Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekend trip to Barcelona

Bobby gave a talk in Barcelona on Wednesday, so we took the opportunity to have a long weekend away from cold, dark, rainy Copenhagen. We arrived Saturday evening and immediately went to a tapas bar. We both had some cava, the Spanish version of champagne. We then proceded to stuff ourselves full of a variety of little bites.
We simply had to take our plate up to the bar and pick what we wanted.
We had some Ibérico ham, goat cheese with tapenade, and another soft cheese with an onion jam.
We also had crab salad, fish cake, and salmon mousse with roasted bell pepper. You can see one toothpick spearing each tapa; this is how the waiters know what to charge you. We paid by the toothpick, and each tapa was 1.95€. So for under 40€, we ate a ton of tapas and had enough cava to leave us feeling happy.
But no evening out is complete without dessert. On our walk home, we came across a lovely little gelato place. We shared two scoops; I chose dark chocolate, and Bobby chose cherries and cream. As you can see, Bobby was very happy with his choice.
The next morning we started our day with some café con leche and croissants from the amazing Hofmann bakery. We were lucky enough to stay just a few blocks away from Hofmann, which is one of the best bakeries in Barcelona. We tried their croissants filled with mascarpone and one filled with raspberry jam. I was hoping they would have their mango-filled croissant, which I had been recommended to try, but they didn't make any on the two days we visited. Oh well, we were quite happy with our selections!
This was our second trip to Barcelona; we first visited in June 2009. The nice thing about going to a city you've already been to is that there is less pressure to visit everything since you've already seen so much of it. We therefore didn't feel any guilt about just wandering and meandering around. We still saw a few historical sites, like the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. There was a concert of some traditional Catalan dance music outside of the cathedral; there were many older (and even a few younger) people wearing special shoes dancing in a big circle. One man was energetically waving the Catalan flag.
We even re-visited the side cloister, which is home to a gaggle of noisy geese. I wonder if the Cathedral's priests get a special meal of foie gras every so often...?
I just love this covered passage!
We continued our relaxed strolling in the Gothic area, stopping for not a cone of ice cream but a cone of meat!
We love all of the cured meats you can find in Spain. We were quite tempted to buy a whole hock to take home, but we didn't think it would fit in our carry-on. Next time, we'll bring a bigger suitcase.
We also did some shopping while in Barcelona. As you can see in this photo, I was in shoe heaven. All ballet flats, all made with good materials in Barcelona! Needless to say, I bought a pair. But don't feel too bad for Bobby; he eventually got a pair of shoes as well (not ballerina flats, though).
The days are getting very short in Copenhagen; it is completely dark by 16:30, and it's quite chilly as well (we might get our first proper snowfall this week!). It was still a pleasant temperature in Barcelona, though; it was in the 70s during the day with plenty of sunshine to make us feel very pale. The days are also longer, which helped us adapt to the Spanish meal schedule. In Spain, it's very unusual to eat dinner before 20:00 or 21:00. I don't mind eating late so long as I have a cone of meat as a snack in the later afternoon. However, what is difficult is knowing what to do with the hours between 18:00 and 20:00! So, of course, we drank. We really, really enjoyed this sangria. Bobby enjoyed his sangria so much that he gave a euro to some really crappy street musicians.
After a bit too much sangria and support of the arts, we headed to dinner. We greatly enjoyed this squid, along with a few other dishes. Unfortunatley, we ordered a large plate of cockles (sea snails). It turns out we both hate cockles. Land snails are tasty; sea snails not so much. Oh well, live and learn!
The next day we headed to the Park Güell. Completed in 1914, the park was designed by the famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (perhaps best known for the Sagrada Família church).
The park is a UNESCO world heritage site and at .17 km2, it is one of the largest architectural sites in southern Europe.
La Torre Rosa, which is also within the park, was where Gaudí lived for a number of years. Compared to his other works, I think the style of this building is quite restrained.
This is more what I expect from Gaudí.
For our last dinner together, Bobby and I went out to a wild game restaurant. The restaurant, Pitarra, is housed in an old clock-makers studio and there are many different clocks all over the walls. The food was pretty good, though a bit under-seasoned. We started with some local mushrooms, which were served with Iberico ham, prawns, and parsley sauce.
We then split two main courses. We started with the leg of baby goat. This was served with more mushrooms, a long and slow roasted tomato, and scalloped potatoes. This was my favorite course. The goat leg was very tender and juicy, falling off the bone like pork knuckle. When a couple next to us ordered the same dish, the waiter asked if they wanted the right leg or the left leg (at first they didn't understand that he was joking).
Our final course was wild board in a chocolate sauce. The boar was tasty and not too gamey, which was nice because we've had some really, really gamey boar in the past. The chocolate sauce, however, was too overpowering, and too chocolately. It wasn't bad, but nor was it great.

All in all, we had a really lovely weekend relaxing in Barcelona. We spent out time wandering around, eating well, sipping cafés, and enjoying each other's company. A perfect weekend away!

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