(Post created by guest writer/photographer Sian Gamble)
Tony and I decided we would extend our trip to Catalonia with a few days in Barcelona before the main tour started.
Barcelona has always been a great place for tapas, but since world-renowned restaurant El Bulli closed its doors, the choice of ‘small plates’ in the city has become even better. Now, instead of serving up weird and wonderful ‘molecular gastronomy’ dishes to the world’s richest foodies, the ex-owner of El Bulli, Ferran Adria, has created a group of highly creative tapas bars with his brother Albert. It is slightly (only slightly) easier to reserve a table, and much more affordable. You can only book through the website two months exactly to the time and date you wish to go, but it’s well worth the effort.
After navigating the web, we managed to book the Friday evening and sampled the delights of their signature bar, called Tickets. As the name suggests, the theme of the place (including the waiters’ outfits) is theatrical, and the food is extremely dramatic too. The Adrias believe in food being fun! In all, we munched our way through 21 courses, starting with solid cocktails and finishing with Tickets Toblerone. In between, highlights included cheese foam-filled mini airbags with olive oil caviar and tempura seaweed from Galicia – and the chocolate corks were sensational.
It was a memorable start to the trip – and by no means the only great food we enjoyed.
We also ate at The Windsor near the Casa Milla – a more formal dining experience, where the lobster with a smoked paprika dressing was utterly divine. We walked home via Torres Vinoteca and sampled some lovely 15-year-old brandy.
In Penedes, we all enjoyed the Torres homegrown olive oil and meltingly tender steaks, followed by chocolate fondant and raspberry pudding.
Then there were the crispy ‘chipirones’ at a sea-front bar in Sitges – Les is now famous for his obsession! I have to say their cocktails were not a patch on those around the corner at The Parrot, but they provided us with much laughter.
F & G’s in Sitges was perhaps the most pricey but lovely food – foie gras with a quince centre rolled in pistachios was my personal favourite.
Nem in Sitges was another great find, with a fresh contemporary tapas menu – Mozzarella drizzled with romesco sauce and Serrano ham, and roasted mackerel on a bed of aubergine purée and topped with sweet onions. The puddings spoke for themselves…
And a late night ice cream was never far away… Eating Catalonia was almost as enjoyable as drinking it!