A marriage of Strambotic art and gastronomy

Art on a plate that tastes as good as it looks. For those of us who appreciate fine dining, the presentation of the dish is just as important as its taste and the aromas emanating from it. A recent dining experience opened my eyes to yet a different dimension: art on a plate that not only looks and tastes good; each dish symbolised a specific aspect of the enormous paintings hanging on the walls around us. It was the perfect marriage of art and gastronomy in a setting that made me gasp in wonder. This is what you can expect at a dinner with the remarkable artist Quim Hereu and the young, talented chef, Gonzalo Martinez at Quim’s hangar-like studio in Banyoles, a small town outside Girona in Costa Brava. As you enter his studio, you’ll be greeted by this wondrous sight: the almost completed painting “Strambotic Birth of Venus or The Time Factory”.

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The Strambotic Birth of Venus as a stunning backdrop for a wonderful dinner

Strambotism and gastronomy

Quim Hereu is a proponent of Strambotism, an artistic offshoot of surrealism or magic surrealism. The difference is not in the final result of the artwork but rather in the artistic process. Strambotism leans on two elements: “seny i rauxa”, or thought and flamboyance. These two elements were evident as I looked at the massive paintings that adorned the walls of the studio.

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Venice portrayed by Quim

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The Taj Mahal – my favourite painting

The piece that grabs your attention, however, as you enter Quim’s studio is the gigantic “Strambotic Birth of Venus or The Time Factory”. Measuring 6 x 12 meters, the painting is part of a ten-year project to create the three largest paintings in the world – the “Strambotic Birth of Venus” being the first.

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The Strambotic Birth of Venus

The minute details in this huge painting are simply phenomenal. From a distance, its size and composition are certainly impressive but as I got closer, I began to notice the smallest figures and little ‘stories’ tucked away in different sections of the painting. An awe-inspiring piece indeed! What made the experience even more incredible was the dinner that followed.

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Our dinner menu

Chef Gonzalo prepared a magnificent seven-course Catalan dinner, with each course a reflection of various aspects of the paintings around us. There was foie gras in the shape of snails – Quim Hereu uses snails profusely in his “Strambotic Birth of Venus” as symbols of eternal youth – and a red/silver tuna carpaccio in the form of a checkerboard and garnished with yellow petals that reflected the colours used in Quim’s “San Marco’s Square, Venice” painting.

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Foie gras snails

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The tuna carpaccio

My favourite course was the delicious pumpkin soup and the quirky way it was served: in a Catalan wine decanter. Quim Hereu demonstrated how the soup should be ‘drunk’.

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Quim Hereu shows us how to ‘drink’ the soup

Chef Gonzalo explained each course as it arrived at the table; why he chose the ingredients and the colours, and which painting inspired him to create each dish.

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Chef Gonzalo explains the inspiration behind each course. Don’t you think he looks like Orlando Bloom? :-)

It was a wondrous experience that showcased the stunning creative talents of both Quim Hereu and Gonzalo Martinez. The food was simply gorgeous and the setting in Quim Hereu’s studio can only be described as magical. One conclusion can be drawn: this perfect marriage of Strambotic art and gastronomy is another unique addition to Costa Brava’s ever-growing palette of world-class travel and culinary experiences.

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Read other Costa Brava posts on Velvet Escape or view the Velvet Escape Costa Brava guide on Pinterest.

Note: a big thank you goes to the Costa Brava Tourism Board for hosting me and for their wonderful hospitality. All views expressed above are, as always, mine.

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3 Responses to “A marriage of Strambotic art and gastronomy”

  1. Hotelopia UK 09/07/2012 3:04 pm
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    Wow, this looks like the best dining experience in the world! Seriously! I can’t begin to imagine the price though…

  2. Hilarye 06/07/2012 5:52 pm
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    He totally does look like Orlando Bloom! That’s awesome- food for the eyes/soul and food for the heart/stomach- looks good!

  3. Morti 28/06/2012 12:43 pm
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    I would give my all to be there:(

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