Even though our rollercoaster of a year continued to challenge us with the difficult news of the UK government decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on everyone arriving from Spain, we are coming out of our enforced hibernation into a “new normality” with renewed hope and optimism and along with opening our main restaurant in Palma on the 6th of august, we have also recently opened a very exciting new project in Canyamel.
Housed in the beautiful and stylish surroundings of Hotel Pleta de Mar, completely surrounded by nature and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea; Sa Pleta by Marc Fosh combines modern techniques and the best local produce we can source from all across the Balearic Islands with the oldest and most primitive method of open-fire cooking inspired by the unique flavours that only smoke and flame can impart to meat, fish and seasonal vegetables.
Open fire cooking and fine dining have become firm friends in recent years and chefs around the world are slowly returning this age-old art form. Many have been inspired by Bittor Arguinzoniz, the chef/owner of an extraordinary restaurant, high in the hills of the Basque country. His rustic restaurant, Asador Etxebarri has revolutionised the simple art of cooking over a flame and has attained a cult-like status, a Michelin star and was recently voted number three in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
The barbecue is now fully established as high-end food, but cooking on coals and fire is not as easy as it may sound. The truth is its much more sensitive and intuitive than most other cooking methods. You really have to touch and feel the food to know when it’s ready. I think that’s why we chefs really enjoy it so much, because it’s not necessarily systemised and sterilised like so many modern, restaurant kitchen techniques where everything is ultra controlled using sous vide and temperature controlled water baths.
I believe there are endless, really simple dishes that can be enhanced when cooked over hot coals or wood, especially super fresh seafood such as prawns and langoustines but my favourite at Pleta is a whole grilled turbot. Serving the entire fish allows you to appreciate all the little morsels, including the succulent meat around the fins and cheeks. To avoid problems, the best thing to do is light your barbeque at least half-an-hour in advance and never start cooking until the coals are a dusty white colour with a reddish glow. Take your time and cook slowly without flames. There are also several refinements worth trying.
Aromatic woods such as olive and bay tree give a delicious aroma and flavour to food and large handfuls of fresh rosemary or thyme can be added near the end of the cooking time to lend their perfume and flavour.