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Dinner on a dare

Most local gourmets would gladly admit it: Good restaurants abound in Barcelona.

Published on November 24, 2007

The city is widely acknowledged as a major European hotspot of culinary excellence, rich in its own traditions and innumerable, outstanding chefs.

Amid this constellation of international stars and Catalan alchemists, though, entrepreneur and chef Mey Hofmann stands out in his own unique way.

Maybe the German-born chef's special status originates in the location of his restaurant, the Hofmann, deep within the labyrinthine network of the Barrio Gotico, Barcelona's historical district.

Here the tortured gothic arches, elaborate doorways and shady stairways all seem to lead to Hofmann's inner sanctum and neighbouring catering school, both of which overlook the Cathedral Santa Maria del Mar. The master's study stands well protected.

Hofmann has always put creativity at a premium, incorporating French ingredients and influences to his otherwise Catalan-rooted cuisine with dazzling skill. Dishes are always splendid and imaginatively presented, and often display the most surprising associations of taste, colour and texture.

Recent examples include a succulent foie gras in three textures, or the world-famous tarte fine of sardines. Dinner at Hofmann's can sometimes feel like a daring trip.

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