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Traditional Spanish Food with a Twist in Farringdon:
When I was contacted by Ibérica with a request to promote some of their Spanish recipes I rather unashamedly took advantage of the situation. Of course, I’d be happy to publicise their recipe collection if I got to try some of the food first. Of course, I HAVE been to Ibérica, but only to the Canary Wharf branch, and only for a quick sherry and tapas before a rather more formal dinner. Joined by Madeleine who writes ‘KitchenJourneys’ we were charmed by the traditional decor, very different from the modernist setting in Canary Wharf. The Farringdon branch is the most recent Ibérica to open and we learnt that the fittings have largely been brought over from Spain. The effect is remarkable, timeless and essentially Spanish.
Until I was contacted by Ibérica I hadn’t realised that the Group executive chef, Nacho Manzano has three Michelin stars to his name, the first two for Casa Marcial and the third for La Salgar in Spain. So, I was really curious to try some of the dishes. Our helpful waiter, over in London to improve his English, guided us through the menu and suggested a few dishes.
I got the distinct impression we wouldn’t have been allowed to leave without trying the Cecina, a salted air-cured beef from León. With PGI status, Cecina de León is a delicacy which has been in existence since around 4,000 BC. Tender, fine leaves of beautifully flavoured meat was truly moreish and an excellent recommendation
While the Gazpacho might not have been my first choice of dish, what appeared was a refreshing earthy red bowl of chilled soup with beetroot and anchovies adding real depth of flavour. I’ve discovered the recipe for Gazpacho of red berries is on the Iberica website and may just see how close an approximation I can make for myself.
Pan con Tomate was served on excellent toasted bread but the tomatoes seemed closer to the pallid English varieties that are available at this time of year than to the fragrant Spanish produce.
Meanwhile, octopus with potato and pimenton was a melting, carefully spiced dish. Beautifully presented, it was perhaps just a little too tender, though I loved the paprika infused potatoes
The recipe for croquetas is also on the Iberica website. Of course, these are the real thing, made with a ‘set’ roux of flour, milk eggs and butter rather than thickened with potato. The result is a croqueta with a perfectly crisp exterior and a melting middle once cooked. Dangerously delicious, we made light work of a large portion.
Meanwhile, more food was arriving. I hadn’t been convinced by the idea of asparagus, manchego, onion confit and truffle oil on toast, but what arrived was delicious. My photo really doesn’t do justice to the dish with it’s cheesy, onion base topped by soft asparagus.
For me, the crispy confit of Segovian suckling pig served with apple pureé and friseé salad was the piece de resistance. But that may simply be my preconception. I once holidayed in and around Segovia with a vegetarian friend. Once I’d discovered suckling pig, much to his horror I ordered it for pretty much every other meal. There is no other pork dish like it and I will freely admit to being a little addicted.
I’m just as addicted to the dessert I ordered, churros with chocolate sauce. Here tiny crisp churros served stylishly were complemented by a traditional chocolate sauce rather than the melted chocolate that I’ve found elsewhere.
Madeleine was tucking into caramelised rice pudding. From the speed at which it was demolished, I suspect she will be delighted to find the recipe, though somehow I doubt she owns a flat iron any more than I do.
After coffee we watched the bar manager preparing Smoked Old Fashioneds in total awe. Next time, I’m going in the evening, I’m going hungry and I’m going to have a Smoked Old Fashioned.
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