I took a walk to Pineda, the next town along from Calella, which takes about 25 minutes. There’s no visible border between the two towns, but after the initial couple of streets, the houses disappear and the road goes through small holdings and allotments for half a mile or so, with mountains on the left and the Mediterranean to the right. After crossing a dry river, the town starts again, with quite a few bars and restaurants to choose from.
It was sunny and about 24ºC, so I was getting a little warm and thirsty when I arrived. Ibèrik’s was the first bar I came to and a couple of things on the menú del día (3 courses, including wine or beer for €11) grabbed my attention straight away. I did have a quick look at a couple of other bars first, but I was hooked, especially as I could hear friendly laughter coming from inside the bar.
I sat outside, in the cool shade and drank a vermut de la casa. Here it comes with a slice of orange, lemon and 3 olives stuffed with anchovies. I knew the food was going to be good!
I stuck with my initial choices and had Salmorejo con virutas de jamón – an Andalucian creamy cold tomato soup, containing garlic, stale bread, sherry vinegar and salt. This salmorejo was sprinkled with grated egg and jamón Iberico shavings. I also detected a touch of cumin. As you can see there were a couple of slices of toasted bread on the far side. The salmorejo was perfect – when I finished, I complimented the owner and discovered that he and his wife actually come from Andalucia.
My main course was Ventresca de bacalao a la donostiarra – desalinated salt cod belly (next to the head), Donostia (San Sebastian) style. This was cooked in a crunchy tempura batter, with little slices of crispy garlic on top and judías blancas on the side. There was a little sherry vinegar sauce on the cod and I was instantly reminded of fish and chips – the cod (in those days salt cod) in a tempura batter was originally brought to England, by Jews fleeing from the Inquisition. Tempura (from the Latin tempora, for time period) refers to Lenten and other fasting days, where fish and vegetables were eaten instead of meat. Portuguese missionaries took the tempura cooking technique of dipping fish and vegetables in batter, before frying them in lard, to Japan in the 16th Century. The ventresca de bacalao here was absolutely delicious!
For pudding, I had the flan de la casa – a home made flan with the obligatory (in Spain) whipped cream from a spray. The cream aside, it was every bit as good as the other courses.
Afterwards, I contentedly sipped my carajillo and watched the world go by.
I was thoroughly impressed by the cooking in Ibèrik’s and by the friendly husband and wife who own the place. I will definitely eat here again!
The total bill for a vermut, a 3 course menú with wine and a carajillo de cognac was €15.40!