Barcelona Day 1
My Mom has taken our kids, for their birthdays, on trips vs. giving them gifts. They are really memorable events. The 10 year old birthdays are the big ones. Jessica went to Paris, Emily to London and Josh just went to Barcelona. Of course, I get to come along for the ride.
I (or my Mom) had never been to Barcelona although I have been to other places in Spain. So this was an adventure for all of us.
The first day is always the toughest because you get there in the morning with a full day ahead of you but if you are lucky you got 4 hours of sleep on the plane. We arrived at our hotel around 10am, got our room, took and shower and out we went to a local cafe for some breakfast. We stayed at the Hotel Majestic which is centrally located.
For breakfast, Josh had a hot chocolate like no other. The hot chocolate there is almost like a thick but drinkable pudding. Unbelievable. It became his coffee in the morning. A must try.
We walked down to the Rambla. This is a famous street in the main area of the old part of Barcelona. Tiny narrow streets on the sides and a wide open space for walking down the middle. Street performers up and down the street like nothing I have ever seen before. Josh was totally enamored with all the performers.
In the middle of the Rambla we decided was one of our favorite spots, Mercat de la Boqueria. Like the Greenmarket, fresh food of the day from different vendors. Each carries something different. There are fruits, candies, meat, fish, bananas, ice cream, etc. All independently owned. I truly have never seen fruit so beautiful and super sized. We bought some for the tasting and one was sweeter than the next. There are also a few booths that are like tiny diners where you sit at the counter and order away, mostly tapas. Three were recommended to me. Pinotxo, El Quim and Universal. The first day we went to Pinotxo. Marinated sardines, champagne, mushrooms and small deep fried mushroom pastries. All good. Fresh and delicious.
Afterward we were losing steam so we hiked it back to our hotel for a siesta. When in Barcelona, do as they do. Big naps. We woke up a few hours later and got ready for more.
Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926)is one of the main attractions in Barcelona. He was from an artisan family and became the leading Catalan Modernist. He made his mark architecturally all through Barcelona. He was definitely a man before his time. Our first introduction to Gaudi was the apartment building, La Pedrera. We were all pretty wowed. These two pictures are of the top of the building and the center which was open to allow light to flow in.
We left and rambled down the street and found ourselves in a very cool modern store called Vincon. Basically a total aggregation of every modern item you can think of from lamps to pencils to chairs.
Next, dinner. We took a cab over to Ca L’Isidre. Cabs were easy to get and when we hit the wall walking, we generally jumped into a taxi. This restaurant served classic Catalan food. What is fresh that day. The menu changes frequently. Old school. We began with mushrooms. Tis the season. The mushrooms there are huge. One particular mushroom had a red top and it was prime season. Just cut up and sauteed with olive oil. Delicious. We also had a carpaccio of porcinini mushrooms with sliced Parmesan cheese on top. Sliced so thin you can almost see through them. Again, delicious. For the main course we tried a few things. My mom and Josh went with the lamp chops that were roasted with a pineapple chutney. Quite different and good. I had grilled baby squids. This was unbelievable. A large bowl of tiny squids just grilled up up and served with olive oil. On the side we just had a mixture of vegetables that were also simply prepared with olive oil. The food is in some ways is like Italy in terms of preparation. What is the fresh food of the day and then simply prepared. For dessert we shared the chocolate souffle. Thick rich gooey chocolate surrounded by a chewy warm cake. We literally licked the bowl clean. They also served alongside some treats that were being handmade in the back. When we went back to look Josh and I peeked in the kitchen and the owner took us for a tour. We met the chef who was coming to NYC the following week for his honeymoon. I gave him a list of restaurants and things to do. They couldn’t have been more thrilled and were curious how we came upon the restaurant. I told them about the blog and how mostly the recommendations came from my readers (thank you all very much). The owner treated us to dessert. It was a memorable experience.
Next, to bed.
Just came across this blog…Barcelona is my favorite city abroad. If you get the chance, go to El Rey de la Gamba (literally “king of the shrimp”) it is in Barcelonetta on the other side of the port at the end of Las Ramblas. Get the fideua – paella with noodles but so much better. Also, order the aioli on the side and mix in as you eat. Plus the house white wine is the best you can get for 4 bucks. Spend the afternoon there eating, relaxing and people watching. The Spanish really know how to live.
As usual JoAnn, a completely yummy set of blog entries. Great descriptions of Catallan food and the Barcelona experience.