Barcelona is one of those places that is always packed the whole year-round. My second visit was this last Christmas, and I must say, I prefer this season than summer. Although everyone seems to be carrying tons of shopping bags, there’s a bit more room to move, especially in the main streets like ‘La Rambla’. Still the same noise level though, but that is part of its charm. 🙂
My first visit four years ago was business related, so I did not have ample time to roam around. This time though, was a different story. My husband and I walked everywhere and we steered away from restaurants. We focused more on ‘tavernas’ and places that are tucked between small streets. Avoiding tourist traps at the same time.
Most of the food we tried were ‘tapas’; those small portions of food that are served either hot or cold. (I think tapas are sneaky though. You don’t really feel full, but you are ;-))
PIMIENTOS DE PADRON
This one tops the list for me. They’re small green peppers, almost like mini jalapenos, but there is no hint of spice in them. So, you pretty much eat the whole thing, except the stem :-). They fry them quick and then sprinkle some salt before serving. These are best eaten when they are literally out of the pan. Delicious!
JAMON IBERICO DE BELLOTA
The best jamon that I have ever tasted. I even prefer it to prosciutto crudo (?!). This ham comes from free-form pigs fed exclusively with acorns, and cured for thirty-six months. It almost tastes sweet and it just melt in your mouth, really.
Valencia is the place where paella started, but all other parts of Spain have their own version of it. For Barcelona, it’s mainly seafood paella. For me though, it’s all about the way the rice was cooked, than whatever is in the paella. The bits of crunchy rice sticking at the bottom of the pan – Yum!
Nope, they are not arancini ;-). They are mashed potato formed into balls, normally stuffed with chorizo, deep fried, and served with aioli or spicy dipping sauce. Why ‘La Bomba’? Yep, it’s named after that round iron ball stuffed with explosives (I see that all the time in Cartoon Network too!). It was apparently a weapon of choice in Barcelona during the early 20th century, when a bar owner first made ‘La Bomba’.
Potatoes cut into chunks, fried, and served with aioli. The addition of the spicy red sauce makes them ‘bravas’ or ‘fierce’. Phew! The first time I tried it, I felt the roof of my mouth getting numb. Well, it was worth it, at least 😉
GAMBAS AL AJILLO (Shrimp with Garlic)
This tapa seems to have quite a lot of variety. It was slightly different each time we tried it. The one that I liked the most, we asked what’s in it. The owner told us that it’s just shrimp, olive oil, garlic, sherry and guindilla. We had to ask him to write the last one since I have not heard of it. Note to self: Guindilla is a type of chilli 🙂
Roasted peppers and eggplant, with a hint of sherry. I am not sure if they normally eat this on their own, but we were told that it’s great to put on top of the ‘Pan Con Ajo Y Tomate’. So, that’s how we ate them the entire time we were in Barcelona. If there is another way, do let me know 🙂
PAN CON AJO Y TOMATE (Bread Scrubbed with Garlic and Tomato)
This is so simple but sooooooo good. Its toasted bread rubbed with garlic and tomatoes. That’s it! It’s great for breakfast or with jamon (or manchego cheese), or by itself with a glass of wine. I did wonder, maybe if the tomatoes are not from Spain, it would not be that good…? I will let you know 😉
CREMA CATALANA (Catalonian Custard)
The first time I saw this, I thought crème brulee (I swear they looked the same), but this one seemed creamier. Maybe it was just me. However, everyone seemed to have added their own twist to it. We had one that was almost like a float and then this tart. I had this with a cup of hot chocolate – nuff said 🙂
What kind of list would this be without sangria? Cava and sangria were my preferred drinks in Barcelona, until I got to try sangria WITH cava. I felt that adding cava in it made it lighter and more refreshing, and this was in December. Imagine how it would feel like on summer? 🙂
That’s it! That’s my list. I know that there are still tons that we have not tried. Some of them by choice like marinated anchovies and bacalao (hmmm, maybe next time). Some because we cannot find them, like fried whitebait. All in all, it was a relaxing and an informative trip.
Now, if only I have the time (and the ingredients) to try to cook these in Stockholm 🙂