Hound from Hong Kong visiting Spain. Recs needed for a man willing to eat anything that moves
A few friends and I will be in Spain in about 2 weeks time. The time spread for different cities will be as follows:
Valencia - 1 day - looking for recs for Tapas, street food and simple fare
Madrid - 2 days - looking for 1 place for fine dining, and multiple places for local fares
Barcelona - 5 days - friends live here, hence the longer stay. looking for 1 place(or 2) for fine dining, and all the local food I can possibly stomach.
All suggestions and reccommendations are welcome. I am a very adventurous eater and will eat practically anything that moves. sooo... don't be shy, Please. Please do not limit your advice on food only either, if you think there's something cool to be done in any of the above cities, I will be very happy to see what you have to say.
Thanks for the help in advance.
I would search this board as there are tons of posts on eating in Barcelona, from tapas/pintxos places to traditional to modern Spanish cooking. Same for Madrid and Valencia. If you can be more specific as to your food preferences, budget, ambience, etc, you'll probably get some excellent replies. Depends on the individual, high-end can be 50E or 300E per person; anything from very traditional classic places to eclectic fusion, to molecular cooking to seafood only to asadors.
Since this is a food site, you'll probably won't get many replies directed toward other subjects such sites and activities as they will be deleted by monitors.
Well then, try some percebes (barnacles). Haven't had them as they are too expensive for my tastes, They look like clam feet. In Madrid go to any branch of El Museo del Jamon and ask for a plate of Bellota Iberico. That is of course the famous ham, but you want only the Iberico that is fed solely on acorns.
"will eat practically anything that moves"? Très hongkongais-cantonais ! By all means do not miss the big Barcelona market la Boqueria right off the Ramblas. Do try chipirones fritos (fried baby squid) at the stand ElQim. Those stands in the market are like a clean version of HK's DaiPaiDong genre.
Cal Pep, in the Born district, is also a fun place to go with a great tasting menu.
While in Madrid, you might want to try a roast lamb place--there are many, but Asador Tierra Aranda on calle Padilla is a good one with an old-school wood-burning oven. One of my favorite off-menu (but almost always available) items at an asador are the lamb kidneys (riñones). It's also a good place to try morcilla (blood sausage, which is incredibly delicious). It's not cheap, but worth it and something you won't find back home.
All around Spain (but especially in Castilla) you will find very different versions of morcilla. Some are spicy with pine nuts, somewhat sweet with cinnamon and rice, smoked, dense with onion, soft and spreadable... Even towns right next to each other in Burgos can differ a lot. The best I've ever had was in the small town Covarrubias. The "factory" was the back room of someone's house, which is pretty typical in small-town Spain. They make it with anise there. At a Castillian style asador, you'll probably get some variation of morcilla de Burgos.
I hope it'd not too late, so here it goes:
I'm from Madrid, and I recommended a few restaurants in Madrid in my other post (you can probably read it if you click on my profile). For fine dining, go to El Paraguas... I believe it is the best restaurant in Madrid at the moment. But it is expensive, so be warned.
As for what extraordinary food to try:
-Morcilla con arroz, from Burgos, is indeed dreamy.
-Percebes (goose barnacles)
-Bigaros (delicous sea snails)
-Navajas (long, razor-like seafood)... we love fish and seafood in Spain, so if it swims in the Mediterranean/Atlantic, you'll find it here! (unfortunately, at the expense of a very damaged marine ecosystem)
-Oh, and from previous experience with foreigners, they seem terrified at the thought of sucking the head of a prawn... but we think it's the best part :)
As for other interesting food items that I myself prefer not to eat:
-Pig's ear (although a bean stew/cassoulet with pig's ear is one of my favourite dishes 'judias con oreja' it's called)
-Manitas de cerdo (pig's feet)
-Callos (tripe in a kind of tomato sauce)
-And of course the usual liver ('higado') or brains ('sesos').... all of these delicacies that I never really got into.
Best of luck and enjoy :)