My prefatory comment, as noted in our earlier posting, is that my wife and I are senior citizens; that fact of life limits our energy and appetites, not our enthusiasm. That said, here are our observations (and factoids):
Re Barcelona: 1) We had lunch at Carballiera. I had the specialty of the house, Pulpo Gallego; my wife had Almejas Marinera. We split an ensalada fresca, split a half bottle of white wine, and had two coffees. All straight-forward and done to perfection. Cost: E65. An elegant restaurant which displays an elegant assortment of the seafood available inside the front door. Our reaction: go.
2) We had lunch at Fonda Gaig. We started with two crocqettas. Divine .Next we had a wonderful insalata fresca. For mains, I had their famous canelones; my wife had absolutrly perfect scallops a la plancha with artichokes. We also had a bottle of wine, split a crema catalunya, and had two coffees. Having seen on-line photos of the canelones, I was a little apprehensive that the dish would be too rich and too heavy. Wrong! Cost: E83. Our reaction: run, don't walk.
3) We had "breakfast" at Pinotxo at the Bocqeria. We both had "scrambled eggs" with shrimp and greens, and two glasses of wine. Cost: E 28. Our reaction: Have the buffet at your hotel or go to Kiosco Universal (Quim was not open). Our eyes were betrayed by the apparent "charm" of Pinotxo. Food was only so-so.
4) We had dinner at Cal Pep. Our appetite was diminished by a previous stop for elegant pinxtos at Euskal Extea, where we had five "items" (one free) and two cavas each. Our reaction: don't miss. Cost E16. At Cal Pep we had gambas a la plancha, garbanzos with cuttlefish (chipperones not available). peppers, and artichokes. Also two glasses each of white wine. Cost: E50. Our reaction: Cal Pep is a master at frying. The peppers and artichokes were very good, as was the frito mixto (which our "neighbors" shared in exchange for some of our peppers and artichokes). The gambas were a touch over-cooked and the garbanzos and cuttlefish was bland. Our reaction: Cal Pep is a "happeniing" that draws tourists like a magnet. Better food is available and easier to access in Barcelona; but, they do know how to fry.
Re Madrid, we had two objectives: paella and suckling lamb. The first objective led us to El Ventorilllo Murciano. There we had the most expensive paella mariscara they offer, shared a wonderful, and unique, ensalada murciano, and a bottle of wine. The house provided a perfect amuse bouche of lightly-fried zucchine and a post-meal of dessert wine, compliments of the house. Cost: E85. A lovely restaurant in a very local setting, not far from the Prado and Reina Sofia. Our reaction: run, don't walk. Reservations should be made.
As for the lamb, our intention was to go to Asador Tierra Aranda in Salamanca, much recommended on this site, but the ravages of age, exacerbated by a taxing day of museum crawling, led us to Asador del Aranda, also noted on this site, which was less than 10 meters from our excellent hotel, the Preciados. There we had a plate of lovely jamon, compliments of the house, shared a very fresh salad, shared a quarto of lamb, two coffees, and after dinner drinks on the house. Cost: E68. If you have ever enjoyed more mature lamb roasted on a spit, by all means try the suckling lamb. Wonderful! We leave the choice of asadors to your judgment, but cast a vote for Asador del Aranda.
Finally, a couple of side comments re Barcelona: Some time ago, a commenter mentioned Jabal, a spice vendor at Calle Princessa,38, around the corner from the Museo Picasso. Don't miss it! Even if you don't want to buy some saffron, at 1/5 the price charged in the U.S,, stop by anyway. The smell of spices is worth the visit. Spanish paprikas in bins! Wow! Shops like this take you back in time. How soon will they disappear? Second, I believe it was PBSF who noted sandwiches at Can Conesa at the Jaume 1 subway stop. It appeared to us to have been replaced by a bakery/confectionary named La Colmena. If so, it is a worthy successor. Great little sandwiches for E2.
Thanks again to those who recommended the restaurants and shops we enjoyed. Viva Espana!
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