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A few tips for south of Barcelona

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I have just returned from an 18 day trip to Spain & Portugal. We traveled to Barcelona, Tarragona, Monbtblanc, the Pyrenees in Aragon & Catalunya, the Solsones, Girona, Porto, Viana do Castelo, Baiona & Madrid. We enjoyed some outstanding meals everywhere. It seems Madrid & Barcelona get all the attention so this post will focus on "hidden treasures" in the hinterlands. There are so many it is hard to be brief.

My first suggestion is in Montblanc, south of Barcelona, on the highway to Lleida. The restaurant is Fonda de Angels, P/ Angels 1. It is worth seeking it out just to have a meal there. The quality was exceptional. As you climb up the stairs to the second story dining room, you pass the kitchen where several women are cooking up a storm. The room was full of local businessmen, and local families - always a good sign. The menu wasn't written down, but recited by the waitress. Some knowledge of Spanish is a must when traveling off the beaten path. My husband had the best rabbit he had ever eaten. It was simply grilled, but was juicy and delicious - a real feat with rabbit. I had braised "'pig's cheeks" which were also delicious. Be sure to order a carafe of house red and a bottle of the local lightly sweet fizzy water. Pour some of each into your water glass and enyoy! Very refreshing. All of this was at a very economical price. Also, Montblanc is at the center of the Conca de Barberà wine region.

We stayed several kilometers away at Masia Font de l'Oca, located between Espluga di Francoli & Poblet. You can order dinner for an extra fee and the food was very good. This B&B or "casa rural" is for those who want to be far into the countryside so ordering dinner is highly recommended. This inn is casual and rustic and the hosts, Josep & his wife are charming.

We spent a day in Tarragona, an easy drive from the Masia. At the suggestion of Josep we had lunch at AQ, Carrer les Coques, 7, not far from the Cathedral. Ultra-hip design, with a modern but accessible menu. Excellent sea-food, but plenty of choices for this non-seafood eater. Highly recommended.

From here we travelled to the Pyrenees in Aragon & Catalunya so my next post will describe some great finds in those regions.

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