Thursday, April 2, 2009

Juanito in the 21st Century

If Jesus had been born in Ibiza , the inn with no crib for a bed would most certainly have been Juanitos. It is an ancient place run forever by the legenday Juanito and famous for its excellent lamb in cooked in what looks the cauldron that Obelix fell into as a baby. It is the penultimate eatery on the San Juan road. This road, know as restaurant road, starts with with the newer expat imports of Bambuddha, Ocho and Aura and ends with with a cluster of prehistoric ultra Ibicenco grill restaurants.

And into this ultra Ibicenco scene steps Matt Jones, founder of London’s organic Flour Power City and brought to the island to give his ever expanding family room to grow. Using an interesting new marketing technique called “Shhhh, Don’t Tell Anyone We’re Open” he reopened Juanito’s this week. The secrecy technique failed however and the restaurant was full, the bar was full and so was the terrace. Juanito himself, unable to keep away, supervised the concotion of his famous ultra authentic Allioli. It remains the same – garlic, olive oil, salt - also as eye watering as ever.

Matt had made only a puy lentil stew/soup that was really just in case anyone happened to turn up. That of course was gone within minutes. Not surprising given how delicious it was and the quality of the bread that was served alongside it, but it left the problem of how to feed the rest of the people who had turned up just to see what was going on. Whilst my back was turned Matt made a chopped Imam Bayaldi (a Turkish spiced aubergine dish that translates as the Priest Fainted, cos he did when his cook first served it to him) that was so fresh, so subtle and so delightful all the women started crying.

This was again served with the bread with which Matt has made his name in London. This is now the best bread on the island. This stuff is killer. There is the white and the 75% rye. Both are big, country style loaves that are what bread are supposed to be – doughy but not dense, heavy without it weighing in your stomach, ever so slightly sour but with a delicious freshness. This is real bread and it makes real toast.

Once all the women had stopped crying they were served oranges in vanilla caramel and an orange sorbet made 8 minutes before it was served, the ingredients which were nothing but orange and icing sugar (the syrup bypassed so as not to water down the flavour). For those who wanted chocolate there was brownie.

Since Matt wasn’t expecting anyone the menu was by no means complete. When it is complete Juanitos in the 21st Century will remain essentially the same, adding just a few new touches – grilled meats accompanied by pepperonata instead of a slice of vaguely grilled pepper. Lemon sorbet made in the kitchen instead of some industrial plant on the outskirts of Barcelona. That sort of thing.

Oh yes, and the bakery. Matt was trying to keep his croissants etc (which are also going to be baked daily) a secret as well, but I broke into the bakery and got hold of the best pain au chocolat I have ever had. All this stuff from the ovens will be available for sale over the counter. I have a feeling that Matt’s secrecy plan is going to fail and once again heaven on earth is going to be present here on Ibiza.