“You have to try The Hulk!” “Pay attention to the interior – it is super cool!” “Check out their serving dishes!” These are just some of the exclamations I have heard from friends who have eaten at La Vieja in the last few months, and that is before we even get to the food…
La Vieja came up on my radar at Charlas de Bar, one in the series of talks about gastronomy and creativity, organised by We Are Yellow at Arume bar in Palma. I was intrigued by Jonay Hernández, clearly passionate about both his roots and his job, bringing the two together and seemingly having loads of fun in the process. He gifted each of us a Gran Canaria shaped chocolate dessert. It tasted as great as it looked! He also brought some of their ceramic dishes to demonstrate the fun and quirky part of his job. This is when I first saw The Hulk's hand, which serves as a dessert dish in his restaurant.
La Vieja has an urban feel, with some spectacular graffiti, dominated by a gigantic octopus carrying various signature dishes and even a glass of wine in its tentacles spread all over the place. A very cool piece of art! Jonay's restaurant has been in the Michelin Guide for years, but the place feels welcoming and unpretentious.
Jonay often greets his guests in-between checking the plates that are coming out and adding final touches to their presentation. I read on their website that they would like their guests to “not just eat, but to live through an experience and to feel like one of them”! This idea of living through an experience is demonstrated from the starter onwards.
We started with some very good sourdough bread from UCO Bakery and roast skin-on baby potatoes accompanied by green and red “mojo” (where “j” is pronounced as “h” in house!) to start with. These are typical Canary sauces, but the twist here is that the waiter made the green mojo in front of us, by mixing together seasonal green herbs and olive oil. The potatoes were excellent and the sauces made them even better.
For second starters, I had zucchini Carpaccio with mango, asparagus, dry cranberries, green pesto and pine nuts - while my friend chose a cream soup with some sort of a crumble and halved white grapes. The soup was poured over the dry ingredients at the table, adding to the experience and the sense of being included in the process. Both dishes were excellent, combining seemingly incompatible ingredients (grapes in a soup?) to a surprisingly positive effect. This was fun indeed!
For our main, we both chose something that could be described simply as roast pork with sweet potato mash… But it was so much more than that! The meat was of the highest quality, crispy on the outside and perfectly tender in the middle, while the mash was complemented with dry cherry tomatoes and raspberries and garnished with leafy herbs. Again, an unlikely but brilliant combination!
For dessert, I just had to try The Hulk, while my friend opted for a more classical flan. The flan was great, but The Hulk was out of this world! There was a mix of pistachio sponge, cream, a lot of fresh, zesty flavours and several different textures. One part of the desert contained “peta zetas” (a brilliant Spanish word for popping candy) and I was instantly transported to being seven again, excited about trying cool sweets in a bigger city with cooler choices than the one I grew up in!
I don't really say this in my columns, but “Thank you Jonas and the team!” Thanks for the unforgettable experience in home- made cooking with playful twists at every turn!
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