Monday, December 14, 2009

El Xampanyet & La Llavor dels Origens - Barcelona, Spain

Just down the street from the Picasso Museum is one of Barcelona's most famous tapas bars. I wanted to try cava, Spanish champagne, while in Barcelona and I was told El Xampanyet was the place for it. We stopped by for pre-dinner drinks around 8 or 9 pm and even at that time, it was packed and bustling. It's apparently a local's favorite too. It's a tiny little space with small tables scattered throughout, colorfully tiled walls and lots of interesting nick nacks hung around the bar. There's a jovial buzz to the place that's infectious.
Here's my glass of cava with a platter of ubiquitous tomato bread.
We tried resisting tapas while we were here since we were on the way to dinner, but we eyed some cured sausage being served and had to order some.
It's a fun and lively place for drinks and tapas and the staff, who we think are all family members, are really friendly.

We headed down the street for dinner at Origens 99.9%, which was supposed to be on the same street near Passeig del Born. We saw the sign for Origens (see below), scurried inside and sat down. We opened the menu to find that it said, "we, La Llavor dels Origens, have nothing to do with Origens 99.9%." Oops, I guess we were at the wrong place then. We looked at the rest of their menu, which was translated in English and looked interesting enough, so we decided to stay.

They apparently specialize in Catalan cuisine and also sell olive oil, wine and cheese from all over Catalonia. I think we would have benefited from an Eric though, because we didn't really know what was good, so we stuck with what we were familiar with, which resulted in OK food, but nothing spectacular.

We ordered a salad with figs, hazelnuts and goat cheese from La Garrotxa, which was tasty. We had heard that the meatballs with cuttlefish were good at Origens 99.9% so we thought we'd try it here. It was alright. And last but not least, we ordered a "macaroni of the grandmother." While the English translated menu was very helpful, some of the translations didn't carry over so well, so macaroni of the grandmother turned out to be penne pasta.

There was an interesting item on the menu that we were curious about as well. It was called "Roasted back with you countersink." haha. From the picture, it looked like a meat dish so we asked what it was and the waitress told us that it was just a very bad translation. I think it was roasted pork. So don't worry, no countersinks were harmed in the process. =) I thought Koreans were the only ones with funny translation errors, but I was amused to see that it happens in Spain as well.

For dessert, Matthew ordered mató with honey and walnuts. This is a very popular dessert made from goat cheese. It looked like cheesecake, but tasted more like tofu. I liked it, but then again, I tend to like bland, mushy things like tofu and cottage cheese. Pete got the strawberries with yoghurt. The strawberries were macerated with balsamic vinegar and black pepper. What is on our plate? Caramel? I don't even recall that being there till now. And for my dessert, I ordered three glasses of muscatel. hahaha, j/k. They just gave us those to drink.

I think I had been spoiled by eating such great food at other places that I wasn't as impressed with Origens, but I do appreciate that they try to use organic and local ingredients and that their prices are reasonable. I thought initially that maybe it wasn't as good because we went to the wrong Origens, but after doing some poking around online, it turns out that we were at the right place all along. The original founders of Origens 99.9% wanted to separate themselves from the franchise that they became, so they ended up changing their restaurant name to La Llavor dels Origens. I kind of hoped a real Origens existed somewhere that I would have loved instead, but I guess that's wishful thinking on my part. Maybe our experience might have been different if we ordered the "Roasted back with you countersink" instead. Note to self, when in doubt, order the weirdest translation on the menu and you might be pleasantly surprised.

El Xampanyet
Carrer de Montcada, 22

La Llavor dels Origens

Vidriera, 6 (corner of Passeig del Born)

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