A 12-course dinner at ABaC Restaurant, part of the boutique ABaC Hotel, was one of the highlights of our girls’ trip to Barcelona. We lingered over beautifully-plated, innovative dishes paired with multiple glasses of wine and excellent service in an intimate garden oasis.
I reached out to ABaC Restaurant for a recipe — the dishes are so incredible that anything I recreated would not do them justice — so have included a fabulous dessert recipe courtesy of Chef Jordi Cruz. After studying it and (mostly) making the multipart dessert myself, I have such a new appreciation for the artistry and skill that goes into every detail of a gastronomic masterpiece. It’s motivated me to think about flavors in a new way as well as how best to plate a dish once it’s made. And, I now have a few new tricks up my sleeve for the next time we entertain.
But first, I’d like to tell you what it’s like to dine at ABaC Restaurant because if your travels include Barcelona, you must go.
An Award-Winning Chef
Chef Jordi Cruz describes his cuisine as “evolutionary and restless, based on the product and where creativity and tradition are merged.” You get the sense that he’s perhaps even ahead of his time when you dine at ABaC Restaurant. He pairs flavors together that the average person would never dream of. And, they work. It’s impossible not to notice the immense amount of care and genius present on each plate.
His first Michelin star was earned in 2002 at 24 years old — the youngest chef in Spain and second youngest in the world to receive this distinction. Since he took the lead at ABaC Restaurant and Hotel in 2010, his efforts have earned numerous awards including Best Restaurant in Catalonia 2011 by the Catalan Academy of Gastronomy, two Michelin stars from 2012 to present, and 3 “Soles Repsol” awards since 2013.
ABaC Restaurant is also a recipient of a 2015 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice award!
12 Perfect Courses at ABaC Restaurant
We opted for a mere 12 courses (€135) as we’d already enjoyed quite a bit of the city’s tapas culture earlier in the day and thought (rightfully so) that 16 courses might be too much. I’m so grateful that my friend took a photo of our menu — it changes based on seasonal ingredients — so that I could share it properly with you.
Bloody Mary on the rocks y nitro Bloody with Galician clams
Nut brittle with old Guida cheese, coffee, and chili pepper
Our Chinese bread fried brioche, grilled eel & foie gras, wasabi and kumquat
Thai coral and coconut juices with roasted scallop, green almonds, and chili
Beach flavors with squid and prawn
Mediterranean red mullet
Parmesan gnocchi, wild mushrooms and juices cooked and infused at low temperature with citronella and truffle
Pigeon a la royal with Swiss chard
Beef with cured meats and sea shallots
Apples with celery chervil and Raifort
Spiced ice chocolate infusion, Cocoa and vanilla rocks, Butter and citrus paring
Cocoa white with Asian and tropical flavors
Our first course included an amazing Bloody Mary — one of the most flavorful I’ve ever had — along with perfect clams garnished and placed on ice. I think this was my favorite of the twelve.
I also particularly enjoyed the prawns served on a Himalayan salt block called beach flavors with squid and prawn.
Speaking of presentation, look at the roasted scallops in a stunning coconut bowl. I tried not to fill up on bread, but everything in the basket looked amazing so I couldn’t help myself.
Our server meticulously melted the chocolate in a candlelit glass double boiler at our table and created the spiced ice cream at a station steps away using liquid nitrogen. We could not take our eyes off the process.
The end result was this amazing dessert.
ABaC Restaurant is also known for its signature lipstick frozen desserts, which arrived with petit fours (as if we weren’t already stuffed with dessert). We couldn’t help but enjoy them.
The other fabulous courses that I remembered to photograph are here. It was difficult not to finish each and every decadent one because they were so delicious. The one course I forgot to photograph, perhaps because I was so mesmerized by it, was the gnocchi that literally exploded like a little bomb of cheese flavor in our mouths. Exquisite.
Each course can come with wine pairings for an additional €65, if you choose. I wasn’t sure whether that would be too much wine for me but I regret not ordering it. Instead, we ordered multiple wines by the glass. And, we left almost 4 hours later completely stuffed and satisfied.
Recipe for Anisette Sphere with Quinoa Crackling and Mixed Berries
I list the recipe exactly as it was given to me for those who would like to recreate it to perfection because I truly do believe that sensational recipes like these are a delicate balance of art, science, and expertise from a gifted chef.
While I cook with a scale after living in London, conversions from metric can be made on the internet. You can download the recipe in an easy printable format.
For the anise parfait
- 100 g sugar
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 4 egg yolks
- .4 dl anisette liqueur
- 1 neutral gelatin (2 g)
- 3 dl fresh cream 35% fat
- a little mineral water or syrup
For the crackling
- 100 g Blé corn flour
- 200 g condensed milk
- 70 g inverted sugar (gold)
- 30 g glucose
- 30 g anise
- 2 g crystallized anise powder
For the blackberry juice
- 300 g blackberry
- 400 g raspberry
- 100 g glucose
- 100 g blackberry liquer
- 75g blackberry liqueur (well chilled)
For the quinoa crackling
- 100 g Royal quinoa from the Andes
- 4 dl water
- 50 g sugar
- 30 g butter
- A tablespoon of peanut oil
- passion fruit
- raspberry powder
- lemon thyme
For the anise parfait
- In a thick bottom pot place the sugar and the lemon juice with a little mineral water.
- Mount the egg yolks, When the sugar reaches 121°C remove from the heat and let it rest for one minute.
- Mix the sugar in a thread with the egg yolks stirring constantly. Place the gelatin in the liqueur and dissolve it.
- Beat the cream to the point of medium peak.
- Mix 1/4 cream with the gelatin, add the rest of the cream and at the end the cooked yolk meringue.
- Fill the silicone semi-spheres before it curdles.
For the crackling
- Prepare a syrup with the sugar, the glucose and the anise.
- Remove from the heat and add the crystallized anise powder.
- In a soup tureen mix the condensed milk with the hot syrup and at the end the sifted flour.
- Fill a pastry bag with the mixture and let it rest closed.
- With a very thin cornet make threads 8cm long on a Silpat.
- Bake briefly at 180°C. This dough is very flexible and can be heated to five form.
For the blackberry juice
- In a thick bottom pot place the glucose and the blackberries, cover with plastic film and cook in the Bain Marie for 40 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the water and reserve uncovered overnight.
- The next day, strain pressing lightly.
- Reduce with the 100 g of blackberry liqueur to a syrup texture, for around 20 minutes at medium heat and 5 minutes on the hot-plate.
- At the end, add the rest of the liqueur very cold stirring vigorously.
- Almost all the alcohol will evaporate with the heat but--being cold--the blackberry flavor will remain.
For the quinoa crackling
- Cook the quinoa with the water for about 20 minutes.
- Roll it onto a silicon sheet and dry it at 70°C. When it is dry, it has to be loose.
- Fry the quinoa in the peanut oil to inflate it and dry on a paper towel.
- Prepare a syrup with the sugar, add the butter and the inflated quinoa.
- Make a hole in the anise semi-spheres, fill them with the quinoa syrup and join the halves with the finger tips.
- Reserve the rest of the quinoa to secure the sphere on the plate.
- Let the spheres rest for a few minutes at room temperature to obtain texture.
- On the plate, draw a circle with the blackberry juice and a line that cross the circle.
- Place in an elegant way the berries, the raspberry powder and thyme.
- Place a tablespoon of caramelized quinoa in the center of the place, on top the sphere crowned by two crackling canes of condensed milk.
Recipe is courtesy of ABaC Restaurant in Barcelona
Notes From My Recipe Recreation
After a summer of travel and not having done much in the kitchen, I impressed myself by making almost the entire recipe. I was not able to locate crystallized anise powder, which is actually a strong candy, so I omitted it from the crackling and it was still delicious. The crackling is easy to make, and I enjoyed creating different shapes with the strands.
I also hadn’t purchased Royal quinoa before. It’s a bit larger and I like the texture better than regular quinoa. Our Sprouts market sells an organic rainbow Royal quinoa so that is what I used.
The blackberry juice requires rest overnight so you’ll need to plan accordingly. I used a double boiler as I do not have a traditional Bain Marie. It is delicious and I might reserve some on the side with a spoon (doubling this part of the recipe might be in order) so guests can drizzle more on if they like.
You haven’t lived until you’ve tried the quinoa crackling. I could have licked the pan clean. It’s basically quinoa mixed with caramel sauce. I was so excited after my first taste that when it was warm, I immediately plated it and put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I never made the anisette sphere in the end, but will give it a go next time because the quinoa and syrup go inside of the sphere!
Normally, I would not have thought to garnish with berries or rosemary leaves and flowers (which I had in the garden). But what a difference they make!
When I’m in Barcelona next, I will certainly book another reservation at ABaC Restaurant. After this recipe experience, I feel that I have a keener eye and deeper appreciation for the brilliance of Chef Jordie Cruz and his fellow chefs.
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*This post is brought to you in partnership with TripAdvisor. My experience at ABaC was funded by me.
**ABaC garden terrace and Chef Jordi Cruz images are courtesy of ABaC Restaurant, along with the recipe.