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Spain’s top chef to launch R+D restaurant

Spanish chef Ferran Adrià has announced a September start date for work on elBulli1846, 'the world's first Culinary Innovation, Research and Development Centre' in Catalonia, which will also see his El Bulli resturant re-open in a different guise, with 50 percent of guests getting tickets via a free prize draw.

Spain's top chef to launch R+D restaurant
Adrià says that the project will eventually be handed over into public ownership but that he would be in charge "as long as he was alive". Photo: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / AFP

El Bulli opened in 1964 in the small Costa Brava village of Roses and went on to earn three Michelin stars and international acclaim as the best restaurant in the world before closing its doors in 2011.

Its owner and mastermind, Ferran Adrià, revealed at the time that he planned to transform the site into a unique resource that would further the creative techniques that he had developed during his years there.

The culmination of those plans was presented on Friday at a press conference in Barcelona for the official announcement of elBulli1846.

Financed by €9 million ($12.26m) from Adrià's own private El Bulli Foundation, the centre is forecast to open in 2016.

The Catalan regional government has donated the use of neighbouring land to the project, giving elBulli1846 a total of 4,385 square metres.

Thirty cooks and other food professionals will work there for eight months a year, experimenting and developing new ideas in a lab called ElBulliDNA.

For another month a year it will open as a restaurant – but not all places will be for sale. Half of the seats will be given to the winners of a free prize draw.

Adrià's stated goal is to make elBulli1846 a centre for research into culinary creativity that he says he hopes will last "for 100 years".

He added: "If El Bulli was to return, it would only ever be for something big."

The regional government has ruled that the centre constitutes a site of public interest and has donated land from the Cap de Creus Natural Park where the restaurant is located.

This will hasten the centre's construction by removing some regulatory barriers to planning.

The new centre's architect, Enric Ruiz, explained that many of the centre's facilities will be underground, connected by a system of stone walls to fit in with the surrounding landscape.

     

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FOOD & DRINK

Six Barcelona bars serving delicious free tapas

The Local's Esme Fox, a long-term Barcelona resident, shares some of her favourite city bars that serve free tapas when you buy a drink.

Six Barcelona bars serving delicious free tapas

Spain is of course celebrated for its tapas, small plates of food, designed for sharing and consisting of favourites such as patatas bravas (fried potatoes topped with spicy sauce), pimientos de padrón (fried green peppers) and croquetas (croquettes of different varieties such as ham or mushrooms). 

One theory is that tapas were invented in order to cover your wine or beer glass, so that flies and other bugs wouldn’t fly in. The barman would give customers a piece of bread topped with jamón (ham) or queso (cheese) in order to act as a lid or in Spanish ‘tapa’, hence the name tapas.

Although most cities in Spain no longer serve free tapas when you buy a drink, there are still some cities where you are guaranteed a free snack. This is still true in the southern cities of Granada, Almería and Jaén, in León and Segovia, as well as a few others dotted around the country.

Despite this, you can still find the odd bar serving the old-fashioned free tapa in some of Spain’s largest and most expensive cities, including Madrid and Barcelona.

So, next time you’re in the Catalan capital, save some money by visiting one of these bars, where you’ll still get served a free tapa along with your drink.  

READ ALSO: Top ten Madrid bars serving free tapas, one for each barrio

Keep in mind, you won’t be served a free drink if you just order a coffee and sometimes not with a soft drink either, it’s usually when you buy a glass of beer or wine.

Ca’l Chusco

This small traditional bar in the old fisherman’s neighbourhood of Barceloneta offers one free tapa every time you order a drink. It’s usually something small and simple, but if you’re still hungry then you can always order one of their delicious paellas or plates or seafood too. 

Raspall
This cute and contemporary little tapas joint, situated on the edge of Gracia, is so popular that it often gets very crowded, so get here early if you want a spot at the bar. It costs around €2-4 for a drink and a small tapas dish, which you can choose from a large selection. There’s everything from croquetas and hummus to small sausages.

Pappa e Citti

It’s not just authentic Spanish bars offering free tapas in Barcleona, at traditional Sardinian restaurant Pappa e Citti in the barrio of Gracia, they offer it too. Be aware that free tapas with your drink is only served between 6-9pm. Small tapas offerings may have an Italian twist or maybe something simple like a piece of bread topped with cream cheese and caramelised onions.

La Xula Taperia

In the heart of the Gracia neighbourhood, this modern and stylish bar offers the closest thing to a Granadino-style free plate of tapas. Rather than just a small piece of bread topped with an ingredient, their free offerings include meatballs, anchovies or even ensaladilla rusa (Russian potato salad).

Casa Arana

Located in the heart of the Sant Andreu neighbourhood, not far from the metro stop of the same name, Casa Arana is a small local barrio bar. As well as the regular drinks on offer, they make their own beer in either tostada (toasted) or rubia (pale) varieties, which is served in a tall glass and looks like an ice cream sundae. The free tapa served with your drink is typically a piece of baguette topped with a simple ingredient such as jamón, chistorra (cured sausage) or cheese.

Cassette Bar

This tapas and cocktail bar located in the heart of Raval has a decidedly 80s themed vibe and name to match. They have been serving free tapas for the past 14 years – something typical like piece of bread and tomato topped with a slice of tortilla (Spanish omelette).

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