Raimon Moreno – Building a Future with El Almacen

Raimon Moreno – Building a Future with El Almacen

If there was ever a silver lining to, “La Crisis”,  it would have to have been the creation of El Almacen.  For if not for that unfortunate turn of events Raimon Moreno may have never left his once promising career as an Architect to attend culinary school, and one of Valencia’s best restaurants, may have never opened.

A Valencia native, Moreno, was introduced to the culinary world the way many people are-  by washing dishes at a restaurant in order to make a little money during college.  While his real pursuit was an Architecture degree, Moreno was a bit of a natural and was quickly promoted to the bar, then to the front of the house as a waiter, and finally, after showing an interest in the kitchen, to a cook.  Displaying obvious talent, the owners eventually persuaded Moreno to run the kitchen, which he did, until he completed his studies in 2004 and got a job as an Architect.  For the moment, Moreno’s restaurant career was over, and he spent the next 6 years, working as planned, for an Architecture firm.

Then, everything changed.  Following the collapse of a global real estate bubble and failing banks, Spain found itself among the hardest hit in Europe, and Moreno found himself out of a job.  “I had to figure out a way to make money, and I knew I could do it cooking”, he explains.  Moreno enrolled himself into a local vocational school, CdT de Valencia (Centre de Turisme) for formal culinary training.

“I had to figure out a way to make money, and I knew I could do it cooking”.

Upon completing his degree,  Moreno spent his first year as a professional cook in a traditional restaurant, which paid the bills, but didn’t interest him. His next post however, was a coveted position as Head Chef at Quique DaCosta’s Mercat Bar.   It was there, under the guidance of the famed Michelin-techno chef DaCosta that Moreno found inspiration, and began honing his skills with modernist interpretations of classic Spanish dishes.

In March of 2013, at the suggestion of a colleague, Raimon Moreno and his girlfriend, Vanina Vila decided to start their own venture, and opened the doors of El Almacen.  Vila and Moreno had met while working at the same restaurant and started dating only 18 months earlier. “We didn’t have to really think about it. It was clear that it was the right thing to do,” says Moreno.

“We didn’t have to really think about it. It was clear that (starting El Almacen) was the right thing to do,”

Raymond_Vanini

Power couple Raimon Moreno and Vanini Vila.

Entering El Almacen you immediately get a sense of its personality. A graphic designer, Vila is a perfect compliment to Moreno, the former Architect, and the two have created a space which is playful yet sophisticated.  The DIY interior is a mix of modern and vintage, every touch reflecting their style from the bar made by Moreno himself out of reclaimed wood, to the burlap seat cushions and the tip jar that reads, “Tattoo Money”.

This same creative yet grounded aesthetic translates its way on to the plates that Moreno executes with precision. Classic Spanish tapas are given an elegant, modern day spin, but remain recognizable. “Our Russian Salad” looks like an upmarket version of the original but is light and pillow-y. Topped with house-made dehydrated black olives it strikes a perfect balance of acidity and brininess.   The “Special kind of Gazpacho with Idiazabal ice cream” is actually a take on Salmorejo, a chilled tomato soup from Cordoba. Topped with the additional chill of ice cream made from the famous Basque cheese, and bread crumbs browned in Iberico lard, it is as complex in flavor as it is in texture. The “Steak Tartare with Mustard Emulsion” melts in your mouth, with just a hint of palate cleansing ginger on the finish.

Beef_Tartare

Beef Tartare with Mustard Emulsion

Offerings “With Bread” as the menu explains, are just as intriguing, but unfortunately not as easy to share! The “Squid sandwich to another level” takes the classic bocadillo to the streets of Seoul, stuffing tender pieces of squid into a steamed bun with a healthy dose of “kimchi sauce” and cilantro. “Steamed brioche with special cut pork fillet” packs incredibly tender cuts of pork secreto into a slightly sweet brioche with fresh mozzarella which is then spiked with Siracha, straight from the bottle.

Moreno’s playful approach to dessert, continues to pay homage to classic postres with a modern twist.   “Chocolate, in another way,” puts a molecular spin on the Barcelona snack by composing velvety smooth chocolate mousse on top of house made bread, olive oil “spheres”, and smoked sea salt. The “Hot Donut”, crowned in crispy brulee, and topped with vanilla ice cream is stoner food at it’s best.

Chocolate

Moreno’s “Chocolate, Another Way,” combines velvety chocolate mouse with toast, smoked sea salt and olive oil “spheres”

 

Hot_Donut

The irresistible “Hot Donut”

As a date night destination, or for a snack at the bar, a trip to El Almacen does not disappoint. Raimon Moreno’s food is as inventive as it is honest, a reflection on the kind of people that he and his partner Vila are.  And while we’ll never suggest that “La Crisis” was in some way “good”, it is stories like this, that illustrate the positive outcomes that even the hardest change can sometimes bring.  For together, Raimon Moreno and Vanina Vila are architecting a brilliant future…and lucky for us it’s with El Almacen.

 

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