Urban Getaway: Barcelona Spring 2010


by Lauren Dickinson

Barcelona is not a city well suited to winter, so it is a relief when the sun starts shining more consistently and trips to the beach become more frequent.  Here are some recent recommendations if you’re thinking about a trip:

  • A visit to the Boqueria market on Las Ramblas: it should be overrated since it’s on every guidebook’s checklist, but yet it is not remotely. It is in fact awe-inspiring with the variety of fruit, fish, meat, cheese…any food you can think of nearly, all so incredibly colorful and healthy looking it becomes difficult to choose, so you might as well wander around, tasting what you can as you go. If you’re still hungry there is no shortage of small food bars in the back.

  • If I was going to open a tapas bar it would have to be like Bar Mut– tiny and unpretentious yet with far better style than any other tapas place I’ve seen, serving market inspired contemporary tapas. No corner bar grease nor molecular inspired foam here.  Typical dishes include calamari with fresh peas and butifarra to suckling pig with kumquats, plus a long list of wines by the glass to try.
  • Barcelona has a wide range of fine restaurants, but frequently the stars do not align to produce the holy trinity of great food, style, and service all at once. Yet Big Fish reaches it effortlessly: a relaxed atmosphere where you can sink into a worn leather love seat, pick from seriously good grilled fish or sushi, and have a waiter who watches carefully for the exact moment you finish your glass of cava to run back smiling with a refill.  Five generations in the family of fishmongers accounts for the food quality, how the rest is so good remains a mystery.
  • You might have heard of Priorat by now as it is only the second wine region in Spain to qualify as a DOCa (the highest qualification) after Rioja, but frequently the price, of this region’s wines can be prohibitive.  However, check out the label Onix, which retails for under $20 and will give you an idea of the terroir, which is known to produce intense wines with a licorice edge. And keep your eyes out for wines from Montsant, the DO surrounding Priorat and increasing producing Priorat style wines with character for more friendly prices.

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