I love the cliché a picture is worth a thousand words.  When a person says it, you can comprehend easily the feelings they are trying to convey.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am RARELY speechless.  (Inarticulate, yes.  Speechless, no.)  So when I am dumbstruck for words, you know it has to be big.

Well today’s post is going to consist of A LOT of pictures because I had the experience of a lifetime on Tuesday night and I can barely think straight.

I had the honor of sitting at the Chef’s Table at Mercat a la Planxa (638 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago) during their Spain in Seven Plates dinner!!!!!!!!!  (Forgive me if I sound boastful but I am still pretty hyped up about the experience.)Name2mercat

Sitting in the kitchen of one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Chicago was awesome but toss in the added bonus of watching Iron Chef Jose Garces and executive Chef Cory Morris in action was just too much!!! kitchen

(And I really played it cool when I clenched my copy of “Latin Evolution” with a pink Sharpie in anticipation of getting an autograph!)

Mercat Chef Garces Signature

Mercat Chef Jose Garces
Chef Jose Garces
One of the nicest chefs I have ever met, Chef Cory Morris

The dinner was a celebration of the chef’s recent trip to Spain.  Each course had a story of a food they had found or someone they had met on their recent trip.  (There was also an amazing Sangria reception and wine pairing for each course but I was driving back home after dinner so I abstained.)

I have never been to Spain but after this meal, I felt I was partially on vacation in another country and partially in heaven.  (This is where I just need to stop typing and start the picture show!)

Course 1-Carmona

  Terrina D’oliva:  

Losada Olive Terrine with Pea Tendrils, Orange supremes and Marcona Almonds

Mercat Course 1

Course 2-Sevilla

Sardine Fillets a la Planxa

Ibérico Lardo, Mint Aioli, Piquillo Aioli, Espelette,Crispy Chanquetes, Marinated Tomatoes

I circulated the sardine all over the plate to engulf every flavor.

Course 3-Jerez de la Frontera

Hippiglos amb Pesols

Oloroso steamed Halibut with Spring Pea Puree and Arvum Vinegar Artichoke Escabeche

Mercat Course 3
The artichoke escabeche was astonishing!

Course 4- San Sebastian

Bacalao Negro

Squid Ink, Tomato Millet, Chorizo, Saffron Foam

The tastiest squid ink swirl I ever had.  (Okay, the only squid ink swirl I’ve ever had but it was magnificent!)

Course 5-Granada

Conill amb Huevos Roto

OMED Aburquina Olive Oil Sous Vide Rabbit with Broken Eggs

Mercat Course 5
A special note to Baby Chubbs: No one in your family was harmed to make this meal.

Course 6-Madrid

Calamari Risotto

I hope this is on the menu this winter because it was a warm bowl of love.

Course 7- Jaen

Tocinillo de Cielo

HEAVENLY Custard with Castillo de Canena Picual Olive Oil and Grilled Apricot

Mercat Course 7
The green slivers were pieces of lemongrass. Perfect ending to a great dinner.

Mercat a la planxa will be adding some new, flavorful dishes to the menu this month.  I am looking forward to trying each and everyone of them.

Thank you to everyone who made this night so wonderful from the delightful staff at Mercat to my fellow diners to Chef Jose Garces and Chef Cory Morris.  As far as food experiences go, I know this is one for the memory books!