Barcelona: The Food Post
Posted November 25, 2013
As I previously mentioned, Raj and I started our visit to Barcelona with a cooking class that began with a tour of El Mercat Boqueria, the largest market in Barcelona. This turned out to be an excellent idea and we highly recommend Barcelona Cooking for all of your English language cooking class needs. And we recommend the Boqueria for pretty much anything you could possibly need or want to eat.
How fresh are the shellfish? Still moving.
Back at the cooking school, some of those razor clams became our appetizer, cooked in some olive oil and garlic. As we learned, pretty much everything you eat in Spain involves some olive oil and garlic. Which was fine by me. Our next course was our soup. Ours was made with squash, pears, and onion. No, really. We each got to garnish our own with sugared hazelnuts, olive oil, bleu cheese, black pepper, and edible flowers.
As strange as that combination of ingredients sound, it was really good. Our next course was made by me (with help from Kendra). It was Spanish omelet. I chopped the potatoes and onion, cooked them over low heat in olive oil, beat the eggs, put the whole thing in a pan to cook for three minutes, and then...flipped it. I was pretty nervous, but it went fine. (Raj has action shots of this, but a) he's been to busy to upload photos and b) I don't look good in them.) They had a board to flip it onto, then I just had to slide it back into the pan to cook three more minutes, then flip it again onto the board to serve.
It was served alongside tomato bread, which was one of my favorite discoveries. Which worked out well since it's pretty ubiquitous. It's just bread, rubbed with garlic and these little hanging tomatoes that you just squish right onto the bread. Often combined with the similarly ubiquitous jamon iberico or jamon serrano, highly salted cured ham.
After Spanish omelet...paella! Made pretty much entirely by Chef Kendra.
Here's Chef Kendra herself putting the finishing touch (torch) on the Catalan cream made by Raj.
So, a pretty outstanding meal and an education all in one. I was really glad we did it right off the bat because we learned so much about Spanish and Catalan cuisine in time to take advantage throughout our stay. We'd rented an apartment for the two weeks so we'd have a kitchen and could save money by cooking. So we stopped back at the Boqueria on the way back to stock our little kitchen.
From there, it was me doing the cooking, based on what I could find at the market (and ask for, given my nearly non-existent Spanish) and not needing to buy spices and things we wouldn't use up. My first trip to the market resulted in a pretty random assortment of vegetables that turned into a salad of mixed greens with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppercorns, roasted sweet potatoes, cheese, lemon juice and olive oil. We don't get orange sweet potatoes here (only white or purple - not the same) and I've been jonesing for them. I've never heard of sweet potatoes on a salad either, but it turns out to be pretty good. With wine, of course. When in Spain...
Anything is better when eaten on a terrace with a view.
I also made baked banana French toast, baked salmon, fried cod and potatoes with aioli, and chorizo cooked in red wine with tomato and eggplant tian. Most of these were highly adapted from recipes I found online.
We did eat out though too. Our first meal after arriving turned out to be what Kendra said was Barcelona's version of fast food. You guys, it was three courses. Our dinners out were usually tapas because we were eating at the Spanish equivalent of the 4:00 early bird special. Dinner in Barcelona starts around 9pm, which didn't work so well with Raj's school schedule. (Apparently their 8:30 class start time is considered inhuman in Barcelona.) Even at 8pm we were told the dinner menu hadn't started yet or that cocktails aren't served until "nighttime". Still, we were more than well enough fed.
Sometimes though, you need a snack to get you through until even 8pm.
If that snack can be hot chocolate that tastes like drinking pudding, you may wish you had a rubber spatula in your purse to help you get every last bit of goodness out of your mug. And if you've spent he previous several months in Asia, where napkins are teeny tiny, if provided at all, you might intentionally include the great big napkin in your picture.
I could go on, I assure you, but I realize this may very well represent more information than you actually wanted about what I ate for the past couple of weeks. Ok, except one more.
Dark chocolate breakfast cereal, you complete me.