If Antoni Gaudi’s architecture, the Gothic Quarter and soccer’s Camp Nou are not reasons enough to visit Barcelona, the city’s gastronomy is a massive draw – even for the most discerning of kosher palates.
There are currently 23 Michelin-starred restaurants, ranking Barcelona as the city with the third-most in Europe, behind London and Paris. And uniquely, one of them, Xerta, in the Hotel Ohla Eixample, about 10 minutes’ walk from Gaudi’s remarkable Casa Mila, serves kosher cuisine. The official kashrut certification of the Barcelona Jewish community makes Xerta Europe’s first certified kosher Michelin-star deluxe eatery.
Xerta is the second Michelin-ranked venue in the Villa Retiro group, run by chef Fran Lopez and his older brother Joaquim. It is named after the eponymous town on the Ebre river in the Tarragona province of Catalonia, where the brothers Lopez opened their first restaurant in 2006.
Fran is the fourth generation of his family to be a restaurateur and aged just 16, he had already made up his mind to continue the family tradition. He attended the prestigious Hofmann cooking school in Barcelona and followed that by learning his trade in Paris for three years with the great French maestro, Alain Ducasse, the only chef to simultaneously hold three Michelin stars in three cities.
Fran built on that experience and received his own first Michelin star in 2009 aged just 25, making him one of the youngest chefs in the world to receive the coveted award. The brothers then opened Xerta in 2016 and received the group’s second star just six months later.
They have now opened a restaurant in Ibiza and a cooking school, while running a music festival and even catering at the Camp Nou for VIP guests of FC Barcelona.
XERTA’S QUALITY ingredients are sourced from the Ebre Delta, including fresh fish from the daily markets, seasonal vegetables, citrus fruits and rice, which is a key ingredient of Delta cuisine. Executive chef Sebas (not to be confused with the restaurant’s sumptuous sea bass) and his team will make a five- or six-course tasting menu for your party using the best of the kosher ingredients procured that day.
There is also an extensive list of local kosher wines sourced by the restaurant’s sommelier Xavi. These include Halleluya, made from the very Jewish sounding macabeo grapes. The restaurant’s kashrut supervisor pours the wines as they are not mevushal (cooked). For a real celebration, Xavi has sourced an excellent French kosher rosé champagne.
To enjoy a kosher menu at Xerta, you will need to book in advance. The restaurant will then open up the kosher kitchen, private dining room and bring in the kashrut supervisor to make sure kashrut standards are maintained. Xerta also caters private events so you can be the envy of your friends for your next family simcha.
Bookings can be made by phone, by email or using the website: https://www.xertarestaurant.com/en/
IN THE GOTHIC quarter, close to the historic Jewish quarter, is the exclusive “a” restaurant. That’s not a typo; the restaurant’s name is lowercase a. Eduardo, originally Portuguese, via some of the best hotels in the Middle East, is the witty polyglot of a bar manager.
“Every bar-person’s job should be to make at least one person happy for at least five seconds every day,” he said proudly while gathering the ingredients for his signature cocktail Sinner or Winner. The truth is, Eduardo’s style and taste creations make many guests exceedingly happy for extended periods.
Perhaps surprisingly, he is delighted to share with you the secrets of his number-one cocktail.
“I want everyone to have the pleasure,” he purred.
The base for the drink is G’Vine, which he dubs “the Chanel No. 5 of gins” (grape-based), along with an equal measure of St. Germain, a wonderfully-aromatic elderflower liqueur. The drink’s tang comes from lime juice, and its frothy density (yes, that is a thing) is thanks to the whisked egg white.
The concoction is shaken dry before a regular cocktail shake. As a finishing touch, he adds sugar and a giant basil leaf for garnish.
And one more place for foodies – this time a hip vegan joint. The Vegan Junk Food Bar is a great lunch and dinner destination serving crispy “seafood,” Amsterdam batterballs, the world’s first vegan “ribs” – colored pink – and much more. Open late.
The writers were hosted by Barcelona Turisme & Catalan Tourist Board. You can listen to their regular travel podcast, including the Barcelona edition, at www.jpost.com/podcast