Escalivada | Cuines Santa Caterina

Given that here, in Barcelona, the food markets, providing local fresh ingredients, play a huge role in the history of traditional dishes, we go today to the market but not to buy, instead to try the bistros and restaurants there.

The food served at the restaurants in (and around) the markets is prepared with the fresh ingredients sold in the market – hence the term of market kitchen.

Cuines Santa Caterina

Opened, since 2006, in the market of Santa Caterina, this restaurant is serving dishes that reflect the variety of fresh market produce. The menu includes Mediterranean, Asian and vegetarian choices. The tapas bar is open all day and the restaurant – for lunch and dinner.

Interior of Cuines Santa Caterina
The design of the space of Cuines Santa Caterina belongs to Tarruella Trenchs Studios, who say they aimed to create a space where different cuisines meet different cultures. The main way of design expression was the language of the market, where all the products are shown to the sight: big wooden shelves try to keep the concept of the larder, and they also create a visual filter between the client and the street. The vegetation inside this space refers to all those products grown at the vegetable gardens, naturally grown. It tries to give more power to the idea of a natural, fresh product and creates a space which is alive.

The best places, inside, are the ones at the dining bars, as you can see the kitchen team working. While they are preparing the orders, the name and prices of the dishes appear on the led screen stripe.

Traditional, Smoky Grilled Veggies à la Català: Escalivada

Escalivada is a traditional dish from Catalonia, and typically consists of roasted eggplant and bell peppers with olive oil, and sometimes onion, tomato, minced garlic, and salt.

The name comes from the Catalan verb escalivar – to cook in ashes, referencing the dish’s traditional preparation in the embers of a wood fire – and this is the key of the dish, as veggies done this way preserve all their sweetness. There are many details that determine the quality of the final dish, such as the length of cooking and the intensity of heat for each of the vegetables, for instance the peppers need high heat for a short time, while the eggplant – just the opposite.

The dish may be served as tapas, as a relish for grilled meats or fish such as tuna, with anchovies or olives in a salad, or as a topping for coca (or coca de recapte), the Catalan flat bread.

Escalivada with Olive Paste and Sprouts over Goat Cheese
The nice touches of escalivada at Cuines Santa Caterina were the olive paste, the sprouts and, of course, the goat cheese that counterpoints so well the sweetness of the veggies.

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