Barcelona is such a vibrant city that it makes a perfect destination for tourists all year round. I have already been there a couple times with my family or friends, but this year for the first time I went with my hubby. We specifically wanted to experience Barcelona from the inside, and as Jérôme likes to say, ” when we travel, we love tasting a country”, meaning we enjoy tasting all the foods the place has to offer, so that we can try to understand the locals through the way they eat and the food they cook. Needless to say I agree with that 100%, obviously.
Like in every big city, we walked a lot in Barcelona. From the stunning and ever-growing Sagrada Familia to the charming Pueblo Español, from the modern Casa Mila on the Passeig de Gracia to the old district of El Raval, and from the sunny waterfront Barceloneta to the overcrowded Ramblas near the Arch of Triumph, we exhausted ourselves.
Besides the monuments and touristic sites, we found that Barcelona was full of little details everywhere, which immediately set us in a very local atmosphere. Starting with the peculiar tiles that are used to decorate just about anything in the city: apartment floor, staircase wall, coffee table, kitchen splashback, you name it.
Also, many artesan shops, snacking places or souvenirs shops are located in small inner courtyards with character, architectural peculiarity and history. Some of these courtyards are preserved from modern commerce and can be entered freely.
We had picked a first hotel in the Poble Sec district. The four stars Silken Concordia is located nearby the Poble Sec metro station on the Avenida Parallel. It’s also at a short walking distance from the Carrer de Blai, a long but narrow street fully dedicated to food and to eating dinner on a Pintxos mode (pronounce peen-chos). We ended our stay in Barcelona at the hotel Barcelo Raval, located on the Rambla del Raval not so far from the famous food market La Boqueria. It has one of the 5th best rooftop of the city, and a stunning view from the bedrooms as well, that is particularly nice in the morning when the sun rises.
When it comes to Spain, we all know tapas, don’t we? So, what are Pintxos and what’s the difference between tapas and pintxos? Tapas are small snacks and small dishes for share, served on small plates; they are small portions, therefore it’s easy to pick several of them from the menu and share on the table with other people (preferably your friends, not strangers!).
For starters – or for late breakfast -, the Spanish particularly like to eat pan con tomate (see just above), a simple slice of bread rubbed with fresh tomato and a dash of olive oil. A couple of times, I have even enjoyed it with an addition of local iberic salty cold cuts, yummy! Here is one of the tapas we had in a typical Catalan tapas bar called Jai-Ca, in the district of La Barceloneta by the seaside, it’s called La Bomba de la Barceloneta, and yes it’s a bomb of flavors! It’s basically a meatball surrounded by mashed potato that is shaped into a ball too; the big ball is then dipped in raw eggwash and thin breadcrumbs and deep-fried, and finally it is topped with a generous dollop of heavy cream and a delicious samourai-style spicy sauce!
Pintxos, on the other hand, are individual portions of fresh ingredients mounted on a slice of baguette bread and hold together with a wooden pin. Pintxos are not served at your table but are displayed all along the bar, so you have to get up and grab a plate, then help yourself with as many pintxos – and as many times – as you want. A great way to sample many local flavors, and to mingle with locals – because you’ll have to dig your way through the crowd to reach the bar! Eating pintxos is a typical way of having dinner out in the Northern part of Spain.
The wooden pins come in different colors (for difference prices), so when you’re done and ready to go to the next bar (yeah, locals do that!), the waitress can set your bill within a minute. We tried a couple of pintxos bars, but the best one definitely was the very first one we went into, la Tasqueta de Blai, located in Carrer de Blai 17. It was highly recommended on TripAdvisor and Yelp, and it does live up to its reviews! Back home, I couldn’t resist to have a pintxos night of our own, and here are the pintxos I’ve made.
MY IDEAS FOR HOMEMADE PINTXOS
- A slice of baguette, cream cheese with a pinch of salt, grated-by-hand raw zucchini, a bit of lemon zest, and a generous slice of smoked salmon with a good dash of lemon.
- A slice of baguette, a slice of fresh tomato, a bit of mayo and a piece of crispy chicken.
- A slice of baguette, tapenade (= black olive spread), a piece of Comté cheese, and a sundried tomato.
- A slice of baguette, a quail egg sunny side up (or if you can’t manage to find a quail egg, scramble a regular egg), and two generous pieces of Spanish spicy chorizo.
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2018 All Rights Reserved.