2017 Barcelona Delights

By Sun

It almost didn’t happen because of hurricane Irma, which struck a few days before our September 2017 departure date for a much anticipated trip. Those few days were nothing but full of anxiety and praying that our house in Miami would not be completely destroyed. So, when we landed at the Barcelona airport three days later than originally scheduled, we were incredibly grateful and relieved that our house had been spared and that we had made it.

This was our fifth visit to BCN in the past 15 years. Our two-month stay included not only BCN, but a reunion with Anja and her family in Costa Brava, and side trips to Granada, Malaga, San Sebastian, and Bilbao (not to mention the countless surprise excursions). We love BCN for many reasons, not the least of which is our great friends, Quim & Fiona, who share their city with us in the most loving and generous ways. We are truly blessed to have them in our lives. Even though it's been four months since our return, my husband and I still talk about how awesome this trip was. Every time we walked out of Quim's house in Poblenou, we were delighted by the scenery - the fruit stores, bakeries, bars, seafood stores, and pharmacies all around us. The sidewalk was filled with people and dogs walking (without a leash!). We couldn’t deny feeling more alive there.

Upon our parting of the ways with Anja and her family, we left Costa Brava and headed towards La Pera, only 20 minutes from the house we had rented. Fiona and her family have a villa in La Pera near Pubol, whose claim to fame is the museum of Gala (Salvador Dali's wife). One of the highlights of our stay in La Pera was cooking with Xavi, Fiona's friend and, a chef from Girona. The villa is quite large but it has a small kitchen that's less than 9' by 7'. When Xavi told me, one week prior, that we were all going to cook together, I didn't quite understand what he meant. It turned out that we, ten of us, were literally cooking in the small kitchen in the most harmonious and organized way.

Xavi brought the best and freshest seafood and vegetable ingredients. He then directed and supervised each one of us on our tasks. I was put in charge of: making lime and lemon condiments using peeled lime, lemon and sea salt, preparing soup bowls with a variety of prepared vegetables for the fish stock to be poured in, and arranging and plating cheese and fruits alongside spoon-brushed jam. They might not sound like heavy duty responsibilities but I took them seriously. The whole time while we were cooking, I couldn't help being delighted and in awe of the activities I was partaking in. Now I know how it's possible for ten people to cook in a small kitchen and be highly productive and simultaneously have fun.

First of five course meal.

Returning to BCN, I didn't get another exciting opportunity to cook but had plenty of great places to go eat over and over again. Here are a few of them...

Tapa 58 is on the lively Ramblas del Poblenou in West Barcelona. They serve modern as well as traditional tapas. Like any popular place, expect some waiting to get a table. Their ceviche and croquetas are simply YUMMY!

Platerets is voted as my favorite lunch place this time. They are open for dinner as well but we only went during the day since Quim's studio was near the restaurant.

Great tasting food and its value is unbeatable, three-course meal at €15, wow! 

El Born, adjacent to gothic quarter, is one of our favorite neighborhoods. There are four places that I enjoyed immensely. The Story is cozy and inviting, located just a few steps away from the Picasso museum. The brightly lit restaurant sign is not something you would expect in a narrow alley of the old city. Somehow the sign fits the place surprisingly well and surely makes it stand out from the other places. We didn't see the Wednesday night's Jazz performance, but that would've offered an even better ambiance to the place, I imagine. 

When you walk into a place like Pastisseria Hofmann, you have a kind of feeling that everything they have is good. They offer an amazing variety and some unique bakery goods as well as croissants and other common items.

Grasshopper is an authentic Ramen place. It has a long countertop, which my husband and I have started to like. Whenever we go to restaurants where they have a counter, we request to be sat at the counter. We enjoy being closer to the food making action. It's fun to watch the activities in the kitchen while we eat and watching all the dishes that are passing by us.

I still remember the feeling of delightfulness having dinner at Santagustina. Their outdoor sitting area is on the elevated area in the middle of the plaza. There, you can view and feel the liveliness of the neighborhood without seeing too many tourists. How ironic that, we are tourists ourselves but we are always in search of places where not too many tourists go and we want them to be special just for us. The only unpleasant thing was the chairs weren't too comfortable. It's possible that they did that on purpose so people wouldn't stay too long.

One of the many memorable activities we did in BCN was an evening bike ride with Yolanda, Quim’s business partner, and her husband, Jordi, and their twenty or so riding friends along the BCN beaches. People joined in at different meeting points. We stopped at several neighborhood tapa places along the way to rest, eat, drink and socialize. It was truly a beautiful evening filled with action, fun, and getting to know the Barcelonians a little deeper.

As we reminisce, we find our memories of this vacation even sweeter and more precious. Thank you Barcelona! We miss you!

This article is the first of two covering our trip. Stay tuned for the second installment.

From our partner: LO+JUNE

From our partner: LO+JUNE
Artisanal French products in our Swiss fine food boutique