Market stand feat. cured meats and cheese at Mercat de la Boqueria (http://www.boqueria.barcelona/home)
“What was the best thing you ate when you were in Barcelona?” was the first thing asked by several colleagues upon my return to work last week. Between the numerous samplings of Ibérico ham, Manchego cheese and variety of seafood, it’s difficult to pinpoint one dish that left me wanting more.
But if I’m pressed to pick something, it would probably be the grilled squid from Cal Pep, a bustling space for authentic Catalan food that’s, if you’re seated at the bar, prepared and cooked right in front of you. “They basically continue bringing you plates [tapas] until you say ‘stop,'” was the selling recommendation of one of the many (Thanks Aishwarya!)
Including some color and commentary of the places we explored which include Cal Pep, Xampanyet and the Universal Kiosk at Mercat de la Boqueria. Special shout out to Natalie for being my nomming-exploration partner in crime!
Cal Pep | https://www.calpep.com/
Plaça de les Olles, 8
Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera-Born
- Not for picky eaters
- They’ll craft a menu for you based on your interests and their inventory for the day
- ~$45 per person
Our order: Pan con tomate, almejas, Pimientos de Padrón, calamar, atún tartare, Mille feuille / Tomato on bread, clams, Padrón peppers, Squid with spinach and potatoes, Tuna tartare, Mille feuille dessert
From top right, clockwise: Lemon beer with pa amb tomaquet: toast rubbed with tomato, olive oil, garlic, and salt ; Pimentos de Padrón (not to be confused with shishito peppers, they’re cousins), nicely blistered and topped with olive oil and salt. Slightly sweet and very mild heat; Clams were slightly sweet broth (dry white) with a little bit of basil; Tuna tartare was super fresh, nicely seasoned with garlic, onion, pepper, sesame. A very large portion they kept providing us bread.
This squid was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten: seared to a nice consistency and then doused in an olive-basil oil topped with salt. Incredibly juicy, sea-salty, and savory. Spinach and fried potatoes helped cut the intense flavors.
Not pictured, the Mille feuille square was the right dessert to finish off the seafood. Delicate in the pastry and confectioners sugar dusting, a beautiful and rich custard hidden between the layers.
El Xampanyet | https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-xampanyet-barcelona
Carrer de Montcada, 22
Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera-Born
- Extensive menu of Catalan tapas and dishes. Stop in for a snack or a meal.
- They make their own fizzy white wine close to Cava or Champagne. Hence the name of the place.
- ~$20 per person
- Thanks Max for the recommendation!
Our order: Cava, Pan con tomate, pulpo con papa, tortilla española con chorizo, Botifarra amb cigron / Tomato on bread, Octopus with potato mash, Spanish omlette with chorizo sausage, Catalan sausage with chickpeas
From top right, clockwise (please excuse the poor lighting): Pan con tomate, Octopus was grilled medium and accompanied with a potato mash and drizzled with a slightly sweet/spice sauce; Tranditional Spanish “omelette” this one had chorizo in it.; Botifarra is a type of sausage unique to the Catalan cuisine and can be made using varying techniques and cuts of pork (ie blood sausage, white sausage, etc.) This dish uses two types, regular or “roget” and black “Negra” with garbanzo beans. The fat from the sausage envelopes the beans and makes for a rich and fatty meal.
Chocolates and sweets at La Boqueria
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria | http://www.boqueria.barcelona/home
La Rambla, 91,
08001 Barcelona, Spain
- The open market featuring 200 vendors who cater to local produce and products along with gastronomic experiences that are made to order right in front of you.
- There’s a wide variety of stands for traditional cheeses, cured meats, seafood, fruit, sweets, pretty much anything you can walk and eat with. We started off with a snack of cheese, Ibérico ham, and crackers while we weighed out other options.
- Spend varies if you’re just snacking or sitting for a meal ~€5-40
Kiosko Universal | https://www.yelp.com/biz/kiosko-universal-barcelona
Per recommendation, we ventured over to Kiosko Universal for their razor clams and langoustines. Both were prepped and cooked at the stand; both were super fresh and cleanly seasoned with basil, olive oil, and paprika respectively. Paired with fresh bread and a glass of Cava, it was a light afternoon meal.
Other notable finds that I didn’t have time to taste:
- Le Cucine Mandarosso – The ‘best’ Italian in town
- Quimet y Quimet – In a completely different part of town, but definitely go if you happen to be around there. A small, standing room only, and they prepare ‘montaditos’: a sort of open sandwich or stuff on bread or cracker. Their cheese plate is amazing. (Rec from an Airbnb local)
- Little Bacoa Burger – Best burgers in town
- NAP Antic – Best pizza in Barcelona
- La Cova Fumada – This is a “greasy spoon” kind of place, maybe a bit overwhelming if you are not a local, but don’t get intimidated. Make sure you try the “”Bombas” and the “Butifarra con Cigrons” also try the artichokes. (Rec from an Airbnb local)