I apologize for missing in action on this blog lately! One of my resolutions for 2018 was to post more regularly on this blog, but I’ve already fallen behind. January was just a lot to handle. A death in the family led to an impromptu trans-Atlantic trip back home. Work was chaotic as well, a long with a myriad of other excuses I could use.
Finally, I do have a head start on a number of posts I have been meaning to write out with all the time lulls that accompany travel!
While this blog has exclusively been skincare related over the years, I had the realization last year that it is still my personal blog & I would like to include more aspects of my life. I am going on my third year of living abroad & working remotely, which has allowed me to travel more & I want to document my individual experience.
So to initiate this new aspect of my blog, I wanted to start with the gastro-tour of a recent trip to Barcelona, Spain!
Eater – The Foodie Bible
I have three scriptures I consult for recommendations whenever I am traveling:
- Rick Steves: He has travel guides to major tourist areas, I love his books for detailed walking tours of cities & free museum guides.
- Atlas Obscura: While I rely on Rick for the tourist sites, Atlas has all the hidden gems of cities around the world when you want to escape the tourist crowds or have an uncommon experience in a popular city.
- Eater: My go-to for everything food related.
My greatest personal struggle with traveling is find places to eat. I want to eat well, but I lack the true foodie heart & patience to find the best eats.
I have befriended a girlfriend, Esra, from Eater within the last year, it has completely changed my eating experiences for the better!
If you’re unfamiliar with Eater, they are online culinary magazine. They do feature new & insights to the food industry, here is Barcelona’s Eater newsfeed as an example. However, my favorite pieces from Eater are the restaurant “heat maps“. Basically, my life has been made a lot simpler by a Google map where the foodie professionals have input a ranked list of good eats for every major city.
Let’s get onto the most important topic of this post though, my favorite tasty bits in Barcelona!
This vermouth snack bar, it embodied young Barcelona in my view. This bar has been functioning as a vermouth bar since 1900, but the vibe is entirely different my grandparents’ era. It feels youthful & alive, the foods seems to be predominately tapes ferdes variety , or cold tapas.
Granja la Pallaresa
This is a beautifully modernized xocolateria that was recommended in Rick Steves’ Barcelona guide. It is great for people-watching, tiny old ladies gather later in the afternoon to gossip over churros con chocolate about grandchildren & local news. They serve more traditional Catalan tea-time dishes as well, such as creme brûlée or sweet croissants.
Taverna Basca Irati
This was my choice spot during my stay in Las Ramblas neighborhood. It is a standing pintxos, or bite-size tapas, bar featuring Basque & Mallorca styled snacks on open-faced bread. A waiter will hand you a plate across the bar when you ask un plato, por favor & you can choose whatever tapas from the bar you desire.
Each of the tapas will cost €2, the waiters will count the toothpicks on your plate for the total. There are a variety of beers & wine, which cost around €3. This restaurant is the epitome of if it looks good, eat it. There is no fixed menus, just grab whatever is on the counter & waiters will occasional swim through the crowds with plates of sizzling tapas.
An outdoor market that contains colorful aisles of meats, vegetables & other local delicacies. The market stalls themselves are worth strolling around for a peek at how other people live, breath & eat. Many of the market vendors will offer breakfast or snacks so locals can be witness nibbling away as they stand shoulder to shoulder in-front of the counters.
There are a few bars within the market itself; like a small breakfast nook called Pinotxo Bar or Kiosko Universal known for their fish dishes, maybe Casa Guinart is you are willing to pay a little more for a bohemian bar offering some of the highest quality ingredients.
My most memorable dining experience in Barcelona was at this higher-end tapas & wine bar. This is a buy place so reservations are highly recommended, I showed up at 18:00 on a week day night & I had to wait for an hour to get a single seat at the bar. The staff will provide wine while you wait, but it will be a longer wait for couples or groups.
Most tapas bars in Barcelona have diners huddled around the preparation bar, but the staff at Canete are extra animated & make a grand show out of food preparation. This is a higher-priced bar, but the portions are generous & my bill totaled €26 for three tapas accompanied with two glasses of wine.
This chocolate shop was founded in 1827, making it one of the oldest & most traditional chocolatiers in the city. Pre-wrapped chocolates on the counter sell for less than a single euro, but I recommend splurging a full euro on the truffles behind within the glass case. So worth it.
A quick tapas bar with a variety of hot & cold snacks. I was surprised to see a very mixed bag of reviews online because the food was all excellent quality, however the price range does vary greatly from a few euros per plate to double digits for larger seafood portions. This place does feel more touristy than the darker, more cramped wine bars; but I was sat next to plenty of locals as well.
Despite the great dining, I had a negative service experience that kept me from returning for more meals. This is an individual experience with a single member of the wait staff, I have had a few friends that dined here multiple times during their stay & they had nothing less than positive experiences here.
I came here for a quick, late lunch as I had been busy knocking out the main tourist sites in the morning & I had a phone call scheduled with my mum to check-in. One of the tapas I ordered was not made so a waiter replaced my order & gave me a free beer to apologize for the mistake, which I thought was really lovely of him & the restaurant.
The waiter was friendly & provided some general chit-chat between serving other customers, nothing was inappropriate at this point as we were just discussing where we were both from & everything I had seen in Barcelona so far. He kept refilling my beer despite my protests & requests for the check, I had already texted my mum I had to push back our call because my lunch was delayed & she get growing more concerned with each half-hour that passed.
I was refusing to drink the beer & repeatedly requesting the check, both in English & Spanish. I was growing more irritated, the waiter’s only solution was to bring me a vodka cocktail I did not order since I was no longer drinking the beer. I had taken to trying to ask the other wait staff members that passed by for my check, but this particular waiter would interrupt them to say he was taking care of me.
The waiter became insistent for my phone number, using my bill as leverage. I kept refusing, but eventually gave him a fake number after being held hostage at the tapas bar for 3 hours. Life Pro-Tip: Do not make a Jewish mother wait three hours for a phone call from her only child.
A Small Tip for Budget Dining in Barcelona...
Most morning I like my breakfast to be basic, I am content with a savory pastry or yogurt as long as I can my coffee in the Americano style. The major areas for guest accommodation are in Las Ramblas or El Gotic neighborhoods, which are only steps away from most major tourist sites.
However, a 20-minute walk with bring you to the Sant Antoni neighborhood. This a local place featuring brilliantly colored murals & open-air markets filled with second-hand books or antiques. The cost of a quick coffee & pastry breakfast will be 1/3 of the price of anything you can find in the tourist areas.