Espai Sucre – dessert degustation (Barcelona, Spain)
You have just finished an incredible Spanish feast, stand up with a plump satisfaction to complete the monetary exchange. You wind around the narrow cobblestone pathways of the old Gothic quarter, sidestepping the occasional intoxicated rambler, and reminiscing on the still tangible flavours lingering on your palate. Turning a few corners, the well-trodden tracks transitions to much younger and smoother thoroughfares of Barcelona. The fading glimpses of sunshine and slow paced staggering, leaves you with a flickering sense that the night is drawing to an end. But that cloud of heavy-eyed-ness quickly fades when beams of excitement light up the pavement. In fact it is the soft light escaping through the high wall of glass from within sweet-space. There is an empty table and two chairs waiting, just patiently waiting for tonight’s guests to begin their sweet journey.
I hope you enjoyed this short interlude which follows on from my savoury component of the night at Tapeo anem de tapes. Today you will feast eyes upon the ‘very-occasional’ gluttony and obnoxious excess that Almost Always Ravenous has been up to whilst in Europe. P.S. The short walk between venues was meant to have allowed a tiny amount of time to free up some belly space for what was to come.
Espai Sucre – which actually translates to sweet space – is an entirely dessert based restaurant. It has been open for more than 10 years now and was probably the first dessert restaurant in Spain. There is no a-la-carte here, with several ever-changing degustation menus ranging from three to five courses. We opted for the tasting menu and big dessert menu, both five courses each.
Let the fun begin…
Sundried tomato sesame sticks
Warm broccoli and cheese soup
Cracker with chorizo-like sausage and pear
A few light starters to bring back the appetite – a little crunch, a serving of warm cleansing vegetal soup and a pinch of chorizo-salt-goodness to awaken the taste buds.
Tasting menu (50 €)
Espaisucre starters (as above)
Squid rice with saffron custard and passionfruit
Apple-vinegar sherbet, calvados and anise seeds (as pictured in big dessert menu below)
Chocolate with vinegar, strawberry, mint and pepper
Coconut tapioca, burnt yolk ice cream and “orujo de Galicia”
Beginning with the only savoury course on the tasting menu, a pronounced seafood richness predominates, yet flirts in a balanced way with tones of passionfruit sweetness. The saffron custard is a beautiful radioactive yellow adding a depth of colour and aroma.
The fishing line throughout the meal never runs loose, tugging and slackening ever so slightly to keep the tastebuds on their toes. Apple infused sherbet acts as an intermediary cleanser, before a smooth luscious concoction of burnt yolk ice cream, brandy and tapioca is brought forth. The ropes are tug tight again with a bold slap of pepper with chocolate, mint foam, topped by a blood-red quenelle of strawberry ice to finish the tasting menu.
Big dessert menu (45 €)
Apple-vinegar sherbet, calvados and anise seeds
Extra virgin olive oil cake, white peach, green olive and “San Simon”
“Sobar” with salt, lime and basil
Sesame and banana with lemon-sage sorbet
Empireumatic 3. Chocolate, prune, oak, rum and tobacco
The refreshing opening comes with a clean apple-tanginess with subtle gestures of earth upon fruit; followed by a richer number, textured with olive oil cake and chewy-bite of white peach jelly. Salt comes through the third course via the beautiful caramel paired with herby basil kicks and a buttery crunch trail. Tempered aroma of banana and sesame is a welcome interlude for the finale, offering a light fragrant creaminess speckled with little zingy delights. The final piece is the signature Empireumatic (version 3), with a cheeky hit of rum and tobacco, and punctuated balance with sweet, sour and bitter.
A sigh of relief was given after our final courses had arrived, for we knew we would be able to give our incredibly distended and tense bellies a rest after an incredible feat of eating. I already had trouble breathing comfortably. But surely we would still be able to handle the petite fours…
Piruleta. Lime and rosemary
Crunchy. Sesame and liquorice
Shortbread. Butter and salt
Bombon. Chocolate 70% and smoked tea
Pate de fruit. Coffee and anise
Cookie. Peanut and curry
Marshmallow. Cocoa and green cardamom.
Chupito. Green apple and laurel.
How wrong I was. A small shot of incredibly sour palate cleanser to end the formal courses, would be followed by a three-tier petite four station that cycled through huge range of flavours and textures – chocolate, crunchy, sesame, shortbread, coffee, fluffy, spicy.
After probably more than 4 hours of dining, with the senses already numbed by the over-satiety and taste-bud overload, everything by this stage had started to become a blur. On returning to the real world I was simultaneously weary, bewildered and amazed.
Rating: Yummy+2, incredibly memorable dessert degustation. Espai Sucre produces a beautiful dessert menu filled with complex dishes expressing personality, creativity and molecular proficiency. Perfumed accents, layered textures, and subtle hints of ambiguity leaves the taste buds thoroughly stimulated.
Where: Carrer de la Princesa, 53, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Contact: +34 93 268 16 30
Reservations: book online.
That is all for my brief highlights of Barcelona. There is certainly much more I wanted to see, to do and to eat. But there is just never enough time for there was much more of Europe I had to see. Have a look at the long list of places Popcorn & Toast visited for some more food suggestions in Barcelona.
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