It’s safe to say most things change or evolve either in great strides or in the subtlest of ways. Some things however were perfected long ago and are destined to outlast us and stand the test of time. The world over and particularly here in Spain we have long been in love with the humble olive and the sublime olive oil. Today we still love them for their classic timeless appeal but we’re using them in modern ways. Someone who knows about the many uses of olives and olive oil is Barcelona chef, Paco Guzman.
Paco Guzman is known as Barcelona’s tapas wizard. He is the owner/proprietor of Santa Maria right near the Picasso Museum in central Barcelona. He opened the restaurant 6 years ago on the smell of an oily rag. The former wood store is tiny and has very simple design. It has concrete walls, exposed pipes and light bulbs on steel poles - he even made the tables himself!. Paco spent 16 years working alongside Ferran Adria of El Bulli, then worked for a year in Tokyo, Japan. He has also worked and lived in France, India, Pakistan, Iran and Morocco.
Paco is often seen scouring Barcelona’s Boqueria market for the freshest produce, visiting organic suppliers and visiting his other designer restaurant Convent dels Angels. Paco’s Basque and Riojan origins and his eclectic training has created a menu amalgamating all of the flavour and influence of different countries and cuisines. The Santa Maria menu consists of such modern and mysterious tapas as entrecôte in hollandaise sauce, sardines with aubergine purée and tuna tartare with pigeon egg.
Spanish olive oil makes a huge contribution to Spanish cuisine, and Paco uses the finest oils in his cooking. Pete cooks with Paco, who extols the virtues of Spanish olive oil and talks about its many uses in his restaurant Santa Maria.
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