OK, let’s get down to food in Barcelona—one of our favorite topic. One of our dinners was devoted to a cooking class (we booked with Barcelona Cooks) where we prepared a meal of traditional Catalan dishes: gazpacho (OK, but Joyce dislikes all gazpachos so it may have been great for all she knew), tortilla, which actually more like an omelet with potatoes and onions, tasty tomato bread (toast seasoned with tomatoes, olive oil and garlic), good seafood paella, Catalan custard (like a creme brulee that substitutes milk for cream), and of course, wine (Albarino, followed by Rioja). Of course, all cooking classes are educational and fun. Will we make any of these dishes at home? Maybe the Catalan custard as it was quite good and lower calorie than crème brulee. And possibly the tomato bread, which was very easy to make and tasty.
We had two other dinners at second restaurants of Michelin-star chefs. Both prepared fixed-price menus with innovative menus, served with choreographed efficiency in nicely appointed restaurants.
Angle, from chef Jordi Cruz (two Michelin-stars for AbaCc, and one for Angle), offered an eleven course menu that began with a non-traditional version of the very traditional melon and ham (with extracted melon juice), followed by an edible mojito, a crispy foie gras with powdered corn, an unusual prawn carpaccio and the exceptional cured egg yolk with Iberian meats. Then onto the “main dishes” including grilled fish in a plankton sauce and roast guinea fowl with foie gras , followed by three dessert dishes (first a dish that combined coconut, yoghurt, yuzo, green apple and strawberry, followed by a crisp roll of chocolate filled with chocolate cream, with vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate, and finished with petit fours. A well-executed menu, with perfect service that included two particularly exciting dishes: The cured egg yolk with Iberian meats was our favorite dish of the evening, followed by the very unusual crispy foie gras with powdered corn. Wine, recommended by the sommelier, was a 2013 Maro Coseca blend of tempranillo and syrah. Definitely a great dining experience.
Pakta, from Albert Adria (El Bulli) with particularly able assistance from his older brother Ferran!. We ate at the sushi bar of this Peruvian-Japanese restaurant where we awed at the precision of every move of the chefs in creating preparations that required tweezers for the precise placement of tiny garnishes. The eleven-course menu, most of which included multiple small tastes, drew on ingredients and preparations from both cultures, combined with European fine-dining sensibilities. The first course included five tastes of complex seafood (including salmon roe, horse mackeral, octopus) and vegetable (daikon and kumquat) preparations with Asian (including sumiso sauce and kimchi) and Peruvian (leche de tigre) sauces. The second course, a local raw white fish (which lacked much taste on its own), was helped by the preparation and the accompaniments. The Nigiri course consisted of unusual, but tasty preparations of sea bass and anchovy.
This was followed by a creamy tuna tartare which was one of the standout dishes of the night. Then another sea bass dish (ceviche) with green almonds and leche de tigre, followed by another very non-traditional, traditional Peruvian dish—causas. These, however, were unlike any causas we had before. Potato on one was wrapped around the tuna: on the other, lightly fried with chicken. Then came suckling pig, followed by pork jowl and the only weak point of the menu—soba with leche de tigre (although we did like the tuna and Peruvian corn in the dish). We then had two larger dishes (Peruvian-style grilled chicken and rockfish with peppers and Nikkei sauce), followed by four dessert dishes, of which lime sorbet stuffed with pisco and sugarcane honey was our clear favorite. Overall, four dishes (corn soup, tuna tartare, fried causa and lime with pisco and sugarcane honey) were absolute winners. The soba was the only real letdown. Nor were we let down by the very good (albeit expensive sake) recommended by the sommelier—Masumi Kippuku Kinju Miyasake). An expensive meal (about $300) but delicious.
Casual Lunch Restaurants
We ended up eating three lunches in Barcelona and a fourth in the town of Figueras, were we visited the Dali museum. We enjoyed all four. The Barcelona lunches were:
- Taverna del Bisbe (near the Cathdral), where we had multiple small dishes: seafood salad, grilled octopus, griddled clams, Seville-style calamari rings with a bottle of Lalama (a blend of Granacha and Mancia grapes) from the Ribeira Sacre region.
- La Paradeta (near Sacrada Familia), a wonderful, super-fresh, no-frills seafood-only restaurant at which you order your food by the kilo from a seafood market-like display, pay for it, pick it up when your number is called and, when you are done, bus your own table. We had a wonderful, and incredibly inexpensive meal consisting of deep-fried whitebait (baby fish), steamed clams in tomato sauce, grilled baby octopus and a bottle of 2014 Torre la Moreira Albarino.
- Babilonia (not only near, but also with a perfect view of Sacrada Familia), where we had melon and Iberica ham and seafood paella along with a Ramon Bilbao Rioja Reserva 2010.
- Imperial (in Figueras), where we had melón with cured Iberico ham, Galicia-style grilled octopus, razor clams in garlic and parsley butter and a bottle of Monticillo Rioja Gran Reserva 2006.
All lunch places were quite good and quite inexpensive—even with our wines.
Our Barcelona hotel was Hotel Barcelona Catedral. You couldn’t ask for a better location….within steps of the cathedral in the old section. We were able to walk everywhere