Barcelona chef’s table

Beverley Byrne checks into the sumptuous Mandarin Oriental and marvels at a chef with no less than seven Michelin stars

For centuries Barcelona has played a crucial role in global trading; cherry picking, assimilating and recalibrating alternative cultures in the process.  From Gaudi’s visionary architecture to the multi-Michelin starred cuisine of Catalan chef, Carme Ruscadella, Barcelona’s talent for cultural fusion forms part of its DNA.

If proof were needed, simply step from the fin de siecle facades of Barcelona’s frenetic, wallet depleting shopping paradise, Passeig de Gracia, into the Zen like calm of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  Serene and streamlined, the elegant rooms and suites are designed to calm the senses whilst The Spa’s stress busting treatments border on Nirvana.

When it comes to restaurants, the Mandarin Oriental goes global. Terrat, a laid back rooftop restaurant featuring alfresco dining, panoramic views and an aquiline dipping pool, transports guests to Peru. Here chef Gaston Acurio reinvents his homeland’s cuisine with zinging panache and a nod to the Orient.

Explore the world in cocktail form in the clubbable subterranean atmosphere of the Bankers Bar. With such geographically diverse choices as a Pisco Mule or Nihonbashi Sour, the bar could claim awards for services to global entente. The same applies to Blanc, the sociable breakfast to supper brasserie where the menu, designed by gastronomic legend, Carme Ruscadella, celebrates Catalonian, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine.

World class cooking
Self-taught Carme is the only woman in the world to be awarded seven Michelin Stars: three at ‘Sant Pau’ in Sant Pol de Mar, two at Tokyo’s ‘Sant Pau’ and two at The Mandarin Oriental’s flagship restaurant Moments where her son, Raül Balam, is head chef.  Inspired by Catalonia’s rich and venerable culinary legacy, the Moments tasting menu radiates symphonic gastronomy.

Although the Bible sized wine list offers world class vintages, complementing the Moments menu are wines chosen specifically from Catalonia. Amongst these ‘Aire’, is a superior Cava produced especially for the Mandarin Oriental by L’Origan, a small winery based in the Penedes region where most Spanish Cava is produced.

In the heart of Cava capital, Sant Sadurni, L’Origan’s organic wines mature in a maze of dank underground cellars built in l906. A family business, L’Origan (Spanish for Oregano) combines the expertise of seasoned Cava producer Manuel Martinez with the élan and enthusiasm of his son Carlos and niece Alba who, as babies were baptised twice, once by a priest and once by their fathers – with Cava!

Alba and Carlos exemplify the younger, pioneering Penedes generation who are elevating Cava to greater heights, hence the air balloon motif adorning the L’Origan labels. Their showstopping rosé rises to the occasion and, like Barcelona and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, proves delectably uplifting.

Make it real
Mandarin Oriental rooms from 375 Euros per room and 850 Euros per suite per night. Travel from London Gatwick with Vueling airlines. A single flight to Barcelona starts from £24.99 when booking direct. For general city info visit Barcelona Tourism

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