Our final stop of the Spanish part of the gastronomic tour was Barcelona which saw a huge variation in meal times, thus perfectly encapsulating the diversity that this cosmopolitan city has to offer…
Our first evening we found ourselves at a loose end when the tapas bar where we had planned to eat was sardined with anglophone tourists, with no chance of two more squeezing in, no matter how little! However luck found us again as we wandered along and peered through a steamy window into what appeared to be a private dining room. We checked the menu to find that it was absolutely perfect for our tour: Catalan specialities cooked using organic locally sourced produce. We entered to a wonderful aroma of home cooking and ordered some previously recommended specialities. Beautifully cooked duck with pear, coca pizza from the Balearic Islands topped with romesco sauce from Tarragona and some delicious stuffed onions. All of the ingredients were presented alongside their respective dish so that we could see exactly what we were eating and also take note for future culinary experiments!
The following day was spent gawping our way around the overwhelming displays of vibrant colours and fresh produce of all types in the Boqueria market. If we had thought to bring a basket, it would definitely have been overflowing with our chosen lunch items… there was just too much to choose from, so we went for un poquito de todo (a bit of everything: truly Spanish!) deep fried cod balls, skewers of huge prawns, a tray of little fried eels, some pomegranate seeds, a carton of every type of mushroom under the sun and some super Spanish croquetas. All was carted to the nearby extremely busy La Rambla where we set up camp picnic style, despite the waves of passing tourists. Al fresco!
Our last supper in Spain was more than worthy! Earlier on in the day we passed by the infamous Ferran Adria’s circus style tapas bar, Tickets, to see if we could squeeze in (there is a two month waiting list)! After sufficiently peering through the windows to watch the intricate attention to detail in preparations for that evening’s clientele, we enquired if there were any vacancies. The waiter’s answer was to come back at 7 when they opened to see if there were any cancellations… which we did and there were! Lady luck strikes again!The idea of the restaurant is to have fun in the circus ambiance, giant icing hamburger and all, and to play with the senses. The latter was certainly achieved with our first experience… liquid olives. Carefully placed onto a silver fish shaped spoon, these parcels of jelly-like olive replicas are burst on the roof of the mouth to release a unique liquid with the exact taste of the olive but in the form of a liquid, though surprisingly not like olive oil. Onwards through the courses passing a tomato cone full of tomato seeds with an ice cream texture, rabbit taco with red sauce and carrot, cheese ravioli of the same consistency as the olives, and finishing with a tantalising dessert. The first was black sesame and white chocolate lava rock which literally came in the form of a rock. Yet it certainly didn’t taste like one… a consistency similar to an Aero which melted in the mouth. This was followed by a huge commotion with a bell, a bicycle and an old school ice cream trolley. We were unaware of what was going on until the lady asked if we had ordered mango sorbet… which we had! Though it’s name makes it sound way too simple… a perfect balance between creamy ice cream and refreshing sorbet. The food, the experimentation with the senses, the kitsch and busy ambiance… the whole experience was unforgettable!
So three equally distinct yet equally enjoyable experiences in a wonderful city! The perfect way to end the variation in our journey tasting our way around Spain… Next stop France!