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The Real Ones- Juanito

Love for Tradition

Joan Riera is Juanito to his friends, the endearing owner of the Ca n’Alfredo restaurant situated in the heart of Ibiza on Paseo Vara de Rey. It’s renowned as a meeting place and for its great food. It was awarded with the Gold Medal of Ibiza in 2010 and has been a flagship of traditional Ibizan cuisine since 1934. Ca n’Alfredo is about casual chats with friends after lunch, Saturday matança rice and flaó (cheesecake) with the family. It’s a home and a refuge, a place where you stop to say hello to Joan and give him your grandfather or your mother’s regards. He is the maître d’ of the restaurant and his wife, Catalina, is in charge of the kitchen. We’ll be chatting about culinary tradition and passion for a job well done. I suggest you read this interview after eating or be prepared to drool.

I get the feeling that Ibicencan cuisine doesn’t get the hype that Basque, Asturian or Canarian cuisine gets? I’d never heard of sofrit pagès (country sofrito) or greixonera in my life until I came to live here. It is one of the most elaborate and tasty cuisines in Spain, and I’m this is coming from a native of Asturias.
“Without a doubt. In the 70s, Ibiza had a massive influx of tourists and the island became filled with characterless restaurants, with Ibizan cuisine reduced down to just four traditional places. I consider myself a promoter of our culinary traditions and along with the Consell de Ibiza, we managed to create a brand called Sabors d’Eivissa (Flavours of Ibiza) that advocates local cuisine and produce. It really took off, and we have been present at countless food fairs such as Madrid Fusión. I’m proud to say that Ibizan cuisine is in rude health nowadays, with more quality as opposed to quantity on the island.”

 

As your friend and colleague Juan Mari Arzak mentions in the prologue of your book Ca n’Alfredo – History, Memories and Cuisine: “the commitment to human values is more important than the commitment to gastronomy.” Is attention and care just as important as quality cuisine?
“Juan Mari is a great friend of mine and he gave me the best recipe that anyone could give: “No te jubiles ni pa’ Dios”(Don’t retire, not even for God) This is a lifelong passion, and what makes me happiest is that people leave my restaurant with a big smile. It is in meeting a child who came here with his parents and then to see him again when he’s 40 years old with his wife and children sitting at the table. That makes me as proud as a peacock. Cuisine needs a lot of care, but you have to take even more care of your customers and friends.”

In the beginning, Ca n’Alfredo was called “Verner and Gertrudis” and was run by a German couple. It was later run by a German Jewish couple who came to Ibiza fleeing the Nazis. How did it end up in the hands of your father, Josep?
“Yes, the German Jewish couple were very hard-working. My father bought this place from them and they then set up a little hotel on the beach in San Antonio. They were the ones who originally gave the restaurant its name because they had 7 sons, with the eldest called Alfredo. Later I added Ca n’ (House of) and my eldest son is called Alfredo. I tried it later with some of my grandchildren, but they wouldn’t let me.”

What is the house speciality? The dish you have to order, no matter what.
“We make fantastic rice dishes and stews. I’m very proud of our baked fish and typical dishes such as sofrit pagès.”

I am surprised by the number of restaurants I’ve discovered on the island. There is a lot of competition. How do you manage to remain a reference point after so many years?
“It’s very complicated, I’m not going to lie. I think it is based on how much I love my job and a lot of perseverance. When you enjoy what you do and put your heart and soul into it… it can’t go wrong.”

The walls of your restaurant are decorated with photos of your most famous diners. Which person did you like but didn’t know who they were at first?
“Well, I remember a very tall and very nice guy who came to eat with his parents; Ricky Rubio, now he’s a star in the NBA, but when he came here he was just starting to make a name for himself in Barça’s basketball team. I’m a big football fan, but I don’t know anything about basketball. The kid loved our food and wanted to take a photo with the cooks, not the other way around!. Then I found out who he was and I’ve followed his meteoric rise to the top, which I’m most happy about.”

Your wife Catalina is in charge of the kitchen, so who controls the stove at home?
My wife! What I’m very good at is crispy fried eggs cooked at high heat, with some chips and sobrasada… yummy!

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Marcos Torres

MARCOS TORRESS

11th September – 1st November

This Ibicenco is a graphic artist with an extensive career in the arts, on a national and international level. His particular style is characterised by a strong connection with music, cinema, Pop mythology and passion through which he transmits to the viewer a powerful and sensual aesthetic.

Marcos will close the exhibition series in Paradiso’s lobby with his recognisable and characteristic visual narrative, dominated by the cult of colour and visual impact.

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My “Fetish” Hoteliers

MY “FETISH” HOTELIERS

Andrés Saravia & Marc Rahola, Hoteliers for the Fun of it.

By Pablo Burgués
Photo: Maria Andreu

Another year, another interview with Diego Calvo; CEO, Co-founder, human being and top dog at Concept Hotel Group. This time we’ll be chewing the fat about Andrés Saraiva and Marc Rahola, two guys who are almost as nuts as he is about hotels.

Howdy Diego, what do these two gentlemen have in common?
“Both of them have shaken up the hotel sector, bringing enormous added value to their products through art.”You’ll have to forgive me, but I’m a smalltown boy, so you’ll have to explain this to me nice and simple… “In their hotels, as well as sleeping and eating like a fucking boss, you are surrounded by art wherever you go.”

Now I got ya. Tell me, in four sentences who is Andrés Saraiva is and why you like his work so much.
“Saraiva is first and foremost an artist, and a renowned graffiti artist who ran out of walls in his native Paris in 2011 and decided to set up Hotel Amour. The building became his new blank canvas, and with the collaboration of other friends and artists he designed and decorated one of the most inspiring and coolest hotels I’ve ever slept in. And I’ve slept in a few.”

Are you the kind of person that takes the hotel bathrobe with you as a souvenir?
“Taking things from a hotel always seemed kinda lame for me, but I did take one thing from the Amour, something that I always carry with me… I was lucky enough to meet Andrés in person and I liked his work so much that I got a tattoo on my left arm of a heart designed by the man himself.”

What about Marc Rahola?
“Marc is crazy about art, a hotelier with the soul of a gallery owner, an art patron…. His hotels stand out because they are continually hosting concerts and exhibitions. He also has some great initiatives aimed at helping emerging artists, such as the OD Awards, an annual prize which I had the honour of being a member of the jury in the latest edition. As if this wasn’t enough, he also loves rock ‘n’ roll like me and he even had his own band in the 90s called Occam Kepler, with whom he played in legendary concert halls such as KGB and Ars Studio.”

When are you gonna get a tattoo designed by Rahola on the other arm?
“Hahahahaha, I haven’t had it done yet, but don’t rule anything out with me. I’m a very passionate guy and if I like something, I love it to death, to the point of getting a tattoo.”

Apart from your body, are there art spaces in your hotels?
“Of course, in Dorado we have a permanent exhibition of some of the most amazing photos in rock history. Paradiso has its own gallery that is open to everyone. When I was a kid the only way of seeing artwork by international artists was by getting a plane to Madrid, London, Paris… at Concept Hotel Group we are doing our bit to enable locals to enjoy the work of world class artists without leaving the island.”

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