12/15/2012 02:30:00 PM

Ethnic Eats: Mel i Mató, a Catalan Dessert, at Boqueria

Like many other aspects of its culture, Catalan food is constantly reinventing and pushing itself in new directions. Thankfully, though, it also stays true to its Mediterranean roots, with classic dishes still reigning supreme like pa amb tomaquet (bread rubbed with tomato and garlic), fideua (think a traditional paella, but with noodles instead of rice), and mel i mató (an insufferably delicious dessert, whose virtues will soon be extolled). The last is one of those truly craveable dishes that is, unfortunately, difficult to find in other parts of the world.

For Spanish (and, obviously, Catalan) speakers, it’s rather straightforward and self-explanatory: “mel,” or honey, and “mató,” a soft, white, saltless cheese that’s not dissimilar to ricotta. Put them together and the angels sing. If you want to go super crazy, you can find those that add walnuts as well.

Incredibly simple, intensely gratifying, and horrifically scarce in this city.

However, a shining beacon of hope: Boqueria, named after the famed Catalan market, has such a dish on its menu. It looks different than the norm - namely, the actual cheese and honey are almost completely covered by walnuts and berries - but the creaminess and the wonderful floral notes from the nectar are still there under all the noise and crunch. Eventually, we’ll concede that the berries are actually quite good as we frantically scrape up the small tapas-style portion of mató (of which there can never be enough), but for now, we’ll still be on the hunt for more. And we’ll also be ordering seconds.


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