I was on the go mostly when I was visiting Toledo, Granada and Sevilla, so I ended up eating a lot of sandwiches. I tried their bocadillos de tortilla espanola (potato omelet sandwich), bocadillos con jamon and even a bocadillo de calamares (squid ring sandwich). I was beginning to think Spanish people only ate sandwiches.
Thank goodness I went to Barcelona and discovered tapas. So forgive the lack of food pictures in Toledo, Granada and Sevilla. If you really want to see a squid ring sandwiches, I'll email it to you. =)
So we pick up in Barcelona where I met up with my friend Matthew, who also happened to be visiting Barcelona at the same time. He was staying with his college friend, Eric, who moved to Spain a few years ago. It was like having our own Rick Steves, but so much better. I told Eric that he should write a guidebook with a local twist and even offered to move to Spain to be his contributing editor. The offer remains open.
It was so nice having someone take you to all the great, local restaurants and also figure out what to order for you. I don't think we had one bad meal under his tutelage. One night, Eric and his girlfriend even cooked us a wonderful, home cooked meal, which we enjoyed out on their charming front terrace. The following day, Eric took the day off and showed us around Gaudi's Parc Guell. We wandered through the park and somehow ended up at this beautiful viewpoint with three stone crosses on top, the Turo de les Tres Creus.
There was a guy at the base playing the most ethereal, dreamy song on his guitar and a group of people sitting on top just looking out at the view of the city below. It was so picturesque and as Eric put it best, it felt "magical."
After our long descent down from the park, we headed to the Gracias district of Barcelona for lunch. It's a less touristy part of town and it definitely has a small neighborhood type of feel to it. Sol de Nit is a small bar located in a cozy square called Plaza del Sol. Paying homage to the sun, most of the restaurants and stores have some reference to el sol in their name. Sol de Nit was already bustling by the time we got there and there were folks sitting outside enjoying the sun, tapas and cold beer.
Eric went to work with the menu and did an awesome job. It's hard to see but that brown bowl holds pimiento de padrons. Remember those shisito peppers I had at Ippudo? Who would have guessed that I'd see them again in Spain. They were just as delicious, fried in some olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt. Apparently, once in awhile you might get a really spicy pepper, but all of the ones we had were mild. It's impossible not to keep popping them in your mouth. I had an open love affair with these peppers the whole trip. Ask Pete, I ordered them every chance I got.
We also had a plate of thinly sliced salt cod with some olive oil and olive tapenade. I've never had this before, but it was delicious. The cod literally dissolves in your mouth. Sooo good.
And it wouldn't be a proper meal without a ham sandwich, right? I'm not sure what the name of this sandwich is below, but you basically start with a huge piece of rustic bread that's been toasted and rubbed with garlic and very ripe tomatoes. It's then drizzled in olive oil and seasoned with salt. To this, you add roasted eggplant, onions and red peppers and some anchovy fillets. Who knew such simple, humble ingredients could be transformed it into something so spectacular. I don't know if I could recreate this at home, but I might have to try.
I hearted this even place more when I saw this cute little sign on their window. They only serve "costumers." Don't forget to dress up when you come here.