In Barcelona, Valentine’s Day is no big deal. On the other hand, on April 23, you had better remember to buy a flower for your sweetheart. La Diada de Sant Jordi is one of the most important holidays in Catalonia, honoring its patron Saint George. The Catalan tradition – inspired by the legend of Saint George’s chivalrous slaying of a dragon to save a princess – is for men to buy roses for women and, in return, for women to buy books for men. Continue »
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At first glance, Restaurant Roma doesn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary. The nondescript brown tiles covering the floors, the dark wood bar, the vaguely Mediterranean-inspired wall décor and the rectangular paper Ikea lamps are similar to those at hundreds of other midrange restaurants throughout Barcelona. Continue »
Everyone knows that Germany and France can both make a mean loaf of bread. But what about Spain? When was the last time you heard someone say something like, “What this meal really needs is some delicious Spanish bread!” You’ve never heard anyone say that and the reason is that the bread in Spain is, with few exceptions, decidedly mediocre, with even the smallest bakeries producing the majority of their “fresh-baked” product using partially baked or frozen dough made in factories using industrial yeasts and preservatives. Continue »
A hidden culinary sanctuary, El Passadís del Pep may be located in one of the most visited quarters of Barcelona, but it’s out of sight of anyone who isn’t looking for it. Once you go down the long corridor that leads to the restaurant, you don’t need to do anything, and that includes choosing what to eat. From the moment you sit down, the “house” offers you your first bottle of cava, and the celebration of food and life begins. There is no menu and there are no “daily specials,” just whatever Joan Manubens and his team decide to cook that day. Continue »
Editor’s note: This is the penultimate installment of “Best Bites of 2012,” a roundup of our top culinary experiences over the last year. Stay tuned for our final “Best Bites” dispatch, from Istanbul, tomorrow.
We hadn’t planned on bringing in La Nochevieja at Restaurant Roma, but it was nearby and we didn’t feel up for public-transport adventures on New Year’s Eve. Situated on a quiet street in the upscale but untouristy Barcelona neighborhood of Sant Gervasi, Roma is thoroughly nondescript – a neighborhood joint frequented by neighborhood people of a certain age. The wood-paneled walls, racks of Maxim magazines and TV mounted in the corner kept our expectations pretty low. Continue »
Mushroom hunting has an irresistible, magical pull. Composer John Cage, an avid mushroom collector, found them an integral part of his creative process, once writing: “Much can be learned about music by devoting oneself to the mushroom.” Every fall, thousands of Catalans likewise find themselves under the mushroom’s spell, following the elusive fungus’s silent melody into the woods, a rustic wicker basket in one hand and – more and more these days – a GPS-enabled smartphone in the other. Continue »
It all started with a seriously delicious hamburger in New York City. Rumor has it that it was this burger that first gave acclaimed Catalan chef Oriol Rovira the idea of opening Sagàs Pagesos y Cuiners (“Farmers and Cooks”) in the Born district of Barcelona. Specializing in high-end sandwiches, the restaurant embraces the farm-to-table philosophy, with a menu that is both distinctively Catalan and international in scope. Continue »
Catalan owners, Filipino chefs and a menu offering comfort food inspired by the cooking of Iberian sailors: La Flauta, a restaurant-cum-tapas-bar that goes long both on good taste and good value, is an excellent reminder of the benefits of Barcelona’s being a port town. Continue »
When chef Alexis Peñalver was looking for a location to open La Pubilla last year, he found this gem adjacent to el Mercado de la Llibertat in Gràcia and decided to keep the name of the original establishment. Pubilla is a bygone word in Catalan for the eldest daughter destined to receive the family inheritance in the event that there were no male heirs. Nowadays a pubilla (the prettiest girl in town) is named reina de la fiesta at many festivals in Catalonia. Continue »
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