A Barcelona Tapas Tour

A Barcelona Tapas Tour

Spring in Spain – – Wednesday, May 9, 2012, continued

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour in Provence or our featured (and expanded!) 2012 Amsterdam/Belgium tour!

Barcelona is packed with intriguing delights: architecture from gothic to modernista, tastes from traditional to nouveau, neighborhoods from up-all-night to quiet lanes.

Tonight we’ll sample some of the many tapas bars … beginning with always-packed Xampanyet. Although tapas are not a typically Catalan culinary staple, they’ve become super popular in Barcelona, and Xampanyet (pronounced chahmpahnyet – it’s the champagne of Spain!) pours their own brand of the local bubbly, usually known as cava.

Its a madhouse, as always – elbow your way up to the bar and point at what you’d like. Noticing that we’re a group of 7, they find an empty corner for us and ask us what we want.
In a few minutes a bottle of Xampanyet is plopped on the marble counter, along with a couple of platters of jamon and peppers.

We chuckle at the “Degrees of Love” Thermometer on the wall – can you make it to red fever?

Now for someplace a bit calmer… and a different style of tapas: pintxos from the Basque region.  Euskal Etxea boasts a terrific spread of toothpick speared goodies – each one a mere €1.80 and REALLY good.

Help yourself to a plate, a glass of bubbly or wine, and graze down the bar, picking up your choice of pintxos.
Keep the toothpicks and pay up by counting how many when you’re done,
after standing inside or out chatting with friends as you munch.

And last of all, let’s sit down for a bit in Bar del Pla….and enjoy a platter of artichokes and a few other goodies in the quiet back room. A nice contrast to the busy stand-up bars.

Something chocolate and sweet sounds good… we make one more stop at the best gelateria in Barcelona, La Auténtica Gelatería on Placeta Montcada. The owner tells us about his training in Italy and hands out samples – yes, this is the real thing – a sweet finale to our evening tour.


Tapas and Modernistas in Barcelona

Tapas and Modernistas in Barcelona

Tuesday, November 22, 2011, part 2
Barcelona, Spain

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Next on the itinerary: New Year‘s Jazz in Italy

Kirk takes me on a mini- Modernista walk on our way to dinner, past yet another impressive example of the genre just a block away from our flat: a confection of brick and sgraffito inspired by the Alhambra in Granada.

The Moorish keyhole shapes and decorative ceramic show up in unexpected places, such as atop the windows of the pharmacy on the ground floor.

We’re tempted once again by a market, and just have to peruse the colorful stalls… artfully stacked fruits,

the requisite jamón ibérico

and sausages of all shapes and sizes.

There are several Modernista pharmacies throughout the Eixample district, and this one boasts fanciful glass panels – shopping with a monkey???

A lace-y more traditional Art Nouveau doorway graces this façade

Then we see an inimitable Gaudi doorway – HIS unique take on Art Nouveau

on the craggy, cliff- like La Pedrera on Passeig de Gracia.

Even the pavers on the sidewalk of Gracia are Gaudi designed.

Our eyes are sated… now to give some attention to our stomachs!
We’re going on a Tapas Crawl in the hip Born district, and our first stop is Euskal Etxea, its counters laden with tasty Basque bites,

each one a work of art, and each one only 1.80€!

Next stop, Xampanyet, another Basque spot, and quite a contrast to sleek Euskal Etxea.
They’re advertising fresh beer from the barrel,

and we can hardly get in the door!

The jolly guys behind the counter urge us to try one tapa after another and after a few raucous minutes, filling our mouths with tasty morsels, we seek out a quieter spot to finish our evening.

Bar del Pla quietly satisfies us with roast suckling pig, fried artichokes, and the ever-present pa amb tomaquet (bread rubbed with tomatoes).

Buenas noches, Barcelona…

Day to Night in Barcelona

Day to Night in Barcelona

Sunday, November 19, 2011, Part 2
Barcelona, Spain

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Next on the itinerary: New Year’s Jazz in Italy

We’ll continue the music with a Spanish guitar concert tonight, so explore further in the Barri Gotic to find Santa Maria del Pi church, where the concert will take place. The plaça fronting the church is filled with artisan food stalls – honey, breads, cookies and more.

Across the plaça is a beautifully sgraffito-ed eighteenth century guildhall.

The one area we do remember from our short overnight here about 5 years ago is this charming Barri Gotic, and once again we stop to read a few of the ceramic signs on the narrow lanes – a favorite memory from our previous visit. This one says “From sunrise to sunset, all day the people pass”.

Walking towards the Eixample, we see a Quatre Dauphin fountain, similar to the Aixoise beauty we love. This one has a definite Spanish flair, though, topped with a flirting damsel with a fan.

In fifteen minutes or so we’re back on Bailen street, and there’s our apartment, the one with lots of greenery on the balconies. It’s on the first floor, but up 7 short flights of stairs! Fortunately there’s an elevator, which we used when we brought our luggage, but we usually climb the stairs. There’s the Entresol, then the Principal, and FINALLY the Primero (1st).

The compact studio has everything we need – excellent wifi, a very comfortable bed and sitting area on the other side of a shelf/closet/drawer divider. Raimundo, the owner, met us when we arrived at Lorca, the apartment, and showed us how everything works, and described the neighborhood and how to get to different places we wanted to visit, where the closest metros and train station are, etc.

We recommend this place highly and would be happy to stay here again!

Just around the corner from Santa Maria del Pi is Taller de Tapas, and we enjoy a couple of plates of delicious seafood – razor clams and calamari, and a mound of paper thin artichokes, crisply fried. Accompanied by a flute of cava and some more of that tomato rubbed bread that’s a yummy staple of every meal, it’s a satisfying pre-concert supper.

In a simple side chapel with rough stone walls, we’re seated on the first row of the balcony – a great view, and super acoustics,

the perfect spot to appreciate Manuel Gonzalez’ artistry.The intricate melodies of Albeníz, Mozart, and Asturias are a wonderful intro to our Barcelona week.

Remember how we mentioned the changing façade of Casa Battlo? Here’s the night- time view of the house on Passeig de Gracia that we passed on the way home – a contrast to the daylight vista of this morning.

A Tasty Welcome to Spain

A Tasty Welcome to Spain

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
xt on the itinerary: New Year’s Jazz in Italy

Our first bite of Spain? Tapas, of course! When we saw the platter of roasted artichokes topping the tapas selections at this Barcelona bar, we knew we were in for a treat.

With a couple of glasses of Rioja we enjoyed shrimp- stuffed red peppers, a plateful of potato rounds topped with chunks of octopus and drizzled with spicy olive oil, and a couple of those appetizing artichokes.
Just what we needed before falling into bed early to make up for a short and uncomfortable night on a plane.
Tomorrow we’ll begin exploring this fascinating city….