Just wanted to post back on Barcelona, where I was last week for 5 days.
I have to preface this by saying my father was less well, and more prone to confusion and impatience than is usually the case back home. This limited our options. I also realised we have different ideas on what constitutes a great restaurant. Suffice to say his gastronomic highlight was a paellador joint on the Passeig Joan de Borbo.
Mine was definitely La Cova Fumada on carrer de baluarde, Barceloneta. The place looks like it hasn't changed its decor since the 1930s and noise levels can be ear splitting. There are about 25 dishes chalked up on a board, none for more than about 7 Euros. It is packed and you may have to wait, but it is absolutely worth it. We had the speciality, bomba (a kind of fat potato croquette with garlic mayo and chilli sauce), fried artichoke, octopus, grilled sardines and an ensaladilla. I with we'd had more- there were chick peas and morcilla, judias and v good looking tomato salads. The accompaniment is grilled bread rubbed with fresh tomato.
Another highlight was Taktika Berri in the Eixample, which we went to on the evening we arrived. Top class montaditos. You have to get used to the system, which is to squeeze yourself into any available space at the bar, then flag down the waitress as she comes out of the kitchen with the freshly prepared montaditos. If you're not quick and assertive you'll miss them. A good re-introduction to Spain.
Finally, Fonda Gaig. Comfortable chairs, air conditioning, hushed conversations and a mostly Spanish Bourgeois clientele. As prices are high we went for the fixed lunch menu at 25 Euros + VAT. I'd say the food was good but not memorable in any way. My father's starter was fried eggs on sanfaina- i found it interesting because having grown up in Algeria, it's more or less exactly a north african dish , chakchouka. Coincidence or legacy of the Islamic period? The fish dishes were nice but nothing special. My pudding was a bit lame- sheet of filo pastry with a little smear of quince and some ricotta. Dad had a v nice cherry cheesecake though.
Also loved the cafes where we usually had cheese or iberico ham sandwiches, coffee and fresh orange juice for breakfast.
Lastly, I'd like to say that I was impressed with Barcelona as a whole- the evident civic pride, the heritage of fascinating buildings everywhere, the courtesy and kindness of the people.