The magic of La Ricarda

It’s October again, and we’ve returned to La Ricarda for the third consecutive year. What in 2015 was a first and in 2016 was a regrouping, on this third occasion has become a pilgrimage of sorts. Once again, the generous hospitality of the Gomis-Bertrand family has made it possible for the magic of this extraordinary house, a paradigm of modern architecture that respects its environment—the delta of the Llobregat river—to set the stage for a gathering of partners and customers from the bulthaup community.

The transparent building opening onto an environment of umbrella pines and lagoons inhabited by coots and herons, rocked by the sound of the breeze that sways the treetops and the soft waves breaking on the nearby shore, is the kind of place you don’t want to leave. As in a zen garden, you ease into the passing hours and the shifting light and shadow as they advance towards the evening.

Despite the dark years following the Spanish Civil War, La Ricarda reflected the spirit of a young world brimming with hope. It was a house which, embodying modern architecture’s ambitious aim of creating spaces to improve people’s daily lives, was conceived to be filled with the voices of children and the music of its owners. It is a house in which every last detail was planned and executed with the utmost precision and care, as an exercise in rationality based on the principle that beauty is the result of functionality.

An invitation to contemplation

It’s an autumn day; despite a discouraging weather forecast, it is warm and sunny out. Once again, the architect Arturo Frediani and Marita Gomis, the daughter of the initial owners, show us the rooms we walk through from two different perspectives—technical and experiential. The living room, the dining room, the children’s wing, the independent pavilion with the master bedroom, connected to the rest of the house by a recently-restored glassed-in corridor… Every corner offers a surprise, an unexpected perspective, an invitation to contemplation.

The pleasure of sharing

As a highpoint in this gathering set against such a memorable backdrop, once the tour is over the guests get together in the garden where the marvelous chef Jordi Vilà has prepared an exceptional gastronomic experience. First come the appetizers: croquettes like those our grandmothers made, a pâté en croûte, smoked salmon with a striking citrus twist, beef tartare on toast with Café de Paris butter… the guests relax, sample the appetizers and stroll around the garden under the blazing sun; out come the hats. It is a time for catching up, for unhurried conversation, for savoring the flavors that Jordi unfolds before us.

Jordi Vilà’s flavors

Behind the guests, a long table is set, with a white tablecloth and folding chairs. A Sicilian wedding? We walk over and sit down. The wines (a xarello and a merlot, both from the nearby Penedés region) encourage informal exchanges and confidences as we await the meal. Once again, Jordi Vilà lives up to his reputation. The cream of vegetables with smoked eel ravioli and spinach is delicate yet intense. The blue-footed Prat chicken━the renowned pota blava━a tribute to the local surroundings, slow-cooked with lemons, thyme and olives is heavenly, with its side dishes of prunes and pine nuts, orange-scented endives and artichokes with mustard.

To the lawn carpets

By now, the scene really does look like a wedding celebration: all we’re missing is a bride and groom. One toast after the other, the guests’ laughter reflects the total success of the event. Finally, the desserts make their appearance: pastry cream-filled buñuelos, fruit salad, and a tiramisú to give the festive atmosphere an added Italian accent.

Before we know it, the afternoon has slipped away. The sun begins to set behind the pines and the evening air elicits contemplation. It’s time for the last photographs, the enthusiastic congratulations to the chef, the goodbyes.

 

Once again, with its magic, La Ricarda has brought on the miracle of making us forget our concerns and share a moment of the absolute present, composed of beauty and pleasure.

 

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