From Tagamanent to Hong Kong to explain Catalan cuisine

Chef Mercè Brunés is invited to China to present Catalan dishes on local media.

CNA / Jaume Ventura / Clàudia G. Novellón

March 9, 2011 09:56 PM

Tagamanent (ACN) - Duck with pears, vegetable omelette, paella with seafood and meat, cod with spinach and chickpeas, Catalan tomato bread, Romesco sauce and Catalan custard. These are just some of the dishes that Mercè Brunés, the chef and owner of the restaurant El Folló in Tagamanent (Vallès Oriental county, close to Barcelona) will cook in Hong Kong to raise the awareness of Catalan cuisine after an invitation from a local journalist. Brunés told CNA it is an “honour” to represent Catalan cuisine although she is disappointed not to be able to cook one of her specialties: bread.

“The whole thing happened by chance. Last autumn I knew that Annie Leong, a Chinese journalist specialising in gastronomy and travel, was going to come and I found her picking mushrooms [in the forest]. I told her that those mushrooms would be her dinner and the success of the dish opened her eyes”, recalls Brunés. “Leong realised that Catalan cuisine is largely unknown for Chinese people and suggested that I go there. When she left, we had everything planned”.

Brunés, who has run her business for 18 years and has been a cook for 30 years, will travel this month to Hong Kong to record five recipes for Sing Tao News, owned by the media company Sing Tao News Corporation Limited, addressed to the Chinese population. The chef pointed out she hopes to allow Chinese people to “have an idea of the Catalan cuisine and some of its basic points, such as the sofregit (garlic, onion, and tomatoes lightly fried in olive oil) or Catalan tomato bread”. So, she says, “they will know what to eat when they come to Catalonia and that my restaurant, El Folló, is just a few kilometres from Barcelona”.

As for finding local products in Hong Kong, Brunés said “I do not know if I will find good bread. In any case, I’m taking some cured ham and llonganissa (Catalan dry-cured pork sausage). Olive oil should be fine because someone told me it is excellent”. Brunés regrets that she can not cook bread, which is one of her specialties. Proof of this is that El Folló organises a Bread Feast (Festa del Pa) the first Saturday of July with chefs as important as Xavier Barriga, Xavier Puigdelloses, Josep Pasqual and Albert Iglesias.

International experience

It is not the first time Brunés has appeared before the international media. The BBC, thanks to famous chef Rick Stein, recorded Brunés cooking duck with pears for a serial about hidden spots that will be broadcasted in the coming months. Brunés also took cooking classes in London and speaks English perfectly.