Porking in Barcelona

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May 24th 2010
Published: May 24th 2010
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Only 3 days after my return from a lovely American weekend it was once again time for a vacation. Thank God. Though our flight to Menorca wasn’t until Sunday, Alex and I decided it best to part earlier and spend a day in Barcelona. Up at 5am we finished packing up our bags, showering, etc. before heading to the bus station for our 6:15 bus to Barcelona. Some three hours later we were on the metro and heading toward the city center to drop the bags off at our hostel.
After devouring our ham and cheese croissants we had brought from Andorra, our first priority was coffee. Given the wonderful temperature outside, something iced was definitely calling our names. Silly me had forgotten that Europeans still don’t quite understand cold beverages (hence why once can rarely find refrigerated water even on a hot summer day), so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I watched the barista pour hot, steamed milk into my cup with coffee and ice. Oh well -it did the job.
La Boquería, Barcelona’s large covered market on Las Ramblas, was just next door so it was only natural that we walk around and drool for a bit. We’ve decided that the fish section is our favorite, with its giant tuna heads, spiny lobsters trying to escape from their nets, and octopus as big as a small child. Oh the things we would prepare if we lived in Barcelona or just on the sea for that matter…
Alex had still never seen Parc Güell in her time spent in Barcelona so our next stop was due north to Gaudí’s fantasty park slash quasi-utopian planned community. I had seen the park in August with Christopher but it is definitely something that can be visited over and over again. Besides the gorgeous tile work and whimsical buildings, the entire park is almost maze-like with its different levels and winding ramps, and a quiet place to read a book or enjoy lunch is definitely findable despite the horrifying crowds of tourists.
Having had our fill of that, we returned to the Gothic Quarter (well, first a mandatory stop at H&M) and did a bit of exploration. We eventually found ourselves near the Barcelona Cathedral and also the Cuines de Santa Catarina, our lunch spot, so without much hesitation we decided it was lunch time. The Cuines de Santa Catarina are attached to the larger Santa Catarina market, like the Boquería but on a smaller scale. Our lunch choices were clear - cochinillo (roast suckling pig, skin-on) with tomato marmalade and then confit pork ribs Peking-style. This week of vacation may end up being a week of “how much and how many varieties of pork can Jeff and Alex consume in a 24-hour/8-day period?” Obviously both dishes were phenomenal - the cochinillo went down like pork butter.
Continuing on our way and into the Raval we treated ourselves to some Arabic pastries (delicious baklava-esque treats) and took a seat in the Jardins de Rubió i Lluc, a lovely hidden courtyard where the former Hospital de la Santa Creu once functioned. There we relaxed for a bit and entertained ourselves watching this girl take videos of herself and the courtyard as she made cooing sounds and said god-knows-what to herself.
Next it was time to find Casa Gisbert, a gourmet dried food stuffs place we had visited before and absolutely adored. The dehydrated strawberries are incredible, as I’m sure everything else is. This time we had the chance to eat their homemade ice cream and HOSTIA it was amazing - we opted for the peanut butter - perfect consistency, so creamy and flavorful, totally worth the 4€.
For a second lunch slash amuse-bouche we ended up at La Xampaneria, this hole-in-the-wall Mike had introduced us to where you basically shove your way through the hordes of humans to order 4€ bottles of cava and delicious meat sándwiches for under 2€. Of course it was absurdly crowded like last time, but it is the price you must pay for an evening or afternoon cava buzz and mouthwatering xoriço (pork specimin number 4 for the day). Unfortunately alter 5pm they no longer serve bottles of cava, just glasses for 80 cents or so, but whatever.
We could only stand that environment for so long minus an entire bottle of cava, so we moved to an outdoor bar closeby where we enjoyed a pitcher of cava sangria and people-watched for a bit before continuing to troll about the city and then stopping at the hostel to freshen up before dinner. We ended up back in the lovely courtyard we had discovered earlier and enjoyed some cod-stuffed red peppers and a mountain of baked goat cheese drizzled in honey and strawberries and other deliciousness. Exhausted from our day of eating and thinking about eating, we decided to call it a night and head back to our 8-bed hostel and pass out til the morning.

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24th May 2010

Oh, no, a tiled snake!
Oh, Jeff, I miss you already! On quick glance at the first photo in this blog made me think you had a huge snake behind you!
24th May 2010

So glad you're traveling again so I can get my daily food/travel blog fix. I seriously have to get to Barcelona soon, but I'm no longer sure if it's for the Gaudi architecture or the pork. Have a glass of Cava for me.

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