This is one of 2-1/2 part of my Spain vacation, 6 days in Barcelona, 5 in Madrid and 2 in Sevilla.
I have tons of pictures available on flickr ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/thesorus... ); they are mostly in order, so you can open a page on flickr and follow up the story.
Highlights of the week : Cinc Sentits, great food, great, excellent service. Quimet y Quimet, I could have spend the week there.
A report of eating, drinking, "touristing" and self indulgence in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, but feel safe, it's mostly about eating and drinking!!
Landed on a nice sunny Sunday morning, drop the luggage at the hotel and walked to the Boqueria and found it closed!! (In Montreal, the main markets are open on Sunday) so, luckily I could find a small place just outside the market where that are usually some vegetable stalls.
I managed to order some empanada, cheese and ham and meat and good orange juice; not too fancy, not too much food ... a nice introduction for a 2 weeks vacation.
Continued on my walk around town to find myself in a small tapas bar, Hugo that is showing the Montreal F1 grand-prix, ok, cool, I can watch the race, eat and drink at the same time. I used my trusted "point'n'click" linguistic method to order Cava, 1, 2, and then some food, simple Tortilla and Octopus (with tomato sauce) and some olive mix, all was very nice, at that time I was beginning to be hungry; and was not looking for high-class food but found it good enough for me on that evening.
On my way back to the hotel, I saw this wicked oven with a chicken in it !!! The heat was tremendous!! Funny, but it looked touristy.
On the next morning, walked again to the Boqueria to find it open!! Yeah, but I did not want to go to Pintoxo, too many people, so I landed myself at the Bar Central, where I had a café con leche and a tortilla with some pa amb tomaquet. Right in front of me, a big bowl of calamari!!! How appetizing is that at 10 in the morning!!! TRUST ME, IT IS!!!
So, walk, walk, do the tourist things, go up and down mont-juic, walk, walk to try to find Vinya Roel (or Paco Remalgo, which one I find first), to finally find it!! (I’m good at directions, I always get lost 3 times before finding my way!). Vinyal Roel is a long restaurant with a wine and alcohol boutique in the front; the restaurant part is separated in 2 by a glass wine cellar, quite chic. Started with a glass of Gazpacho and some ham, both were very good, the soup, simple and refreshing, the ham, as good as one expect; as a main, I decided to have the cuttlefish; simply presented with garlic, oil, and potato!, the garlic slightly crispy, which gave the plate a nice texture, and for desert, a carpaccio of strawberry, nothing to write home about. It was a weird experience, it looked to me that the staff was either bored or blasé; maybe they did not took me seriously because I came in shorts and t-shirt while all other clients were in business cloths? Anyway, not a bad experience, but not the best one either. A few minutes later, I walked by Paco Remalgo and it looked a lot more fun.
After a long day of walking, I stopped at the Plaza del Sol for a couple of drinks, and a long rest while reading and drinking some Gin-Tonic, I'm sorry to say that on vacation, I drink gin-tonic when just "drinking".
Later that evening, I went to Quimet y Quimet, one of the best place to eat in Barcelona, not only because of the food, not only because of the rosé Cava, but because of all of the above and the seriously good vibe this place has in spite of being well known all over. Come in, order a glass of Rosé Cava, and started "pointing" and trying to understand what they are offering, and trying to order the same thing that I see passing in front of me. I cannot exactly remember all I had, but I had shrimps, mussels, small croquettes of bacalau, some more bacalau, meat empanada, fresh salmon, ... you know, I could have stand there from opening to closing and just eat and drink an be merry.
Another day, another food story...
i decided to try to get a seat at Pinotxo, and was lucky to be able to squeeze between a couple of other tourists who, what looked like, just landed; eat the classic potato tortilla and pa amb tomaquet and cafe con leche, standard fare, was not looking for fish and/or something else; so it's always a good start of the day, and what is fun at those places (Pinotxo and Central) is you can see them cooking the day's worth of stews, and the orders of fish and other sea-foods for the regulars.
Ok, enough of the food, Max, let's go do some museums!!!
Famished, I walked in around the Gothic area to find a small restaurant called "Les Onze Virtuts", or the eleven virtues, 11 tables, 11 virtues! I was sitting at the "Romantic" table; simple and good food, ham and cuttlefish ( i seem to repeat myself ! ), the cuttlefish were funky with their body "inflated"
One that night, I had a reservation at Cinc Sentits, and it was the best meal of my 2 weeks; very good and well executed food, friendly staff, I asked them to try to speak to me in catalan as much as they like, so that help them a little bit not having to struggle with the language; and I had a blast! but I cannot remember the wine I had ( darn, I had one that sounded like Estreles that was very good)
In rafale, the Maple syrup shooter, mussels, white asparagus with hazelnut foam/mousse, foie gras with leaks, scallop with artichoke purée and a slice of crispy "bacon", sea bass and risotto, suckling and succulent pig (!!!!!! ), cheese and nuts, lemon variations, sorbet, vodka foam, and finishing with a chocolate nougat and walnut ice cream. There is another recent review on eGullet with some other photos.
On the next morning, I wanted to eat at the Santa Catarina market, but found the vide non-existent, and the restaurant empty, so I walked back to the Boqueria, and ate razor clams a la plancha, simple yet delicious.
Continuing with the “museuming” I walked in front of Xampanyet before it opened, and walked in just after doing the Picasso Museum. Cava, Ham and a cheese-tuna skewer is all a man needs at that time of the day.
Later on, I finally found Tapa Ç24 (with my magnificent direction skills). Small and fast pace restaurant, full of business people at lunchtime. Decided to try classic stuff, Gazpacho, very good, with a skewer with croutons and a little bit of basil oil, followed by Figues and Ham and some fried little fishes, not very good I might say, and the portion was too big for one.
That evening, I meet with some friends who just came in from France, so we walked in restaurant that looked rustic and friendly; we ordered a LARGE selection of tapas, Ham, dried sausages, Chorizo, Pa amb tomaquet, potato salad, patatas bravas, olives, croquettes, cheese!!! All that was helped by a nice bottle of cheap Cava!! Who can ask for anything more!
Woke up late the next morning, I have to keep my strength because the Sonar festival is starting in a few hours at the MCBA, so, stroll the market, get some food, figues, ham, cheese, grapes, tomatoes, bread and cheap wine!! All that is necessary for a small picnic in the interior court of the University of Barcelona. After spending the afternoon in the sun listening to some weird and good music, we decided to walk around and were only able to find space in “Taller De Tapas” around Plaza del PI. We went for traditional fare, pa, green and tomato salad, Ham, mussels, patatas bravas (horrible IMO),
The next morning, again, I need to eat, spent the last night dancing, so I need something more substantial. Back to the Boqueira, seems to be a magnet and I’m attracted to this place. I went with Cava, a salad of potatoes, Bacalau and eggs; with a “side” order of sardines, I never know if I can eat them all or only the flesh around the bones! Anyway, I did not felt like eating bones, so I just ate the flesh!
My last night in Barcelona, what do I eat? I need something plentiful, something that will make me happy, and somewhere that is traditional. Romesco is the place to be, if I can find it; well, it’s not actually on Carrer San Pau, but just off on the corner of a side street. A small line-up, it’s ok, I’m in no hurry. Sitting at the bar, watching the staff working, it makes me thirsty; so, an order of wine is on the way, cheap but satisfying. Hhmm looking at the menu this is like the Barcelona version of a diner; there are lots of options. I finally opt for a yellow tomato gazpacho, more on the “liquid” side of what I expected, but it’s ok, after that, comes some spinach, cooked with garlic and olive oil, a bit salty, but ok, then some chicken and fries!! (of all places, in Barcelona, I eat chicken and fries!), it was very good, the skin was crispy, the meat juicy.
After another night out; I’m leaving Barcelona half asleep, trying to find a taxi to the train station, cannot find one, or cannot make myself understood, ok, you don’t want my business? I’ll take the metro then. Thank god for wheels on luggage!
Since we’re talking about food and that I was in first class, I had breakfast included. Simple omelet, bread and fruits. It was ok, was not expecting much either. I loves the little oil bottle and the small salt and pepper shakers!