Monday, March 3, 2008

First, the Food

Our dining proclivities should be evident by now. So we were understandably excited about a visit to Barcelona, an eating town, in the land of tapas and paella. And while paella never landed on our plate, we did consume many tasty bites of tapas, and also the Basque version, pintxos. Tapas and pintxos are both bar food, meant to be enjoyed throughout a night of socializing and imbibing, and are constructed out of similar ingredients: olives, anchovies, cheese, red peppers, shrimp, squid, pickled veggies. Pintxos are usually on a piece of bread and are speared by a toothpick--pintxos is the Basque word for thorn. After full days of sightseeing, we didn't have energy for hopping, but we did make a dinner of pintxos our last evening. We sat on the patio at Bilbao-Berria. The waiter brought us glasses of Cava, a sparkling wine frequently consumed alongside a red pepper stuffed with tuna, or peppers and anchovies atop pickled onions, or anchovy wrapped olives. Dos Mas, two more, are two happy words! We were so enchanted that we forgot to take pictures. At the end of the meal, the waiter counts up your picks (prices were indicated by the length of the pick). Our pinxtos meal with two glasses of cava each was €36.00. Yes, dining in Barcelona was wonderfully affordable, especially compared to Dublin.

Tapas is available in many restaurants, but at places it's the speciality. We made a stop at a tiny, standing-only bar called Quimet y Quimet. We ordered three plates: seafood, cheese and bread. The cheese plate had tiny pears and wine jelly.

Our favorite meals were at Bar Central. Yes, we ate there twice. This little spot in Barcelona's Boqueria Market consists of about twenty stools, a beer spigot, a glass case of seafood and a grill. Thursday we shared a truly amazing seafood platter of razor clams, squid, salmon, mussels, other things de mar and a plate of fried potatoes drizzled with garlic and olive oil. On our second visit on Saturday Bill had sausage and potatoes while I had a plate of my new favorite food--grilled squid. I know there are a lot of squid squeamish out there, and I understand--you have to chomp a lot of rubber calamari to find the exquisite delight of this fork tender, sweet offering from the sea. I was tempted to go directly to the nearest tatoo shop to have "Squid is my life!" indelibly marked on my skin. As it was, Bill had to talk me onto the plane, claiming that 12 years of marriage is more important and rewarding than unfettered access to grilled squid. We'll see.

The object of my affections, along with some little clams.

We also snapped a pic of our neighbor's sardines. I thought they looked lovely. We were a little intimidated to order them, but now we know how to eat them, and they'll be on our plate at the next opportunity.

Other moments of gustatory merit: Bill's grilled rabbit at a Catalan restaurant called Can Culleretes, several stops for pastries, many cups of café con leche, a welcome first meal of avocado and brie bocadillo (sandwich) and quiche, and a blindingly pink drink of dragonfruit juice. We also were enticed by a taqueria where we had pretty darn good enchiladas, tacos and guacamole.


Lisa said...

Wow and wow. The squid looks delicious! I'm drooling jealously.

Heather said...

I'm among the "squid sqeamish", but I'll take your word for it on their worthiness. Is sounds like an amazing trip and I can't wait to hear more about it! I've got to find some of that dragonfruit juice, Kathryn would flip over that.

mom Gunter said...

Those big shrimp on that one plate looked best to me. The squid looked really good too. I love the pictures.

Charles said...

Good food trip!
You need to go to the beach near your apartment and harvest your own razor clams - remember all those shells we gathered and I brought one back as my cheapest Irish souvenir.
I can picture you walking back in the early-morning mist with a burlap bag of fresh razor clams thrown over your shoulder. Unlike Molly McGuire, you would not yell "razor clams, etc." but use them yourself. Bill would be pleased to prepare them.