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Eating Like Royalty — 18 Hours in Barcelona

October 15, 2014

I’m jumping ahead chronologically to share our last day together before Katherine returns to the States and her duties in the classroom.  The train from Narbonne is a quick two hours to Barcelona.  With her good nose for restaurants, she found us a tiny little gem called La Perla del Oro, where we enjoyed a satisfying lunch after taking on the mob on La Rambla and ogling the gorgeous food at La Boquería.

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A visit to Barcelona isn’t complete without checking on the progress of La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s Gothic/Art Nouveau masterpiece. Construction began in 1882, with his vision proceeding in fits and starts until it reached its halfway point in 2010.  Current forecasts call for the structure to be finished in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. For now, it’s swathed in netting, cranes hovering above.

Sagrada Familia Exterior

Sagrada Familia Spires

The most notable change since my last visit a half dozen years ago is that the cathedral now has a roof and magnificent modern stained glass all around.

Sagrada Familia Stained Glass 1      Sagrada Familia Stained Glass 2

Sagrada Familia Stained Glass 5        Sagrada Familia Stained Glass 4Sagrada Familia Stained Glass 3

Sagrada Familia Stained Glass 6The scale of this space is immense, with its soaring white columns reaching heavenward. Below is the ceiling, and a detail from one of the façades.

Sagrada Familia Interior              Sagrada Familia Facade 2

Post-siesta, it was time to eat again.  We didn’t want to wait till 10 or 11 p.m. to have dinner the Spanish way, so we opted for an earlier meal of tapas. Cañeta was about two blocks from our hotel, very hip, very busy; arriving at 8:30, we were just in time for only a 30-minute wait to eat at the bar, which faced the open kitchen.

The wonderful thing about tapas is that you can have a wide variety of dishes without stuffing yourself, and every restaurant or bar has its own specialities. Of the six plates we ordered, three stood out, though I’d return in a heartbeat for the other three as well.  The first was Berenjenas cordobesas, micro-thin slices of eggplant that had been fried until shatteringly crisp, then drizzled with dark honey.

An off-the-menu choice our kind waiter recommended was cèpes with Armagnac — a killer. We watched the chef sauté the mushrooms and chives in butter, add the Armagnac and ignite it, then dump in a generous glug of cream, whereupon she topped the creation with light, crispy bread crumbs.  “Are you crying?” the waiter asked with a smile as he watched my eyes roll back in my head as I began to eat. Hands down, these were the best mushrooms I’ve tasted in my life.

Tuna tartare was exquisitely fresh and topped with — wait for it — mascarpone and trout roe, and a sprinkling of fried onions.  Dessert was milhojas, a Spanish version of millefeuille: silky custard encased in layers of etherial pastry and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The perfect ending.

Tuna TartareWe staggered back to our hotel agreeing that if this was the last meal we ever had we’d be completely satisfied.  I’m so glad I raised a girl who appreciates good food!

From → Solo travel

One Comment
  1. I’m drooling here and it’s only 9 AM.

    I remember strolling the Ramblas in ’85. Tapas were all we ate for about 3 days. We couldn’t afford Armagnac, but the local Fundador brandy was very nice. My companions were constantly hailing waiters with the call of, “Oyga, oyga. Por favor, dame mas el Fundadore.”

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