Days 6, 7 and 8: Barcelona

5 Mar

Where to begin? Well, it seems that I have adopted a very Barelona life-style already…. eating dinner at 9:00 p.m., having an after dinner drink at midnight, clubbing from 2-4:30 a.m. Okay the clubbing was only 1 night. It was extremely fun, as we VIP’d it with some of Carnet’s colleagues, which meant the best seats in the clubs and wonderful champagne.

On Day 6 before the dancing, we went to dinner at Alkimia (http://www.alkimia.cat/eng/home.html), which means “the art” in Arabic and I’m pretty sure “alchemy” in English. The owner was a disciple of Ferran Adria, and the food was a beautiful reflection of modern Catalan cuisine with some surprises. We had the 7 course tasting menu (the smaller of the two menus), an additional add-on course of black truffles, 6 bottles of wine, and one bottle of alcohol I didn’t recognize but I think was some sort of cider (There were 7 of us dining, so do the math).

The food was gorgeous and, for the most part, spectacular. Additionally, the sommelier was incredible. The pairings were excellent and the wine wasn’t all that expensive, when comparing with U.S. wine prices for what might be equivalent wines. Below is what we had, accompanied by pictures of the first 7 dishes (for some reason, I kept crashing wordpress when trying to upload the remaining, so I shall try another time):

Course 1: a modern interpretation of the typical tomato bread – salami on top of a shot of tomato bread liquid

Course 2: mackerel with vermouth sauce

Course 3: bread with pork and black truffles. This was the additional dish we added to the tasting menu and it was the bomb! This is the featured picture at top.

Course 4: Game with artichoke and nectarine surrounded by fat. I’m sure there was a better description than this, but I missed it in Spanish. It kind of reminded me of a foie terrine, just a bit. This dish was truly decadent.

Course 5: Catalan red rice with saffron and langoustine.

Course 6: Sea bass with spinach cream and a tomato, onion and pine nut crisp.

Course 7: blood sausage, pig ear strands, lima beans, octopus, and pickled cauliflower. This was my least favorite dish, mostly because it tasted dirty to me. Carnet said I blew it by not mixing it all together. Instead, I ate the cauliflower and octopus first because they were so delicious.

Course 8: Young lamb shoulder with lamb jus, pumpkin cream and radicchio. The item that looks like pasta is pickled pumpkin and the pepitas added a nice contrast in this dish.

Desserts (Really, courses 9 and 10): there were 3, but I don’t have a picture of the last one, as I ate it too quickly. The last one was the best: a white chocolate lollipop that housed passionfruit inside. They really like their passion fruit here and I’m glad as I love it. I’ve had it in dishes at 3 different restaurants so far. But, the other 2 desserts were as follows: 1) Glacee with breadfruit, and 2) Eucalyptus ice cream, brownie and quince paste (weird, but if you ate all 3 together, it kind of worked).

The 7 of us voted on what were our top favorite dishes. In a first place, 3-way tie were the following: the lamb dish, the tomato bread shot, and the foie terrine. The rice and langoustine was a close second.

As if the outstanding food and wine were not enough, my lovely husband got us back into the kitchen and we spoke with the head sous chef. There are 4-5 of them who work in what is a fairly good sized kitchen for not too many people in there. The sous chef was very gracious considering we shut down the place and I’m sure they were exhausted. He and the rest of his staff were very young. I was even MORE impressed after seeing this.

Onto more dining….
My favorite tapas bar is still El Bitxo (correct spelling in this blog post). Carnet and I went there for lunch on Day 7. He exclaimed “this is why I love Barcelona.” El Bitxo has 20 seats only, with 1 woman behind the bar who makes the tapas, serves the drinks, and puts on funky music to which she sings. Then, every hour, she has to take a smoke break. Loved it! Pics of the cute tapas bar are below:

The menu is hanging on the wall:

The bar area:

On Friday, we went to Dos Palillos for lunch. I have a stage lined up there, so I wanted to know how the food tasted. Here is my critique:

Loved: the Japanese-influenced burger on a bao and the shrimp dumplings.
Liked: the calamari stir-fry. The calamari was cooked perfectly, as were the vegetables – nice and crunchy with still vibrant colors, topped with dried chili pepper slivers.
Item that could have been a success had it not been over-sauced: the snails and shitake mushrooms.
Really boring: the mushroom tempura and the lotus root. They had absolutely no taste. They both needed some salt – I mean just any small amount- even though the mushroom tempura was suppose to have yuzu on it. I think they forgot the yuzu, which we speculated would have probably made the tempura soggy anyway. Carnet suggested that had they made the yuzu into a powder and dusted it on the tempura, it would have been nice. I agree; that would have been a great way to preserve the crunch while imparting that nice, subtle flavor to an otherwise boring mushroom.

I loved the open kitchen in the dining room. It was really well done, as was the color scheme. I think patrons are really drawn to the open kitchen, as they can see just about everything being cooked/prepared before them. I can see the attraction of Dos Palillos, considering the pedigree of the restaurateur, the beautiful open kitchen, and the fact that the type of food offered is novel in Barcelona. I hope to be more impressed with the food the next time I return. Disclaimer: this critique is coming from someone who has eaten incredible Japanese and Chinese food, so I was going to be pretty hard to please considering foregoing and the price point of the dishes at Dos Palillos.

—-
Friday night we went out with our new friend, D.P. She is a lovely, very intelligent, proud Catalan woman who knows food and social media. She took us to a darling alley restaurant called La Lluna (2 l’s in Catalan; 1 in Spanish = moon). It was in a historic building. This is a great restaurant to go to if one has dietary restrictions. For each course, the menu says whether it is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and/or celiac-friendly. Here is one pic of dining room.

It was very spacious and beautiful, but because of the high ceilings and hard surfaces, it was pretty loud (my usual criticism of many restaurants). All in all, delicious Catalan food at very reasonable prices. The standouts at dinner were the 2 fish courses and the company. Thanks, D.P., for also taking us to the Picasso and friends hangout. I loved the vibe and the art on the walls.

—–
Carnet said he was going to guest post about our Saturday evening at Osmosis, so I won’t say anything about that just yet, other than to say that I love the chef and his staff.

No updates for Sunday or today, as I came down with a bit of a cold. So, food is not a top priority at the moment.

Stay tuned for more later this week, including a blurb about the microbrewery we found next to our living quarters!

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4 Responses to “Days 6, 7 and 8: Barcelona”

  1. Bee Leng Chua March 5, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    Hi Rachel,
    I am enjoying your blogs! Aside from the food, how is the state of economy affecting the local citizenry, the diners, and restaurants? Whats your impression and also when talking with the citizens and residents?
    Thanks, Bee Leng

    • rachelogdie March 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      It’s hard to see in Barcelona, proper, many signs that Spain has 23-24% unemployment. I think maybe this is because the Mobile World Congress was here and there was lots of money being spent over a 7 day period, as well as significant police presence that I suspect (although I have no proof) moved out any potential people who are affected negatively by the economy. But even after MWC ended, tapas bars and expensive restaurants alike seem to be filled. We do see the occasional homeless person sleeping on the sides streets, but honestly in the neighborhoods I have been walking, I haven’t seen many signs of a struggling economy. This may be because I haven’t been in any of the struggling neighborhoods yet. A new friend of mine here said it is very hard to find a job in Barcelona if you are young or if you are middle-aged. But, 2 very educated “locals” still talked about pursuing new work or new fields of work in which they were interested. It may be a combination of entrepreneurial spirits and also that necessity is the mother of invention.

  2. Sim Thadani March 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    i’m vegetarian, but your pictures and descriptions of the food you’ve been eating look and sound absolutely amazing! i’ve only ever spent 3 days in barcelona, and back when i hadn’t travelled as much, but it quickly shot up to (and has remained on) my list of all-time favourite cities. wish i could come visit! πŸ™‚ keep blogging, so i can keep wishfully thinking… xo

    • rachelogdie March 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

      Well, I’ve been to Maoz twice, which is a vegetarian falafel place. And, I went on the hunt for other vegetarian eateries today. I found two that I’m going to try. They are, 1) Gopal – it’s vegan, and 2) Vegetalia – vegetarian. Neither was open, as I was too early (11:30 a.m.). Lunch is not typically served until 1 or 1:30 and goes until around 3:30 at most restaurants. It’s maddening for those of us who get up early and want an early lunch. I guess it means making it myself, which is generally healthier and cheaper anyway. I went to the market today and had such fun buying all kinds of fruits and veggies from different vendors. Then, I went back to the apartment and made myself a big salad. I was craving veggies badly after my meat-eating tear I’ve been on lately πŸ˜‰

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