Fun in Barcelona
Since our work is all about food, everything we eat could be regarded as research – and certainly in Barcelona it is extremely easy to eat very well, either traditionally, or at the cutting edge. We figured our exercise would be to walk thousands of steps everyday – nowhere near enough to counter balance our intake – however the intention was always there.
Barcelona is both busy and friendly with great museums, galleries, restaurants, bars, port and street theatre. We had booked an Airbnb in the Gothic Quarter, with a couple of bedrooms, as our daughter Helen was joining us. Phil and I heeded advice to take the back bedroom to avoid being disturbed by the noise of the church bells from the nearby, rather wonderful cathedral. Even so, we could hear the chimes on the quarter hour all night – though they did soon fade into the background.
Restaurant-wise, we revisited some we had previously enjoyed and added a few more to the list, including a Michelin-starred experience at Roca Moo. Our suppliers volunteered their thoughts, and over tapas I took the opportunity to suss out a list from Ramon, the husband of Susana. She and her brother Jordi, own Torres, our Spanish potato chip supplier. They took us to the very popular, very good tapas bar Parco Meralga. The Obama balls were terrific – black with squid ink. Showed a naughty sense of humour, as well as talent in the kitchen.
Starting with an excellent mojito at one of Barcelona’s oldest nearby bars Casa Almirall, we then moved on to dine at a simple regional favourite eating spot – also liked by Ramon, Estevet. Situated in the slightly seedy district of El Raval, this restaurant is best described as casual, not sophisticated, and reliably good.
St Jordi’s Day, our equivalent of Valentine’s Day, is hugely celebrated here, with men giving women roses, and women giving men books. There’s some wisdom in that! Booths are everywhere.
We touched base with Eduard Pons and enjoyed more good tapas together, he may visit us in September, along with Albert Roca, maker of excellent Forvm vinegars. At this point we are intending to once again offer a couple of Albert’s fine Avgvstvs wines.
It was also great to catch up with Javier and Carlos Oliva, the very witty La Chinata brothers, and our new friends from Torres chips have just added a very appealing spicy Pimentón de la Vera flavour, to their already upmarket range. We visited their factory and learnt the secrets behind great potato chips. They are a national obsession in Spain, and there are some very interesting flavours – fried egg crisps anyone? For Torres, their difference starts with growing the potatoes from the best seeds. Their operation is really quite small and the attention to quality and detail is impressive. They also make their own flavourings – the popular truffle chips are made from Spanish and Italian truffles they dehydrate themselves, and in keeping with their commitment to quality – real caviar is used for their caviar flavoured chips. They take about two years to develop each flavour to the point where they are happy to release it, and a new secret one is in the pipeline for early next year!
Both of our suppliers Cudié and Vicens have some new sweet treats and temptations for this coming Christmas. You will have a wonderful selection to choose from when they all arrive later this year.
Helen arranged an excellent tour for us at the Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres. We had never realised Dali made a fabulous selection of jewellery as well as paintings and statues. A complex man of many talents. Our guide was very knowledgeable and it was well worth doing. We found it to be very reasonably priced as well.
All-in-all, Barcelona was the enjoyable experience we always find it to be. We happened across a very hip cocktail bar called Dr. Stravinsky, which looked as much like an apothecary as a bar, and having asked which spirits you preferred, you were then made a bespoke cocktail. We all enjoyed our choices.
If you’d like more details of the Dali Theatre Museum tour, or a list of places to eat and drink, just contact us and we will share our discoveries.