Catalonia is one of the world's best-kept culinary secrets. This rugged region, cleft in two by the border of France and Spain, is best known for its long-fought revolutions or the deadly romance of the nationalist cause. But Catalonia is rich in history, in language, and in culture, including its beautifully unique cuisine. Drawn from the mountains and the sea that frame the region, Catalan cooking is a little like regional French fare, a little like Spanish food, and deliciously emblematic of this fiercely independent place. It's a cuisine that's too little known in the United States, but at Rauxa, in Somerville, Massachusetts, executive chef/owner Jim Becker is opening American eyes and palates to this gor-geous food.
Becker entered the world of professional cooking at the age of 16. A detour took him through a degree in Asian studies, years of intense study of Mandarin and Cantonese in Taiwan, and a short stay in graduate school. But the lure of the kitchen was inexorable, and Becker finally abandoned the ivory tower to enroll at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. After graduating with high honors, he earned a coveted spot in Lydia Shire's acclaimed kitchens at Biba. Three years later, he was back at the Cambridge School as an instructor. But he missed the action of a restaurant kitchen, and in 1996, Becker accepted a job as executive chef at Rustica, a Mediterranean restaurant where he earned high praise for his beautiful food. At Rauxa-the name is a Catalan term for the wild, spontaneous side of the human personality-Becker has won kudos for his creative approach to Catalan cuisine, and diners can't get enough of his soul-warming cooking; the Phantom Gourmet has just named Rauxa one of the "Top Five Hot Restaurants" in Massachusetts.
When this gifted culinarian makes his debut in our Beard House kitchens, he promises a Three Kings Day feast that will be nothing short of princely.
Marbles of Foie Gras Mousse in Savoy Cabbage with Cassis-Beet Vinaigrette
Tartlets of Artichoke and Salt Cod Brandada with Osetra Caviar
Little Toasts with Romesco and Roasted Leeks
Piquillo Peppers Agria-Dulce
Savory Flan of Jamón Serrano, Queso Manchego, and Morels with Crispy Fried Oysters and Truffle Oil
Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops and Steamed Taylor Bay "Singing" Scallops with Sea Urchin Hollandaise and Pink Peppercorns
Black Rice from Costa Brava with Monkfish, Golden Clams, and Roasted-Garlic Allioli
Rioja-Braised Rabbit with Roasted Shallots and Green Olives over Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding
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