Monthly Archives: October 2013

It’s been a while – but there’s a perfectly acceptable excuse to my absence. Birthday parties, afterwork drinks, a girls trip to Frankfurt and a surprising visit from Spain. What a great way to slowly settle back into London!

So, even though I have plenty of things to share on travel and getting closer to 30, I decided to make my return with one foodie discovery in London that I’ve fallen head over heels for – Sushisamba. Those of you from the States might already have heard of the concept – a creative blend of Japan, Brazil and Peru all under one roof.

However, there’s something that makes Sushisamba in London special:

View from Sushisamba, London

The restaurant is set in the 38th floor of Heron Tower (finished in 2011), which at 230m is currently the tallest skyscraper in the City and the 3rd tallest in Greater London (after the Shard and One Canada Square). The see-through elevator takes only a few seconds until the 38th floor (nothing for the faint-hearted!). Being in the heart of the financial district gives this height an entire different meaning – from here, you can see how the city stretches over the surface and it´s easier to appreciate the heights of other skyscrapers around the area. For instance, on the other side of Heron Tower is 30th St Mary Axe (the first shot of this building was actually taken from the restaurant back in April – when I had only come in for a coffee, ignorant to the food heaven next-door).

So, what’s a Japanese – Peruvian – Brazilian fusion like, anyway?

Lunch at Sushisamba, London

Lunch at Sushisamba, London

Lunch at Sushisamba, London

Lunch at Sushisamba, London

The fusion doesn’t come as a surprise – after all, Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan, ever since early XIX century. Actually, I recently read that sushi is one of the most popular dishes in Brazil – it’s so popular, that it’s often even served at Churrascarias (with a Brazilian twist). Nobu offers a famous blend of peruvian japanese dishes, while others like Sushinho focus on the brazilian – japanese connection. Either way, the result is light, refreshing and delicate – and incredibly beautiful.

…Also known as: My first taste of a 2* Michelin Restaurant.

I had never heard of Olot before. Was there anything exciting to be seen around here? Sure, it’s a region with plenty of small volcanoes, which makes for easy day hikes. But was that all? On our first evening, we went to the (a bit spooky) hotel’s reception and asked for a dinner recommendation close by.

Receptionist: You came to the right place for food – Olot has some of the best restaurants in the region. Are you looking for a Michelin restaurant?
Me: Er… Michelin?
Receptionist: Yes! We have a 2* Michelin restaurant, a 1* restaurant and plenty of award-winning chefs just a few minutes away from here.

Well that would explain it, wouldn’t it? We had arrived at a rural gastronomic haven.

I googled the 2* restaurant – Les Cols – and loved it’s manifesto:

…A cuisine of the rural landscape and the seasonality; simple but essential; austere and humble but intuitive, intimate and authentic. A cuisine that should become the reflection of the way we are…

Les Cols Restaurant in Olot (Garrotxa, Spain)

What I discovered in this gastronomic and architectural temple was the joy of rural and seasonal cuisine with a tiny twist. A kind of freshness that literally brought food from the garden to our plates. We tasted 18 completely different dishes – each of them sourced locally and created with an admiring attention to detail.

A glass of cava L’O de l’Origan
(crisp and refreshing)

Home-made sausage from Olot and buckwheat crust, the essentiality of primary food
(one word – addictive)

To eat with fingers: cornbread hot sandwich
(simple but so tasty)

The caviar from La Garrotxa: buckwheat blin and Santa Pau beans
(delicious! I wish we had bought them to take back home)

Made of buckwheat – spaghetti in smoked broth
(completely unexpected)

To eat whole and with your fingers – wild asparagus in a charcoal tempura with beetroot romesco
(it looked like a charcoal crust… but it tasted so much better!)

Texture and perfume of this summer’s mushrooms – chanterelle salad with pine nuts
(loved it!)

Les Cols Restaurant in Olot (Garrotxa, Spain)

From the henhouse right to the dish – fresh egg, mayonnaise, tuna
(could it get any simpler than that?)

Wild mushroom royale
(I learned to love all types of mushrooms… and this one was definitely one of my favourites)
Wild Mushroom Royale at Les Cols in Olot, Spain

Contrasts and colours – black tomato from their own garden with basil, passion fruit and mint
(another one to the top of my list)
Black tomato at Les Cols in Olot, Spain

Rice with squid and mild alioli
(like a tiny paella)
Rice with squid at Les Cols in Olot, Spain

Salt cod brandade, pilpil, muscat grapes, hot pepper oil and rinds of bacon
(exciting flavour combination)

Cooked in a terrine – duck bred by ourselves, figs, amaretto, smashed biscuit
(Definitely in my top 5.. also loved its creative presentation)

Les Cols Restaurant in Olot (Garrotxa, Spain)

With the contrast of home-made jams – a selection of catalan cheese
(Amazing selection – there’s something for everyone in here)

Like a dessert: sangria – red wine, peach and cinnamon
(I really didn’t expect this one coming!)
Sangría at Les Cols in Olot (Spain)

A sweet dessert – frozen cake, preserved fruits and burnt egg yolk
(at this point, I had to stop eating to avoid physical collapse – I did have a tiny bite and it was, indeed, delicious)

to share – home-made chocolate bar, an evocation to the restaurant space
(We took this one home – for next day dessert)

Sweet bread – coca from Els Hostalets d’en Bas, cooked in a wood oven
(A must, when in the region)

This was a feast of more than 3.5 hours. We experienced these local flavours in different environment – starters in their beautiful garden, main courses in their main salon – with large windows opening to the front garden and a glass of sweet wine in the golden room pictured above. The restaurant’s chef, Fina Puigdevall, gave us a backtour of their kitchen facilities – large open spaces with lots of natural light and constant connection to their gardens.

For 85 EUR per person, the seasonal tasting menu is highly recommendable. In one seating, we discovered many of Garrotxa’s specialities while treating ourselves to a unique experience!

Have you ever been to a Michelin Restaurant?