Europe 2013: My Favourite Eats In Barcelona

I’ve loved Barcelona ever since James and I first visited in 2010, on our belated honeymoon. Since we especially love the food there, I made sure that our agenda in this city comprised mostly eating. (It was a little sad that being pregnant meant I couldn’t eat my weight in jamon iberico, which is only the best damn ham in the entire known universe…)

James booked us a very comfy room in the lovely and well-located Hotel Alma, which was just off the main thoroughfare of Passeig de Gracia. Upon arrival it was tempting to just lounge there all evening. But we were hungry and also very curious to find out if dinner at Tapas24 was still as good as we remembered.

The daily menu is still in Catalan, but in the years since we were last here, the waiters got better at translating the key highlights into English.

While the daily menu is still in Catalan, these days the waiters are a lot more helpful when it comes to translating the highlights into English.

This made me chuckle because I'd nearly forgotten that "x" is pronounced "ch" in Catalan. It was a most helpful reminder.

This made me chuckle because I’d nearly forgotten that “x” is pronounced “ch” in Catalan. It was a most helpful reminder. (Because those were bags of potato xips.)

Omg TXIPIRONES. So much to love about these teeny tiny squid, deep-fried whole. I could eat them by the bucketful.

Omg TXIPIRONES. So much to love about these teeny tiny squid, deep-fried whole. I could eat them by the bucketful.

The McFoie burger. Funny, I liked this better in 2010. Maybe because the chopped beef patty was done medium rare, and in my current condition I felt a shade iffy about meat that wasn't cooked till it was pink.

The McFoie burger. Funny, I liked this better in 2010. Maybe because the chopped beef patty was done medium rare, and in my current condition I felt a shade iffy to be eating meat that wasn’t cooked till it was at least pink.

Left: jamon on an omelette. The house specialty is "smashed eggs", i.e. scrambled eggs, but those are pretty runny so we opted for the omelette so I could eat some.  Right: lamb skewers. Excellent stuff. I love good lamb.

Left: jamon on an omelette. The house specialty is “smashed eggs”, i.e. scrambled eggs, but those are pretty runny so we opted for the omelette so I could eat some.
Right: lamb skewers. Excellent stuff. I love good lamb.

It’s pretty awesome how a few tapas dishes add up to one substantial meal. (Not pictured: patatas bravas, which are basically french fries in cubes instead of strips.) Our full bellies and road-weary bodies made for a Very Good sleep that night.

The next day’s adventures began with a visit to Escriba, which was our favourite breakfast place in 2010. Sadly we found that the pastries had shrunk to a third of their former size, which made for a much smaller breakfast than we’d hoped. The coffee was decent – whew – but between the minuscule croissants and the surly service, we didn’t enjoy the experience very much.

From La Rambla, we hoofed it toward the Barceloneta waterfront. It was an amazingly sunny day and not at all humid, which was very nice indeed.

There was an aquatic race going on, with lots of spectator crowds. Whatever it was, they had excellent weather for it!

There was an aquatic race going on, with lots of spectator crowds. Whatever it was, they had excellent weather for it!

We headed onward to a mall called Maremagnum located along the waterfront. Unlike nearly all other shops in the city, it’s open on Sundays and bank holidays. I think that’s because it’s classified as a ‘tourist shop’, which is one of the exemptions to the Sunday-closure rule. Maremagnum has lots of Spanish high street brands so we spent the morning shopping in air-conditioned comfort, like the typical Singaporeans we are 😉

Lunch was at TapaTapa, a chain restaurant along the mall’s boardwalk where we’d eaten before, and which I think is pretty decent as far as chain restaurants go.

It's not the best lobster paella you'll get in Barcelona, but it's a fair sight tastier than any we'd get in Singapore!

Probably not the best lobster paella you’ll get in Barcelona. Still better than any in Singapore.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel for a siesta, then to a bar in the Eixample that showed English football games because James wanted to catch the Manchester Derby.

The bar was called "Dow Jones" and was decorated thematically with stock tickers (?!). To plagiarise my own Instagram/Facebook post: globalisation is two Singaporeans sitting in a New York themed bar in Barcelona, watching the Manchester Derby.

The bar was called “Dow Jones” and the thematic decor featured stock tickers and kitschy NYC touches. To plagiarise my own Instagram/Facebook post: globalisation is two Singaporeans sitting in a New York themed bar in Barcelona, watching the Manchester Derby.

To put it mildly, the game did not go well for United. It was sad. So we went to mourn over another tapas meal.

Cerveceria Catalana is another restaurant that we remembered from our first trip to this city; I suspect we might have eaten there twice in a week back in 2010. (Mich – love you long time for recommending us this place.) It serves up really good classic tapas, and is by all accounts enjoyed very much by locals and tourists alike. It’s popular enough that there seems to always be a line to enter the restaurant: we waited 15-20 minutes to get a table, which I thought wasn’t too bad considering the size of the crowd.

This squishy-looking slab comprises eggplant topped with red peppers and a smear of fig jam. It was  tasty stuff, but I wish I'd known it was going to be served cold. I would have much preferred it hot.

This squishy-looking slab is a cold veggie dish comprising eggplant topped with red peppers and a smear of fig jam. It was tasty stuff, though I would have much preferred it hot.

MOAR TXIPIRONES. These things are so amazing. Even James, who normally doesn't love calamari, really enjoyed these little guys.

MOAR TXIPIRONES. These things are so amazing. Even James, who normally doesn’t love calamari, really enjoyed these little guys.

Prawns and squid rings, buttered and grilled. I firmly believe that Catalunya is amazing when it comes to doing seafood right.

Prawns and squid rings, buttered and grilled. I firmly believe that Catalunya is amazing when it comes to doing seafood right.

 

Mushrooms, asparagus and jamon in a stir-fry-ish preparation. I enjoyed the asparagus very much. The rest was James' to finish up, because of my pregnancy-related considerations and aversions. Not that he minded at all ;)

Mushrooms, asparagus and jamon in a stir-fry-ish preparation. I enjoyed the asparagus very much. The rest was James’ to finish up, because of my pregnancy-related considerations and aversions. Not that he minded at all 😉

 

Veal cutlets. I think my exact thoughts at the time were "tasty but not outstanding".

Veal cutlets. I think my exact thoughts at the time were “tasty but not outstanding”.

Chocolate lava cake. James was very surprised that I didn't opt for creme catalana (which I love, and which is very similar to creme brulee) but I was doubtful about whether the egg content was okay for me to eat.

Chocolate lava cake for dessert. James was surprised that I didn’t opt for creme catalana (which I love, and which is very similar to creme brulee). I would’ve, except that I was doubtful as to whether the egg content was safe for me to eat.

James' carafe of tinto verano. It's like sangria, but simpler and lighter.

James’ carafe of tinto verano. It’s like sangria, but simpler and lighter.

And that was it for Sunday! Come Monday morning, we grabbed a random pastry and cafe amb llet en route to La Boqueria, where we bought lots of jamon to bring home as gifts and for ourselves. (That stuff keeps for months in the fridge. I am so looking forward to eating it after I give birth next year.) I breezed through Passeig de Gracia for one last sweep of the high street shops, after which we drove to the airport – hanging bumper and all – for our flight back to London.

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