not a wedge of oversized, overcooked 'yakitamago' glue. The egg is a very loose binding and is still runny in places. The chunks of bacalao are meaty morsels in the gloop. This tortilla is not currently on the menu - I read about it on some website so ordered it for breakfast, and the waiter went and checked with the kitchen if they'd make it (which luckily they did). It's smaller than my hand span but a perfect light breakfast and it cost 8 euros including my 'cortado': the delicious Spanish version of a short espresso with milk.
I've been back there a few times since then since it has the double virtues of being close to where we are staying (just a couple of blocks up the ritzy Passeig de Gracia boulevard from the touristy Universidad- Placa Catalunya triangle, so totally spitting distance) - and it's open until midnight, unlike a lot of good spots which close at 10 or 11pm.
It's not the kind of spot that makes a big deal about vegetables, so get ready for a protein-carb pig out. Most of the dishes are very simple so don't expect any El Bulli style smoke and mirrors. The stews in black iron pans are very good, like the oxtail with white beans, the arroz Negro con sepia (tasty gluggy black rice with squid ink and a pinch of calamari shreds on top), and the deeply flavoured brown lentils with chorizo (below). The squid ink one was my fave.
The dishes I personally wouldn't bother with unless you're drunk are the diva dishes (which also happen to be the most junk-foody): like their spin on patatas bravas (french fries with a fresh tomato salsa and mayo), the 'bikini' toasted sandwich with mozzarella and Iberico ham, and the chocolate mousse/sorbet with olive oil and salt, which wasn't much of an event for me although Erik loved it.
Oh on the junk food tip... I guess I would still like to try their dish of french fries topped with loosely scrambled eggs and a bit of chorizo, which I saw served to a pair of Australians sitting next to us at the counter. I like a nice sloppy egg.