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Barcelona Trip Report

Barcelona - A Trip Report

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Barcelona - A Trip Report

Amanda Song | Dec 2, 2005 01:31 PM

My friend Sarah wrote this from our trip to Barcelona and I am finally getting around to posting it, because I think it is great stuff for anyone interested in eating in Barcelona. So I hope the info is still applicable since it was a year ago, but I am not too worried. Enjoy!

Lunch at Talle de Tapas:
By the St Joseph de Oriel square. Mediocre overall. The bartender (a young lady) spoke some English and there was a copy of the menu in English (generally a bad sign). We had 3 glasses of wine and food, and the meal was 55E…a little expensive. We had three salads…
2 garden salads…(with a few olives and pine nuts), served with red wine vinegar and olive oil on the side.
Salad of quartered endive with gorgonzola and walnuts…there was a small amount if a great dressing squiggled on the plate, but it wasn’t enough.
Pulpo de Galacia (fairground octopus)…this version had one thick slice of potato (that was boiled and a little underdone), octopus, olive oil and paprika on top. It was a little bland, and the last version I had at a little bodega with M+M was garlicky and salty…much better. Razorback clams a la plancha…grilled open with olive oil and salt with lemon on the side.
We also had tomato bread to “keep us company”…very ripe tomato cut in half and smashed onto toasted French bread. Mixed meat brochette…sausage, chicken and pork with some peppers on a skewer. This was pretty nice; there were 2 very thin slices of grilled eggplant on the bottom, skewers on the top, 3-4 little deep fried French fries and some garlic mayonnaise (aioli). The aioli was bland.

Dinner at Taxidermista:
Right on the Placa Reial. We had seen this place recommended on Chowhounds. We had a very nice meal with only 1 problem. A. Locks and I had a great salad…
Frisee with mesclun, roasted tomatoes, cubes of quince paste, broiled goat cheese (bucheron?), mango vinaigrette and a little basil oil. GREAT. A big plate of food. My sister had filo dough packets with salad. One packet was filled with feta cheese, the other was filled with veggies. Good. Mrs L had gazpacho. It was a puree (smooth) with croutons on top. I didn’t try it, but apparently it was pretty good.
Amanda G had Iberico pork tenderloin with a mustard cream sauce and celery puree.
Mrs. L had grilled fish (Turbot) with an emulsified dressing of apple cider (?) with apple sauce on the side. I had sea bream with grilled leeks on top (soft!) with strawberry romesco sauce. We had a bottle of cava and some water with dinner…and then dessert:
I had a red fruit soup (smooth, strained and clear) with whole blackberries, red currents and blueberries with a scoop of Bulgarian yoghurt gelato. I also had nice glass of RED dessert wine…slightly chilled, it was sweet….but not nearly as sweet as port.
My sister had chestnut gelato with chocolate chunks, poached pears and a honey sauce.
A Locks had tiramisu gelato.
Mrs L didn’t do so well. She had a chocolate crepe/tuille shaped into a basket with fruit salad in it. Something smelled off (bad fruit?) and we sent it back. Overall a very nice meal…about 125E for 4 people. I forgot…Amanda L had deboned chicken legs (not called pollo, some other work that started with ‘p’)…they were stuffed and rolled with skin on the outside)

Breakfast at Bar Pinotxo:
Bar Pinotxo is in the Boqueria market. Let me say that this place was FANTASTIC for breakfast. A. and her mom had cafe con leche; I had espresso. The bartender recommended these WONDERFUL pastries. They were filled with a delicious pastry cream…flaky like a croissant on the outside. The guy next to us was having fatback (?) stew in some sort of brownish sauce with a few veggies in it. He and his friend were given a bottle of liquor…no label… with a cork on top (sherry? brandy?). They had a good sized glass each. The bartender showed us his picture in the NY Times…and we took some pictures with him. He was quite a ham. A famous guy!

Lunch at Bilbao Berria:
[Bilbao is a Basque city on the north coast of Spain. Tapas are called pintxos in the Basque language…these usually have toothpicks in them and your bill is generally tallied by the # of toothpicks you’ve accumulated (I think ‘pintxos’ might actually mean toothpick). Usually the food is sitting out on the bar and you help yourself, though I did eat at one place in Barcelona where I had to tell a waiter what I wanted. Later in this trip I went to some toothpick bars in San Sebastian (Donostia in Basque) where there were raw things (stuffed mussels, skewers of meat) out on the counter and you needed to give them to the bartender to get them cooked. Food safety…? Apparently pintxos are all the rage in Barcelona at the moment. They were everywhere are we sure ended up eating a lot of them…I especially appreciated the small portions and creative food combinations]

Sangria, vino tinto, agua con gas and toothpick tapas…most were served on slices of French bread.
-Membrillo (quince apple paste) with gorgonzola and walnuts (on bread)
-Mild farmers cheese with bacon, fried small green pepper and yellow/orange fish eggs (on bread)
-Tortilla Espanola (potato omelet)
-A goat cheese round topped with a “coleslaw” of various greens, pine nuts and black olive tapenade (on bread).
-Long potato and ground meat croquettes dipped in tomato sauce
-Long pieces of sausage (on bread)
-Shredded sausage topped with a spicy tomato sauce and a poached quail egg (on bread).
-A slice of tomato with white anchovy, black olive tapenade and a finely minced pepper salad (on bread)
-Pimento pepper on lettuce stuffed with tuna salad (on bread)…of course I didn’t have any of that one! I hate canned tunafish!
All in all very, very, good and fresh tapas.

Dinner at Cal-Pep:
We got here at 7:45…it opened at 8 and there were a few people in line ahead of us. We all got seats at the long bar (you can see all the food being made) and the man in charge (with the very hoarse voice) asked us if we wanted anything particular or just the tapas selection. We stuck with the tapas selection and did very well… By the time we had our first glass of wine (8:05) there were people waiting behind us and a line out the door. Exciting!!!

Tomato Bread- somehow it was the best I’ve ever had. The slices of bread were lightly toasted and there and some FANTASTIC olive oil and a little coarse salt on it.
Fried Green Peppers- these were small Basque peppers (I can’t remember what they’re called). Some were a little spicy, some were a little bitter; they were fried without batter and were salted. Great. Simple and perfect.
Fried Sardines- these were whole, very small fish (about 1.5 inches long) covered in a very light batter. They were like crispy little French fries and I ate a lot of them…head, tail and all. Wonderful.
Fried Calamari- in a light cornmeal (?) batter- plain.
Clams with smooth shells, very small…these were cooked in a small amount of bacon grease with parsley and maybe a little white wine and garlic? Very nice.
Clams with ridged shells, very small…these were cooked with some red oil (olive oil and paprika?). They were a little stronger flavored than the smooth shelled clams.
Langostino (shrimp thing with small claws)- small, with the head on. These were cooked with some slow cooked (sweet, not brown) onions and olive oil. GREAT!
Tortilla Espanola- this was the by far the best version of this I have every had (nontraditional as well). This was small (about the size of a dessert plate) and cooked in lots of olive oil. I think that there was a lot of cream in the eggs and there was some great garlic mayonnaise (aioli) on top. This was light, fluffy and wonderful. I’ll have to try to copy that sometime.
Fried Artichokes- small, in a light batter with salt. Yum.
Baby Squid/ cuttlefish with lentils, in ink sauce. Very tiny…eat them whole! Great!
Wine…house red and white, white was good, the red was a little sweet.
Crema Catalan…this was not good (a mistake). The texture wasn’t good, and it sort of tasted like the gas in the torch they used to carmelize the sugar. We returned it.

Lunch at Euskal Etxea:
We had 4 ciders (sidre)…which the bartender poured from 3 feet above the glass. “Gnarley.” “Yuck.” It was pretty nasty stuff. Is it supposed to taste like that? We also had some snacks…with toothpicks, of course. The food was a little tired. That’s one of the bad things about barfood:
-Serrano ham and Manchego on bread
-little sandwich with funky red sausage sliced thin…about the same diameter as a tennis ball. This was a little scary.
-Tortilla Espanola on bread (my sister’s favorite!)

Lunch at Mikel Etxea (more Basque food!):
-Red Sausage (Chorizo) heated with bread on the side. There was lots of paprika in the sausage, not too spicy.
-Roasted mushrooms in olive oil, bay leaves and salt.
-Tortilla Espanola with roasted red pepper strip and green olives on tooth pick.
-Jamon Serrano on bread
-Mini-manchego sandwich on a little roll.
-Small roasted red pepper stuffed with salt cod and potato puree
-Croquette of sausage and potato with reddish mayonnaise sauce on top…a little spicy.
-Whitefish in casserole with olive oil and peppercorns…decorated with roasted red pepper and parsley sauce.
-Mayonnaise /cream cheese stuff with bits of ham on bread. What is this stuff? Not my favorite.
-Green pepper stuffed with ground beef and a little rice, cheese on top. My mom’s are better.
-Big Dill pickle stuffed with tuna (no mayonnaise) with a roasted rep pepper garnish. Strange.
-2 pitchers of sangria (much needed!)
-65.22E for 5 people.

Dinner at La Crema Canela:

First course:
-Dry rose…so-so
-Big bowl of tomato soup garnished with fresh basil and basil ice cream.
-Tomato and fresh mozzarella…the tomato was peeled and stuffed with mozzarella and basil pesto. It was garnished with chopped black olives and long, crisscrossed chives.
-Mesclun salad with toasted goat cheese and a long thin quartered toasted baguette.
-Arugala salad with marinted feta and black, oil cured spicy olives.

Second course:
-Vegetable Tartin…very interesting bread, almost like pita bread that had been fried with grilled vegetables on top. The plate was decorated with a good amount of Romesco Sauce made with walnuts instead of almonds.
-Chicken crepes with spinach sauce…the sauce could have been a little brighter colored (add lemon to sauce at end to maintain color and brighten flavor?). A good dish.
-Tuna Steak with Modena Sauce and sweet onions…I didn’t know what ‘Modena’ referred to when I ordered it. Balsamic vinegar, it turns out. This sauce would have been better suited to steak.

Lunch at Suquet de L’Almirall:
We did make it out to Barcelonetta eventually and had a great lunch at a place I saw recommended in Chowhounds. We sat out on the patio in the shade with a nice bottle of chilled white wine and there were some cooler ocean breezes coming in off the water. Wonderful.

- Tavern salad…greens, hard boiled eggs, tomato, roasted rep peppers, black olives and interesting dark brown sausage…there were some large chunks in the sausage (about the size of my palm).
-Chicken and Jamon Croquettes…creamy and wonderful
-Tomato Bread with salt…wonderful
-Lightly breaded fried leeks/ large scallions with romesco sauce...great.
-Gaspacho de Sandia con Pulpo y Aceite de Albahaca…tomato and watermelon gazpacho with octopus and basil dressing. It was garnished with basil oil, sesame seeds, pepito (little green pumpkin seeds) and a dark oil (made with ink?). There was sliced octopus in it. Very very good, and wild.
-Seafood Paella…rice is a brownish color, not yellow, with clams mussels, shrimp (all on shell), chunks of scallop. Very good. We were expecting a brighter yellow/saffron color, and I was very nervous when I say it was dark because I had a VERY BAD paella about that color on my last trip. It’s easy to get bad paella in Spain.
-Flan…small mold, very light and creamy. Sugar is browned and not burnt tasting, like some I have had.

And half a bottle of wine more…sometimes cold white wine can be a great thing…3 people, 74.20E

Dinner at Senyor Parellada:
Close to the Santa Maria del Mar church. This was an interesting dinner in a place we saw recommended in Food and Wine. It was very inexpensive, especially for what we had, and there were a lot of traditional foods on the menu. On the other hand, the food could have been done better and we had a terrible waiter…it must have been his first day. There was practically a revolt among the diners…people were actually getting up and helping themselves to more water, wine glasses (when they were served wine and no glasses). We ended up getting the wrong bill and it took forever to get it straightened out. Maybe we were a little spoiled after our wonderful lunch?

1st course:
-Cava
-Lettuce hearts and cold cuts…and fish! Serrano ham, sausage, anchovy and another fish I didn’t recognize. Strange.
- “Old Fashioned Cabbage Rolls”…I expected this to be a Spanish version of the Polish stuffed cabbage I am familiar with, but it was pretty different. The cabbage was chopped up and mixed with some creamy stuff and fried (more like a croquette without breadcrumbs on the outside)…and it was served with a light brownish sauce. Good.
-Thyme Soup from the Montseny Range…clear light chicken stock with slice of bread in the bottom of the bowl, a few sprigs of thyme and a poached egg. This was simple, lovely, good peasant food like you read about.
-Cannelloni “Fonda Europa de Granollers”…pasta stuffed with ground beef, white sauce…gratineed with cheese on top. Great.

Main course:
-Les Viande du Pot-au-Feu de Majorque…when my sister asked me about this I told her that pot-au-feu was a French soup with a variety of meat and sausage in it…where you served the meat separately from the broth. I guessed this dish was the long simmered meat from that dish. Well, this was a little bit different. This was scary bits of pork offal in a wonderful light sauce. I felt bad that I was involved with my sister’s ordering and she ended up with offal, so I swapped my duck with her and tried some new parts of the pig. God only knows what I ate…interesting textures. Pass the cava, please!
-Beef with Tapenade …the beef was overdone and there was not enough sauce.
-Duck with Figs- the duck was overdone, but this is a very good idea.
-Shrimp and Langostines a la Plancha…heads on, served with lemon. These were ok, not great.

Dessert:
-Coffee
-Manchego…served plain on plate
-Vanilla and nut ice cream with chocolate sauce good
-Crème Brulee..ugh
-3 Chocolates…three layers of chocolate/gelatin stuff with a thin layer of chocolate cake on bottom. Chocolate and vanilla sauce on plate. Ok. A little strange.

Lunch at Sagardi Euskal Taberna:
On Carrer de Basea. A few more toothpick tapas…everything was served on bread.

- Bread with shredded duck (with mayonnaise?) with a thin slice of dried apple standing on top. I thought at first that this was duck liver pate, but then I decided that it was regular meat. Creamy.
-A slice of bread with a rectangle of mild drained yoghurt/farmers cheese mixed with green chili, set in a lettuce leaf and garnished with sweet jam mixed with curry (?)…and a little green herb (chervil?). Wild.
-Bread topped with artichoke hearts and finely chopped, sautéed ham.
-Bread topped with slightly spicy roasted red peppers, garnished with long chives and brown anchovies.
-Melba topped with a piece of lettuce with a bundle of fish puree wrapped in a thin layer of fat…garnished with a leafy herb that tastes like licorice and a few drops of hot sauce. Wild.
-Red pepper stuffed with tuna and garnished with shredded egg.
-Cream cheese/ mayonnaise spread with walnuts (on bread)

-Cider…A Song asked some of the guys at the bar about the Basque cider, tried some and reported that it was the same “gnarly” cider we had near the Picasso museum.

Dinner at Colibri:
The restaurant was called Colibri…meaning ‘hummingbird’…because it is so small. This was the one “fine dining” night in Barcelona. It ended up costing us 203E for three people, but it was totally worth it. The man who hosted us for the evening…I’m assuming he was the owner (‘waiter’ is definitely the wrong word) spoke English and took a lot of time to introduce us to the food and translate the menu. After dinner he showed is the TINY kitchen. This place makes a great point of Catalan ingredients, wine and cuisine and I would LOVE to go back here again. We saw this place recommended in Food and Wine…apparently two people left Ca l’Isidre to open this.

Appetizer (we didn’t order, the kitchen sent them out):
-Porcini mushroom croquettes…tiny, creamy, fragrant and wonderful
-Asparagus tips wrapped in bacon…with enough of the delicate peeled stalk sticking out to use as a handle.
-Toasts with cream cheese and anchovy
1st course
-Gaspacho with lobster. very good
-Porcini mushroom risotto…made with rich beef stock. Wonderful.
-Foie Gras terrine on white toast…with a lightly sugared and browned top (like crema Catalan/ crème brulee)…served over spinach dressed with a chardonnay vinaigrette and garnished with cubes of manchego and duck cured in the manner of Serrano ham. This was a very nice dish and I loved it.

2nd course
-Goat shoulder with sweet onions and a white wine sauce. I’m guessing that the meat was braised…yum. My second time eating goat…
-Sea Bass with pine nuts, julienne zucchini and caramelized onions.
-Beef fillet with porcini mushroom sauce, topped with caramelized onions and seared duck liver.

Dessert:
-Chocolate pudding cake
-A fruit and ice cream dessert with a little Crema Catalan. My description is a little unclear…maybe it has something to do with the…
-Wonderful Muscat dessert wine. I wrote down the name, but it was a little illegible… Fortunately the owner called us a cab!

So that is the exhaustive run down. Hope you find something useful during your next trip.

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