Friday, February 17, 2012

Trying to embrace the food... key word: trying.

For those of you who know me, you know that I love good food. And here in Barcelona, I've been having a couple of hits, but plenty of misses. 

So I thought - maybe if I shift my perspective a bit, and start eating like a local, I might actually stumble upon something good.  Rather than getting frustrated that I can't find what I'm used to finding in that agricultural wonderland that is California... I should start playing with what's at hand. 

See these guys:
EUR 55,00 per Kilo!! most of which is shell and rock.
Percebes (aka Goose Barnacle).  I had never heard of them before, but I see them all the time at the Mercat Galvany.  They are these little tubular shellfish-y things that latch onto the undersides of rocks along some coastal parts of Spain & Portugal - where the waves come crashing in.  Very dangerous to harvest - hence the expensive price tag.  Some governing offices also want to ban this practice of harvesting due to the danger of the task.

Now I would never buy anything so expensive while clueless as to what to do with them.  Especially since I don't like shellfish all that much to begin with.  But my friend Patty (who's an incredibly good cook) served them up last week for her birthday dinner. 

You eat them cold, like crab legs (which she also served).  hold the little "goose barnacle" at one end and then you pinch just below the grey claw-like part and then pull the sleeve off.  what you're left with is the edible part - which is at most one inch long by a quarter inch in diameter - it's TINY.  And very SALTY. 

Worth the price tag?  I'll pass.  Give me lamb, foie, anything dreamed up by this man... I'll skip the percebes.  and the crab legs. 

My recent attempt at cooking with local flavor was a recipe given to me by one of my English students:  "Sepia estilo Vinaroz"- a Fisherman stew using Sepia (squid - larger than calamari - 1 kilo each), potatoes, toasted bread, and chocolate!!!???!!!  I'd learned how to clean calamari while working at Ludobites - but this sepia was too much to deal with.  I didn't enjoy preparing it.  The finished product was kinda odd - but I don't know if it's because I made it wrong, or that's just how it's supposed to taste. 

Have I had some good meals here?  yes.
And if you love seafood, cured pork products and potatoes, you'll love Spanish food.

As for veggie lovers like myself, well, I just need to get more inventive with what I see.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Barcelona got right

There are lots of things that Barcelona does right as a city...

Great public transportation
Awesome Christmas lights
Preserving their great architectural landmarks
Cheap and good Spanish wine
Not making a big deal about Valentine's day. 

Thank goodness for that last one!  talk about an over-hyped manufactured "holiday" that drives me nuts!

But some of the window displays were pretty.

on Carrer de Carme in El Raval

Somewhere in Barri Gothic

Another cute shop in Barri Gothic
My friends & I were trying to find this great little wine bar we'd gone to on Friday night... and ended up walking some chocolate-lover's paradise of a shopping route.  I mean, we couldn't have found all these great chocolate shops if we'd been looking for them... but just because we weren't intending on finding cupcakes, cookies, pastries and chocolates - we couldn't turn a corner without finding another great shop.  Open on Sunday. 

What wasn't open on Sunday?
 That wine bar.

That first Rioja - Gavanza at EUR 3,50 - a winner!

This is the place.  They're smart to put a map on the back of the card... it's so hard to find places again.

not quite done with xmas yet...

    Barcelonetta (it's near the beach)

Paseo de Gracia - it's the main ritzy shopping street
this little street near parc Turo - on the western end

Barri Gothic on what I like to call "Baker Street"

the little street where Els 4 Gats is located
not sure if this is Born or Barri Gothic
Barri Gothic

FNAC building
The FNAC building near Plaza Catalunya
Pelai near Plaza Catalunya/Ramblas - looking at one of the Corte Ingles stores... too bad you can't see how it twinkled

What can I say... at least it's not July...

More Xmas lights

Pictures... I haven't been taking many lately.  The dreadfully cold weather (it's all relative, right?) has been forcing me to keep my hands covered with gloves, and thus my iphone hasn't been getting much use as a camera. 

Better late than never. 

Carrer Pelai - near Plaza Catalunya

The top of Las Ramblas - from near Plaza Catalunya
Somewhere in El Raval

Barri Gothic - from the Ramblas

El Born

El Born
El Born

Carrer de Princessa (near the picasso museum)

somewhere in Barri Gothic

A Caganer!  in the city sponsored giant nativity scene

Barri Gothic - Carrer Ferran - from Jaume I
Somewhere in the Barri Gothic

Now that the cold spell is almost over...

Time to catch up on posting all the pix of the Christmas lights I saw around the city!

I had originally intended on visiting each neighborhood, taking a picture, printing out all the pictures, then creating some fabulous map-based artwork highlighting the different patterns all over town.  Sounds cool, right?  But when I returned to Barcelona from Cali, I had the worst cold ever and was bedridden and missed out on taking the rest of the pictures I'd intended on taking.

The Lights in the Barrio of Gracia

Gran de Gracia - looking down toward the sea
Gran de Gracia looking up toward the mountain

Traverserra de Gracia - western end
Traverserra de gracia - eastern end
some street parallel to Trav. de Gracia
Add caption

Traverserra de Gracia

Oh - why am I now uploading these pictures?  yeah - I've got another cold. and a fever.  This winter has been rough.  I miss that pleasant LA weather.