[ Vacation photos Ibiza, Spain ]
Barcelona is a food city. Go hungry and open-minded. The best meal you have may be tapas from a beachside café. But also do some research in advance to ensure you don’t always drop into to the first restaurant you see – as there are many. Sponteneity can lead to both hits and misses, as long as you are willing to take the risk. We were.
c/de la Plata no 3
Luc: Hah! I knew we could find this place again!
Alison: I’m amazed. It’s a labrynth around here. Looks like they are re-opening after remodeling. Hope that’s a good sign. It is our first real meal here.
Luc: Hmmm. Well, let’s still try it. I like the look of it, and besides, we get a free cocktail to help them celebrate.
Alison: You are usually really good about picking places…Ah, let’s do it.
And later, after meal is served, and first bites taken….
Luc:: Hmmm. My food is really salty.
Alison: Mine, too. And you know if I think something is salty … What a bummer, as normally my pasta (see image above) should taste great, with the grated reggiono, mushroom sauce, fresh peas and balsamic vinegar.
Luc: Sorry sweetie! Looks like I didn’t do so well this time.
Alison: It’s not your fault! Besides, we got days to eat good food. It’s only our first night.
El Pi Antic
Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol (Oça del Pi)
After a rainy morning spent touring La Seu Cathedral, then exploring, we came upon a charming restaurant tucked deep in the area bordered by La Rambla, Puerta Ferrisa and the cathedral.
Housed in the Palau Fiballer, circa 1571, El Pi Antic has all the warmth and amenities of an old time tavern. Just what we needed to warm our bones and fill our empty stomachs.
Alison: I think that must be the owner. He seems to be greeting all the regulars. Oh my god, did he just change his shirt in the middle of the restaurant! A little too much intimacy!
Luc: Mais, non !
Alison: Mais, oui ! And how would you know, you weren’t looking that way.
Luc: Sigh. Can we just order? There is a table d’hôte for 12 euros. Let’s try that.
Alison: It’s a lot of food. Sardines, fried calamari with french fries.Then paella. Plus dessert. Ah, why not?
Luc: That is very good. We will have to come back. You aren’t going to finish your sardines?
Alison: It is just too much food! I think they must get tired by the time dessert comes around – what did you get, a cup of pre-packaged ice cream? My flan was OK, a bit watery. But, hey, who cares. It was just what we needed.
Esparteria 9 El Born
Have to admit we missed a big opportunity: Finding a Barcelona restaurant/club that played traditional Spanish guitar. There is an Guitar Festival that runs from Feb. 21 -June 10, 2010, featuring concerts by Quimi Portet, John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension and Paco de Lucía. So to forgive ourselves for this major oversite, here is an amazing performance by M. de Lucía circa 1970s.
We did find a Barcelona restaurant with great atmosphere that served traditional Catalon dishes, setting was rustic and cozy – like a big cavern with the front opened to the street and the stone walls crammed with shelves of pottery of all sizes.
Alison: I am so happy we found a restaurant that specializes in Catalon dishes. I mentioned that I worked with someone who is from here, Sylvain Amoros. I want to share with him the meats and cheeses we tried: Boll, Cleda, Urgelia.
Luc: This is a lot of food!
Alison: I am hungry. And you know how much I love cheese. What do you like the best?
Luc: This sausage is my favorite. Nice and spicy.
Alison: I wonder if those pots are for sale…Let’s ask the waiter.
Luc: Told you they wouldn’t be for sale.
Alison: Well, how was I supposed to know they date to the 16th century and that a representative from the church makes a monthly trip to take inventory.
Luc: And what a bummer that they lost so many in an earthquake … I’m going to ask someone to take our picture.
Luc: Enough shopping and browsing. I’m hungry! Let’s wind back toward the hotel. This boulevard has some good places. And it’s good for people-watching
Alison: I like this place. Restaurente Sailor. It has nice big white umbrellas, and the sun is starting to get kind of intense. Plus it reminds me of what one of those Monaco seaside cafés would be like. I watch too many movies.
Luc: Try this bread with the tomato and olive oil spread. It’s amazing!
Alison: Yum. That bread is so soft. I could eat this for lunch. Think I will get sardines. They are so good here.
Luc: For an appetizer, I’m going for octopus! After that treat at the Ibiza Medieval Fair, I am craving this stuff. And I am going to get the iberican ham.
Alison: So, what’s the verdict?
Luc: This was soooo good, I may want to come back!
Rambla Catalunya 27
Luc: After walking around all day and going to the museum, I am exhausted. Plus its starting to rain again. Where should we eat? I don’t think I can go any further. Here, this looks good. Let’s just try it.
Alison: I don’t know what really sounds good here. I think I’m going to just get smoked salmon and capers.
Luc: I am going to try the crab salad and the squid.
Verdict: The salmon and capers was fine. Nothing amazing and a bit thin. The crab salad and squid were downright awful. In sum, La Botiga is more style than substance.
Vila Joiosa 54
One afternoon, we took a long walk on the Barcelona beach and the board walk, stopping to check out the yachts parked in the harbor – marvelling how much money it took these days to even get the boat out of the harbor.
On Port Olimpic, we checked out a huge fish sculpture, whose coppery glint is like a siren call, you have to get closer to it. And when you do, the apparent lushness of the scales that lured you transforms into bare bones wire.
The Peix fish sculpture was actually designed by Canadian Frank Gehry for the 1992 Olympics and measures 35 x 54 meters. Our photo doesn’t do the size justice but then perhaps it is because competing against Spain’s two tallest buildings, the Hotel Arts (Gehry was of the architects) and the Mapfre tower.
We strolled through a nice park, where Luc took a photo of a woman on bench holding an umbrella to shield herself from the sun.
After our long walk , we stopped at Restaurante Cavamar for a cold beer. Seats at the beachside restaurant are a premium, and to stay, we had to order food. Quickly scanning the Cavamar menu, I impulsively ordered “hot small green peppers.”
Alison: These are pretty big for “small peppers.” Mmmmm check out the sea salt.
Luc: Wow! And I mean WOW! You have to try these. They are amazing.
Alison: Not too hot?
Luc: Not at all.
Alison: Ohhh! These are better than French Fries! And that healthy, green taste.
Luc: I am going to make these at home. The recipe cannot be that hard.
Alison: This is perffect with the beer. And I wasn’t even hungry!
Luc: Good job, Alison. Out of all the good food we had at Barcelona restaurants, his may be the best thing we’ve eaten the whole trip! And for just 11 eros (2,50 each beer; 6,00 for the pimentos del padron)