Connoisseur’s -Tongue Twisters

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When eating out in Barcelona, one can expect much olive oil, garlic and fish as the main ingredients of any dish dish. Furthermore, pasta dishes are more popular here than elsewhere in Spain. It goes without saying that no matter what dish one is opting for, it can be combined perfectly with one of many fabulously tasty Spanish wines. Generally one can ask for the open red or white wine or the ‘vino de la casa’.

It has taken Spanish cuisine an age to get over its image problem but it seems to be finally on its way. Yet as the traditional Spanish ways of preparing and eating food are beginning to gain in popularity beyond its own shores, a new generation of chefs over here is working overtime to promote a pan-global discreet form of combination. Designed, presumably, for well-off, jet setting anorexics, the style is most often attributed to Ferran Adrià and his legendary restaurant El Bulli, though little of it benefits from anything like his genius. Meanwhile, authentic international cuisine is still hard to find. Local resistance to spices and the difficulty of sourcing key ingredients mean that it’s difficult to find good Indian, Chinese or Italian food. The good news is that there are a greater number of Middle Eastern and Japanese restaurants, and a growing number of Latin American places. Most of the ethnic variety is to be found in Gràcia.

For a long time most Barcelonans thought that eating out was always a grand event, a celebration talked about for days, even months, before and after. Only on important occasions would the head of the family be absent from the family table, and only in even more exceptional circumstances would his wife, heart and soul of the home, accompany him in this absence.

For one of the best-known features of the Catalan character is, precisely, an attachment to the domestic dining room. And, an attachment to simple fare, dishes that have survived down through generations- like soup or escudella (stew) on working days, rice on Thursdays, cannelloni on rest of the days.

The restaurants in Barcelona generally open around 8 or 8.30pm and stay open until midnight. Eating out starts very late very few times people go out for dinner at 9.30-10 pm. Cheap restaurants offer tasty home cooked food and often excellent tapas. ‘Pinocho’ near the Boqueria market is a popular place for tapas. Omelets-lovers will find a good variety and best omelets in ‘Flash-Flash’, along with the famous Barcelonian special, the potatoes-tortilla.

For a traditional Catalan meal (mainly fish and other fresh ingredients from the market) try a moderately priced restaurant such as ‘L’Olive’. For a very exclusive meal, go to Via Veneto. This restaurant has won several prizes for its exquisite and innovative Catalan dishes and is therefore worth trying. Another good option is ‘Ca l’Isidre’ where one might run into some famous artists- even King Juan Carlos of Spain has been there. They serve food based on the freshest ingredients. However, many visitors of ‘Elderado Petit’ claim that this is the best restaurant of Barcelona. It’s a lovely turn-of-the-century building and they serve a menu that follows the availability of fresh ingredients from one of the many markets.

The streets of Doctor Dou and Carme are becoming the Restaurant Mile of Barcelona, with Mamacafe, DosTrece, Carmelitas, És and Ipoosa. The food falls within the categorie “Mediterranean fusion cuisine”. It’s getting better all the time.

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