Sagradas Tapas

Where? Sagradas Tapas (Eixample, Barcelona, Spain) Map Menu

When? Monday January 10, 2022

Who? Marc

Food Style? Tapas

My final night in Barcelona is going out with a bang. I’m going to have a mega tapas feast with Sagrada Familia in the background. We’re just outside the tourist zone of the world’s most famous unfinished cathedral, so the food should be excellent and authentic. They've recommended that the two of us share four or five dishes. The problem is how do I decide on just a few dishes? All of them sound so good. Let's get some sangria made from cava, Catalan sparkling wine, to start off.


Holy smokes the cava sangria is massive. It’s delightfully fruity and effervescent, and the glass is so large I can’t even hold it in one hand. Why is this so much, I am going to have a bad time.

Tapa #1


Gambas al Ajillo: garlic prawns
Delicious flavour, really nice, strong garlic taste.

Tapa #2


Pimientos del Padrón: fried padrón peppers
Sweet and smokey, I love having these at tapas meals. Pity they aren't spicy though.

Tapa #3


Escalivada con Queso de Cabra: roasted vegetables with goat cheese
This was not what I was expecting, at all, but I love the pistachio crunch in this dish. The goat's cheese is half melting over the warm vegetables and adds a natural saltiness.

Tapa #4


Abóndigas: homemade meatballs
I think this was my favourite. Hearty and really had that homemade feel. The sauce was delicious. It was piping hot when served to us, and in the cool Barcelona night, it was a welcome source of warmth.

Tapa #5


Tortilla Española: Spanish potato omelette
Really good combination of egg and potato. This is one of Spain's national dishes, and fierce debate rages over whether this should be served with onion or not. This particular one is sin cebolla, without.

Still hungry. We've gone for four more dishes, making our total a whopping nine!

Tapa #6


Dados de Solomillo a la Pimienta: sirloin cubes with black pepper
Tasty but overall a bit disappointing, a little bit under seasoned. It works really well with the meatball sauce. It sounded better on paper.

Tapa #7


Bacalao Gratinado con Alioli: gratin cod with garlic mayonnaise
The fish is cooked absolutely perfectly and flakes away beautifully. The aioli is fantastic.

Tapa #8


Chips de Berenjena: eggplant chips
Delicious. There's a hint of sweetness, they've put sugar in the batter. It's a bit strange at first but after a few, I'm really enjoying it. The texture is perfect - crispy outside, soft inside.

Tapa #9


Huevos Rotos con Chistorra: broken fried egg with small spicy sausage
Wonderful saltiness from sausage and richness from egg with crispy and fluffy potatoes. We've been stretched to the limit by this one, and we can't finish the potatoes.

We also can't finish the sangrias, and I am super done for the night. I have to get up early to go to the airport tomorrow. It's been a wonderful time here, and I'm sad to return to Toronto, which is currently in a mini lockdown where indoor dining is prohibited, and outdoor dining is unfeasible in -20C weather.


Montolio Can Maño

Where? Montolio Can Maño (Barceloneta, Barcelona, Spain) Map

When? Friday January 7, 2022

Who? Me

Food Style? Catalan Seafood

I was looking up a place to eat by the beach and I googled the Catalan term for “menu of the day”, menú del día. This is the name given to the prix fixe menu given to workers to ensure they had at least one good meal a day. This place comes up on a list of Barcelona's best for menú del día, and it's on a small side alley that doesn't have a lot of tourists. I don't see the menu of the day though, only a blackboard with various seafood. There's no trace of English and the wait staff kinda can’t communicate with me, but pointing, nodding and Google translate has got me some food. I seem to be the only one in this predicament, even though there’s some French speakers around, they seem to know Catalan and Spanish as well.

Mains #1


Mejillones: mussels
Sweet and juicy with lots of delicious garlic and olive oil flavour. I know these are tiny and don’t have the satisfaction that NZ green lip mussels have, but this is still pretty good.

Mains #2


Pimiento: peppers
They haven’t been seasoned, but after dipping it in the mussel sauce, it’s really good. Love that smoky charred flavour.

Mains #3


Sardinas: sardines
It takes a bit of practice but by the third one I’m able to remove the meat from the main bone pretty efficiently. The flavours are simple but delicious, herbs, olive oil and that natural seafoody saltiness. The small bones are awkward but edible at least.

This was the perfect amount of food for lunch, and there's enough room in my stomach for some ice cream on yet another fine Barcelona day. I feel like some Amorino...


Restaurant Malaysia

Where? Restaurant Malaysia (Eixample, Barcelona, Spain) Map Menu

When? Wednesday January 5, 2022

Who? Me

Food Style? Malaysian

Okay yeah I know, why am I eating Malaysian food in Catalonia of all places. Well, I was recommended this place by a former coworker from New Zealand who now lives here and his credibility is on the line. We used to regularly go for Malaysian food back in Wellington so he at least should have an idea of what is good and bad. I’m going to see just how authentic they are and whether they live up to my high standards.

Drink


Teh Tarik
My teh tarik is pretty damn spot on. Chocolatey and creamy, it’s just how I remember it from home. It doesn’t have that frothy milk layer from being "pulled" and it’s probably from a packet, but I don’t care, this has set a good tone and I'm in a good mood.

Entree


Kerabu Tauhu: fried tofu with sliced cucumber, onions, peanuts and sweet chili sauce
The tofu is beautifully crispy and the sweet chili sauce is perfectly spicy. It’s definitely home made and not that weak rubbish you normally get from a supermarket. I’m more used to the cucumber being thinner but it’s not a dealbreaker. The best version I've had of this dish is from KK Malaysian Restaurant in Epsom, Auckland. That’s two out of two, let’s see how the main course stacks up.

Mains


Char Kuay Teow: stir-fried flat rice noodles with prawn, chicken and bean sprouts
Of course I have to order the kuay teow, it’s my one favourite dish that I can’t cook at home. First glance: the noodles are wrong. They’re too thin. Carrot is not normally fried with the noodles but there’s not a lot so I can let that slide. The most important question is whether this has wok hei - breath of the wok - that wonderful smokiness that the wok imparts to the ingredients when frying things at a high temperature. A smell of the food, then a taste…yep, there it is. Delicious. The taste is pretty good and better than what I was expecting. The sambal belacan I’ve ordered goes well with the meal, adding that salty spicyness. The noodles being small are really my only complaint about this, and it’s important because it’s harder to eat with chopsticks, otherwise this is a big pass from me.

Dessert


Bubur Hitam: Indonesia sweet black rice with coconut milk
Okay I’ll get a dessert as well. Bubur hitam is something I have never seen outside of Malaysia, not even from my favourite Malaysian restaurants in New Zealand. I can tell it’s been microwaved because some parts are nuclear hot and some parts are luke warm, but the flavour is pretty on point. The gula melaka tastes just like it’s from home, and the aroma of coconut is excellent. Again, a few flaws but still a pass.

As I’m finishing up, I can hear the kitchen yelling out some things in Bahasa, and that pleases me because it means they’re from Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia, and they know what their food should taste like. It turns out one is from Indonesia, one is from Johor Bahru, but the chef is from Kuala Lumpur, and actually I can also hear some Cantonese being brandied about. I’ve been burned at least three times by people who claim they know Malaysian food but in fact have only spent a few months or years in Malaysia and don’t know what the proper flavour profile of this complex cuisine should be. I had a good chat to the staff and it was lovely to hear that accent again.

Oh yeah I got a small discount too for being so enthusiastic about the food. Yuss!


Veiga Tapas Bar and Cerveseria

Where? Veiga Tapas Bar and Cerveseria (El Camp de l'Arpa del Clot, Barcelona, Spain) Map Menu

When? Tuesday January 4, 2022

Who? Marc

Food Style? Tapas

The last time I was in Barcelona I didn’t get to fully enjoy a proper tapas meal, which is really something that must be done with a few people, much like how the Chinese do yum cha. Interestingly enough, the origins of tapas are very much rooted in drinks, just like how the Chinese equivalent is focused on "drinking tea". Travelers to Andalusian taverns would cover their glasses of sherry with bread or salted cured meat to prevent fruit flies from hovering near the sweet liquid, and over time the accompaniment became as important as the drink. Marc has taken me to a classic tapas bar for the locals, and they serve some fantastic Galician and Basque food here. They recommended three dishes to share between the two of us.

Tapa #1


Torrezno
Torrezno is a fried bacon snack usually made from the entrails of the pig. Not going to lie, the Chinese do it better with our siu yuk. Beautiful salty and meaty but a huge pity the skin isn’t crispy.

Tapa #2


Patatas Bravas
Definitely the best patatas bravas I've ever had in my life. This was sublime. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and the sauce is clearly home made and absolutely fantastic, delicious and creamy. Perfection.

Tapa #3


Zorza o Picadillo
A dish made with the meat of a chorizo sausage that has been removed from the casing and cured before cooking it with spicy red peppers. Served with a delicious egg with a molten yolk that enrichens the meat and provides that bit of relief to the intense flavours.

Three dishes on and we are still hungry, so we ordered another three.

Tapa #4


Octopus
Wow. Beautiful texture and well spiced, full of flavour. The Spanish really know how to elevate this delicious protein to the next level.

Tapa #5


Buñuelos de Bacalao: Cod balls
Crispy on the outside and beautifully soft on the inside, and wonderful flavour.

Tapa #6


Manchego and Iberico Ham
Served with pa amb tomàquet, the delicious crusty bread rubbed with tomatoes. This combination of flavours really hits that Mediterranean feel home, and we're so full now that we can't even fit in dessert. Also, I've had too much sangria.


Mas Pi

Where? Mas Pi (Verges, Spain) Map Menu

When? Monday January 3, 2022

Who? Marc

Food Style? Traditional Catalan

I’m back at a traditional Catalan house for a weekday lunch. The specials are different during the week because they cater more to locals and the workers who aren’t on holiday during this time of year. They have a prix fixe for €12.50 and that’s a full three course meal with bread and a glass of wine. Amazing! Certain dishes have an additional cost, but this is of no concern to me, I'm here for the experience.

Entree #1


Cargols de la Iaia Maruja: Grandma Maruja's Snails
Snails, while made famous in France, are also very common in Catalan cuisine so I’m going to find out how they compare to escargot. They’re smaller but sweeter, and cooked with oil and iberico ham instead of butter. I love that saltiness of the ham and it mellows out nicely with the creamy garlic spread and tomato sauce. I’m happily eating all the sauce with the fresh home baked bread.

Entree #2


Calçots a la Brasa amb Salsa Romesco: Grilled calçots with romesco sauce
Calçots are a type of green onion local to the area. Here, they have been barbequed beautifully with that wonderful smokey char to bring out the sweetness. To eat, you dip it in the house-made romesco sauce and then act like you’re sword swallowing. This is one of Catalonia’s most celebrated dishes, and they even have a special name for when people gather just to eat this: calçotada.

Mains #1


Arròs Negre: Black rice
Rich and creamy, the prawn taste is so prominent and appetising. I’m really impressed by how much flavour they’ve packed into the rice.

Mains #2


Confit d’Anec 5 Aglans: Duck confit with five acorns
I’m not sure if I'm supposed to have five literal acorns on my plate, or whether the elements on the plate are supposed to represent acorns, but the duck is cooked perfectly and the sauce has that wonderful sweetness from the prunes. It’s well balanced with the pearl onions. I’m gnawing the flesh off the bones like a savage but I absolutely do not want to waste any of that delicious meat.

Dessert #1


Pastís Casolà de la Louissa: Louissa's homemade cake
I have no idea what this is but it’s the house speciality, so I’ve ordered it. Marc asks what it is but refuses to translate it for me so I’m going to be surprised. It’s a sponge cake base with cold baked fruits like apple, peach and rhubarb.

Dessert #2


Flam d’Ou amb Nata: egg flan with whipped cream
Marc wants a panna cotta but I convince him to have something actually Catalan and not Italian so he’s gracefully changed his order. It’s a lot more solid than flan you’d find in the US but the sweetness of the caramel sauce is superb.

I’m a lot more controlled after this meal than yesterday because I didn’t drink as much wine, but also I think the wine is weaker so that people don’t get too sloshed before returning to work. I’m very full and satisfied, this meal was top notch.