Rodrigo de la Calle
De la Calle, De la Calle [from the streets]. His surname is a complete oxymoron. One that contradicts itself. On the one hand, he is a man of the street, walking them, boldly going here and there; it is where he cut his teeth and learned to devour the world and was his university of life... and of love, too.
But while the streets are hard and grey, and a reflection of the harshness of cities that destroy so much naturalness, he, over time, became green and full of life, enjoying the pleasure of those lessons of death, internally as well, that led towards a true greenness; kitchen gardens, results, fruits, and a natural life. It is what has guided him in his work to a one-track cuisine, that of a life unmasked.
Along the way he has come and gone and overturned what needed overturning and resolving, finally settling in his current restaurant in the capital, Madrid: El Invernadero [The Greenhouse]. Its meaning may be the impossible solution to its intrinsic contradiction; with it he manages to water its heart drop by drop, sheltered and hidden on the street, creating his exuberant plant world before our very eyes.
His urban potager is complete, it is a kitchen garden cuisine without futile veganism; as authentic, frank and direct as he is in his French approach and in his personal skill; his contrasts validate him, his accumulation of knowledge and technique are his guidelines. All of this has allowed him to build a plant-based universe unknown to most people, with produce that is new to Spanish palates and with truly original and surprising combinations: turnips, radishes and carrots, avocados and tomatoes, truffles, lettuce, kale, beets, peanuts and almonds, watermelons and melons, apples and peaches, herbs and spices, cucumbers and rutabaga, mushrooms and wild mushrooms, black and white garlic, pods, piparra peppers, etc. were protagonists on his last menu. The one that he now has and offers... it’s best to see it on the stage, as it were.
Rodrigo of the Street has filmed the worlds that nature offers us and has tasted them; now, in his sancta sanctorum, summa sumarum, internalized and summarized, he offers them to us to savour and, I swear, on the head of my mother, that they are unique and exceptional flavours.
By Fernando Huidobro