If you appreciate food in any way you MUST visit La Boqueria Market! As you walk through row after row of incredibly fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, cheese, fish, poultry, pork, beef, and so much more you can easily become intoxicated by the colors, textures, and scents. The perfectly ripe fruits and vegetables are supple to the touch and the cheeses range from soft to hard and mild to strong and funky. At first glance, the fish look alive as their glassy, clear eyes stare up at you, but the hues of their red, pink, and white interior confirm they are ready to consume. The poultry, pork, and beef; butchered with heads and hoofs intact seem to beckon you to taste the tender muscles, marbled in fat, that were grown and bred for your enjoyment, but leave you with a deep sense of appreciation for their sacrifice. In addition to having essentially every type of food product you can imagine, La Boqueria boasts several counters and restaurants that specialize in serving all that Spanish cuisine has to offer; carefully crafting each dish from the fresh ingredients available throughout the market. If you ever find yourself in Barcelona, making time to frequent La Boqueria should be at the top of your list!
La playa in Barcelona is most definitely a place to let your hair down, relax, and set yourself free in every sense of the word. Be prepared for your significant other to have plenty to feast their eyes and if you're the "jealous type" I would stay away from this beach. That being said, the sun and surf leave nothing to be desired and a day relaxing, swimming, and soaking up the rays on this beach would certainly be considered time well spent.
On the hunt for a tapas bar in Barcelona recommended by a friend, we wandered the winding streets for what felt like hours when alas there it was! Like spotting land after a long journey across the Atlantic Ocean, we saw a light that beckoned us and barely illuminated a small sign that read, "Quimet y Quimet." With herds of people standing on the sidewalk, we had a sense that getting a table inside might prove as difficult as finding the bar in the first place. Luckily, we are "pushy" New Yorkers so we made our way through the crowd and found a small table that two locals were willing to share with us. Surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine and liquor carefully stacked from floor to ceiling, with standing room only, and a "line" rows deep of patrons hoping to inch near the ten-foot counter to place their order, I had a strong sense that we were in for a real treat.
We decided to order one of our favorite foods to start, Boquerones en Vinagre. The delicate boquerones were gently placed on a round, stark white dish and their soft, white meat and shiny, silver skins glistened as they had been sprinkled with droplets of golden extra virgin olive oil and ever so slightly dusted with spicy Spanish paprika. Accompanied by plump, ripe, green olives this was a delicious way to begin our tapas experience.
Sipping on Vermouth made in-house, which was as dark in color as Coca-Cola and boasted notes of licorice, raisins, and sweet grapes, we ordered a Croqueta Bacalao. The mixture of cod and puréed potatoes made for a salty, earthy, creamy flavor and the crunch of the fried exterior provided great textural balance.
In addition to a lengthy menu of tapas plates, Quimet y Quimet offers a wide variety of Montaditos. Resembling the slice of bread you get when cutting off the end of a baguette, with a perfectly toasted surface and soft center, each "sandwich" was adorned with creative, thought provoking, and satisfying toppings. With mild, softened cheese and caramelized onions and mushrooms that weren't overpowered by what must have been high quality truffle oil and aged balsamic glaze, Setas, Queso, Aceite Trufado proved to be an exquisite introduction to these picturesque beauties.
Who knew preserved tuna belly could taste this good? Sandwiched between chunks of glossy, red tomatoes and a heaping spoonful of rich, creamy sea urchin; the Ventresca Con Erizo was in a word umami. Slightly funky goat cheese and sweet, dehydrated tomatoes topped our next delectable Queso De Cabra Con Tomate montadito.
Since we have never tried codfish liver before, we knew we needed to sample the Higado De Bacalao Con Tomate. The smooth liver mixed with firm tomatoes and supple beads of caviar was unlike any liver we've tried before due to its almost oceanic flavor, which was not too dissimilar from tinned tuna. The texture of the liver was somewhere in between that of foie gras and perfectly poached cod. A layer of thin, baked red pepper provided a home for two expertly cooked, plump prawns as they seemed to embrace each other and welcome a dab of creme fraiche and caviar. Savoring the Langostinos Con Piquillo was a wonderful way to end our night at Quimet y Quimet; our favorite tapas bar in Barcelona!
We almost walked past Chok, but the beautiful pastries displayed in the large glass windows stopped us dead in our tracks along with the two young ladies outside telling us that we must go inside. So, in we went and we ordered a creme brûlée kronut to share, despite my desire to order two. What can I say? Everything just looked SO good!
The kronut was baked to perfection, topped with a chocolate and vanilla glaze, and then torched ever so gently to resemble the crispy, crunchy shell you would expect from any creme brûlée. It was the most outstanding and decadent pastry I've ever had! It was perfectly balanced; light and airy dough covered in rich, creamy, sweet bliss. I long for the day when we can go back to Chok and try more of their delicious creations!
Ahhhh...where do I begin?? El Quim De La Boqueria; definitely one of the best meals of cured meat and fresh fish I have ever eaten! After walking around La Boqueria for two days in a row, hypnotized by the hues of red and glossy white fat of cured meats hung from each stall, enticed by the glistening silver scales and bright eyes of fresh fish, drawn to the firm yet colorful array of crisp fruits and vegetables, overcome by the funky smell of aged cheese, and awestruck by the beautifully crafted sweets that looked too perfect to be edible, I couldn't wait to taste the jamon; and when I did, it was an experience that in truth, words cannot describe. But alas I will give it my best shot. Simply stated, you may have tasted the best cured meats that other countries have to offer, but you haven't tasted anything until you have eaten jamon! Salty and nutty with fat that melts between your tongue and the roof of your mouth, jamon is the pinnacle of pork products. I thoroughly enjoyed every last bite and wanted to order more. Showing some restraint, we decided instead to order a mixed seafood platter consisting of razor clams, little necks, mussels, prawns, sardines, and squid. When sucking on the clams, mussels, and heads of the prawns I was immediately immersed in the Mediterranean as the flavors of the sea overwhelmed my senses. Considering the fact that every single piece of seafood on the plate was expertly seasoned and cooked perfectly, it was difficult to discern whether the unforgettable flavors meeting my palate were a result of the talented hands of El Quim's chef or the god Poseidon himself. Regardless of the reason, this was a memorable meal that left me craving more. And more. And more.