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Honeymoon Part 1: Barcelona Trip Report. WARNING: it's a bit long :)

foodcoupleSF Sep 16, 2012 01:37 PM

Longtime chow stalker, first time poster. First of all wanted to thank the many contributors to this board and the France board as many of the places we went to on our Honeymoon were direct recommendations from this site. We had an amazing time eating our way around Barcelona and wanted to show our thanks via a trip report of our culinary adventures. Hope you enjoy!

Day 1
El Vaso de Oro - seared foie gras & onions, padron peppers, patatas brava, granjero sandwich, steak and foie gras, 4 beers. 62E. Outrageously good tapas bar, filled with friendly locals. Packed at 3pm when we walked in(we started out standing), had slowed done by the time we left around 4:30ish.

Hisop* - 9pm reservation. Reef blue mussel with lettuce and cucumber sorbet amuse, fresh sardines with almond milk soup amuse, wife - smoked king prawns with shiitake mushrooms, me - "after eight" foie gras with mint foam and shaved chocolate, me - monkfish suquet romesco sauce saffron Bon Bon potato purée, wife - sole with cap i pota (veal head and foot gelatin terrine) and caviar, peach sorbet and green tea sauce, chantrelles ice cream with passion fruit and white chocolate, bottle of Penedes Chardonnay, two glasses of cava, bottles of sparkling & still water. 124E. Outstanding meal, ingredients & techniques are the stars. Didn't order tasting menu, but still received two amuse, and palate refresher before dessert. Great value for this Michelin starred gastronomic experience.

Day 2
Cafe con leche and a small croissant each from a little cafe near our apt for breakfast. We knew our upcoming lunch was going to be a feast and made sure we had room to fully indulge.

Took the 1 hour train ride from Barcelona north along the beautiful coastline to Sant Pol de Mar. Carme Ruscadella's Sant Pau*** - 2pm reservation. What entailed was quite easily the BEST meal of our lives. We've ate at fine dining establishments all over the US, especially in our hometown of San Francisco. However, this meal made all others pale in comparison, even in direct relation to another 3 star Michelin we've had the pleasure of dining at, the French Laundry. Our meal at Sant Pau was pure magic. We decided we'd be hard pressed to find a more beautiful setting paired with a more delicious meal anywhere else in the world. Our table was front and center overlooking their garden patio with the blue ocean almost close enough to reach out and touch stretching just beyond the garden to the horizon. We did the tasting menu which consisted of a palate awakening gazpacho-like broth called Oliaigo, followed by four amuse bouche tastes ("Bloody Mary",mini vegetable pie,rice & Roquefort fried croquette, and vegetable and pork sausage) presented in a mini stove, 5 seafood dishes (king prawn, crawfish, squid, and parrot fish), two meat choices (iberio pork & challans duck), of which we decided to supplement and get both each (it's our honeymoon we reasoned!), 3 creatively different preparations of Capricho cheese, a palate refresher of aromas of Montserrat "snow", two wonderfully creative and playfully plated desserts, finally followed by a beautiful two-tiered tray of mignardises, which we happily indulged upon in their beautiful garden. We opted to let the sommelier guide us and ordered the wine pairing. There was not a single dish or pairing that was a miss. Each dish's flavors we're impeccable and each pairing fully enhanced and complemented the subtleties of each dish perfectly. Easily the best pairing we've had. Words really do no justice to the dining experience. It is magical and transcendental and a must visit for food and wine lovers. Our meal finished just after 6pm and the sound of the waves crashing on the beach as we sat in the garden was the perfect finishing touch to a meal of a lifetime. 146E tasting menu + 46E meat supplement, 57E wine pairing + 6E supplement (11 generous pourings where in fact the sommelier topped us off multiple times as well), sparkling & still water, coffees. 479E total.

Day 3
Breakfast at La Boqueria. Pinoxto Bar - Walked up at 8:30am and got the last two seats at the bar. White beans and baby squids, potato and onion tortilla, and bread. Walked around the market taking in the sights and smells of all the amazing meat, seafood, and produces. Stumbled upon El Quim and decided we were still hungry. Gambas and razor clams. Don't remember how much we spent at each place at the La Boqueria, but Pinoxto was definitely less expensive and we enjoyed the food more and actually returned for the white beans and squids on another day, they were just so good.

Tickets - 7:30pm reservation made 2 months in advance to the date. The waitress explained there was an option where they would surprise us and bring us tasting sized portions of many things on the menu. That sounded great to us and the experience began. Watermelon infused with sangria, the Olive-S, joselito's gran reserva iberian ham, mini manchego cheese "airbags", tomato salad with gazpacho jello, avocado cannelloni with crab, oysters with oriental vinaigrette, tuna belly tartar with radish and plum, macerated prawns, truffled egg, mini pork sandwich, confit potatoes with boiled iberian ham, liquid ravioli of payoyo cheese, the animated forest, chocolate lava balls, catalan cream role. 2 beers, bottle of Cava, still water. 210E.

Day 4
On our way to Parc Guell, stopped right on the bus line at Catalana Cerveseria. Walked in at 12pm. Various Montaditos of iberian ham, foie and roquefort, seafood salad, smoked salmon, and iberian ham/lettuce/mayo, and sauteed mushrooms. 1 beer and 1 glass of wine. 40E. Delicious and inexpensive. We ended up going here 3 times over the trip for various snacks and delicious inexpensive white and red wine glasses and cold "Claras". Really a great place, easy to get into for the most part, due to it's large size. Only waited once for 15 minutes. Tried a lot of the menu and liked everything.

La Vinya del Senor - Walked in at 7pm. Foie meatballs, iberian ham, salmon tartar, salami sticks. Bottle of Rioja red. 50E. Cool wine bar with great location on square in front of Santa Maria del Mar church. Bonus of being walking distance from our apt.
Bubo pastry bar (next door to La Vinya) - Various bombons, rasperry sacher cake. Two espressos. 25E.

Day 5
Tapas 24 - walked in at 11:30am. House made peach and mint juice and orange juice. Bikini "Commerc 24" (ham/cheese/truffle bocadillo), Mc-foie burger (mini burger with scoop of foie butter to apply ourselves :), grilled squid bocadillo. 43E. Upscale tapas, good rich flavors. The fresh juices were great as well.

Neighborhood tapas crawl:
Sagardi - walked in at 7pm. Various Montaditos as this is a serve yourself Montadito bar. Standout was the smoked salmon with minced garlic and dill. 4 glasses of house white. 33E.
Taller de Tapas - walked in at 8:30pm. tomato bread, fried squid, gambas, seared onions and foie, Bottle of Rioja red. 47E.

Day 6
Breakfast at La Boqueria. White beans and baby squid from Pinoxto. Tuna and Salmon sashimi from Ma Lluisa Sanz Gana stand. Delicious super fresh tuna and salmon in it's purest form. Shopped for our picnic lunch at Parc de la Cuitadella.

Cal Pep - walked up at 7:15pm and there was already a big line. First day back from 3 week vacation for Cal Pep. Ended up narrowly missing the first seating at the bar. 45 minutes later and we had our seats in the middle of the bar. Tomato bread, clams, assorted fried fish and squid, tuna tartar, fried artichokes, grilled monkfish and vegetables, 4 beers, 4 glasses of cava. 100E. Great fun. Tasty simple food where they let the freshness of the ingredients shine. Thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Day 7
Cinc Sentits* - 2pm reservation. Amuses of green olives, spiced marcona almonds, and fried fish skin (which was like an amazing potato chip, but made of fish skin). "Cinc Sentits" shot: maple syrup, bourbon foam, fleur de sel. Wild Mediterranean albacore escabeche with smoked apple sorbet. Heirloom tomato with watermelon granita, catalan mozzarella, and micro basil. Foie gras, crisp coca crust, leeks, and chives. This was possibly the most delicious foie preperations we've ever had. Truly mind blowing dish. Perfectly balanced in flavors and textures. Pyrenees trout with zucchini, cucumber, smoked roe, Rias alta cheese, and pear. Organic milk-fed lamb with creamy herb rice, mustard ice cream, and fresh peach. Catalan farm house cheeses with carrot marmalade, melon and maldonado jamon, and nectarine accoutrements. Strawberries with vanilla bean, lime, and fresh herb cream. Chocolate and saffron ice cream scoops over coffee orange and hazelnuts crumbs. Assorted mignardises. Bottle of still water. Premium wine pairings. 295E.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  1. s
    SusanB Sep 16, 2012 01:48 PM

    Thanks for posting. We'll be in Barcelona in 3 weeks time. We have a reservation at Tickets, and I think that will be our 'splurge' meal, so I'm happy to hear about the 40 or 50 E places. When will you be posting part 2? Is it also Barcelona?

    3 Replies
    1. re: SusanB
      foodcoupleSF Sep 16, 2012 10:27 PM

      No problem! Tickets was amazing, I'm sure you will enjoy it! Part 2 is now up here, it's Paris: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8693...

      1. re: foodcoupleSF
        c oliver Sep 17, 2012 08:00 PM

        I'm kinda surprised to see this comment. Because this was the only place that you didn't praise, I was wondering if you were disappointed. We have res in November.

        1. re: c oliver
          foodcoupleSF Sep 19, 2012 11:47 AM

          I wrote these as I went so my memory would be fresher and can only say that my lack of praise must've resulted in my gushing over Sant Pau from the day before :) We did really enjoy our meal at Tickets and even ended up sitting next to a couple from Berkeley that we chatted with, such a small world!

    2. l
      LauraB Sep 16, 2012 07:27 PM

      Thanks for the report and tips. I am visiting for a conference in a few weeks and very much looking forward to the food in Barcelona. :-)

      1. SnackHappy Sep 16, 2012 08:43 PM

        Great report! Thanks for sharing.

        1. estufarian Sep 17, 2012 06:46 AM

          Thanks so much for reporting back.
          Agree with you - that meal at Sant Pau was the best of our lives - we were there the same day (and meal) and spoke to you in the garden.
          And missed you at Tickets - we were at 41 degrees that night and it was better than Sant Pau!
          But Sant Pau doesn't get the respect it deserves - doesn't even get its own thread here.
          Just too far for us to get to El Vaso de Oro (we stayed in Eixample) - but also hit Tapas24 - one of the better tapas places IMO (although I'm not generally a tapas fan).

          And a hint for those who can't make it to Sant Pau - the chef (Carme Ruscalleda) oversees the restaurant Moments (in the Shangri La in Barcelona) - her son is the chef there. Because Sant Pau itself was so good we cancelled a lunch at Moo and went to Moments instead. Can't talk about dinner, but the lunch prix fixe at Moments is outstanding. 45€ for a 3 course (optional 9€ upgrade for a fourth course). But extreme caution - this may ultimately be the most expensive meal of your life, because you will discover what fine dining (Michelin style) is all about and you risk becoming addicted - it's the gateway meal to fine dining!

          And, of course, congratulations to you both - welcome to the Community.
          And for clarity - the pictures in the original post are from Sant Pau.

          1 Reply
          1. re: estufarian
            foodcoupleSF Sep 17, 2012 01:24 PM

            Thanks for the clarification about the pictures and for the well wishes! Still dreaming about that meal at Sant Pau, now over two weeks ago. Our mouths were watering as we relived the tremendous experience as we went through our photos!

            Can't believe 41 degrees was even better! You've definitely added that in permanent pen to our list of places for our next visit to Barcelona.

            Wanted to mention that we only got to El Vaso twice, but would've gone at least twice more we liked it that much. However, they started their 3 week annual holiday a few days after our arrival. Oh well, more to try for our next trip!

            Agree with you about Tapas 24 and definitely want to go to try the whole menu on our next trip. A good hint though, when we went for early lunch, we walked right in and had almost the whole place to ourselves and although they didn't offer the full menu they still had two of their signature dishes, the bikini and the Mc-foie, which both were delicious!

            Glad we got to chat a bit in the garden, maybe we'll run into you their again as the wife and I've decided it must be a yearly pilgrimage! Good meeting you and looking forward to hearing about more of your culinary adventures here on the boards!

          2. c
            Chicas Sep 19, 2012 11:01 AM

            Thanks for this great report. I also have a 7:30 reservation at Tickets in a few weeks. How did you find the atmosphere that early in the Barcelona dining schedule? Was it mostly tourists? Would you recommend going with the "surprise" menu, or if you had to do it over again, would you go a la carte?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Chicas
              estufarian Sep 19, 2012 11:16 AM

              Tickets is nearly all tourists - locals won't (generally) pay those prices.
              The 'surprise' menu isn't really that - it's just a selection chosen by your server (or more cynically, what may not be 'moving' that evening). So scan the menu, choose what you fancy and if you want more, THEN ask for recommendations. It seems to me they push the 'famous olives' and also the oysters very hard.
              Don't miss the Manchego Airbags - or the Joselito jamon (unless you've already pigged out on the latter).

              1. re: estufarian
                c oliver Sep 19, 2012 11:41 AM

                Thanks for the ordering tips. As far as "tourists," I always see CHs wanting to go where the tourists don't go but let's face it, WE'RE tourists when we travel so doesn't bother me one bit :) Chicas, we have a res at 7. I'll just look upon it as everything will be available :)

                1. re: c oliver
                  s
                  SusanB Sep 19, 2012 03:38 PM

                  Probably it is a lot of tourists, but I'm looking forward to it. And the owner of the apartment that we're renting (a local from Barelona) has been a couple of times and really recommended it to us.

              2. re: Chicas
                foodcoupleSF Sep 19, 2012 12:00 PM

                Glad you liked the report! When we arrived at Tickets just before our 7:30pm reservation there was a line of about 8 people hoping to snag a cancellation. However, the restaurant was only about 3/4 full when we were seated. By the time we left a couple hours later, there wasn't a seat empty. Like estufarian said it's a surprise in that you don't know what's coming next, but everything was listed on the menu. We liked it because the menu is rather long and it gave us a chance to just relax and let the dishes come. We made sure to peruse the menu thoroughly so that if something we really wanted to try didn't seem like it was coming out, we'd be ready to add to our "surprises". The waitress did a great job and picked everything we would've picked and more. The only item that came out that was underwhelming was the confit potatoes with boiled ham, but that might be attributed to the fact that it came towards the end of the savory part of our meal and everything else was just so good. Also going the "surprise" route we got half orders of items that allowed us to try much more of the menu than if we had ordered a la carte. Also second estufarians rec to not miss out on the Airbags, they were sublime.

                1. re: foodcoupleSF
                  c oliver Sep 19, 2012 12:24 PM

                  Thanks for your 'add-on.' I'd planned on going the surprise route also and the fact that you go half orders is great. I really love to try all sorts of things. Funny about the Berkeley couple. Small world indeed.

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