Posts Tagged ‘dining’

Barcelona Dining, So Far… Iggy

April 21st, 2008 at 4:49 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

For dinner on our first night in Barcelona we were wandering about after having toured the Sagrada Familia, and then walked a number of miles to the Arc de Triomphe (a bit smaller than the one in Paris), which led to a long line of market stands. We then walked into the La Ribera area near the Barri Gotic. We were still early – it was only just about 8:30pm, and ended up picking the first decent looking restaurant we came upon which had already opened – the restaurant Iggy.

Iggy specialized in Italian cuisine, and had a pretty diverse menu. Our charming waitress was actually Italian herself, from the island of Sardinia. We had an excellent bottle of Priorat (a red wine which comes from a particular region of Spain) and an excellent meal. Appetizers we enjoyed included Steak Tartar, steamed shellfish, stacked Caprese salad, and goat cheese ravioli. For our main courses we had roast lamb shoulder, a tender Ossobuco, pumpkin gnocchi (the only mild disappointment as the gnocchi were not fresh and tender), ox tail, and Turkish snuff tail (a type of fish). Dessert consisted of a chocolate fondant, apple tartlets, and ice cream, along with a sweet Spanish sherry with overtones of raisins. Final bill was around 240 Euros (approximately US$380), plus a 20 Euro tip (tipping is not that common in Spain, with a tip typically consisting of rounding up the bill to the next round number) for the nice service we received. Iggy gets an 8.0 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale.


Barcelona Dining, So Far… Txapela

April 21st, 2008 at 6:41 am (AST) by Jake Richter

As some of you may know, the three older Richters are foodies. Bas is slowly getting more adventurous too, and for an 11 year old boy, does well (his favorite foods include mussels, snails, and steak tartar), but he doesn’t hold a candle to the rest of us.

As foodies, we try to explore the local cuisines of areas we visit, and here in Barcelona, there are three overlapping cuisines we were are working to sample and experience: Catalan, Mediterranean, and Spanish. That’s in conjunction with some excellent Spanish wines, of course, as well as with another wine-based concoction: Sangria.

As mentioned in my previous post, dining times here in Spain are a bit unusual from an American perspective. Most local restaurants are open for lunch until about 4pm, and then re-open around 8:30-9pm (some as late as 10pm) for dinner. Back home we usually have lunch between Noon and 1pm, and dinner starting betweek 6 and 7pm). I’m hoping jet-lag makes the whole adjustment to later dining times easier.

So far we have dined at four restaurants, with a failed attempt to dine at yet one more.

Our two lunch experiences have both been at places which offer a popular form of Spanish dining, namely something called “Tapas“, with the restaurants serving Tapas frequently referred to as Tapas Bars. Spoken quickly this sounds like “Topless Bars”, a misunderstanding which is a source of frequent amusement to us.

Tapas Bars in the U.S. are bars (as in alcohol bars) which serve Tapas, while here in Barcelone, they are bars more along the line of Sushi Bars – you can set at the “bar” and select from a variety of Tapas shown under glass at said bar.

So what are Tapas? Well, the term refers to small plates of a particular food item – it might be a cold food, like marinated octopus or ham on small slices of bread, or hot food like skewers of meat or patatas bravas (chunks of potato with a spicy sauce).

The plates either comes as individual items for one person or as a slightly larger small plate featuring multiple portions of the ordered item, ideal for sharing with others at your table. Our experience with Tapas in the U.S. so far had been with the latter approach – you typically get enough for sharing with one or two other people, and make a meal of ordering a half dozen different Tapas items which are all shared.

Our first restaurant was Txapela (pronounced “Chapella”), a couple blocks from our hotel, right near the busy intersection of Passeig de Gracia and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. While the weather was still a bit brisk, it was a beautiful afternoon, so we sat outside at the cafe portion of the restaurant. Our waitress did not speak English, and our Catalan and Spanish were minimal, but thanks to a pictographic menu of Tapas, we were able to order our Tapas-based meal without too many complications. The tapas at Txapela were the first single portion size tapas we had ever experienced. We ended up ordering two or three of each of the kinds we wanted to sample (about ten different kinds overall), and enjoyed them all. We accompanied the meal with a couple of pitchers of sangria, a blend of wine, fruit, fruit juices, and as we discovered in this case, a heavy dose of sugar too. While the food was good, service, while friendly, was a bit spotty. For the six of us, the bill came to around 120 Euros (about US$190). Based on what we’ve been seeing of prices here, that’s not unreasonable, and certainly eating outdoors was a pleasure (albeit a bit cold for those of us with thin blood) as we could do all sorts of people watching. Txapela gets a 7.0 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale.