Barcelona Day 4
Ok. We finally had breakfast at the hotel. Josh was adamant we got up and have breakfast at least once. After that, we put on our walking shoes.
We walked over to Arc del Triomf. Like the arch entering Washington Square Park it is a gateway to Parc de la Ciutadella. A beautiful park with a large fountain designed by Gaudi and Josep Fontsere. There is also a small body of water for a row in the park. This is the type of park where you can lounge out on a beautiful day. I’m really glad we went there.
We were doing a park day. Next stop, Parc Guell. A huge park that was commissioned by Guell to Gaudi. This is where Gaudi turned to landscaping. He was given an open ended budget and it is obvious from the look of things that he held up to that. There are two buildings when you enter the park. One looks like a Gingerbread house and the other is fairytale like too. There is a huge esplanade at the top where you can see the views of the city. Above is a forest of stone columns off the stairs which you can’t believe are not trees. This was the most touristy area we went to but quite worth it.
Had to return to the market. On Monday quite a lot of the stalls were closed but Universal was open and hopping. We waited for about a half an hour, drinking wine, and they found us 3 stools. We had a simple mixed green salad with tuna which was a nice break from all the oil laden tapas. We also had huge shrimps and butterfish grilled with olive oil. But the best was the squid and octopus. Large octopus that was cut into small pieces and fried with olive oil and tons of sweet paprika. The squid were large bodies, served the same way with french fries on the side. All so good. Again, the vibe of the small diner like stalls give you a true appreciation of Barcelona.
We walked back to the hotel and chilled. When it was time, we got up and walked around the area near the hotel. Lots of high end shops. There really isn’t anything to buy that you can’t buy in NYC except for a few vendors that are from Spain such as Zara and Mango but it isn’t a "must have". Although Barcelona is a very cosmopolitan town and I believe as far as fashions go probably top in Spain but the shopping in Rome and Paris outweigh Barcelona by light years.
The last meal we had in Barcelona was probably the most interesting and possibly the best. We went to Alkima. Creative Catalonian food. The restaurant is all white, simple, modern and intimate. Service was spectacular. They started us off with 2 tastings. The first was a small shot glass. The bottom half was filled with a tomato consomme and then the next 1/4 was filled with olive oil that had tiny pieces of crispy toast and then laying over the top of the shot glass opening was a small rectangular piece of spicy salami. You are to eat the salami and while you are chewing toss back the shot. It tasted like a tomato salami sandwich. Josh thought it was brilliant. I think the staff was shocked to see this 10 year old boy loving the food. The second tasting was a beef consomme served alongside a large shiso leaf, small slices of lamb and a puree of macadamian nuts that had the consistency of whipped cream. I didn’t really like this. It had no bite and the flavors didn’t make sense.
We were then given a small piece of tomato pistachio bread. This was delicious. They make all their breads on the premises. Once we were done with that we each were given a large piece of browned peasant bread loaded with walnuts. Light and dense at the same time. Our next course was the appetizers. Josh went for the ham again. This was served with the best tomato bread we had had. It was like they had scooped out baguettes and pounded them down and doused them with tomatoes and olive oil. The bread was sopping and accompanied with the ham was so good. Luckily my Mom didn’t order an appetizer because Josh’s was big enough for all of us. I ordered something that was a brilliant concoction. 5 oysters that were set in dish over ink squid sauce, Tabasco coconut cream and lime juice. The middle was a small handful of chopped lime rind. It was a total omigod.
Next, main course. We each had something different. All clever. Josh had a shoulder of young lamb that was served very crispy, skin up and rare. Also on the plate was a square "cheese fondue" which was basically a piece of thyme bread soaking with melted cheese. Delicious. My Mom had a deboned chicken thigh again served crispy over a black olive and anchovy tomato paste. I went with the duck. Crispy duck served with a chutney of tomatoes cherries and a foie sauce. A total wow.
Dessert we opted for only one dessert to split knowing that they were going to bring us a bunch of goodies. We had the custard square. Custard mixed with a ginger and lemon marmalade and then covered with a sour cream or creme fraiche ( I couldn’t decide ) and a little squares of cocoa jellies served over the top and a crispy of chocolate. Beautiful and creative and interesting. We were given each given a small shortbread covered with a button of chocolate, tiny lemon cakes which were airy and light and a long toothpick that had a round ball of white chocolate on the end and then you bit into it and passion fruit oozed out. That was a real treat. If I could, I’d return much sooner than later.
We left the next morning early. It was a really wonderful trip. Josh loved it. I like Barcelona. A lot of people think it is the best city in Europe. I can see it being a wonderful town to live in. I am not sure I’d run back where as I’d go to Rome and Paris annually if I could but I certainly hope to make my way back to Barcelona sooner than later after all we missed the Modern Museum and Miro.