Culinary Masterclass With Boris Buono In Sir Joan

Posted on December 4, 2017

Words: Jason Eybe

Words: Helen Davies / Images: Leyre Lopez

I had watched in awe over the past two years as the former El Divino apartments were knocked down and (I suspected) something more spectacular and inviting was blossoming in its place. My suspicions were bang on! Last summer saw the opening of this sensational 5-star hotel that is Sir Joan. Just a stone’s throw from Pacha, Ibiza town and Talamanca beach, it sits in a perfect location. With an enviable view of the marina and the old town, Sir Joan manages to blend perfectly the archetypal Ibiza bohemia atmosphere and the somewhat more outgoing tastes of the island’s party going elite. It offers a salacious and highly fashionable purlieu for the wild at heart and dare I say… non-conformist.

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I was delighted to be invited to Sir Joan for a menu tasting, at the hands of Michelin Star chef Boris Buono, to launch its new winter concept. Fantastic I thought, I so love that our little island is finally getting to grips with the fact that for over 150,000 of us, Ibiza is our home all year round. Yes, that’s what I said… we live here all year round! When I arrived here eight years ago, it was a time of year when literally the last party had ended (typically Halloween). You could bet that it was April before you saw anyone again for an evening out. Now this is all changing. There is a healthy and steadily growing collection of restaurants, small clubs, parties and family events, to keep us entertained throughout the winter months. Oh, and not forgetting the beaches in the winter! I’m glad to say that our temperatures are mostly kind enough for even myself to pop on a bikini every now and again (I shall admit the deliciously smug feeling you have whilst stepping onto a tranquil beach, with not one tourist in sight is not lost on me)

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On arrival at 21:00 on the dot (I don’t like to be late for anything and neither does my partner), we were greeted by the very cheerful staff and the most incredible scent. Wow! I was transported straight back to Paris ‘Hotel Costes’ (trust me, go there someday If you can!). I soon realised that we had been invited with just a handful of other journalists. The restaurant wasn’t open to the public this evening. This was going to be a very exclusive, intimate gathering. Straight away we were introduced to Boris Buono, our Michelin Star chef for the evening. I immediately warmed to him, I especially liked his hat (sort of Freddie Kruger meets Kölsch!) So much more ‘Ibiza’ than those classic chef’s hats which, in my opinion, look remarkably like the thing they pop on the end of a leg of lamb). Once we were sat down to a welcome glass of Cava and a selection of Italian olives, fresh walnuts and honeyed cashews, Boris came over to chat more with us.

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What an incredible character he is. His mother a Danish hippy (his words not mine) and his father an Italian from Naples. He started cooking from a very young age, his parents found it difficult to keep his toddler self away from the dangers of the kitchen. However, by the age of 16 he had his first job in a pizzeria. I was secretly delighted to discover that he was then literally kidnapped by his next boss, who had recognised his talents and just had to have his talents put to use in his French restaurant. It was there that his talent, or “interest” as he calls it began. Fast forward 20 years, and having been chef at Michelin Star restaurant Norma in Copenhagen among many others, Boris found himself heading to Ibiza after his then girlfriend had dumped him, and he was at a particularly low point in his life. After a short time on the island, he realised it had so much more to offer than its party reputation, and in a stroke of good luck for us, decided to stay. He opened a restaurant in Sa Penya (the former fishing quarter of the old town). Some would describe it as “not the most desirable of places” but that didn’t put him off. ‘The Ibiza studio’ was created, and it is now one of the islands coolest restaurants. Sometime later, he found his perfect finca home, tucked away in the hills of San Lorenzo. With land plentiful and fertile enough to grow his own produce, he decided to open his doors and create his own restaurant from his very own kitchen. ‘La Finca’ was born. “Inviting people to your home, there is no room for the usual highly-strung tempers of a chef’, he tells me. Here he needed to create a calming and welcoming environment. A place he could cook for his friends, and their friends too. This sense of calm, warmth and familiarity is certainly a defining feature of the food he cooks today.

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Sir Joan has been lucky enough to poach Boris (or BB as he is known) away from the comfort of his home kitchen and the ‘Ibiza food Studio’ to cook for its clientele this winter season. Once we had finished our drinks we were all invited to sit around the cooking station so we could be immersed in all the preparation and cooking. He wanted us all to be as involved in this process as himself and his team were. First, we were served a selection of breads, toasted cubes of focaccia, bread sticks and a type of pumpernickel bread served with a dip of green herbed aioli and an avocado dip, absolutely delicious. Next came a sorbet of slow cooked sun-dried tomatoes spiked with a dash of gin and a hint of chilli, this I could have eaten twice. I am happy that I didn’t as at this point Boris announced that this was the second of fifteen courses! No that’s not a typo, that’s what we ate… fifteen courses of the most sensational food. Now, I will not write about the contents of every dish, but what I will say is that there are a few dishes that you simply must try.

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The ceviche is a winner. Very simple and very clean, the freshest Lubina I’ve ever tasted, complimented by a touch of coriander, chilli and spices. The Lubina was caught that day by his friend and fisherman Miguel, who was sat with us merrily enjoying the fruits of his labour. His flushed red cheeks seemingly the only evidence of his hours spent fishing on the open waters (either that, or he had been enjoying one to many of the very splendid wines we were currently consuming!) The Bullet de Peix (Boris style) if you are not familiar with this traditional Ibicenco dish, it is basically white fish cooked in a very (sometimes too “Very”) creamy sauce with Aioli (garlic) however, his own take on this recipe is hands down the best version I have ever tasted. A combination of gambas, muscles and scallops, served in a very light saffron and cream soup, cooked very slowly to remove the heavy proteins. The result? Mouth-watering. I’ve been well and truly spoilt, and no other ‘menu del dia’ version of this dish will now suffice.

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My next favourite dish was the Theatrical dish (of course it was). I watched eagerly as Boris prepared tiny wooden circular bases. On top of these he served a lamb tartare with wild rocket and local pine nuts, the finishing touch was grated fresh horseradish and fresh edible flowers… “oh yes”, I thought, this is worthy of an Instagram video… but wait! It was not over yet (puts phone back on table) He then produced tall glass circular domes, which he placed on top of the of lamb, then proceeded to fill the domes with smoke from a small canister, said domes were then placed in front of us. I don’t think any of us had exhaled throughout this process! Finally, the glass domes were removed and the amazing smell hit me. It was like a log fire in winter, a bonfire in a jar, the aroma was incredible. The lamb tartare was therefore scented by the smoke and resulted in the most delicious flavour. The smoke however was not just for aesthetic purposes (or for my current Boomerang) it is… “Here comes the science part, concentrate!” …used to conserve the food by raising the PH level and apply acidity to the dish. It worked, and I highly recommend this as a must try.

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We continued to eat our way through freshly caught gambas which we cooked on our very own mini BBQ, tiny pasta tortellini al dente, St Peters locally caught fish, fillet of beef with sweetbreads and red wine jus, vegetable tempura with a soy sauce dip, pollo payes (local fresh chicken) so fresh in fact, that it is confidently served undercooked; as this is how it is eaten by the locals and quiet rightly so. Delicious. Finally, the dessert, I looked at my partner and exclaimed with mild panic “I really don’t think I can fit anything else in!” I did. A chocolate biscuit ganache cake, to be specific. Each layer of biscuit had been cooked then cooled taking 48 hours to assemble and served with an orange sorbet. There was absolutely no way I was leaving any of that on my plate (let’s just say, I have not been motivated to eat that much food since I stole, and consumed eight Easter eggs from Barbara Hayes mum’s cabinet when I was 7!) We had the most wonderful, intimate evening, and felt truly spoilt and honoured to be part of this small gathering, which allowed us to not only experience Boris’s exceptional food, but also to know about him, his life and how he came to where he is today. Boris Buono will be cooking at Sir Joan hotel each day and night during the winter season except Monday.

More Info:
w: www.sirhotels.com/joan/specials
fb: www.facebook.com/pg/SirJoanHotel/events/

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