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Barcelona: Low End Theory in Spain Part III

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Barcelona: Low End Theory in Spain Part III

Low End Theory | Jul 12, 2002 02:07 AM

Footsore, weary, and thwarted by the closure of Cal Pep on Sundays, I didn’t cover Barcelona as thoroughly as Sevilla or Madrid. Here are some observations nevertheless:

Breakfast at the super old-school Granja Viaders down an alleyway next to the Cathedral (close to the North end of the Ramblas) was excellent. Horchata and an ensaimada mallorquina – sweet pastry.

Plenty of questionable eateries on the Ramblas itself. I thought L’Arc looked better than most when in a hurry to make a jazz show one night, it’s on the west side not far from La Boqueria. Pimientos padron (Galician style fried peppers) and pulpitos plancha (grilled baby octopus) were tasty.

La Gardunya is a famous restaurant attached to La Boqueria, the legendary mercado on the Ramblas. I liked my meal there – delicious habas catalunya (broad beans) and worthwhile bonito con sanfaina. I read a post about a restaurant attached to the Mercado Conceicao but it was also closed on Sunday when I tried to go. A shootout would be informative...

Casa Jordi is on Calle Escudellers and was recommended in Chow posts. Considering the relatively higher prices in Barcelona and the ritzy setting (especially by low end standards), the food was amazingly cheap. So much so that I discarded that old standby, the menu del dia, and ordered ala carte for essentially the same price. Mixed appetizer was a good way to sample several things, and I was struck by the outward similarity between the Catalan specialty fuet and familiar Chinese sausage (the former is not so sweet). Croquettes and fried seafood were good. I also liked my large serving of paella mariscos, though it was not as crusty as my Lonely Planet book had suggested it should be. Must include Valencia on my itinerary next trip to reach the source after studiously avoiding countless tourist trap paellas. This place is a large, corporate looking temple but at this price-performance ratio that’s fine.

Local fast-food chains that hold their own against Yanqui hegemony are always curious. So in the interests of research I tried both “Pans and Company” and Bocatta while in Spain. These are places mostly making bocadillos, the sandwiches on a hard roll that are a favourite snack. Both served a fine sandwich at a reasonable price – far superior to Subway by way of comparison. Bocatta in Barcelona was especially tasty, here I enjoyed jamon de Jabugo (a much-lauded jamon producing region) on pan amb tomaquet i.e. a roll spread with tomato in traditional Catalan style. Note – avoid jamon York at all costs, it’s the regular British/American ham, far below jamon serrano and especially the exalted iberico.

La Boqueria itself is a wonderful chow treasure. Here you’ll find all the raw materials that make Spanish food so great, and it’s an ideal spot to pick up things to take home. I bought some iberico de bellota from Jabugo (saved for a special occasion) and tetilla and cabrales cheeses for the road. Stopped in for a bocadillo anchoas y cafe at Bar Pinotxco, ending my Barcelona visit on a delicious note.

Happy adventuring,

Low End Theory

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