Wednesday, January 14, 2015

THE SPANISH DIET, Foods of Barcelona

"Man of La Muncha"

There are certain countries that are always at the top of the Food Lovers List of places to visit.  Italy and Spain top our list and spending the next few months here is such a blessing, and a curse.  First of all, the prices for produce, cheese and wine are such a relief from so many other countries.  The ability to create a meal with fresh ingredients very inexpensively and drink wonderful wines at below $10 is one of the reasons so many people look at Spain as a possible retirement location.  The curse is having to walk by bakeries, tapas bars, and restaurants with such enticing visual and olfactory offerings -  I gain weight just walking down the street!  Of course, having sidewalk tables with food staring up at you is brutal.  Food is an avocation in Barcelona and practiced throughout the day. 

The meal is definitely a serious affair in Barcelona - ahhh, my kind of place!  We happily adopted the local eating habits of Barcelona! 

Here is how to gain weight on 5 meals a day:


Breakfast  is between 8 and 10 am -breakfast is the lightest meal of the day and normally it is coffee and a biscuit or roll.  Under our apartment in the Gracia neighborhood are lots of bars, cafes, and bakeries (the fresh baked bread wakens us every morning!) and you can get a "Cafe con Leche" and a sweet roll for 2 euros - that is a pretty good deal!  
Me - I'll skip the sweet roll and have coffee and wait for the next meal...

Mid morning snack or the real breakfast:

From 11 am to about 12:30 am, to keep one from fainting of hunger, most people will have a Media Manana or a little snack before going to lunch.  Since Rich seems to always be on the Atkins Diet, a protein snack in a cone of the famous Spanish Jamon will keep him until lunchtime - and not just any jamon it is the Iberico de Bellota - supposedly the best jamon in the world!   Most locals will eat the jamon on toasted bread with olive oil and tomato.   

It's still snack time and tapas are served everywhere - deep fried baby squid or El Chipirons (my favorite tapa) and a potato tortilla (Rich's favorite).  In the local bars and kiosks you will also see small sandwiches and a small glass of beer for a couple of Euros - we prefer tapas! 
 This will keep us going until Lunch!...

Lunch time:

The main meal of the day is Lunch eaten between 1:30 - 3:30 pm.  This is when the vermouth, sangria or wine; a starter (more tapas!!!), the main dish, (usually paella for one of us) and maybe a dessert.  Once this 3 course meal is done, the "Siesta" is still respected in this country!

Mereinda time:
Time for a little break or Merienda around 5 to 6 pm.  The snack before dinner can be savory or sweet - we choose the sweet!  Churros con chocolate!  
We beat the rush into this iconic 100 year old cafe the Granja Viader...

...On another day we found Churreria Granja Ruz on Carrer Princessa, all of us agreed these were the best churros (especially the chocolate ones!) we have eaten here - we went back 3 times just to be sure!

Of course, we have done savory meriendas before dinner too!  
Beer and a plateful of all our favorite tapas was always a favorite repast for us!  
Tortillas (a potato omelet), potato bravas with aioli sauce (Spanish fries), padrons (like a mini relleno), squid, and of course the olives!


Dinner time here is usually when I'm ready for bed - but not here in Barcelona!   
Evening meals are normally after 9 pm until 11 pm and traditionally, the dinner meal is not quite as large as the lunch - (more tapas then!!)
Our first weekend, the Gracia neighborhood hosted a Craft Beer Fest -a perfect place for dinner with beer, local artisan cheese, and pizza with the famous Spanish jamon on it!!
And our  favorite beer of the fest happened to have a pig as their logo!!!

More Food!!!
Time for our cooking class....

To learn more about Catalan cuisine, we decided to take a cooking class from Just Royal with chef extraordinaire Alfredo!  He welcomed us with a starter of quail egg and chorizo on toast (don't pay attention to that vegetarian tapa on the left).

Chef Alfredo picked Trevor (since it was his birthday) to start off the class with the Spanish Potato Tortilla.  So serious Trevor!... I think he was afraid he would disappoint Chef Alfredo.
Wow!  Look at that perfect flip - Chef Alfredo is so proud!

Renata and Eric were called up next...  Ren was making a vegetarian rice dish (a Spanish style risotto) and Eric was starting the seafood Paella...  Since Eric was eating the meal while he was supposed to be cooking, (troublemaker) he was asked to pour wine instead,  and the professionals stepped in to finish the paella....

The most famous traditional dessert in Barcelona is La Crema Catalana.  I did my best to work with the chef on the dessert, but this was his baby.  He did not want anyone (me) to ruin it!  I have to say it was perfection!

Ahhh!!  We got through the cooking and sat down and shared the meal some of us worked very hard on!  Thanks so much to Chef Alredo Rodriguez of Just Royal and Damaris Bonales (the chef's charming interpreter)!

Sitting in one of the many beautiful plazas in Barcelona chatting about all the food we have eaten, and waiting once more for the tapas to arrive!!  

The End
"My Big End"!!