I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Showing posts with label Barcelona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barcelona. Show all posts

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Barcelona, Part 4: The Markets

To finish off (finally!) my posts from Barcelona, I just wanted to share photos from two of the markets we visited, La Boqueria (Mercat de Sant Josep) and Mercat de Santa Caterina. 'Cause who doesn't love some market food porn? (as a side note, we visited La Boqueria on Monday, the first day we were in town, and many of the stalls were closed. If you can visit close to or on the weekend more will be open and the market will truly be hopping)

Mercat de Santa Caterina

It does look like I'm presenting this woman instead of the market...
Gummy candy abounds.
Biggest shrimp ever.
Mushroom medley at one of the tapas bars.
How beautiful does that tripe look?
Dried salt cod of all kinds.
Chocolate hedgehogs. 
Cured meat kabobs.
Nothing gets wasted.
We had these sandwiches later on top of Tibidabo. Perfection.
Buying fruit for a picnic.
Most awesome knife. Ever.
Incredible variety of seafood.
Joe wants you to know that the peppers are as big as his head.
This little piggy went to market...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Barcelona, Part 3: Days 3.5-6

As the last post was epic, I'm going to try to keep this one to a more manageable size. We'll see if I succeed...
Paco Meralgo (Carrer Muntaner 171, Eixample, http://www.pacomeralgo.com/ing/home.html)
We made the trip up to the Eixample (getting slightly turned around on the way) for this restaurant as it was recommended by almost every food blog, travel guide, discussion that I came across. It didn't end up being my favorite meal of the trip, however the food was solid and the seafood was impeccably fresh. The pa amb tomaquet here was probably the best we had and the lightly crispy bunyols de bacalla (salt cod fritters) were incredible. We were also fans of the spicy bomba peca (essentially a large potato and meat croquette with spicy sauce) and the completely unique pop de roca amb cebollas (local octopus served in an onion marmalade). The standout dish was definitely the navalles de finiste (grilled razor clams). Usually razor clams are gritty, but these had none of that and were perfectly tender.

La Torna (Located in Mercat de Santa Caterina)
We stopped here for a simple breakfast of cafe con leche, bocados de jamon, and the best chocolate croissant that I have ever eaten after a quick tour of one of Barcelona's other food markets. The food being prepped for later in the day caught my eye and next time I am back in Barcelona this will be one of the first places on my list to eat for lunch. There is also a bakery counter behind the tapas bar where the wares looked fabulous, and another location on the street right behind the market.

Bodega Jane (Pla de Jaume Giralt)
Stumbled across this while waiting for the dinner hour one night and decided to stop in for a quick drink. It appears to be a wine store during the day, and a small bar at night. I saw the lone bartender cutting up meat for a small charcuterie plate in between pouring drinks, so they have one or two things to nibble on here as well. I want to go back because along the wall there were barrels and barrels of different types of sherry for sale (with spigots to pour directly from the barrel).

Xocoa Petritxol  (Carrer Petritxol, 11 --off Las Ramblas)
Right off the Rambla, this is an adorable cafe with an array of scrumptious looking chocolates and pastries, which also serves churros con chocolat. Churros were delivered by hand as we were walking in the door, so I believe they may get them fresh throughout the day. The chocolat here is extra-thick and milk-chocolaty--very pudding like. I found myself feeling like I was sitting in Madame Puddifoot's (a la Harry Potter) while enjoying our sweet breakfast here.

Taverna del Born (Passeig de Born 27-29)
Touristy and nothing fancy, but if you are looking for the "Irish pub fare" of tapas, this is the place to go. Solid pulpo a feira (octopus with potatoes and paprika), pimientos de padron, and lovely, garlicky champignones de alliol (mushrooms in garlic sauce). I think our server loved the fact that we ordered Orujo at the end of the meal and poured us another 2 glasses when presenting the check. Needless to say, we had to stumble back to the hotel.

Brunells (Princessa, 22)
We died and went to pastry heaven. Piles and piles of baked goods, an adorable older couple behind the counter, and a cafe attached to the shop. Not much more you could ask for. In the cafe there were many, many pictures of famous people with the Brunells staff. Felt a little like I was back in NYC, perhaps at John's pizza or Katz's deli...felt truly like a Barcelona "classic".

Candela (Placa de Sant Pere)
Probably my favorite place we ate on our trip, and we didn't even get a full meal here because we were there before the dinner hour. I'd never heard of the place but we found it during our wanderings. Located in a lovely, quiet Plaza, this tiny space had creative, interesting and decadent food. The vibe, however, is a little gritty and raw. It was perfect. There's seating outside, a small bar seating area, and then more tables in back once the full menu is being offered. We enjoyed piel de patas (crispy potato skins with "tartar sauce" and marmalade), arepas topped with tomato, basil, jamon and Parmesan; and the best thing we ate on the whole entire trip: bombitas de morcilla--crispy fried meatballs of blood sausage served with 2 sweet marmalades/sauces. I don't even know exactly what was in these or what the sauces were, but they were heavenly. Unfortunately they were a daily special, so they may not always have them around but I can guarantee the rest of the food is worth a visit.

En Petit Comite (Placa de Sant Pere)
Located in the same plaza as Candela, this is an excellent cafe/wine bar. They have a great selection of wines by the glass and a small menu, mostly made up of cheese and meat plates, salads and sandwiches. A lovely place to sip a glass and write in your journal during the afternoon hours.

Xurreria (approx. 10 Banyuls Nou, Gothic quarter)
Granja (approx. 4 Banyuls Nou)
For wonderfully fresh churros, stop first by the Xurreria and pick up a bag (I recommend the large one if you are sharing), then head back down the street to Granja for a cup of rich, deep, dark chocolat. We ended up sharing one cup and it was sufficient for our two small bags of churros along with two cafe con leches. Granja also offers sandwiches and pastries, and while we were there played a lot of Bob Dylan. Awesome.

La Cervesatera Barcelona (the end of Carer d'en Gignas, near the post office? towards Via Laietana)
I'm actually not certain about the name of this place, and cannot find the name of the cross street to save my soul. But if you are in need of a damn good beer in Barcelona, this is a great place to go. Beer store by day and bar by night, with about 8 beers on tap and an endless plethora of bottled beer on the surrounding walls. A couple of meat plates and olives are available if you need a small bite. One of the coolest bars we found.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Barcelona, Part 2: Days 1-3.5

As a note to begin--there aren't many pictures of the actual food. I just cannot bring myself to be one of those people that needs to photograph every living thing I'll ever eat. Occasionally I'll make an exception, but mostly you'll just have to read about the deliciousness).
Bar Pinotxo (located in La Boqueria Market, Las Ramblas)
The first thing we did after landing and dropping off our bags at the hotel? Go to La Boqueria market. And right away I noticed there were empty seats at Bar Pinotxo, the first little tapas bar as you enter the market, and we plopped right down to eat. How can you ignore the call of adorable and friendly Juanito Bayen (you can hardly see him in my photo, but google Bar Pinotxo and you can't miss him)? He couldn't have been nicer, even though my Spanish was broken and self-conscious (I'm fairly fluent, but get nervous at times and we'd just gotten off an 8 hour plane ride) as he served us our cafe con leches, and when I asked him to give us whatever he thought was good, he brought out the best tortilla de patatas that I have ever had (along with lovely pa amb tomaquet: tomato bread), and chickpeas with morcilla sausage (and spritzed with sherry vinegar out of a spray bottle, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt--as all things should be). We loved this place so much we came back for breakfast again later in the week to have a zucchini tortilla and butifarra blanca (white sausage) with more pa amb tomaquet and a small salad. During the second meal we were sitting in front of the kitchen where we could watch Albert (Juanito's nephew) prepare the food for the rest of the day. Amazing.

Bar Altamira (corner of Carrer de Girona and Carrer d' Ausias Marc)
Nothing fancy here, but seemed like we were the only tourists there amid a bunch of local men gathered around the counter and slipping outside for a cigarette. A nice place for a beer (an Estrella, perhaps? recommended as the best by the guy behind the bar) and a seat outside. We had the first of many bocados de jamon (ham sandwiches, made with cured jamon iberico or serrano) here as a light lunch.

Tapac24 (http://www.tapas24.net/index.php?lang=eng)
We finished off our first day at a spot recommended over and over again to us. Even though we arrived early we had to wait a few minutes for a table, and it was the most expensive meal of the trip but it was well worth it. I think they had some of the best and freshest ingredients we experienced in Barcelona. Highlights were the jamon iberico plate (served at the perfect temperature and so thinly sliced that the fat literally melted on your tongue), the garlic and paprika sauces on the papas bravas, the gambas a la plancha (shrimp barely seared and drizzled with olive oil and amazing salt), and the sepionetas (baby squid cooked a la plancha, again drizzled with olive oil and salt). The sepionetas squirted out squid ink as you ate them, making for dirty teeth but incredible flavor. Seriously one of the best dishes we had. And I can't fail to mention the ever-popular McFoie burger--a small burger of beef and foie gras with a (truffle?) mayo to dip it in. I could eat that mayo on just about anything.

San Joan (Passeig San Joan, 65, Eixample)
Recommended by a poster on Chowhound, I was really happy we sought this place out. Perfect for lunch after a visit to the Sagrada Familia. The menu is in Catalan and listed on the wall, so I had a little bit of difficulty getting through it (there are so many different words for the same foods! I think understanding menus is one of the hardest things to do in a foreign language). But we ended up with conejo a la plancha (rabbit--hearty, smoky, and tender), butifarra con judias (sausage served with incredible white beans) and alcachofas fritas (small fried artichokes). Straight-forward, simply delicious Catalan cuisine.

Vinya del Senor (Placa de Santa Maria 5, Born)
After a long day of walking we were hungry but it wasn't quite time for most restaurants to be open for dinner. So we headed to this spot (recommended by the Mostly Eating blog) for wine and a cheese plate. The wine selection is incredible. It is more expensive than wine in a lot of places, but that is because the wine is interesting and of great quality. We had 4 different (small) glasses and each of them was unique--definitely the best wine of the trip. Despite being located on a very busy, touristy square (right in front of Santa Maria del Mar) the small plates of food are also great. We got one of the two tiny tables upstairs overlooking the square (order downstairs at the bar and they will bring your things up through the dumbwaiter). If you choose to sit outside, make sure to grab one of the wooden tables--the metal ones right next to them are actually from a different restaurant that is touristy and not great in quality (as we learned later in the week to our dismay).

Santa Maria (Comerc, 17, La Ribera, http://www.santamania.info/?page_id=10)
Recommended by blogs and tour guide alike, I'd heard nothing but good things about this place. However, when we first walked in we were spoken to in English and given English menus, which kind-of annoyed me (people did try to speak to us in English a lot on the trip, but always seemed relieved and more friendly when they learned I could communicate pretty well in Spanish). The server spoke English the whole time, but he ended up being incredibly friendly and we had a fabulous time at this meal. We did the tasting menu, which ended up being about 14 "courses" for 27 euros each. Honestly a pretty good deal (although a lot of the dishes were small, a few of them were actually larger than expected and we left good and full). This place definitely has a lot of creative souls in the kitchen. Starting with an amazingly refreshing mango and basil lassi, moving to mussels served on fried bananas with mojo rojo; a completely creamy and rich pureed onion soup; frog legs a la plancha; veal steak with whiskey sauce, mashed corn and topped with corn nuts (a revelation); and a dessert called the Dracula: coca cola mousse, vanilla cream, raspberries and pop rocks. Awesome in every way. And at the end of the meal the server asked us: dry or sweet? Both said dry, and he brought over two small shot glasses and filled them up with Orujo, the northern Spain version of grappa. It was a little grassy, nutty and smokey--tasting to me like a cross between grappa and mezcal. Something completely new to me and something I am now on the hunt for in NYC.

Cuines Santa Caterina (located in the Mercat Santa Caterina, http://www.cuinessantacaterina.com/)
A truly interesting dining experience. Almost like an upscale food court with servers. This restaurant is part of the Mercat Santa Caterina and most of the ingredients come straight from the market, and the "pantry stock" is located along the walls as decor. Herbs are planted right into another wall (sorry for the weird lady in the pic of this--trying to not be too conspicuous with the camera). Right when you walk in there is a tapas counter. This is separate from the rest of the restaurant--there are some overlapping dishes, but you can't get the full menu here. The rest of the space is full of communal tables and a few different kitchens, each specializing in a different part of the menu, which is divided up like a grid. Along the top of the menu runs the main ingredient (vegetable, meat, seafood, rice, egg) and along the side are the different food styles (Asian, vegetarian, Mediterranean, etc.). A little confusing at first, but basically you can order anything off of this menu from any seat in the house. The first time we ate here we ordered before realizing there are specials of the day running along the screens behind the kitchen, which led to our second visit. First up, we had ensalade de tomates con lomo de atun (salad of tomatoes (with tapenade) and  cooked tuna belly), arroz montanes (rice with mushrooms, sausage, and what the menu said was chicken, but I'm convinced was pork), and empanadas gyoza de carne. Why did we come back a second time (other than the fact that the food was so good)? Because they had calcots on the specials menu, and it was one of the things I had been really excited to try on our trip and we saw them on no other menus the whole time we were there (I believe it is the end of their season). Calcots are white onions that have been planted and as the shoots start to grow the farmer continuously packs more dirt around them, creating long, skinny onions. These are cooked in the fire, and then you are expected to peel them at the table (making yourself a messy disaster in the middle of the lunch rush) and dip them into the lovely romesco sauce. Totally worth the return trip. And we had one of the best salads of my life: greens with mushrooms, parmesan, and "bacon" (some sort of crispy jamon) with a slightly sweet and creamy dressing. Dessert was maki con mascarpone: a chocolate crepe filled with mascarpone and topped with caramel and chocolate pop rocks!