After arriving in Barcelona on Easter Sunday, we ate pintxos (a Basque form of a tapa) at Euskal Etxea, a pintxo bar near our apartment. You find a seat, get a plate and order drinks from the waiter, and take pintxos from the bar. Each pintxo is meat, egg, or vegetable on a baguette slice, held together with a large toothpick. When you’re done, the waiter counts the toothpicks to figure the bill. The pintxos were good, but biting sideways into the baguette slice can be hard on the gums.
The next morning we took a bus and tram to a shopping center to buy groceries at Alcampo. We found the store, but the shopping center was closed except for restaurants. Alcampo is a Spanish discount chain, like an American Costco; we like to stock on groceries when we rent an apartment. We had encountered Easter Monday holiday on a prior trip to France; the Catalans and other provinces near France also celebrate Easter Monday, we learned after we returned home. We wound up having an excellent napolitana (Catalan pain au chocolat), coffee, and a jamon (ham) sandwich at a Starbucks in the shopping center. Many Barcelona bakeries sold pain au chocolat and croissants.
On Tuesday, everything was open! We looked at the Santa Catarina marketplace near us, walked the Ramblas, and had lunch at La Boqueria marketplace. The first stand sold jamon, a Spanish dried ham.
The price on each leg is in euros for a kilo of meat. We had a sample from the jamon on the right — the meat nearly melts in your mouth. The minimum order is 100 grams, which costs 16 euros ($21).
At a nearby stall in La Boqueria, we saw these hanging jamons, with the prices per kilo. Note the cost (the jamon serrano on the right is less expensive than the jamon iberico). Jamon iberico de bellota, which has a purplish color, is from pigs that graze on acorns in oak forests of southern Spain.
After seeing a lot more jamons, we noticed that the jamon iberico de bellota has a black foot and the jamon serrano has a white foot. Looking at the the picture of the first stand, notice that it sells the less expensive, white-footed jamon for the same price that the second vendor sells the more expensive, black-footed jamon iberico de bellota. Perhaps the first stall you see in the market has higher rent and prices…
We ate a grilled seafood platter and crema Catalana at Bar Central in La Boqueria. Starting from the top, left-hand corner, we have clams, squid, two kinds of fish, razor clams, and prawns. We hadn’t noticed razor clams before — they were very sweet.
We also order crema Catalana. Like the French creme brulee, this crema Catalana has a creamy egg custard with a torched sugar glaze.
On our last day in Barcelona, we took a bus to Barceloneta, Barcelona’s beach, for paella at Can Majo, a highly rated seafood restaurant on the beach. Our splurge meal in Barcelona, this seafood paella for two has shellfish, rice, peppers, and saffron. We’d like to say that this paella was great, but it wasn’t as good as memories of paella in Barcelona long ago, when the paella was so good that we returned for more on the same trip.
And we had salads at our apartment.
We had good food in Barcelona, but it wasn’t great, especially considering the price. Barcelona had the most expensive food and lodging on our trip.
We noticed a stronger French influence in Catalonia than the rest of Spain: the Easter Monday holiday, the breakfast breads, and the crema Catalan dessert. We ate pain au chocolat or croissants every day in Barcelona, figuring we wouldn’t get them this good outside of Barcelona (we were right). And Catalonia had their version of French art nouveau movement.