Bambarol falls into a rare category of restaurant. (One of my favourite categories.) Where the chefs behind the stove have the wherewithal for extraordinary edible feats and fancies yet reign it all in to produce food you want to eat everyday. (Chefs Cirera and Firpo have worked at a roster of Michelin restaurants including Saüc and El Celler de Can Roca.)
The waiter knows the gentleman sitting outside drinking Aperol by name: Eric. Eric wants to know if he can have an order of the bolets (mushrooms) even though they aren’t on the menu today. (Eric speaks to his companion in French, reads a Spanish newspaper and can carry on with the waiter in Catalan.)
Moments later, a young family arrive with a baby. They greet the other waiter with kisses (always kisses in Barcelona). They are followed by a pair of elegant ladies, the kind that wear the bulky necklaces to adorn robustly starched white shirts and set off their heavily hairsprayed dos.
Bambarol, which is how the people of Lleida refer to the poppy flower, attracts all sort. It has also managed to engender loyalty from the locals. They fill the bistro space rapidly and begin to order plates for sharing.
My waiter guides me through the ordering. A salad of baby spinach, dehydrated strawberries, sweet walnuts and cranberries (€5) “full of antioxidants” he elaborates. I order bravas (€4.10) which come with ample mayonnaise and a deep flavoured tomato sauce with a small pool of oil settling down beneath them. The scallops with shaved asparagus on papada (jowel) (€13.20).
“They make a stock for 30 hours.” the waiter enthuses when I order it, rattling off the ingredients. “Then they take the jowel and submerge it in the stock where it cooks for 14 hours. That is why it is so soft and unctuous.” One of the chefs, Ferran Maicas Cirera, comes out to serve it to me later. “It takes us 30 hours to make the stock” he begins. And I smile inwardly because the folks at Bambarol remind me of people who are so in love with their babies (or pets) that they consider every gurgle riveting to all.
Which I like.
I like, I love people who are humming with involvement in whatever, cuckoo clocks, anything really as long as they are engaged.
After the trotters (€7.70) enter my bloodstream, I think: I can not.
Not another morsel.
“Do you have anything light? Definitely not the cheesecake.”
I settle on a cold cantaloupe soup with aloe vera and a scoop of carrot and orange sorbet. I could love cantaloupe but the contemporary habit of picking everything under-ripe makes me merely abide it or at best – pair it with some Parma ham. Still, Japanese Yubari King melons can fetch up to 12k if they are exceptional. Which is the thought that pops into my mind after a mouthful of this dessert.
Seriously? Sublime. The balance between of all the elements, the aloe vera, the amplified refreshment of the orange when paired with the carrot. The absence of sticky sweetness that is present in the majority of desserts in Barcelona. It’s hair prickling up on your arms good. (And to think, I thought I couldn’t eat another morsel).
It’s obvious that I’m smitten I guess. Next time, Eric is going to have to fight me for those bolets.
See this and more addresses on my Foodie in Barcelona Map