A Few Days in Barcelona
Barcelona is a lively city with great architecture, many excellent food choices, an easy to use Metro system, an army of well-priced taxis and no discretionary 'service' tax like London. We stayed in an Air BnB just off La Rambla, which did not quite live up to its description - as sometimes happens - but was handily situated to be able to go anywhere easily.Our days were mainly spent at a trade show catching up with existing suppliers and checking whether there was anything else we should add to our range. Strangely enough we tried a lot of snacks, including potato crisps, something the Spanish do extremely well. Hopefully the long walks through the many halls counterbalanced some of the intake (though I suspect not!).
Pons, our long term supplier of quality Spanish extra virgin olive oil, held a celebration at the Convent dels Angels, a rather unique setting. Laura, Eduard's wife, has now joined the company as well. They are constantly innovating and are into their first few seasons of growing saffron. Eduard is infusing this into his olive oil, and is offering two other new flavours: mint and ginger, all excellent.
The Ortiz family tell us that the anchovy season has started well, Paxti, from El Navarrico has ventured into long stemmed artichokes, the brothers from La Chinata are doing flakes, Angel from Vicens has some more confectionary fantasy flavour collaborations with the famous chef Albert Adrià - and Albert from Forvm vinegar is about to have his second child - a little girl.
We dined at a couple of restaurants we had not been to before. The newly revamped La Dama is in a beautiful building. Formerly it had been a well-reviewed classic fine dining restaurant of the same name, but now has a more casual and less obvious Spanish take on food with offers like chicken and chips (which turned out to be a poussin) and steak tartare (always a favourite of mine, and this was a good one), and a Valrhona chocolate soufflé.
It was certainly well patronised with a fashionable crowd, and the maitre d' was a bit of a character attired in Keith Richards-style garb with silver bracelets and bangles up both arms, a flowing black cape-like garment and black porkpie hat. I would have loved to have taken a photo!
Last year we had really enjoyed dinner at L'Angel, in Hotel Cram, one of three establishments where chef Jordi Cruz either works or oversees the kitchen. It seems quite common in Barcelona for this to happen. This time we wanted to experience ABaC, which has two Michelin stars and is situated in a hotel of the same name. You have a choice of a tasting menu of either 12 or 16 courses and a wine match is offered. We chose the twelve course with the wine match and the matches were equal to the food, which was quite frankly superb. I could list the dishes here but descriptions do not do justice to the superb flavours and textures offered, so I will include some photos instead.
The other places were all enjoyable rather than anything really special. We tried the original looking patatas bravas and black cuttlefish rice with a black garlic alioli at Llamber. The pintxos, including cod-filled piquillo pimientos, were quite tasty at a little Basque bar opposite where we were staying in Calle Petrixol, and it was interesting to try a modern take on tapas with garlic foam on the patatas bravas in the slightly too brightly lit atmosphere of 'Ten's', another Jordi Cruz operation in the Park Lane Hotel.
We barely scratched the surface of this interesting city. More research is definitely required!