Earlier this week, I got an e-mail from Cal Pep, a restaurant in Barcelona with which we became enthralled when we visited about a year and a half ago. While there, we signed up for their e-mail newsletter, and at irregular intervals since then, we've received recipes, translated into three different languages, from them. Despite the fact that I, we, consider Cal Pep one of our favorite restaurants, we've never before attempted any of their recipes.
The recipes are written for professional chefs, truly intended for the guys working behind Cal Pep's counter, and Catalan and Spanish have cooking euphemisms that Google translate quite simply doesn't understand. Ultimately, we decided that a "coffee cup of sherry vinegar" meant an espesso size cup, or just a little bit.
After guessing on all sorts of details, the two dishes we were making, "Chanterelles with Vinaigrette" and "Tuna Steak with Tomato and Pepper" (Cal Pep's names) came together. Both were good, capturing the essence of the food at Cal Pep. Rich in olive oil, with a spice burning long after you'd swallowed, they tasted like the real thing. But it wasn't the real thing, not without the cooks behind the counter, and the several dozen people from countries near and far breathing down your neck for a seat. Without the cacophony, the cramped space, the laughter in half a dozen languages, the flames shooting up from the stove, it wasn't quite like the restaurant. Despite this, it was still good food.