Spanish food: Auténtiko restaurant, paradise on the way to La Calera – Gastronomy – Culture

A “Gaudí-type” construction, as he describes it the Spanish chef Juantxu Alonso, it seems to transport the visitor, as soon as he arrives at the country headquarters of Auténtiko, at kilometer 9 of the road to La Calera.

The mansion, with a spacious dining room on the terrace and a second floor that serves as a warm refuge for clients, seems to have been built for Autentiko, but it was not.

The Auténtiko store is a very attractive setting for a day on the outskirts of Bogotá.

Photo:

Cesar Melgarejo. TIME

Auténtiko and its menu began elsewhere, in the municipality of La Calera. Alonso’s project, which has been cooking in Colombia for 18 years, was born three years ago with the intention of reproducing the best of the Spanish tradition.

“We do not work on mergers or avant-garde,” he says emphatically. Just tradition. We want to transmit to the Colombian, through his palate, the memory of the trip he made to Spain”.

The chef celebrates every time a diner tells him: “This suckling pig is the same as the one I ate in Segovia”. And even more so when one of his countrymen tells him that he reminded him of the food at his house.

“They are my most direct criticism”, he says satisfied, because he knows that the menu that Auténtiko offers today –with its tapas, rice dishes, salads, veal cheeks, pork cheeks, anchovies and even the dishes that require prior reservation due to his specialty– is the result of his judicious demand when it comes to finding products brought from Spain and some local input that adjusts to the original flavor of his land.

We do not work mergers or avant-garde

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“I arrived in 2004 –he evokes–. We realized that doing the most traditional thing worked and that is what I worked on, although it took me time to get the raw materials. It was field work, getting up early, going to cattle fairs, searching.”

That search for years is reflected in Auténtiko…

We did it. 80% of our ingredients come from Spain: anchovies, anchovies, fuets, black pudding from Burgos, txistorra (small sausage from the Basque Country) and spices such as paprika from La Vera, which is essential in our menu.

How has the project changed?

The restaurant has been in business for three and a half years. We were before in the town of La Calera, we spent the pandemic there. But a bigger kitchen, spacious dining rooms were missing, and we found this location. It is one of the most beautiful spaces in the surroundings, a construction inspired by Gaudí. Interestingly, it had been made with events in mind.

Authentic restaurant.  Plates.

Baked veal, from the Auténtiko restaurant.

Photo:

Cesar Melgarejo. TIME

(Suggested reading: This year we will see each other again at Expovinos! / A drink).

Within the tradition, what are your specialties?

For me, who is from Bilbao, the topic of fish is essential. Basque cuisine includes fish and shellfish, as well as meat. But our menu is not based on Basque cuisine. We have things from all over Spain. The main difficulty has been to have good fish and seafood. You have to work very well. Therefore, what follows is to bring fish from the Cantabrian Sea and the Mediterranean so that we can see the difference. It is something that the client has been asking for for years.

What new things do you have going on?

We are mounting a little more the theme of tapas and snacks in the afternoon. It is a very gastronomic moment of the day in Spain. People look for a good sandwich of bacon and cheese and have a vermouth. It is something that we are about to put to work and it can now, that we have recognition.

What are your must-see recipes?

​The potatoes arrieras (with alioli and sautéed prawns) and the black pudding from Burgos (with onion or paprika jam) They come out like hot cakes. The anchovies move a lot. And there are interesting recipes: we make the Galician empanada with puff pastry, the Galicians tell me that it is good: it has tuna, red and green peppers, onion, sofrito, La Vera paprika, tomato. And the grilled prawns are very good, but I say they don’t know how to eat them…

Juantxu Alonso - Autentiko Restaurant

Juantxu Alonso is in charge of the Autentiko kitchen.

Photo:

Cesar Melgarejo. TIME

How should grilled prawns be eaten?

Many eat these prawns with a knife and fork, they don’t want to get dirty. But you have to eat the grilled prawn with your hand, suck on its head to taste all the substance they have on the outside, peel it, and spread it already peeled in sauce. It is important to use your hands, because with cutlery, we will lose the essence, it will not be perceived.

(It may interest you: a recipe from chef Juantxu Alonso: prepare a Spanish omelette and fill it with whatever you want).

Also, there is much to teach about paella…

That is a subject to discuss for a long time. Little is known about paella with rabbit. The original, from Valencia, has it with jug and artichoke. Here, people want rice with seafood or meat, not paella. The paella really has, maximum, a cm of layer of rice and product not in large quantities. The truth is that the flavor of paella is in the sauce and should be perceived in the grain of rice. It is different from the other rice, the soupy, the honeyed. We also have them here, and black rice and a banda rice.

Authentic Restaurant.  Plates

Suckling pig rib, from the Auténtiko restaurant.

Photo:

Cesar Melgarejo. TIME

Your letter is long…

People arrive looking for the dishes they long for. He arrives looking for the roast pig, also the lamb. And we have, for example, a veal cheek in a red wine reduction that is super juicy. It goes with mashed potatoes. And Auténtiko’s tripe doesn’t have chickpeas. The original recipe only has black pudding, chorizo, the sofrito with paprika from La Vera, onions, garlic, tomato…

It also offers products such as cured cheese, awarded, different from the famous manchego. Why is that cheese so special?

It is an Ideazábal cheese from the north of Spain, it is a sheep cheese. I explain to the public that it is not a Manchego cheese, but it is sheep’s cheese. From the kitchen we have to teach, educate, explain that Manchego is a denomination of origin, that it is made with sheep’s milk. That there may be many better non-Manchego cheeses. Although there are very good ones.

Where and when?

Auténtiko: kilometer 9 via La Calera. Reservations (especially on weekends) only by WhatsApp: 3115733684.

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LILIANA MARTINEZ POLO
CULTURE WRITING
@Lilangmartin

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