Daniel Olivella’s Debut Cookbook Serves Up a Catalonian Feast

September 11, 2018 Updated: October 8, 2018

In Catalonia, Spain, the cuisine is “rooted in sharing a drink and a laugh with your neighbors over little bites of food or a pan of paella for everyone to dig into,” Daniel Olivella writes. The native Catalan chef’s debut cookbook, “Catalan Food: Culture and Flavors From the Mediterranean,” is a colorful celebration of just that.

Olivella was born and raised in a small village on the outskirts of Vilafranca del Penedes, near Barcelona, surrounded by the grapevines and good food that equally saturate the region. Now, at his restaurant Barlata in Austin, Texas, he draws upon the flavors of his childhood to share the food and heritage of his country. In his cookbook, he does the same.

There’s a colorful array of pica-pica, or tapas, to start, with traditional bites like Catalan tomato bread, lamb empanadas, and Iberico ham croquettes. Dishes like rabbit confit and mussels with sofrito reflect the region’s access to both mountain and sea, and classic paellas round out the selection.

Having lived over half his life in the United States, Olivella also infuses his personal style into his food. The canelones, for instance, a traditional Catalan celebration dish, are stuffed with brisket, instead of the more common rabbit or pork—a tribute to his adopted city of residence.

RECIPE: Canelons: Brisket Canelones

“Catalan Food: Culture and Flavors From the Mediterranean” by Daniel Olivella with Caroline Wright ($30).