I have fond memories of my abuela Eusebia Juárez Moreno whipping up quick dishes to satisfy her hungry grandchildren. A couple of eggs, olive oil, salt and parsley from the garden and pronto – a minute or two later I was enjoying a fluffy Tortilla Francesa to the background of my abuelo Guillermo mumbling “Comer hijo comer, que te ase falta” (eat child eat, you need it).
Dreamy and one for literature particularly the work of Cervantes she would often sit telling stories, singing or reminiscing of an almost mystical childhood of play with her sister. But for me her magic was always in the kitchen. Whether it was feeding the corrida de nietos (stampede of grandchildren) or the whole Juárez clan, she always exceeded expectations delivering big flavours from the simplest ingredients. That’s what Spanish food is all about, simple ingredients, cooked with intent, love and honesty. When it comes to Spanish food the ingredients are always centre stage, never encumbered with brandish flashiness and always steeped in family tradition.
My love of food and cooking also emanates from the other beautiful Juárez matriarch, my mum; Maria Jesús. I have countless doting memories of looking over mum’s shoulder watching her make empandillas de atún, rosquillas de anis, croquetas de pollo and the list goes on and on. And, like all Spanish mums, there are no written recipes and no exact quantities. Asking for a recipe would receive a sharp response “Ay que se yo” (oh, what would I know) a handful of this, pinch of that, chorrito (trickle) of that. In our house kitchen skills were developed in the living moment.
Bull and bear was born out of a desire to cook within this wonderful tradition of family. After years of working in soulless kitchens, the time had come to reconnect with my heritage and so I packed my bags and set off on a pilgrimage to the motherland. Following reunions with family, foraging market stalls, eating at cafes and tapas bars and yes running with the bulls in pamplona, I found myself standing at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid taking a photo alongside El Oso y el Madroño (The Bear and the Strawberry Tree) the heraldic symbol of the city. Then the name the BULL and BEAR came to me. The Spanish symbol of bravery, strength and determinedness the bull which had been carved in my memory during the ‘corrida’ and the bear that pays homage to my madrileño heritage was a natural fit. The BULL and BEAR was born.
Chef and Owner David Juarez Vidal