When I arrived in Spain for a three weeks stay, in January, I couldn’t help but smile! There was sun, the nights were not freezing and to go from the hotel to the company’s office we would drive every morning close to the sea with the sun just rising besides us. This is that kind of things that not only sound very special but they also are. It made me feel some nostalgie of my life back in Lisbon.
This 3 weeks in Spain where all about food & tapas.
We had lunch everyday in a workers restaurant where we ate very well for very little money (10 euros for 2 plates and dessert).
For nearly all the dinners in Rubi (a city close to Barcelona), we ate Tapas! We tried every kind of tapas from sea food to vegetables and meet.
Tapas are small typical spanish appetizers which are normally served in spanish bars and eaten while one is having a drink with friends before dinner. However, it became also common to go to bar or a restaurant and order different tapas to share as a main dish. And that’s basically what we did, for the three weeks we staid in Spain.
From the tapas we tried, the most typical ones (some mainly in Catalonia) are: pimientos de piquillo (grilled mild red pepers), butifarra catalana (a kind of a black sausage), sobresada com huevo (another kind of sausage with egg), tortilla de patatas, croquetas de jamon, calamares à la romana (fried squid), patatas bravas (potatos with paprika), pimientos de padron (small mild green pepers grilled), anchovies, and pan com tomate (bread with tomato and olive oil). We tried as well other tapas as pan fried aubergine, navallas (razor clam) – which looks a bit discussing but it’s just delicious – catalan cheese, mini hamburguesas and pulpo à galega (grilled octopus with boiled potatos typical from Galizia’s region).
From all this tapas, I strongly recommend the croquetas de jamon, pan com tomate (mandatory), pimientos de piquillo, calamares à la romana and tortilla de patatas.
For dessert you should definitely try the flan (egg and caramel puding) and the creme catalana which are some very typical sweets from spain and mainly from Catalonia’s region. Last but not least, to drink: sangria (of course!), red wine (from La Rioja or from Ribera del Duero were my favorites), and specially from catalonia, Cavas (sparkling wine) and Vermute.
My favorite place for tapas in Barcelona is Cerveceria Catalana (close to the famous Gaudi house, La Pedrera). I have been there two years ago and again this time, and it’s never disappointing! It’s true it’s a little touristic, but also frequented by local people (both times it had been recommended to me by local people) and although you have to be ready to wait for a table, for me it’s more than worth it! And here also the sangria and the creme Catalana are excellent.
For a good vermute, but which I would not recommend for tapas, we found a very nice and typical place – Cala Del Vermut in Barrio Gotico – where you can have a cheap Vermut in a friendly atmosphere.
During my stay in Spain, I also spent one week in Alicante and although I didn’t have time to visit the city, we also ate excellent food! Of course, tapas, mainly in a bar recommended by my spanish colleague – El Portal. However in Alicante there is more than tapas and no one should miss the typical paella – fried rise with sea food, meat or fish. Although this is not my favorite dish, it is definitely worth a try. A small note for another local speciality which is fiducea and it was surprisingly good. This are kind of noodles, presented almost as paella and at least the one we tried, with small octopus, it was incredibly tasty.
And, finaly, the most important thing in spanish food tradition: JAMON!!!!
It’s really unbelievable how much the Spanish people love jamon. In evey bar, every restaurant, every house you will definitely find it. And you will find a whole bunch of difference qualities and prices, up to a hundred euros a kg and any true spaniard can tell you exactly the difference between the different kinds. I have to admit, Spanish jamon it’s outstanding when compared to the normal smoked ham we can buy in the supermarkets but still, the roots of the love that the spaniards have for the jamon is still a mystery for me.