Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spain Trip Part 3: The House of Garlic Mayonnaise

Part 1: Brussels Layover
Part 2: Calçots Somewhere in Catalonia

La Llar De L'all I Oli‎ (C/ Conquesta, 87, 08912 Badalona; 383-5307‎), which I hadn't visited in fifteen years, has remained my favorite restaurant in the world. You're about to see why.

It's located in Badalona, one village north of Barcelona. While there's a station for Badalona on the Barcelona metro system, it's better to take the regional Renfe train (e.g. from Plaza Catalunya), which is faster and leaves you much closer to the restaurant.

As befits a legend of this magnitude, the place is a bit hard to find. Whenever I first spot the sign for Calle Conquista, my heart races a little:

And here we are:

I'm not sure where they downloaded this Medieval Catalan font from, but it sure sets the right tone:

La Llar De L'all I Oli‎ translates as "The House of Garlic Mayonnaise". This stuff predates French aioli, and, as with the latter, the very best is made with no egg at all - simply garlic, olive oil, and unthinkable labor with mortar and pestle. It's extremely rare to find such hardcore all i oli, but La Llar De L'all I Oli‎ sets a small tub of it down in front of you, just like it's nothing. And they'll even bring more, if you ask:

In such a staunchly traditional Catalan restaurant (there's no Spanish menu...but don't worry, there are photos) you must order pa amb tomàquet. It's the simplest thing in the world: a thin slice of peasant bread, lightly toasted, and a tomato. Cut the tomato in half and rub the cut side aggressively into the bread. Slather with all i oli‎. And realize that anything else that happens on your trip (including the obscenely delicious food that's about to follow) is mere icing on the cake. You've now earned back your plane fare:

Their chickens (listed on the menu as "pollastre de pages") are free range, which is a whole other level here. These are brutish, meaty, unthinkably plump birds which could easily kick the bejesus out of both Bell and Evans. They are roasted on an old fashioned charcoal brazier by folks with a deep and ancient affinity for the cooking of food over fire. And the potatoes are waxy and naturally sweet. They gush flavor.

Let awed silence reign as you view these sacred images (you must click to expand each of them!). In a separate browser window, you may book your plane tickets:

All the grilled meats are fantastic; here are lamb chops (xai brasa)

One final bit of potato porn (soft focus for extra smuttiness):

Outstanding flan:

Great but not pictured: artichokes cooked on that same brazier. The coffee. Escalibada (traditional appetizer of roast peppers and eggplant). Any of the meats. And anything else.

One of the perqs of a meal at La Llar De L'all I Oli is the fact that the Renfe station is located right on the beach (and it's a nicer beach than any in Barcelona proper). I like to go stretch out on the sand while contemplating the meal:

Continue to Part 4: Spanish-Italian Fusion in the Countryside


joshi said...

wow, as an adorer of roast chicken + alioli i think you found perfection.

here's where i learnt how to make aioli

Anonymous said...

The very thought of trying such hardcore alioli leaves me weak at the knees. Really must go there one day. Thanks for bringing it to my attention...and also for the delightful potato porn.

(aka SevillaTapas)

Anonymous said...

Jeff, you make my heart, mind, and tummy YEARN for a visit to this wonderful place of culinary delight! I don't think the hubs and I tried this one, but I know it is one of our daughters' absolute favorites...Jazz trombonist? Not jazz, but check out Las Furias/Barcelona--MaryKatherine (one of the aforementioned daughters) is the drummer.

Jim Leff said...

Band looks great! And if she has good enough taste (and chowhounding skills) to have found Llar De L'all I Oli‎, and that's "one of" her favorites, I'm dying to hear her other picks!!

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