19.12.16

BARCELONA EATING

For our third holiday together this year, after a crazy fun weekend in Paris and a wonderful few days in Menorca, Lucy and I went to Barcelona to stay in the very newly opened Soho House. Most of our pre-holiday plans revolve around picking out the best spots to eat and drink, and this was no different. Apart from the fact that it being Barcelona, one of the culinary destinations of Europe, there seemed to be even more to choose from. We'd decided not to book anywhere and go with the flow, hopping from tapas bar to bar and back to tapas bar, but I sneakily made a reservation anyway as I couldn't resist what I'd seen of Bodega 1900 so after dumping our bags at the hotel we headed straight there.

Bodega 1900 is a reincarnation of the traditional bodega restaurants of the past, where the food that's served is modern versions of classic dishes. We kicked off with a vermouth or three, toasting our arrival and the start of what was to be one of my favourite weekends this year. An early start, plane journey and speedy cab ride had left us both feeling a little delicate, so we opted out of the set menu in order to choose our food ourselves. We chose well. First to the table were the "olives" - straight out of El Bulli, these spheres of olivey liquid burst into the roof of your mouth filling it with salty goodness and amazement. Once we'd got over how good they were we moved on to the rest of our choices - thin tubes of confit squid, soft and delicate and stuffed with mince, swimming in a bowl of the herb infused olive oil they'd been cooked in; "la rubia gallega" beef tenderloin cured in salt and spices, which was rich and meaty and so moreish; fresh tomato salad doused in lip lickingly good olive oil and topped with snowflakes of salt; clams "de carril" cooked in a rich tomato sauce (not pictured); and melon drenched in vermouth to finish, which Lucy kindly let me eat nearly all of! 


I'm going to say this about all of the places in this post, but if you go to Barcelona, make sure you eat at Bodega 1900. We ate a lot more than I've written about and drank a fair few vermouths etc, and I think our bill was around 70euros each - not the cheapest place we ate, but worth every cent. 













Quimet y Quimet is basically the opposite to Bodega 1900. It's the oldest tapas bar in Barcelona, you can't book, you can't even sit down. You enter a tiny room, walls lined with bottles of wine and Spanish produce to buy, with a bar down one side. You wait until the man with the bucket has cleared a tiny area and you wriggle in and point at what you want from the counter. They do hundreds of wines by the very reasonable glass and the food is traditional, basic (in a very good way) tapas done extremely well. We had leeks with peppers, olives and caviar that was sweet and salty and drizzled in balsamic; giant tinned mussels oozing golden oil; whole spatchcocked quail, confited and served with truffle tuille crackers; and crispy toast topped with cheese so tangy it made our mouths sting but we couldn't stop eating it, topped with sweet, sweet chestnuts. It's raucous, rowdy, brilliant value and so much fun - definitely another to add to the list. 









As well as its many tapas bars and ex-Bulli chef restaurants, Barcelona is known for its food markets. The main and largest market is La Boqueria. Number 2 is Sant Antoni, which had actually been temporarily relocated when we were there. Another market I'd read about that's a lot newer than the two main ones is Mercat Princesa where we headed first out of the three on what became our market day. We were late for breakfast so shared a delicious tuna tartare and some gyoza for a light lunch before heading off to La Boqueria via the temporary Sant Antoni. Mercat Princesa is much more bar and restaurants focus than its two larger competitors where you can find bars and restaurants as well as shops and stalls.




La Boqueria is huge and heaving with produce stalls, restaurants and a lot of people. Luckily we knew where we were heading and made a beeline for El Quim which has been part of La Boqueria for nearly 30 years. You can't book (there's a theme here) but you can hover behind stools and wait for people to finish - go early (12pm) or late (4pm) for least hovering time. I think late is best as then you don't end up with people hovering behind you when you're eating, which can be a little off putting! The menu is pretty extensive and you tick the boxes next to what you'd like and hand it to one of the slightly frantic waiters. Everything we had was utterly delicious - huge mussels in fresh tomato sauce which were messy and delicious; baby squid with crunchy young vegetables; and melt in the mouth "slab of beef" with foie gras sauce, padron peppers and chunky chips to mop up the sauce. 







Last on my personal 'don't miss list' is Tapas 24. We headed there with dead phones so have very few photos, but loved 90% of what we ate. We sat outside on the pavement seats, though the main restaurant is buried below ground level in the basement. Dishes range from "basic" tapas to more inventive, and therefore expensive, options. We obviously sampled some of each. Favourites from the cheaper end included the bikini sandwich - a truffly, melted cheese and Iberico ham toastie; pulled chicken croquettes which were unlike anything I've tried before; anchovy stuffed deep fried olives; and pan con tomate, which despite literally being just bread, tomato and oil was out this world thanks to the quality of each of the three ingredients used. One slightly odd tuna dish then appeared but was swiftly removed from our table and bill after we said we didn't like it, and was replaced with a charred octopus, paprika and cauliflower dish that more than made up for it (and is the only thing I photographed). 




Other noteworthy places from our trip were Soho House itself, where the food was really good and the drinks actually quite reasonable for a nice hotel, as well as stunning views from the roof terrace; Dry Martini which does what it says and is a bit touristy but not too much, and does great martinis (!!), and if you want to dance the night away head to Sala Razzmatazz.... So, where to next Lucy?!
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3 comments

  1. Scrumptious food. Looks like you had a fabulous city break x

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  2. Great food. It is more interesting and innovative types of verity. The best essay writing service is helps for making all types of writing documents with innovative information to the students at online. The effective types of information can be transfer from reader and user from online

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