Savor- “ing” Mangalica and bartaco Bites!

Two days, over two thousand attendees, and twenty two celebrity chefs including “Restaurant: Impossible” star Chef Robert Irvine were in attendance at the Connecticut Convention Center for Savor this year. We were also at the “celebration of wine, food, and spirits” serving up favorite bartaco and Barcelona bites.

From meeting so many new people to sharing our food with Chef Irvine, it was a packed weekend full of great energy!

kcV00Dk6b4uqcRW5s9qTUZdyGpvx_-_cev0i2WAwtWoChef Eric Stagl slicing some delicious Hungarian Mangalica ham. Mangalica pigs are classified as a rare breed and are known for their thick hairy coat similar to a sheep’s!

4cj4jR2lXiygY492Dn8VIqo_GmaSUhyeJNpCAx9xpbc Barcelona swag galore!

ENBwZGU4mFYkPnU79zap0ojrBSGuRQpx8lERuwJWQyo Kari, from bartaco, serving some delicious tacos to Chef Robert Irvine!

I_CraZleS5Nu5Av3QbaKMipbVd1nBY4s4B21PmWjm7oSeems like Chef Robert Irvine, the weekend’s celebrity chef headliner, approves heartily!

IM9fg_7JnDU-Hx9BFhMVIiJzhMH5zToXfAyWCh6e32sChef Brian Clark Chef Eric Stagl with Chef Irvine.

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Ten Tips for Making the Perfect Cocktail

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By Dan Hoagland, Bar Manager Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant

(photography courtesy of: Troy Lilly)

1. Use the proper amount of alcohol

You may think that you are doing your guest a favor by adding more alcohol than is called for in any specific cocktail, but really, you are doing the cocktail a gross injustice by throwing off its balance. The favor you thought you were doing has rendered the cocktail undrinkable strong. Make the drink correctly, and your effort will be rewarded.

2. Listen to your guest

If a guest tells you that they are not a fan of tequila, don’t reply, “Oh you’re not? Let me change your mind!” All relationships are founded on trust, so trust your guest’s tastes, stay within their guidelines, and you will do just fine.

3. Include the garnish

Sometimes the Garnish is overlooked, but why? It is an important part of the drink, both as an eye-catching addition that dresses up your drink as well as an essential ingredient. The correct garnish is great for rimming the glass to give a hint of flavor on the first sip, or to give it a twist to release the oils and add natural bitters. You can also use the garnish and its oils to flame the cocktail, caramelize its oils and of course add the visual appeal of a flame.  Lastly, garnish can be a snack before or after finishing the cocktail. Garnish goes a long way.

4. Use the correct form of ice

Never forget the importance of ice! Some drinks call for crushed, others for large cubes, or small cubes, large spheres, etc. Why are there so many different choices? Because each form works differently in their specific cocktail. The ice cools the cocktail, dilutes the drink differently depending on its shape, and works as a balancing agent that gives the cocktail its best flavor. Less ice does not make for a better drink, rather it can cause a drink to warm quickly and its drinkability is spoiled.

5. Respect the ice

This is pretty simple. If your ice is old or frost bitten, do yourself a favor and stay away from it. Why? Because ice absorbs and then imparts flavors that can spoil your cocktail. Who would want to ruin all of that delicious alcohol because of the ice? Keep your ice fresh, and you, your guests, and your cocktails will all smile in unison.

6. Don’t over use or over muddle your herbs

All drinks require balance to make them palatable. In that balanced equation is how you muddle any herbs, and how much of them you use. Over muddle and you are no longer just releasing the essential oils but crushing the herb and making it overly bitter. Add too many herbs and your drink becomes more of a garden than a cocktail. You don’t want your guest wondering if they are eating a salad instead of drinking a cocktail, right?

7. Use the correct glassware

All glassware serves a specific purpose. Their shape and design are made specifically according to the type of beverage you are serving, especially when it comes to cocktails.  The wide opening of martini glasses best release the bouquet of the alcohol. Snifters are meant to keep the scent in the glass and are held by the palm to warm the contents and release its aroma. Seeing cocktails in the wrong glassware throws off the whole balance. Know your glassware, and it will make a big difference in the long run!

8. Don’t forget the bitters when bitters are called for

What is a Manhattan without Angustura? Or a Sazerac without Peychauds? Or a Bourbon Spice Rack without the Lavender and Cardamom? They would all be drinks that are thrown off because the balance of the bitters is missing. Bitters add a level of flavor that the drink requires; forget them and you might as well just forget the cocktail. It will not be remembered for what it should have been, only what it wasn’t, and nothing wants to be remembered that way. Especially the Bartender.

9. Show your love for the Cocktail and you shall be rewarded

Don’t just take the guests order, turn your back, make the cocktail, and then hand it to them. That is just too damn boring. And what about making a cocktail is boring? Nothing that I can think of. If you build a cocktail in front of the guest it gives you the opportunity to explain what is going into the cocktail, and show your passion for what you are doing, which will translate into the execution of the drink. Your guest will notice your effort, and everyone wins!

10. Always use a fresh glass

If a glass has lipstick, fingerprints, pulp, foam, and has been handled so much that you can no longer see through to the other side, that should be your first clue that a new glass is in order! Glassware is part of your artwork. You wouldn’t hang the Mona Lisa with a thumbtack; it needs its frame, and glassware is the cocktail’s frame!

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Barteca’s Beats

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A great playlist is a must for creating an authentic dining experience. It’s all about curating music that fits with our restaurants’ personality and aesthetic. At Barcelona and our sister restaurant bartaco, the tunes we play are designed to complement a table full of croquetas or enhance a fresh caipirinha.

Matt Davies, Barcelona’s sound guru, tells us what goes into designing the perfect soundtrack for dining at Barcelona and bartaco.   At bartaco, it’s an eclectic beachy mix. Think reggae with an alternative SoCal sound. The music at Barcelona is more underground, with a mix of classic tracks.

How does the music selection work?   I work with our musical content company Gray V, to help  customize playlists based on genres of music. This allows our general managers to have control over switching to particular genres based on the type of guests that are in the restaurant.

Is the process different from Barcelona and bartaco? When we think of DJs for bartaco and Barcelona, we are thinking of two totally different vibes.  Barcelona has more of an international and underground feel. Like you’re eating in SoHo or Berlin.  It’s more of “this song is awesome, who is this?” versus “I like this song, but I hear it everyday on the radio.”

What about bartaco? bartaco music is all about creating a certain vibe.  Like a party at the beach. It’s about surfing, snowboarding/ skateboarding, summertime with friends. When I’m working with Gray V, we always ask “could I eat a taco to this?”

What are Matt’s picks?  Listen below!

 Bartaco  

Xavier Rudd, Come Let Go

Urban Cone, Urban Photograph

Sister Nancy, Bam Bam

Moby (KT) – Play, Honey

Spoon, Don’t You Evah

Modest Mouse, Float On

Barcelona 

Poolside, Harvest moon

Belleruche, Anything You want (Not That)

Quantic, Panama City

Smoove & Turrell, I can’t Give you Up

Paris Combo attraction, Fibre D Verre

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Cochon: Where Chefs and Pig Lovers Unite

Cochon 555, the “epic” traveling food festival celebrating heritage pigs, rolled through the nation’s capital last Sunday.  Barcelona chefs Steve Brand and John Winchester were on hand to serve up delicious pork bites to the very hungry (and spirited) crowd.  Take a look at our recap below and be sure to check where Cochon is headed next!

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 Roasted loin with cranberry beans char siu sauce and condiments.

 

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The main event: fideos topped with BBQ pork belly and herbs.

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Finishing touches from Sous Chef Andra Anom of Barcelona 14th Street!

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See you next year!

 

(photography courtesy of: Troy Lilly)

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CT NOFA Conference Recap

The chefs of Barcelona believe in forging connections between the food we eat, the farmers that grow it, and the land it comes from.  This sensibility has long been a hallmark of the Barcelona identity.  We were honored to be a part of the NOFA Winter Conference, Connecticut’s largest food, agriculture, and sustainability conference held on Saturday, March 7th, at Western Connecticut State University.  Barcelona, along with seven other farm-to-table Connecticut restaurants, served up lunch in-between workshops on ecologically sound farming and gardening.

On the menu: slow-roasted porchetta from Westport, CT’s Speckled Rooster Farm and potatoes from Wilton, CT’s Ambler Farm.

photo 1Chef Darren Carbone of Barcelona Fairfield preparing the porchetta.

nofa5The delicious finishes product.

nofa1Farah, Matt, and Andy serving a group of hungry farmers in West Conn’s cafeteria.

nofa3 nofa4Can’t wait for next year!

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