Molina eschews artificial embellishments and any other non-essential ingredients when cooking. It’s his assurance that the organic main ingredient flavors are neither changed nor upstaged when each dish is created. Imagine raving about the nutty, bitter taste of escarole in its own right, when a salad is dressed only with a sprinkling of lime juice and salt. Or the velvety sweetness of a chocolate brownie made with no flour. These and other astonishing demonstrations of Molina’s “less is more” principle awaited us on the evening we visited El Barco.
Our culinary odyssey was launched with the offer of signature cocktails. Four on the menu are original staff creations, including the margarita tica, sweetened with a homemade syrup.
With every course came the opportunity to sample a variety of dishes, as pleasing to the eye as they were to our taste buds. We found ourselves staring at each plate momentarily before anyone would take the first bite, so clean, colorful and creative was the presentation of food elements.
Queso de cabra featured organic goat cheese from Playa Avellanas, served warm over a homemade tomato marmalade with fresh foccacia bread, and an arugula, escarole and basil salad. Fresh mahi-mahi was the centerpiece of carpaccio del Pacífico, served raw in thin slices with extra virgin olive oil, pink pepper and fresh dill harvested from Capitán Suizo’s own organic garden. Vieiras picante y dulce offered mouth-watering proof of chef Molina’s finesse in combining complementary natural flavors to enhance, but not overpower, the star ingredient: 15 scallops seared in a light paprika butter served on homemade banana bread with chocolate sauce.
The lomito entree was another example of Jujo’s “natural wonder” abilities. Beef tenderloin with a ginger and tamarind gravy is served with vegetables and Roland’s Rösti, a traditional Swiss dish. El Barco’s version of the flat potato pancake is bound by nothing except the potato’s natural starch. In reina del Pacífico, grilled filet of sea bass lies on a bed of barley risotto with homemade basil, almond, parmesan and olive oil green pesto served with garden vegetables. Caldereta de mariscos is a family recipe for octopus, calamari, mussels and jumbo shrimp stew. The homemade Mediterranean sauce consists of fresh tomatoes, thyme, basil and rosemary.