Each month we select restaurants who put their love of meat above all else, and we bring you their story.
CA JOAN (ALTEA, ALICANTE)
At Ca Joan they profess a profound respect for meat which translates to a painstaking selection of produce. Meats that have been aged for long periods (up to a year and a half) and which have the Rubia Gallega breed as their ensign along with the best oxen reared in our country. There are few places in Spain serving meats of such quality.
''Fish from the boat to the plate and meat from the mountain to the fridge''. This is the maxim of Joan Abril, a young entrepreneur who has spent his entire life in the hospitality industry (his parents owned a restaurant serving traditional cuisine) and in 2008, before he'd even turned 30, he became a pioneer by opeing the first meat grill in his hometown of Altea. Bit by bit and thanks to their distinctive and defined range of dishes, Joan not only found his niche amongst the arrocerías and fried food bars that prevailed in the area, but also turned his restaurant into an icon for carnivores from around the country.
In Ca Joan dishes are served without a base or sauce, because they want to highlight the intrinsic quality of the raw material. That's why the stars of the locale are the chargrilled beef and ox meats, selected from the best breeds and farmers of northern Spain, which Joan himself then ages for long periods with the aim of bringing out the meat's flavour, enhancing its nuances and breaking down the muscle fibres, thus achieving a melt-in-the-mouth buttery texture.
RAW MATERIAL AND TIME, THE BASIS OF DIFFERENCE
For Joan Abril, the secret to delivering the best results comes thanks to using fatty meats, and the most organic ones possible. That's why he works only with a select group of trusted farmers who only feed their herds on natural grasses, and only rear breeds suitable for fattening such as Rubia Gallega (for Joan ''the Ferrari of meats''), the Asturian of the Valleys, the Sayaguesa (a breed indigenous to the county of Sagayo, in Zamora) or the Mirandesa. The oxen used are rural oxen, reared for cultural reasons rather than to make money given that, as opposed to those destined for the plate, these are castrated at one year old and slaughtered at 12, making them expensive to keep.
All these meats are aged for long periods, up to one and a half years in the case of the ox meat, and 300 days for the Gallega cows, using only natural processes (optimum temeprature and humidity controls) to achieve a dstincive and unique product. The cuts of entrecôte and sirloin are cooked to perfection on the charcoal grill and served with a side of Galician chips and Padron peppers. Amongst the suggestions for meat lovers: ox carpaccio and jerky, knife-cut steak tartare, ox meatballs in Moscatell and chargrilled veal sweetbreads with lime essence.
WE ARE MEDITERRANEAN
In a restaurant whose origins are to be ftound beside the sea, there had to be a seafood option. “Somos Mediterráneo”, Joan explains - We are Mediterranean - hence their inclusion of dishes such as the wonderful red prawns of Denia, grilled octopus served with a firm potato foam and some intensely sea-flavoured baby cuttlefish which need nothing more than 'the grill, oil and salt' because, as their creator explains, ''what I seek are pure flavours''.
Ca Joan works with seasonal produce and favours ‘'things that differ from what everyone else has to offer''. So this Autumn, they're bringing the capital city some of the exclusive shellfish from their region, such as sea cucumber, baby octopus from Cambrils and caixetes de Vinarós. The latter, also know as Noah's Arc, are a bivalve with an intense marine flavour which is difficult to find outside of the bars of northern Valencia or southern Caalonia, and which in Ca Joan, are cooked using the steam of a kettle.
This season also offers certain vegetables such as artichokes, served griled - a typical Christmas dish in Valencia.
To round off their food offering the restaurant also serves 100% homemade desserts (even the spongge cake is made in-house), amongst which we find nods to Joan's hometown of Altea in dishes such as torrija with icecream or orange cake made from the skin, pulp and juice of fresh Valencian oranges. The wine list has been approved by Lavinia and when it comes to something stronger, you'll dsicover Lap Nº 1 gin, a spirit made from Fuji apples from Leida, produced exclusively for Ca Joan and satisfying the new mixology trends of the restaurant trade.