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Catalunya: Barcelona, Gaudi and Rebellion

The initial ground work for this dinner we are going to enjoy tonight began right here in Livingston in 2005. Fourteen years ago, I met a wandering Gypsy from Barcelona, this “Gitano” was hitchhiking across the north of US and somehow ended up in The Murray Bar. I heard this Spanish accent and before I knew it the whole bar was having a blast with this guy. By 2am, he was quite drunk and he crashed at my house. The next day he came in and cooked family meal for the whole staff and then, in typical Gypsy fashion, he was gone.

Six years later, we had succeeded in buying the “Gil’s Got It” building, and I was busy trying to execute my vision of a southern European café in our little town. While the wood fired brick oven was being built, I hopped a cheap flight to Barcelona to make sure I really understood what I was trying to create. I knew no one in Barcelona, except the Gitano and I dropped him a line. Before I knew it this hairy Gypsy was hugging and kissing me as I disembarked from the plane. He threw my bags in the back of a late 70’s era Jeep Cherokee and headed out of town. He explained that he didn’t live in Barcelona, but rather a little Catalonian town on the Costa Brava about 45 minutes to the south called “Vilanova y el Geltru”. This town was exactly what I always dreamed that Spain would be like: medieval city with no cars, cheese and wine shops everywhere, cafes bustling with hurried waiters at all hours, bakeries on every corner and a real Rambla that was packed with everyone walking to the beach. I spent weeks just wandering the streets, drinking café cortos and basically falling in love with everything around me. One day, I wandered into a little restaurant called “El Boaco” and met it’s chef and owner Victor for the first time. For the next several weeks, I was tearing around Catalunya on a scooter with Victor as my guide. Over the last 7 years, we have always kept in touch. I have returned to Spain multiple times and Victor’s whole family have seen the Rodeo and Yellowstone National Park. This is Victor’s third time to Montana and it is so much fun for us to have him here, especially during the storm we are experiencing tonight!!

The region of Catalunya encompasses the northeast corner of Spain and has Barcelona as its

head. There have always been some pretty big differences of opinion between Madrid and Barcelona. The Catalonian’s are a proud people who in general do not see themselves as part of Spain. Madrid is simply there to squander the hard earned tax dollars of this, the economic powerhouse of Spain. The Basque Country and Catalonia make up close to 70% of the entire economic revenue of the country, which is more than obvious as you walk down the Paseo de Gracia in downtown Barcelona and witness the works of art and architecture

by DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:19aerthe master Antoni Gaudi, such as the Pedrera, Casa Batllo and of course the Sagrada Familia. Around Barcelona are the wine regions of the Penedes, Priorat and Montsant, which produce so much great sparkling and still wine that just seems to fly under the radar. The Catalonians don’t really seem to mind as it keeps the prices down and they have more than enough for themselves. Tonight, we will begin with a whole suitcase full of smuggled canned goods, which if you do not already know, Spain has elevated to an art form. We will be pairing this with a Porron of Sangria de Cava, which is one of the greatest Spanish party favors ever. Next, we have some classic Spanish tapas, olives and even some Jamon Iberco to drink with more Cava, as Copas de Cava are seemingly endless in Barcelona. Next, we move on to a classic tomato and bocqueron salad paired with a very rare creature, a white wine from the Priorat. For our next two courses, we will pair huge red wines from the Priorat with two of the most classic dishes of the region. First, in a nod to

Bacalao, we offer Alaskan Black Cod a la Llauna, prepared with paprika and glorious olive oil, also courtesy of Victor’s suitcase. After a little sorbet to cool our palates, we will move into the most classic comfort food of the region and a great dish for a cold night like tonight called Fricando. It is rare for the region, as it is generally prepared with beef or veal instead of the typical seafood. It is a slow cooked fried beef dish with mushrooms with ground pine nuts and almonds. This is Victor’s grand mother’s recipe and I could not have gotten the flavors right without him. We are pairing this wine with one of my all time favorite wines Pasanau’s Finca La Planeta, before finishing off with Crema Catalana and coffee. Thank you all for coming!!

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