Cold cherry and tomato soup by José Andrés. Photo by Rob Shelley ©National Gallery of Art, Washington.
23 Apr 2012
National Gallery of Art’s visitors will be able to taste the essence of Catalonia in the US capital
Debuting May 1st and lasting until September, the US National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC will display a captivating art exhibition of flavors from Spain.
Author: Rosa María González Lamas/©ICEX.
Just like years ago elBulli became an annex of art fair DOCUMENTA Kassel, this time Spanish Chef José Andrés will paint with imagination a fantastic gastronomic experience that will delineate on the plates of the Gallery’s Garden Café the vivid colors of the Catalan culinary tradition, transforming this culinary space into Garden Café Catalonia.
The flavors added by the Spanish Chef emerge from the ladder of inspiration offered by Spanish art icon Joan Miró, whose forthcoming exhibit “The Ladder of Escape” will integrate the offer of the National Gallery of Art starting this May through next August.
“Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape” features 120 works of art of one the greatest modern artists. The exhibition reveals the politically engaged side of the work of this Catalan artist, including his passionate response to a turbulent period of European history, and also his sense of Catalan and Spanish identity. The exhibition was organized by Tate Modern, London, in collaboration with Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, and in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington. José Andrés has contributed his recipes and time as in-kind promotional support to the exhibition.
The creation of a special menu of Catalan dishes in honor of Miró seemed like a natural collaboration as Miró is a great modern artist who José Andrés has long admired. The chef and his culinary team including Jaleo’s head chef Ramón Martínez and Rubén García, head of R+D —who are both also from Catalonia— joined forces with the chefs at the NGA to create the menu. While the menu was created in collaboration with Jose Andrés and culinary team, the Garden Café is being run by Restaurant Associates.
Although born in Asturias, José Andrés has spent many years in Catalonia, which has enabled him to incorporate traditional Catalan flavors into the menu, combining sweet fruits and nuts with savory meats and vegetables.
Garden Café Catalonia will serve meals both buffet and à la carte style, the latter full-size entrées. The menu will debut on May 1st and will be in place until September, even after the exhibition is over.
The buffet incorporates a variety of traditional Catalan fare, including rustic bread, empedrat de mongetes (White bean salad with vegetables, black olives, and tomato), sopa freda de cireres de Santa Coloma de Cervelló (Cold cherry and tomato soup), Samfaina (Traditional Catalan stew of vegetables), xatonada (Salad of frisée, preserved tuna, and romesco sauce), formatges amb anous i codony (Catalan cheese with Marcona almonds and quince marmalade), Escalivada catalana (Salad of roasted red pepper, eggplant, and onion), pollastre a la catalane (Traditional Catalan chicken stew with dried fruit and nuts), fricandó de galtes de vedella amb bolets (Traditional Catalan stew of beef cheeks and mushrooms), crema catalana (Traditional caramelized Catalan custard). Recipe cards for selected dishes will be offered to guests free of charge.
À la carte selections inspired by the exhibition include empedrat de mongetes amb bacallà (white bean salad with vegetables and Catalan salt cod), canelons de Sant Esteve (pork and chicken "canelons" with béchamel sauce), and escalivada catalana (salad of roasted red pepper, eggplant, and onion). Rounding out the meal will be peres al vi amb gelat de vainilla (pears poached in red wine with vanilla ice cream).
To complement the menu, the restaurant will have available a selection of white, red and sparkling wines from Spain and Catalonia, along with Estrella Dam beers.
This is José Andrés’s second collaboration with the National Gallery of Art. In 2009, the chef and his culinary team custom-created a menu of signature Spanish dishes for pop-up Grand Café España, open over that year’s summer to celebrate the exhibitions Luis Meléndez: Master of the Spanish Still Life and The Art of Power: Royal Armor and Portraits from Imperial Spain. Last year, Andrés began a collaboration with the National Archives on America Eats Tavern, another pop-up located in the restaurant space where once was the chef's Café Atlantico, which closed last June.
Garden CaféCatalonia will open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m. A preconcert menu of light fare, desserts, and beverages is offered from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays to accommodate visitors who attend the free Sunday evening concerts in the West Garden Court. The Garden Café is located in the West Building near the entrance at 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. To make reservations for groups of eight or more, please contact the café manager at (202) 712-7454. For more information about the Gallery and its restaurants, visit www.nga.gov/dining