Wednesday, August 31, 2011

(Port Eats: Barcelona, Part 2)

Tapas. Such a beautiful word! Not only is it fun to say, tapas are fun to eat. You can order as many as you want, and you always get a variety of different flavors with each small plate. Both major meals that we had in Barcelona consisted of Tapas. Read on for our experience with these delectable little treats.

The fantastic Tapaç24 in Barcelona

On our first night in Barcelona, we dined at a place called Tapaç24. It was right around the corner from our hotel, and we felt very lucky to happen upon it. There were many people dining at the outside tables on the street, but we instead opted to have our dinner inside. Upon entering the restaurant, you have to take a small amount of stairs to a basement-like atmosphere where there are a number of tables for diners. There is also a row of bar-like seating which looked like a nice place to sit. We sat directly to the right of that bar, a cozy setting up against the wall and directly across from the only window.

Bikini Comerç 24
Our very pleasant waiter came around and took our drink orders. I asked for a red wine, and I'm not exactly sure what he brought me (I think it was a Merlot). Either way, it tasted very good. J had a Coke. We began to peruse the menu, and it definitely took a while to figure out what we wanted. The thing with tapas is that a lot of the options look a bit intimidating. It all seemed like things we would never eat, and we were scared to order anything! Don't be this way - I promise you that no matter how weird something sounds, somehow it just works. We took a chance and ordered 4 very different small plates. Above is the first that was brought to us. The Bikini Comerç 24 consisted of Iberian ham, buffalo mozzarella and black truffles. It was almost like a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, but so much better. Especially since it was made with the delicious Iberian ham! Very flavorful, each bite was an absolute treat.

Bombes de la Barceloneta

Our next plate was the Bombes de la Barceloneta. This was J's choice. I'm not exactly sure why or where I heard the phrase potato meatballs, but for some reason it's all that I seem to remember. Anything with the word meatballs just doesn't do it for me, so I was hesitant. Curiously enough, this plate was so much more. Ham croquettes topped with aioli and bravas sauces, it's difficult for me to even describe the explosion of flavor. It was magnificent, probably the best of our four small plates. The sauces added a creaminess to the cris texture of the croquette, and the filling was divine.

Paying homage to good old Mickey D's, Tapaç24's McFoie Burger is like nothing you will ever find at the Golden Arches. Served medium-rare (emphasis on the rare) and encased in a thin, crisp bun, this was another one of those things that looked a bit scary to me. The burger is served with a foie gras mayo, that has a texture almost like a spreadable gravy. Duck liver spread? Ew! Still, J dug right in and convinced me to have a bite. Then I had another, and another.  The foie gras spread melted just a touch when it hit the bun, just like butter would. The flavor was not overpowering, but just enough so as to add something interesting. I think the word that best describes it is savory (insert Cookie-Monster scarf noises here). Any doubts that I had about the food here were quickly abolished with each and every bite. I don't know what else to say except nom nom nom.

Whatever it was, it was good!

Our final plate was a bit on the safe side; a simple tomato spread served with a fresh bread basket. It was obviously quite tasty, because the only photo I got was one of a very empty basket! I remember the tomato being very flavorful, and we both gobbled it right down. I thought I knew what tomatoes tasted like, but man was I wrong. You haven't had it right until you've had it in Barcelona. The city's culinary institutions bring out flavors that I never thought existed. It was amazing to me that something so simple as a common fruit (or vegetable, if you want to have that argument) could have so much flavor. Glub glub!

So would I recommend Tapaç 24? Hell to the yeah! Remember to be adventurous, and you won't be disappointed!

Next stop: Bubo Bar. This was where we had originally wanted to go for our first night in Barcelona, but we were just too tired to try and find it (and we certainly don't regret that choice). We were slated to stop at Palma de Mallorca on our last cruise day, but a transportation strike put us right back in Barcelona. Though any port cancellation is always disappointing, I couldn't have been happier to go back to my new favorite city. The best part is that we were able to go back and find Bubo, and we're so glad we did! 

Bubo Bar's awesome sangria

Right in the shadow of the Santa Maria del Mar, the atmosphere when eating outside of this  
establishment just can't be beat. We started our meal with the Bubo Sangria. While I have no others to compare it to, this must be some of the best sangria in all of Barcelona. We happily slurped it all up!    

Brie & Coconut and Iberian Ham Croquettes

For the tapas, we again ordered four plates. The first two were brought out together, both croquettes; one was a brie croquette covered in coconut, the other filled with Iberian ham. Both were so delicious! Each bite was warm and crispy, and the accompanying dipping sauces were very appropriate. I think that I preferred the ham croquettes, but the brie and coconut was such a fun combination.

Tuna Ravioli
Our next plate was a Tuna Ravioli. When it came out, it certainly was not what I expected. When I hear ravioli, I think pasta (I'm a big fan of tuna casserole). What I got instead was tuna in a fried envelope, more like a won ton of sorts. I was not disappointed, and probably would prefer the option that was handed to me rather than actual pasta. The outer shell was warm and crispy without being greasy, and the accompanying dipping sauces were fantastic! There were two jelly-like spreads - one was sweet while the other had a bit of a spicy kick to it. They were both great, but I preferred the spicy one. The green sauce (pictured) was made with pistachios, and added a very special element to the raviolis. This was my favorite dish of the meal.

Bubo Bar's Micro Pizza

Our final plate was the Micro Pizza. I had no idea what to expect with this one, but J was very excited at the mention of pizza. I can't even tell you how happy I was with what they brought us. This isn't your typical, greasy, bread-filled pizza. This was a very fresh dish; layers of what I think were crunchy phyllo, covered in mozzarella and herb-filled oil, topped off with an insanely flavorful tomato. I don't expect you to think it looks amazing based on the photo alone, but trust me when I say that it's one of the best things that I have ever tasted. 

Not too shabby dining atmosphere! Me: bottom right corner, in red.

Barcelona is truly one of the World's greatest cities. It certainly doesn't hurt that every single morsel of food that we had the privilege of eating there wasn't just fine, not just good, but absolutely incredible.  So, did we have dessert? Of course! But more about that next time....

Happy eating!

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