There’s no doubt that Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village is a happening place. Just try to park there most any time of day or night, and you’ll be hunting for a parking spot because that’s how busy it gets.
Now, it’s bound to get even crazier than the long lines there for Boba Guys. That’s because the new Telefèric Barcelona just opened its doors last week, with plenty of Spanish flair, pulsating music, and flaming cocktails lighting up the dining room.
It’s the second Bay Area locale for the Telefèric Barcelona Restaurant Group of Barcelona, joining the original Telefèric Barcelona that opened in Walnut Creek in 2016.
Brother and sister, Xavi and Maria Padrosa took over the original restaurant in Barcelona, which their mother had started. They were lured to bring their concept stateside by a Walnut Creek developer.
Xavi Padrosa had long wanted to open a restaurant in Palo Alto, a city close to his heart since he lived there for seven years while attending Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
The contemporary Palo Alto restaurant is all clean lines with a long bar, sleek open kitchen, colorful Spanish tiles, and basket-like light fixtures. When it’s full, as it was for a friends-and-family and media dinner that I attended the night before it opened to the public, it can be very loud. You will have to lean over the table to converse with your dining companion.
Fried chicken with corn on the cobb — Basque-Japanese-style at Duende.
When you hear that Duende in Oakland just put fried chicken on the menu, you might scratch your head for a moment, thinking how is that a Spanish dish?
Turns out it is.
In the land of paella, gazpacho and croquettes, fried chicken definitely has its place. That’s what I learned last week, when I was invited as a guest of the restaurant with other media to try the new offering.
As Chef-Owner Paul Canales explains, his father, who is of Basque heritage, would often fry chicken in olive oil in the morning, then let it sit out to cool to room temperature before the family ate it, garnished with a squeeze of lemon, for an early dinner, hours later.
Chef-Owner Paul Canales in the kitchen.
Canales was inspired to put his version of fried chicken on the menu when an employee brought in some take-out Japanese karaage for staff meal. Canales considers the Japanese-style fried chicken the gold standard for fried chicken because of its light yet shatteringly crisp exterior.
After experimenting, he came up with a rendition that marries Japanese and Spanish sensibilities in one superlative crunchy bite.
Chef Paul Canales holding his finished squid ink paella at Duende.
Last week, I got a lesson in paella-making from the source: Chef-Owner Paul Canales of the Duende in Oakland.
And what a delicious and inspired one it was.
After all, the Uptown restaurant is all about Spanish and Basque food spotlighting the best of Northern California’s bounty. Duende features four paellas on the menu, including the very popular Arroz Negro, made with squid ink for an unmistakable bold color.
Along with a handful of other food writers, I crowded into the restaurant kitchen to watch Canales demonstrate that dish. The Moors brought rice to Spain, he explained, and paellas first gained popularity in the 1840s in and around Valencia. Canales’ father is of Basque heritage, a region that didn’t necessarily specialize in risotto. But it’s a specialty Canales has long loved, and studied, having traveled throughout Spain.
Paella can be made with various Spanish rices, as well as short or broken Spanish pasta.
Saffron from northern Iran.
Like Italian risotto, it’s a dish that’s really all about the rice, with the toppings accentuating it, but not smothering it.