Monday, December 14, 2009

Cal Pep - Barcelona, Spain

This was one of my favorite places to eat during our stay in Barcelona. I don't know if it's because when you order a glass of wine, they unabashedly plop a whole bottle of wine in front of you, or whether it's the sound of Mr. Pep's raspy voice. The food was excellent and the staff were so friendly and attentive and I just dug the vibe.

If you are walking down Placa de les Olles after visiting the Picasso Museum, you'll see this awning and perhaps a line of people waiting to get in. There's only a dozen or so seats at the counter. It's a tiny yet lively space. We were expecting to wait quite a bit for lunch, but we were really lucky to get a seat about 5 minutes after we arrived. We noticed a much longer line when we were leaving.
There's Mr. Pep himself. He goes around to each party and makes sure you are enjoying your meal. He suggests five dishes for you to try. I think we got full after the fourth dish so we had to stop.
We started off with our trusty companion, the tomato bread.
Here's my bottle of wine and Pete got a bottle of red all to herself. One guy next to us finished a bottle all by himself. Impressive. Pete and I thought we had to drink the whole thing. Turns out they only charge you for how many glasses you drink. haha.
We started off with almejas con jamon, some clams sauteed with ham, shallots, garlic and parsley. This was fantastic.

Tortilla EspaƱola is a very popular bar item in Barcelona but this one blows the others out of the water. Without a doubt, this was my favorite dish at Cal Pep. This potato and egg custard-like omelet was crispy and golden on the outside and creamy and velvety with bits of onions and crispy chorizo on the inside. Let's not forget the light coat of garlic aioli smeared on top too.

There's a guy, whose sole job is to make these omelets. He was frying these up nonstop. I was trying to figure out what goes into this lovely egg and potato concoction, but I couldn't get a good look, I just saw flames.
Next, a plate of wild mushrooms and sliced sausages. Very tasty as well.
Here are their chipirones, squid in a chickpea sauce. Who knew that beans and squid could go so well together. So flavorful.
I was curious to see what our last dish would have been, but we were so full, especially me, since Pete doesn't like beans so I pretty much ate all of the squid and chickpea dish. For dessert, they brought us two cups of frothy white and dark chocolate mousse.

There seemed to be a mix of tourists and locals sitting next to us and everyone seemed to be enjoying their meal. I've been amazed at how these restaurants can cook up such amazing dishes in such a tiny space. It's really impressive.

They ask for your email address afterwards and they've already sent me an email featuring a Stuffed and Baked Fresh Hake. Now, if only I can figure out where to get hake in the states.

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