Food-Related Architecture in Madrid & Barcelona
I'm an architect researching spaces and buildings related to food consumption and production, and am currently in Barcelona and later Madrid, for a week each.
Can anyone reccomend a range of high and low endemic restaurants types in and around these two cities you think are worth visitng for their architecture/design as well as traditional cuisine/practices?
Are you looking for more modern architecture or historical? There are some more historical suggestions:
For ancient architecture, you might want to visit the ancient roman ruins at the City History Museum where you can see how the ancient Roman made garum (fish sauce that was highly prized in the ancient world) and wine. http://www.museuhistoria.bcn.es/eng/museu/index.htm
There are an expansive set of paradores around BCN and Madrid. These are castles and monuments that have been converted into high end hotels with restaurants that specialize in traditional cuisine of the region. I've stayed at a few and dined in the restaurants...have not been impressed but the buildings are always spectacular.
Caelum in Barcelona is a great place to buy traditional, medieval sweets (all made by nuns and monks). They serve a beautifully dark and thick hot chocolate that I love. The downstairs was a Jewish bathhouse. Very medieval.
For perhaps the most historically important Modernist restuarant, you should visit Els Quatre Gats. I have not heard great things about the food. But it is a great place to get a cocktail or a coffee. It was the watering hole of Picasso, Rusiñol and the Spanish intelligensia of that time.
If you are interested in food production, you might want to tour the wineries in the Penedes (a couple hours outside of Barcelona). I really enjoyed the tour given at the smaller cava maker, Romagosa. Also food markets like the Boqueria have spectacular architect (no one bothers to look up because the food displays are so beautiful but the building itself is amazing). In Madrid, you might want to look into visiting Mercamarid, the world's second largest fish market, second only to Tokyo.
I would visit El Celler de Can Roca's new location restaurant. The architecture is such that the dining room is in the 'modern' wing. A triangular space of glass walls with a central atrium that uses slate chips to resemble the earth of Priorat (a wine region in Catalunya). The glass walls also reflect the old, traditional 'Mas' or main house that has the kitchens. Next to the kitchens are tiered patio of herbs grown on site with a wall of the wine crates...And of course, next to the crate wall is the 40,000+ bottle cellar.
The cellars in iteslf is a showcase of Can Roca's favorite wine regions with 2 plasma screens per section and a particular object relating to the wine regions (ex..the slate from Priorat, the straw depicting Jerez, velvet for Burgundy and silk for Champagne).
Of course, it wouldn't hurt to have a meal there either! Enjoy!