Sunday, January 10, 2010
Minim's - Andorra La Vella, Andorra
Despite the food-centered nature of my roommates and I, we somehow hadn't really gone out for a proper Andorran meal in the several months we've been here. Alex's boyfriend's visit gave us the perfect excuse, and so we were off into the evening in search of someplace to dine. The Antic Carrer Major (Old Main Street) had couple of places that appealed to us, and so we settled upon "Minims" based on the reasonable prices and dish selection seen on the menu posted outside.
Walking into the restaurant between 8:30 and 9 we were unsurprisingly the first people there. It seems no matter when we go out to eat it just isn't late enough for us to not seem like foreigners. Though we didn't have a reservation (which we apparently needed?) they quickly seated us at a table in the back. The place itself had maybe a dozen tables and, though not overly decorated, was cute in a way.
We decided we'd each do a starter and an entrée (well, Alex had no entrée) and then split a bottle of wine - bé. Alex and Matt both ordered the "sopa de ceba gratinada" - onion soup, while I opted for the "coca". Coca is somewhat of an umbrella-term for a variety of breads, in this case a flatbread having anchovy, arugula, fig, and parmigiano reggiano. Before this arrived, however, we were brought a nice plate of little bread toasts with a creamy dollop of cheese covered with anchovy and what looked like pea tendrils or watercress. The creamy cheese had a nice light and airy texture and did a good job of balancing the saltiness of the anchovy.
Moving on, soon came the onion soups. While they looked quite akin to French onion soup they really were quite different . The onions were less caramelized but sweet and seemingly of the Spanish variety. The broth was less salty - Alex described it as almost a cross between egg-drop soup and french onion, minus the Asian herbs. The raw egg dropped into it certainly added to that description! My coca was delicious - the fig was incorporated as a deliciously sweet sauce drizzled over everything, and they certainly didn't skip on the nice anchovy filets draped over the flatbread. While the bits of parmesan were tasty enough, I could have done without it. Well, either that or more of it!
For my main dish I was feeling a bit adventurous and settled on the "peus de porc farcits amb bolets i salsifis" - stuffed pig's feet with mushrooms and salsify/oyster plant/goatsbeard (tragopogon porrifolius) The actual feet were used as casing, the stuffing being a blend of primarily pork and rice. The texture of the feet might turn some people off, but it is not unlike that of a slimier mushroom variety - certainly not unpleasant like fat can be at times. The sauce was on the salty side but very savory and rather like a nice thick beef stew. I could have used a few more mushrooms but the ones I had were quite nice. At the time I did not know what "salsifi" was, nor could I really figure out what it was on my plate admidst the stewy goodness, but I now know that it is a plant whose roots and leaves purportedly taste somewhat like oyster.
Matt's entrée was the "costelles de corder servides a la llosa" - lamb chops served on a "paving stone".
We couldn't for the life of us remember what "a la llosa" meant, but seeing as the chops came out sizzling on a stone slab it would seem that "paving stone" is the translation we were looking for, haha. The lamb chops were described as salty but very good. They were accompanied by roasted onions, peppers, what looked like fennel, and some lovely bits of grilled fat. Unfortunately I only had a bite of the grilled fat (shocking), but from what I gather it was a very satisfying dish.
We washed down our meal with a decent bottle of crianza, and by the time we were done there was no room for dessert. We waited the usual half-a-lifetime for the check, as we have done elsewhere in Western Europe, but we weren't in any particular rush. Naturally a bit after 10:30 when we left the place was hopping - when will we learn? Overall we were quite satisfied with our little dining excursion and would very much consider returning for some more reasonably-priced Andorran delights :-)