Dinner with Guillermo

I’ve written before about travel karma. [1] You know, that sense of crushing inevitability when the tour bus arrives late because of the traffic, and it’s crowded, and the guy in the seat behind you won’t stop whining, and you’re about to turn around and open your mouth and give him something to really complain about. Travel karma is a bitch.

It can also be awesome. Uwe and I spent a too-short week on Gran Canaria, and we ate twice with Guillermo Ramirez. But let me back up.

Eating is a major aspect of traveling with my spousal unit. If you see us poring over the guide books, we’re probably checking out the historic, cultural, and Nature highlights of wherever we are.

Okay, kitsch sneaks into the mix sometimes too

I can guarantee you we’ve already scoped out all the good places to eat! Gran Canaria was no exception, and Uwe found a highly praised locale kitty-corner to our hotel. Hungry, on Thursday we headed over to Restaurante de Cuchara and entered a small family restaurant, probably 12 tables max. The owners greeted guests like old friends (most of them were) and only the owners’ handsome son Guillermo spoke English. He took it upon himself to serve us each course – which he was also cooking – and explained each dish with pride. The meal was great. I’ve retained a little of my high school and college Spanish (moving to Germany and having to learn Deutsch highjacked most of the foreign language area of my brain). But I could read the flier on our table that said Restaurante de Cuchara was serving a special six-course menu on Saturday.

Even before we finished dinner, we’d made a reservation for the coming Saturday. We got the last free table.

On Saturday night Guillermo again brought each course to our table and told us how he’d prepared them. Our meals cost a grand 30€ apiece.

Here are some of the dishes we ate those nights: A fermented, champagne-style gazpacho. Rabbit in a roll that you ate with your hands. Melt-in-your-mouth croquettes of suckling lamb. Grilled Canarian cheese with tomato jam. Quail stew with chickpeas. Cod fish Bras style. Canarian pork cheeks stew. Duck breasts. Pickled cucumber on edamame purée.

I was dying to ask him a question. When he came with our desserts I said, “We’ve been wondering if we might ask you, where did you train as a chef?” He smiled. “NOMA, in Copenhagen. I worked for a while in Bangkok, too.” NOMA! We knew NOMA has been repeatedly rated the best restaurant in the world. [2]

Guillermo was back on Gran Canaria for a few months, helping out in his parents’ restaurant. This particular dining experience was a way to show off what he could do with local ingredients and creativity. I told him that I blog and would be writing about him. I added, with absolute certainty, that I think he’ll be famous someday. His cooking is that good.

No, I didn’t receive a discount for saying I’d write a rave review. And yeah, travel karma. Sometimes you hit it just right.

NOTES: [1] I wrote about travel karma in a post I unimaginatively titled Travel Karma [2] NOMA was rated the Best Restaurant in the World in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

I have no idea if Señor Guillermo Ramirez is still in the kitchen, but here’s the contact info for this tasty restaurant. Restaurante de Cuchara, C/. Alfredo L.  Jones, 37; Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Tel: 928 26 55 09. Their website: Restaurante de Cuchara

6 October 2018 update… Note to anyone lucky enough to be heading to Gran Canaria: Guillermo informed me that he’s opened a new restaurant named Picaro. Here is the link: Restaurante Picaro If you are in Las Palmas, go!

Text © Jadi Campbell 2018. Photos © Uwe Hartmann 2018. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

8 thoughts on “Dinner with Guillermo”

    1. Guillermo, I wish you all the luck in the world. I’m updating this post so my readers can know about your new locale. We will definitely reserve a table for our next trip to beautiful Gran Canaria!

  1. What a great story! I hope to read about Guillermo being one of the best world chefs! I agree with your comment above about liking the dinner last for hours and is the entertainment for the evening. Once in a nice restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska, we told the waitress, “we’re here for the duration, so we’ll just order one thing, eat that and then decide what’s next, and so on.” It was a fun way to do the evening, and I think she appreciated not having to hurry!

    1. Sounds like you had a yummy slow food evening! Italy began ‘Slow Food’ to promote local products and farmers’ markets, traditional cooking, and provide the opposite of fast food. The movement is supported by the EU and has spread! Slow Food is in 150+ countries now.

  2. The food portions look so small. I suppose when Americans go out to eat they expect all plates to be full and overflowing. I never got to travel much. I did go to the shopping mall 2 years ago though. Thanks for dropping by my cartoon blog.

    1. Hi Carl, don’t forget that this was a 6-course meal. And we were brought an extra course as the ‘greeting from the kitchen’ when we were seated, plus bread on the table. Each dish was a flavor explosion, so 6 intense large courses would have been way too much food. You bring up an interesting cultural difference as well: Americans expect to take home the leftover portion of their meal, while in other countries it’s considered bad form. And a meal like the one at Restaurante de Cuchara lasts for hours. Going out to dinner is the entertainment for the evening; we took our time with each dish. With 6 courses, you have to pace yourself! Thanks for commenting. I like your cartoons.

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