Merchants we Love ~ Little Spain's Chef Alejandro Pages
Chef Alejandro Pages from Barcelona, is the owner and brilliance behind Little Spain at the Original LA Farmers Market. His tapas bar, gourmet grocery, and restaurant serve authentic cuisine from each region in his homeland. Here a little of Spain's traditions and culture are shared, with those of us lucky enough to be in LA.
As his biggest fan, I fired questions at him with enthusiasm as authentic as his exquisite dishes.
Being from a 3-generation restaurant family, what was the first recipe you ever learned?
I worked in my family’s restaurants since I was 14, and started by making the desserts. Crema Catalana was really the first dessert I mastered.
What are some of the new items on your menu?
- With many requests for salads, now we make several with fresh, healthy ingredients. One has 3 fine Spanish cheeses. Another, Tarifa, is made with seared tuna from Spain ~ the finest tuna in the world. Most tarifa goes to Japan.
- A new grilled sausage tapas dish with green beans and bacon; also one with eggs.
- Our Lobster Paella, for 4. It must be ordered a day in advance, so I can get the lobster fresh. It must be done right or there's no point in doing it at all!
- The Mallorcan paprika sausage tostada, with Mahon cheese, also from Mallorca.
- The Tarta de Santiago, a traditional cake from northern Spain. To call this cake Tarta de Santiago, it must be made from 70% almonds.
- More varieties of beer and wine, all from Spain.
Dishes that are prepared here, exactly as they are in Spain! Tapas like Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes), Croquetas Espanolas (fritters), Albondigas (meatballs; his Great Grandma's recipe), Choricitos al Vino (small sausages in wine), Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp). Also, the Paella. And the Jamon (ham) ... it's like you've flown there to eat! (The NY Times considers the Jamon Iberico de Bellota that they serve, to be the best ham in the world.)
What philosophy do you practice in the kitchen?
Cuisine is art, and you are part of that artwork. You must have the right inspiration in the kitchen, you cannot create new dishes while in a bad mood!
What is one item that is always in your refrigerator? Cheese
In your pantry? Olives
In your freezer? Ice cream
Let's play Rapid Fire! Don't think, just answer immediately about these choices as I call them:
Jamon or Chorizo? Jamon
Flan or Crema Catalana? Crema Catalana
Cava or Sangria? Sangria
Rosemary Goat or Manchego? Rosemary goat
Messi or Ronaldo?* (LAUGH) ~ Messi. I might as well stay home!
Now that we are all a little more well-versed on this fine Chef, his work, and loyalty to Barcelona ;-), I heartily recommend checking out Little Spain’s menu to gain more savvy (and salivation tendencies) about all of the above.
Then, please plan to enjoy this slice of Spanish heaven here on earth, as soon as possible!
Until next time I remain
Your Chef and Tour Maestra,
*Spain’s top soccer players, for Barcelona and Madrid, respectively