Catalunya Candles

It’s always hard to tell to a customer “no, we will not do it”.  When you are asked to modify your products or the way you deliver them you know very difficult negotiations inside your organization will occur.  Nevertheless before a sales guy says “no” he can always say “let me check”.  Well the sales guy and I checked and negotiated but the request of the customer even if it made sense from a technical point of view did not make sense from a commercial point of view.  “No, we will not do it” were our last words at that meeting, to which the customer answered,” I have to accept but I do not agree”.

It was around 12:30 when we left the plant of our customer located in Valls, a Spanish city in Catalunya.  We were stressed and hungry.   Who?  Well my boss the key account manager and myself.   That trip had been exhausting; we all flew the day before from Frankfurt to Barcelona in a late plane.  We landed at 23hrs and spent 30 minutes to get the keys of our rental car.  When we arrived to the hotel in Vilanova I la Geltru every restaurant was closed.  We had to walk to a gas station to find something to drink and snack before going to bed. The day after Breakfast was just OK, we finished our presentation during that time.

For lunch “D” the sales guy suggested a restaurant and we followed him not paying too much attention, we were still feeling uncomfortable with the outcome of the meeting.  We arrived to “Les Espelmes” [1] which means the candles in Catalan.  The location was really nice.  The restaurant was alone on a hill from where you could look at the fields of Valls and even the Tarragona harbor could be seen through the light fog created by the sea breeze.


The feeling when entering the restaurant can be described in one word, “warmth”.   We got a table close to a window from which the landscape could be enjoyed.  Each one of us got a copy of the menu, one in Catalan for the sales guy, one in Spanish for me and one in English for my boss.  The restaurant as you can read on their slogan proposes Catalan Haute Cuisine.

In Spain, before any course is served you get the traditional toasted bread with tomato [2].  In this case the waiter brings tomato and garlic on a separate dish and you had to brush the bread with them,  then you add some salt and olive oil.

This time the car was rented under my name and I had to drive to the airport, that meant no wine during that lunch. Instead I had mineral water with gas, a bottle of Vichy Catalán [3].  My boss commented about the strong character of that mineral water,  I had never paid attention but because of that comment, coming from a German whose country consumes huge amounts of mineral water of different sorts I had to recheck, I took a sip and could only agree.

My salad of grilled vegetables arrived.  It was just fantastic.  If you decompose the elements and think about when you buy them at the supermarket (cucumber, aubergine, potato, sparragus, tomato, zucchini, beans, lettuce, mushrooms ) you don’t realize immediately all this elements can come together to create a haute cuisine meal, well here, at Les Espelmes you do.


At this moment the meeting was in the past, the flavor festival replaced any dark thoughts and put all us three in a good mood.  The discussion changed from business to family and plans for the weekend.  My main course was a Cabrito Asado, roasted goat, absolutely glorious.  I have tasted this food in different countrys, my heart is with the Cabrito from Monterrey in Mexico but I must say I was really pleased in this occasion and only left a clean bone on the plate.

As dessert I also ordered a local specialty, the Turrón (nougat) with ice-cream which includes a bar of nougat and nougat ice-cream on egg-nogg with a splash of chocolate syrup.

As usual at the end of lunch I took an espresso,  I needed to be awake while driving the boss to the airport.  Coffee was really good.   You can read the brand on the picture unfortunately I only found a link to a distributor and could not find the site of the producer.[4]

After that heartwarming meal, or should I say stomach warming, we could head to the airport, a difficult meeting was behind us as well as a fantastic  Business Trip Meal.  We had some kilometers before us and some time to think about the future actions to be chosen in order to drive our project to the best possible outcome, might the light of the Catalan Candles help us find that way.




Useful links:

[1] Site of the restaurant

[2]Bread with tomato

[3]Mineral water

[4]Coffee brand


Mario Alvarez

About Mario Alvarez

On regular business trips since 1998, I was lucky and unlucky to eat at the best and not the best places in The Nafta Region and Europe while on the road.
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