Vocation, enthusiasm, determination and dedication. Carmelo Bosque (one Michelin star, two Repsol suns) is the embodiment of all of this...and much more.
Almost two decades ago, I visited the then recently inaugurated restaurant Lillas Pastia, in the Casino de Huesca. It wasn’t the first time I had visited that beautiful Modernist building, but it was the first time I tried the cuisine of this master of authentic, refined dishes, prepared with surgical precision.
Immediately, as I tasted the first creations placed on the table, I realized that Carmelo would reach the level where he has now been for many years.. Over those years he has perfected what he does; his work is based on meticulousness, authenticity, locally sourced produce, using the best raw materials (this may be an over-used term, but in this case it is the absolute truth). If in doubt, just visit his restaurant and see for yourself. Whether it’s the season for truffles, mushrooms, game, tomatoes ... Enjoy a juicy gigot
carved at the table, and prepared as in very few restaurants; rice with truffles (even in summer); monkfish noisette
with saffron royale
; a finger-licking chicken chilindrón
; a bull stew (made with bulls that have fought in the bullring); and delicious desserts that recall – yet almost always surpass – the best I’ve enjoyed at famous French establishments.
Born in Somontano de Huesca, Carmelo Bosque has never forgotten his roots. On the contrary, he has continued to imbue himself with his homeland, its flavours, with something difficult to define. To understand this, I use the example of Massimo Bottura, the great Tuscan chef; just by crossing the threshold of his Osteria Francescana, not only are you entering an exceptional restaurant, you are opening the doors of Tuscany. It is the same thing with Carmelo Bosque: visiting Lillas Pastia is like entering the heart of his homeland of Somontano in the Aragonese Pyrenees, feeling the magic of that province which is different from any other.
But the story doesn’t end there: in the Castle of San Luis, near Huesca, Carmelo creates the menus for many of the weddings that are celebrated in the town. And, in Zaragoza he runs two renowned establishments: La Granada, in the very heart of this city that is the capital of the Ebro, and the restaurant Quema, located on the lower floor of the Pablo Serrano Museum, where he breathes creativity and modernity into Zaragoza’s cuisine. If the weather is good, you can enjoy its terrace, found on the top floor of this eclectic building, a watchtower overlooking the entire city and from where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the Pyrenees.
By Eduardo Bueso
Editor of the magazine ‘Lugares con Estrella’. Member of the Aragonese Academy of Gastronomy.
Photo: Pedro Montaner