Barcelona - Food diaries

Monday, November 30, 2015 Books And Trips

I am going to admit this: I like food and I like it a lot! And what other better way to immerse yourself in a culture, than sampling what it has to offer from a culinary point of view. With heavy Mediterranean influences, Catalan cuisine is characterized by fresh ingredients, vegetables, pork, seafood, lots of olive oil and spices.

Food in Barcelona was absolutely amazing. We tried to stay away from the tourist traps - which meant not eating too close to the great attractions and gave a fair chance to the mom & pop restaurants, so we were pleasantly surprised. Sure, that is not always an option when hunger strikes, but just try it and your budget and taste buds will thank you later.

For a list of my favorite goodies sampled while vacationing in lovely Barcelona, please read below:

1. Jamon Serrano and Manchego Cheese - these are two staples of Spanish cuisine. Think about them as the Spanish version of Prosciutto and Parmigiano - when it comes to cheese and cured meats, the Spaniards know their trade. It's wonderful breakfast food, but you may see it included in different versions of Tapas.

2. Tapas, tapas, tapas - speaking of Tapas, you might have heard of these appetizers / snacks specifically Spanish, served either hot or cold, that can be combined to create a whole meal. You can have them for lunch or for dinner, together with a drink, and it is a wonderful way to sample different options and discover new favorites. This way we fell in love with Patatas Bravas (a variation of the French Fries), served with alioli and spicy tomato sauce, Gamberi al Aglio e Peperoncino - Shrimp cooked in olive oil, garlic and bay leaves (absolutely delicious), Scallops drenched in paprika, Roasted green chili peppers and Calamari rings. I could never grow tired of them!

Calamari Rings and Patatas Bravas

Paprika Scallops
Roasted green chili peppers, Calamari rings, Patatas Bravas and Gamberi al Aglio

3. Paella & Fideua - you did not go to Spain if you haven't tried paella! This is a typically a Valencian dish made of white rice, green beans, meat (chicken and rabbit), olive oil and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary. Seafood paella replaces meat with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of meat, seafood, veggies and beans. Fideua (which comes from "fideuada" = "large amount of noodles") is a coastal seafood dish, very similar to paella, which uses noodles instead of rice. It is made out of pasta noodles (similar to vermicelli), fish (rockfish, monkfish, cuttlefish, squid) and shellfish (shrimp, crayfish), and generously seasoned with lemon. Both these dishes are of Valencian origin, but they were served in every little restaurant in Barcelona.

Seafood Fideua

Seefood Paella

4. Seafood - if you are a big fan of fresh seafood, Barcelona is the place to get your fill! One of my favorite places for this was La Paradeta, a self service restaurant, where you can pick out your fresh ingredients and have them cooked for your in just 10 minutes. It's a great place to try out fish or seafood that you haven't had before and it's as fresh as it gets! There are several such restaurants all across Barcelona, but we tried the one in Born. Be advised though - lines are long and serving hours are limited (from 13:00 to 16:00 and from 20:00 to 23:00), but it is well worth the experience.  

Fresh Seafood La Paradeta

Fresh Seafood La Paradeta

Fresh Seafood La Paradeta

Fresh Seafood La Paradeta

Long waiting line

Tuna steak and prawns

5. Desserts - a meal would not be whole without something to satisfy the sweet tooth, so make sure you try some of the Catalan delicacies. My favorite desert was Crema Catalan, a Creme Brulee with a twist, flavored with orange or lemon zest and cinnamon and topped with caramelized sugar.

Crema Catalan

6. Beverages - you wouldn't be in Spain if you did not try a pitcher of ice cold sangria (made of red wine or cava - sparkling wine, chopped apples and oranges, sweetener and a bit of brandy), or Una Clara con Limon (Spanish version of lemon beer).  


7. Boqueria Market - if you are a foodie, then you will definitely enjoy La Boqueria. It is a huge food market, right off the hustling and bustling La Rambla, packed with delicious temptations. You will see huge Jamons Serrano on display, fresh and dried fruit, cheeses, fish, meat, juices, candy, spices and nuts. It's a great spot to pick something up to take home and what is better than a delicious souvenir to take back to loved ones. 

Jamon in a con

Boqueria Market

Keep in mind that although Barcelona is a fast paced city, they really take their lunch break seriously, so most likely you will not find many open restaurants between 2 and 4 PM. Also, dinnertime tends to start late, after 9 PM, but don't worry, there are plenty of places to soothe your hunger. So, if you go to Barcelona - do as the locals do: live to eat, not eat to live!