Hotel marks birthday Barcelona-style

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Hotel marks birthday Barcelona-style

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Since its opening in April 2005, the Park Hyatt Seoul has kept to its own definition of ultimate luxury ― discretion and privacy. Therefore, the celebration of the hotel’s first anniversary this month was far from the much-expected extravaganza but rather a small but exquisite dining experience prepared by a two-star Michelin chef and a winemaker, both from Barcelona.
For dinners and brunches last week, the hotel’s executive chef Giorgio Pappalardo opened his Cornerstone restaurant kitchen to the Michelin chef Ramon Frexia and Christophe Brunet of Torres Winery from Spain.
“We wanted to introduce the highly sophisticated cuisine of Barcelona where Spanish chefs have pioneered classic Spanish cuisine with a modern flair,” said Mr. Pappalardo, a native of Besnate-Varese, Italy.
Noting that the general perception of Spanish food in Korea was through a few restaurants specializing in classic dishes such as paella and grilled meat, Mr. Pappalardo said that even outside Korea, the world is not yet aware of Barcelona as a culinary destination.
Opening a bottle of Torres wine, Mr. Brunet said that Spanish food is often overgeneralized as Mediterranean. “Mediterranean includes Moroccan, Greek and Italian, but Spanish food is more complex as it’s influenced by French,” he said.
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Mr. Frexia, 36, is the son of Josep Maria and Dori Frexia, who earned their first Michelin star in 1988 for their classic Spanish cuisine at the renowned El Raco d’en Frexia restaurant in Barcelona. The son followed in the gastronomical steps of his family and joined his father’s kitchen in 1994. The young chef’s understanding of classical cuisine, together with his intense work ethic, dedication and his creativity in the world of contemporary cuisine contributed to earning the famed restaurant a second Michelin star in 2005.
To maintain food quality and to further develop recipes, Mr. Frexia works in a laboratory located adjacent to the restaurant. As the author of the recipe book “Pa, L’Oli i Vi” and winner of such prizes as the “Best Cook and Best Restaurant of Spain,” “Best Cheese Offer” and “Best Desserts,” Mr. Frexia regularly appears in the press and on cooking shows.
In Korea, at the Spanish chef’s touch, the local finds ― such as Korean pork, sea bass and squid ― could have come from Barcelona, after he married them with Spanish green herbs and red spices. Dainty potatoes with classic Romesco sauce, for example, burst with exuberant Spanish flavors in red, yellow and cream sauces. A plate of suckling pig confit with bread crumbs, garbanzo and egg yolk looked elegantly modern yet the taste of all the ingredients jumbled in a mouthful was an express ticket to old country farms in sunny Spain.
Nine wines introduced during the hotel’s anniversary week also provided an uplift for those tasting. Mr. Brunet, a Frenchman who left his country forever because of his love of Spanish food, was particularly proud of the 2000 Mas La Plana wine, popularly known as the “black label” among connoisseurs.
To match Mr. Frexia’s dessert specialty, an ensemble of Valrhona chocolates and coconut ice cream, the winemaker served a deeply ripe dessert wine, Moscatel Oro, or “Golden Muscat,” and a 30-year-old Jaime brandy. The entire menu was a rare treat for epicures seeking pleasure with finesse ― Michelin-style.


by Ines Cho

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