Sunday, July 10, 2011

Barcelona: my food mecca.

I love Spain. I think it's my favorite place on earth. There are other places I've traveled where the weight of history is greater for me than in Spain -- Istanbul, for example -- though Spain is not too shabby historically either. But Spain is comfortable for me, a place I feel so at home in, and a place I know I'll always return to. But enough about that. What about the food, you ask? Well! Just take a look.

 The only other place I've seen food like this was in Italy. Produce in your local grocery store just cannot compare to this, or to the feeling of being in an open air market in the middle of a city and buying your ingredients for that night's meal. There's nothing like it.

I've been to Madrid a few times and just love it, but food-wise, Barcelona is the place for me. Barcelona is like the younger, hipper sibling to Madrid. It's fresh and airy in a way Madrid is not. La Boqueria, Barcelona's open air food market, is bustling with people all determined to find the best produce, cheese and meats in the city...and they do.

 My favorite dish to eat in Spain is pulpo de gallega -- octopus drizzled with olive oil, salt and paprika. It's simple and refreshing. The best place in La Boqueria to get it is at Pinotxo Bar. This guy has been at Pinotxo for years, and he's as much worth the visit as is the pulpo.
Pulpo de gallega

 Another must visit is Cal Pep, tucked away on the Placa de les Olles. Here I ate the best tapas of my life, hands down.

A creamy, delicious tortilla

Chick peas and baby squid

Fried artichoke hearts and spinach with chick peas

Now, I think I'm a relatively adventurous cook, but I haven't yet tackled squid or octopus. I do try to make something Spanish every now and then, and pan con tomate, bread with tomatoes, is a dish that anyone can make. Try it now while tomatoes are in season, and you'll have on your hands a little slice of what life is like in Barcelona.

Pan con tomate
Grill slices of your favorite hearty bread. Rub with garlic. Slice a ripe tomato in half and rub the tomato on the bread until the juices soak through. Drizzle with a fruity olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt.

My history geek moment: There are conflicting theories about who founded the city of Barcelona. One story holds that it was founded by Hercules, another that it was founded by Hamilcar Barca, a Carthaginian general and father of Hannibal.


  1. That is one place I missed on our time in Europe...I totally have to go back and make Barcelona a priority.


  2. Marni, you would adore it. It's such a foodie city!