Modern in design, this refined restaurant is replete with ornaments and antiques collected from around the world. The atmosphere is relaxed and enchanting.
Juan Antonio Perez is among a new generation of Spanish chefs whose originality and invention are attracting the attention of gourmets. The 31 year-old master of the culinary arts, however, has an extensive knowledge of traditional cooking which he adapts to suit his modern creations. Like the other great chefs of Spain he considers olive oil to he the pillar of Mediterranean haute cuisine. He defines it as "liquid gold" with an unmistakable fragrance and distinctive taste which distinguishes it from all other cooking oils and fats.
Tono, as he has been nicknamed by friends, has a long experience of oven cooking. He started working as pastry maker in his father's cake shop which has helped make him master the techniques of roasting.
Lively, sophisticated and cultured, he enjoys reading "Of the Art of Cooking," a collection of ancient recipes assembled by the Roman bon vivant Apicius, who poisoned himself after squandering a fortune in dissolute living. Tono is also an admirer of the works of the great Andalusian poet Federico Garcia Lorca.
Classical Rome excites his imagination—his native Extremadura region is dotted with well-preserved Roman monuments-and recently he prepared a special banquet in the Roman Museum in Merida based on ancient Latin recipes using olive oil. His intellectual curiosity has also led him to seek further inspiration through the study of old monastic cooking.
Although a teetotaler, he agrees that no great meal is complete without wine and uses wines extensively in his cooking. Hot chocolate is his favorite drink and he insists that no pantry should be without tomatoes, eggs and onions.
Tono delights in travel and has collected many ideas for menus in his journeys to the far flung corners of the globe. He finds California food "interesting" and goes into raptures when discussing the wonders of Thai cuisine. This wanderlust is reflected in the decor of his restaurant, modern in design and replete with ornaments and antiques collected on his travels. Much of his crockery and chinaware is precious and as tasteful as the dishes on which they are served.
Marinate in olive oil the cod, unsalted and cut in very thin slices. Marinate in the vinegar, the anchovies, bones removed and cut in filets. Dress red peppers with olive oil, vinegar and salt.
Cover the side of 4 round bowls with slices of cod. Stuff with the red peppers, sprinkle with basil. Place 2 filets of the marinated anchovies. Cover with slices of cod. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
Mash parsley with 1 tsp. Of olive oil until forming a paste. Pour the vinegar the rest of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place each charlotte in the center of the plates and add the parley vinaigrette. Crown with crispy fried leeks
Provided by Foods From Spain
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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