To finish 2018 in style and start 2019 in the same way, The Kitten has decided to stretch its legs outside our borders: in Spain. In Barcelona, to be precise.
This city is perfect for a gourmet getaway, as there is something for everyone: street food, tapas bars to snack and have a drink with friends, but also more traditional restaurants to enjoy a quiet table.
Follow The Kitten on his Catalonia trips!
The walk begins in the Gracia district. Today located in the heart of the city, Gracia was an independent village before becoming an integral part of Barcelona a little over 100 years ago. It is a very quiet environment compared to the rest of the city which is more lively and often more touristic. The alleys and squares that make up this district are an opportunity to meet and discuss with many local merchants.
After walking, it is normal to need energy!
First stop at the pits to taste the famous empañadas. These are shortcrust pastry slippers filled with various fillings: chicken, beef, spinach, etc. You can find it absolutely everywhere and everyone has their own recipe (and everyone says it is better than the neighbour’s! :).
The tasting begins at Micaela’s. It is in fact a pizzeria offering various Italian recipes to enjoy on the go as well as… empañadas! Absolutely delicious!! Bolognese beef and spinach. The dough is very crispy, the stuffings are properly seasoned…. A real delight!
The visit continues by enjoying all the cultural richness of Barcelona: the Sagrada Familia, as well as the Parc Guell before fatigue and evening fall on The Kitten.
Catalonia offers products of incomparable quality, so it is easy to improvise a dinner. Some ideas for a Catalan product sheet?
Manchego is a cheese produced exclusively from “manchega” sheep’s milk. It is to be more or less refined which will give it a more or less salty and spicy taste. It can be enjoyed simply with a good bread, in shavings on a salad or even added to a simple omelette to give it a unique power. A traditional manchego is recognized by the braided spelt that surrounds and protects the cheese. They are easily found in France.
To accompany the Manchego, Bellota Iberian ham is perfect. The Kitten has already told you about it here. It is a delicatessen from a natural breeding and whose diet consists of 90% acorns. And taste level… difficult to do better. It is a ham with a lot of aromas and complexity. It’s a real candy!
For the next step, we head for the Gothic Quarter. One of the big favorites of the Chat. Even if it is the most touristic district of the city, it is still a pleasure to get lost in this maze of alleys. The Barrio Gotico dates back to Roman times and many facades, doors, fountains can testify to this. The very narrow streets let little sunshine through and there is a very special atmosphere, especially in the evening. Our minds then let us imagine plots being plotted here or laughter coming out of this or that tavern.
And a little further on, between this district and Eixample The Kitten falls on a nugget: Casa Lolea.
Basically, La Lolea is a Sangria factory made in Spain and of high quality. If you find any bottles, throw yourself at it! Around this know-how was born the Casa Lolea, a tapas bar where you can only taste good things. And the recipe works perfectly: as soon as you push the door in, you feel like you’re being welcomed by friends. Do you have a stroller? No problem at all. Do you want to be more calm? We have the back room.
Moreover, everything is done with a smile and in a very natural way. To be clear: Casa Lolea is sincerely delighted that you are coming.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the Sangria is absolutely delicious. Refreshing, with a high level of taste, not too sweet, it is exactly what you expect from a good sangria.
With all this… what’s for dinner? Tapas! But beware, worked tapas. And these are not copies of tapas seen and reviewed. No !! Here, we cook!!! Even the traditional Patatas Bravas are reviewed and corrected. These are usually cut and fried potatoes. At Casa Lolea, these are roasted and seasoned shot potatoes.
There is also excellent Bellota and Manchego. The hardest part being to leave….
A complete change of scenery! Beach and sea on the agenda: direction the coast with Barceloneta. An extremely lively district at any time of the day: restaurant, nightclub, street vendors maintain a constant effervescence. All this, dominated by the famous W hotel (nothing to do with Largo Winch…).
It is difficult in this ultra-tourist environment to find a potable restaurant. Relying on his truffle (an article will soon be available on how to choose a restaurant), he ends up choosing a terrace. He will not leave Barcelona without having tasted a paella, and if possible a good one. Barceloneta being an old fishermen’s district, let’s enjoy it!
Selected target: N°30
The Kitten therefore chose a Paella with black rice. The server warns that there will be a wait. This is normal: cooking a paella is very special and allows you to have a crispy rice on the outside and a soft rice on the inside. And that proves one thing: it’s cooked! And so it is a very good indicator. After about twenty minutes (and a beer, the wait makes you thirsty), the paella arrives.
It is generous and has the “gratin” aspect that is characteristic of a good paella. The taste is perfect, well iodized. The products are fresh and… there is no saffron! After a few minutes, this is surprising. After asking the chef, it is indeed a choice: the iodized broth already having a lot of strength, the saffron would not have given any added value to the dish and after tasting, it must be admitted that this is true and there is absolutely no shortage. The paella is delicious (and so is the beer)!
It should be noted that the bar also offers very creative tapas as well as several homemade cocktails. We’ll have to come back!!!
To pass the New Year’s Eve, return to Gracia. Many restaurants offer a tasting menu for the occasion…. How to choose?
Sometimes it’s the restaurants that choose you. The Chat was just starting to read from the very promising Amaloca menu: “Hello, would you like to come tonight? The discussion begins and Camille, the Head of the establishment, tells a little bit of her story. She has worked in several major Parisian kitchens, travelling all over the world before launching herself. And why stay in Paris when the sun of Barcelona is reaching out to you?
So almost 3 years ago, Camille opened her restaurant: Amaloca will be the fusion of all past experiences. The rigour and French standards combined with techniques and flavours from Asia, Spain, Peru,…
A beautiful menu, a talented chef, why keep looking? “See you tonight!”
Let’s say it right now: it’s beautiful, it’s good, it’s inspired. It’s all there! The cooking, even technical, is perfectly mastered. As proof, an impeccable beef tataki and melting scallops, well snacked. And the products are beautiful too. Camille has worked with great chefs and you can see it in her product selection!
In terms of taste, the dishes follow one another with various influences. Each dish is a discovery and a mini-trip: duck gyoza are very greedy and totally addictive, then sea bream ceviche gives you a good boost thanks to an invigorating acidity before tasting a risotto with scallops (the famous) melting and creamy.
Even dessert, often the black spot of restaurants (not all cooks are pastry chefs), is good and thoughtful to surprise: a beautiful Helen pear revisited with a chocolate shell. It is at the time of dessert that 2018 ends and 2019 begins.
Thank you Camille for this wonderful meeting. I wish you all the success you deserve.
A few grapes later (tradition dictates), the evening and the journey ends.
2019 is off to a great start and will be, The Kitten is convinced, a very gourmet year! Feliz año and see you soon!