Brian Parks was looking last year to escape the Big Apple when he paid Seattle a visit. He instantly fell in love—on a miserable rainy November day, at that—and is now the new toque at Quinn’s. There he’s working with Spanish flavors to subtly spice things up.
Because of my background in Spanish cooking, I might add a little more sea salt or olive oil to finish dishes. I ran a Spanish tapas place for the last two years in Manhattan and for three years worked at one of Mario Batali’s places, Casa Mono, in New York.
There’s not much difference [between Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine], maybe a tweak here and there—like instead of using paprika, using a pimenton spice, or instead of using red peppers, using Spanish red peppers. They add a subtle difference from your normal red pepper because they’ve got a tad more flavor. And peppers from Spain actually come roasted in a can, so that adds a little smokiness, too. Right now I’m using them for a romesco sauce, which is a red pepper sauce with almonds and bread crumbs. I actually just started making it for Quinn’s. We recently did a party and used it with sautéed calamari.
We get our spices and peppers from wholesalers, but you can find stuff like pimenton, Spanish smoked paprika, and piquillo peppers at The Spanish Table. I love using Casa Pareja [organic extra virgin olive oil], which I get online, and I use Murray River salt at the restaurant.