Back from Spain...
Thanks to all the great postings on this board, we had a memorable and delicious trip to Spain. Here are some notes:
Llar de l'all i oli is unfortunately NOT open on Monday for lunch. We found it, and were so sad that it was closed! Don't know if it opened for dinner. Since it's a ways out there, we didn't go back. However, it was fairly easy to find. Take the metro line out to Badalona to the last stop (can't remember what it's called.) Go up the stairs to the street. Keep walking straight (it doesn't matter which side of the metro you go up on, both sides put you on the street going the same direction, just on different sides of the street, if that makes sense.) Keep walking until you see Calle Conquista. Turn right. It's on that street on the right.
However, Cal Pep was open for dinner on Monday night (closed for lunch) and we had a wonderful meal. The razor clams were amazing as promised, and we loved the little tiny clams in the broth. Also had the potato tortilla, which was the best we had in Spain and sausage with white beans (I didn't like the sausage..too strong for me, and I'm a little afraid to find out what was in there!) We went around 10pm, and only had to wait about 1/2 an hour. I think if we had arrived at 10:30, we wouldn't have waited at all.
Loved Pinocho, in the Boqueria market. We went 2 mornings in a row, and were greeted like old friends the second time! One note...they don't have oysters on Mondays. But they always have champagne! And a wonderful pan tomate with jamon.
Great bodega with lots of great jamon and tapas called Castaneda on Almireceros by the cathedral. Great place to taste different meats and pates and cheese of the region.
Found an amazing Italian restaurant called El Gato Negro on H. de Carabeo 13-17 y 19 (I think that's the address. They didn't have a card so they just stamped their address stamp on a piece of paper for me.) We decided to go in because when we looked in the window, we could see the chef cooking all kinds of sauces on the stove, and it smelled wonderful. Turned out to be an amazing meal. You can get meat, or pasta, and just choose one of the sauces. I had fresh regular & spinach linguini with arrabiatta sauce, and it was spectacular. My husband had entrecote with gorgonzola and Madeira sauce. It was incredibly rich, and the flavors just exploded in your mouth. He kept saying that it was like nothing he had ever tasted before in his life. And talked about it the rest of the trip.
Had a wonderful dinner in the Parador. Don't know if that counts as Chowhound or foodie, since apparently this chef is sort of celebrated. We didn't plan to eat there, but we were staying there and it was pouring rain and well...it was delicious! The service was great, and all the little extras (cold sherry, olives, little toasts with pate, chocolates, etc.) were very nice.
Bar Casa Ruperto in the Triana district is fantastic. We had the recommended fried whole quails. Incredible. And everyone standing around white plastic tables, and then joining them, felt so authentic! Also tried Bar Salomon el Rey de los Pinchitos, which started our love affair with Pimientos de Padron! We sought them out everywhere after that. Thanks to Kathryn for her Triana tapas crawl. We tried the snails recommended also, but those little faces looking at us were just a little too authentic! (the broth was tasty though.)
Had lunch at Taberna de Alabandero, and it was the delicious, fancy and very inexpensive 3 course lunch we had heard about! I had the lucious and fresh salad of tomatoes, cheese and anchoves on radicchio followed by Hake pil-pil, and orange floating island which was like a deconstructed sophisticated Creamsicle! My husband had the homemade lentils (highly recommended) and the pimientos relleno a mariscos, followed by chocolate tart with bananas and an amazing mint sauce. The whole thing, including wine, coffee and water came to 4500 pts...about $22. What a deal!
For tapas & wine try Escondida in the old part of town, past Botin..go down that street and when you get to the next street go right and it's on the left. All kinds of sausages, hams and cheese to try, along with all kinds of Spanish wines, all very inexpensive. El Abuelo off Plaza Santa Ana had the greatest garlic grilled shrimp tapas. Comes to you boiling. Cueves de Luis Rey...overpriced and nothing special, but worth a stop in I guess since it's historic. We spent several nights doing tapas crawl. We made a deal that we could only either spend 1000 pts, or have 1 thing at each place, which kept us moving and discovering. Wish we could eat like that every night.
Had a wonderful Paella at a restaurant called Cana y Barro. It had been recommended to us to not eat paella if it was a menu del dia, so we waited and were so glad we did. This was delicious. The rice was perfect, and the crusty sides and bottom parts were the best. It's a little out of the way, so although we were completely stuffed, by the time we had walked back to our area we had room for an ice cream cone!
Also had another great meal at a place called Restaurant Bolos. They do a lunch meal called Cocida a la Madriena (or similar) and it was a great experience. Have never really eaten something like this before. Everyone was having it, and they only serve it at lunch. You get an earthenware pitcher brought to the table, 1 per person. They bring you a bowl with cooked fideua noodles, then pour the broth out of the pitcher. This is the first course. The flavor was indescribable. Rich and earthy. After you finish that, they come over and pour the rest of the stuff out of the pitcher. It's mostly garbanzo beans, but there's a piece of beef (falls off the bone) a piece of chicken, a piece of sausage, salt pork, and something else (couldn't identify it.) The waiter comes around with cooked cabbage, potato and garlic that he adds to your plate, as the vegetable I guess. It was a very memorable meal, and a great last lunch in Spain!
Thanks again to everyone who's posted in the past about places to eat. Having recommended places to seek out made the trip much more fun, and obviously made our meals much better!
In Granada, I remember there being two places called Castenada. The "good" one was Bodega Castenada (maybe?), and it WAS wonderful, while its namesake sans "Bodega" was more of a tourist trap. Is this still the case? They were right next to eachother. Great report - I want to go back. Isn't Ronda unreal? To think people were actually hurled from that bridge! I ALMOST lost my appetite.