We are still jet-lagged after two full days here in Barcelona and can’t seem to get the rhythm of sleep down. But, we have discovered the tap-tap-tap of tapas with a great orientation to Bilbao Berria tapas bar right down at the corner from where we are staying across from the Barcelona Cathedral.
What’s the procedure, I asked our bar keep Alfre (muy guapo). It’s buffet, he said. Pick up what you like then put the wood stick in the container at your table. That’s how we charge you. I tell my sister, this is like eating dim sum.
New dishes keep coming out of the kitchen to tempt you. I’m especially loving the anchovies and grilled cod. Oh, and then there is the aged jamon Iberico. Oh, and the deep friend camembert rolled in chopped pecans.
This is definitely not Mexico and it is too early for me to find any but the most superficial similarities. Compare and contrast. Can we drink the water? I asked the hotel staff. Madame, he replied, you are in Europe now. Well, we might be able to drink it but it doesn’t taste very good. Paper in the commode is okay.
Here, it is tapas and pintxos, not tacos and tamales. Tipping is optional. Leave a euro (now valued at a little more than a dollar) on a twenty-dollar check, its sufficient.
At many of the bars and at the stalls at the Boqueria market, a glass of wine or sangria or a beer on tap is included in the food cost, as is tax. Try El Quim or Bar Central. Along the periphery are amazing seafood comedors with huge platters of grilled fish and shellfish. More about that to come.
Yesterday, I took over 400 photos at Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. It will take me a while to edit and post these. We ended the day today with gelato equal to any offered in Italy. The city is swollen with tourists who speak languages I cannot name.
I’m getting used to this Old World version of Spanish, with its tildes, cedillas and x’s that sound like sh. Some of the words are familiar, like digame, tell me, when I start to ask a question. Gracias is pronounced grathias as in Barthelona. Think Mexican Spanish with a lisp.
I’ll say goodnight now. We are nine hours ahead of you if you live in California, USA. It was two-days in the getting here. Food and art are great salves.
Too Much Fun and Where to Eat in the Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain
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
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.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Photography, Travel & Tourism
Tagged Barcelona, Boqueria market, eat, food, gifts, gourmet, restaurants, Spain