The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain, is a food and wine lover’s paradise. It is one of the best tourist attractions in the city. Here, your eyes can be bigger than your stomach. So, watch out! Most dishes are huge enough to share by two people.
Remember you can always order more. Unless you take a grazing route through the market nibbling on cheese, red wine, raw oysters, crusty bread, Spanish ham, olives and the most divine desserts I’ve ever seen.
On our first full day in Barcelona, we roamed the market in search of El Quim tapas bar (recommended by friends) and never found it until after lunch.
The allure of plates of fresh cooked shellfish was too compelling to dismiss. We scouted the restaurants to determine which one was the most packed with locals and settled on El Cochinillo Loco (The Crazy Pig), which we walked by thrice before deciding.
The fresh shrimp, langostinos, clams, oysters, mussels, octopus, squid, sea bass and other unidentifiable frutos del mar were piled high and our eyes got bigger just looking. So, we waited for two seats to open up and sat between two local couples immersed in platter sharing. It was 2:00 p.m. By 4:00 p.m. we had finished our sangrias, had too many leftovers, and become best friends with our lunch neighbors. We were happy to divide the remains with them since we couldn’t carry out to our hotel!
Then, one couple ordered a bottle of Spanish cava (sparkling wine) while the other bought a basket of fresh organic strawberries. The strawberries landed in the sparkling wine. Of course! I have many more photos of all of us hugging, laughing and giggling, too many to publish here.
I can’t imagine a better way to get a cultural immersion and practice Spanish than to share lunch and a bottle of wine with Ines Natera, who works at the Universidad Politecnica Catalunya and her husband.
Then, my sister reminded me we had a dinner reservation three hours later at the Michelin 1-star restaurant Alkimia. How were we ever going to get our appetite back? Since dinner doesn’t really start until 9:00 p.m. we were hopeful.
So we said goodbye to our friends and set out for a market walkabout. By now, our eyes could not deceive us and it was easy to pass by the chocolate covered berries, the nougat, the dark chocolate coated orange rinds, and the custard tarts… (well, not really)
the freshest fruit, bottles of sweet red vermouth, mounds of crustaceans, farm vegetables, sardines, anchovies, and every imaginable food gift perfect for a special friend (or yourself).
To walk it off, we took a circuitous route back to our hotel through the medieval old quarter of Barcelona bordering La Rambla, and then into the narrow streets where locals were celebrating Sant Jordi Day with gifts of flower bouquets for sweethearts and books for beaus.
We didn’t take home the emu eggs or crustaceans or pintxos or tapas. We did bring home Catalunya olives, vermouth, Iberian ham, super ripe stinky goat cheese, and lots of chocolate.
And, what did we do on our last day in Barcelona. Stock up with a final visit to the Boqueria market, of course, followed by a run through the basement food section of El Cortes de Ingles at Placa Catalunya. Can you tell? I’m in love with Spain (second to Mexico, of course).
Boqueria Market Eateries
- El Quim (Located mid-section of the market on one of the center aisles. It’s a very small bar. You could miss it. Great tapas.)
- Bar Central. There are two locations in the market. I like the one with long bar in the back.
- El Cochinillo Loco, Portico Sant Josep 6-8, Tel. 93 119 19 54
Footnote: Since returning to Oaxaca earlier this week, I haven’t done much except sleep, eat, visit with a few friends and venture out for a few afternoons in search of wifi service. I have none at the casita, so my communication is limited. I’m sitting in the wonderful fresh breeze at Tierra Antigua Restaurante in Teotitlan del Valle, with a delicious lunch and internet. Hallelujah. In celebration of small wonders.