Barcelona 3/11/20

Vermutillos

Our last full day in Barcelona consisted of a food tour mainly around the Gracia neighborhood. Due to cancellations, Bridget and I were the only people on the tour, so the two of us and the guide had a splendid time walking around from place to place, sampling neighborhood speciality shops. This was the last stop, a little neihborhood bar called Bodega Ca’l Pep (there are several establishments in Barcelona with this name, so totally not confusing). They make their own vermouth, as a lot of local places do, and it was served to us with a bottle of club soda for us to mix as we liked. It has become one of our favorites, especially since we have found some good Spanish red vermouths available to us locally.

Candied fruits at La Llibertat Market

The food tour included a walk through the La Llibertat Market, which was actually one of two markets we visited while we were there. We skipped La Boqueria, which is the famous one that draws all the tourists, and went to Santa Caterina on our own (pictures from that visit forthcoming). We didn’t stop to eat in this market, just a walkthrough/photo op. The markets are utterly gorgeous , and you just want to eat everything. I think we did stop at one stall to buy some smoked paprika to bring home.

Barcelona 3/9/20

Dinner at Restaurant Montiel, Barcelona

My Facebook memories this morning were all these photos I took from one of the best meals I have ever eaten, two years ago. On the brink of the global pandemic, Bridget and I were in Barcelona on a vacation we had been planning for over a year.

Montiel is located in El Born, a formerly working-class district that has become very trendy in recent years. We actually had a fairly difficult time finding the restaurant – the Uber driver couldn’t drive onto the street where it is located, and we wandered around for a bit. Once we did find it, we discovered that we were the only booking they had for the entire evening. So we got the complete and undivided attention of the kitchen and the waitstaff for the whole time.

As you may have gathered from what I post here, we are no strangers to fine dining and elevated cuisine, but we were simply blown away by the quality, the presentation, and the amount of food. Food-wise, I would say this meal outshone even our 3-Michelin-star experience in Paris twenty years ago.

My notes on my Facebook posts tell me that the dishes included: French oysters, Mediterranean tuna with tiget milk sorbet and avocado, sauteed mushrooms with egg, potato and truffle in vegetable consomme, red snapper and squid with local fresh peas in a fish broth, ravioli in port reduction sauce with foie gras, slow roasted suckling pig with cauliflower puree and apple-onion chutney, vanilla sorbet with wine-poached pearsand almond cream sauce, and a chocolate sorbet with chocolate ckae, ganache, yuzu cream, passion fruit coulis and fresh raspberries. Honest to god, by the time the desserts came, I was begging “no mas”.

It still amazes both of us that considering the rapidly deteriorating Covid situation and the fact that we were the only guests for the entire evening, that the restaurant didn’t cancel the booking in the first place. Instead, the kitchen prepared this entire meal *just for us*. I cannot say “moltes gràcies” enough to everyone at Montiel for an utterly memorable night.

Barcelona 3/11/20

Barcelona patisserie window

At the beginning of March 2020, just before the pandemic shut down the world, Bridget and I went to Barcelona. It was a trip we had wanted to make for a very lng time, and, thanks to an astonishing deal on cheap airfare, we were able to make happen. So we were goimg, even knowing that the threat of a pandemic loomed on the horizon. We had to hightail it back to the U.S. when Trump canceled all international travel, but every single day we were there was a treasure. I have a zillion pictures of the food we ate and the markets we saw, and I will start adding them here as I work my way back through my archives.

Food tours are now a must-do part of any trip we take, and the food tour we had in Barcelona was really special. We were the only two people on the tour, so we got the complete attention of the tour guide and the locals at the various establishments we visited.

Patisseria Ideal, Barcelona

This is the pastry shop where the first picture was taken. Presumably one of the oldest in the city, in business since 1919. Located in the Gràcia neighborhood, which is one of the most desirable locations in the city. The local pastry speciality is the bunyol (buñuelo in Spanish), a doughnut-like fried dough that can be coated in sugar, or filled, or topped with melted chocolate, among other things. Traditionally, they’re a treat for Lenten season, but the never-ending tourist season keeps them available all year long.