Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Spain: Can Majó

Here's concrete proof that my friends and I plan our vacations based on what and where we want to eat: we often find ourselves at a loss for what to do with our time between meals.

Which is how we ended up first sitting on a public bench then huddling behind a parked truck to hide from the cold wind, waiting for Can Majó to finally open.  We didn't have a reservation and we wanted to make sure we got in right when the doors opened.

Which we did:  

We did try to get some bombas at La Bombeta while we were waiting, but La Bombeta was closed.  (Cue dismayed gasps.)

Our patience paid off and we were directed to a table without waiting at all.  Soon after we sat down, the restaurant started to fill up:

We were handed an English menu and away we went.  Once our orders were out of the way, we sat down to wait.  We were first brought a plate of complimentary bread spread with some kind of tomato jam:

Then came the little dish of olives, pickles, and pickled onion:

Finally came our entire reason for dining at Majo.  The paella.  Majo offers a few different kinds of paella.  The price listed on the menu is the price per portion.  To order a paella, you need to order at least two portions.  The three of us decided to order two portions each of two paellas.

We went with the classic shellfish paella marinera (15.32 € per portion):

To try something new, we went with the squid ink (15.32 € per portion) for our second one:

We had a choice between rice and fideua.  Our server explained to us that fideua was essentially thin, short bits of noodle.  Cool.  We wanted to try that.

The guy who brought us the huge pans of paella was nice enough to wait patiently as three little Asian girls snapped photos to our heart's delight before dishing out our individual servings.  And dude, how cute is this?:

The fideua squid ink was a bit salty for me, but the shellfish paella was great...with liberal squeezes of lemon.  There was definitely more than enough food for the three of us.  Since we couldn't take anything to go, we forced ourselves to finish every last bite.

Even though we were stuffed, we couldn't turn down dessert.  I'm not a flan fan, but T is, so we ordered the small egg flan in three flavors, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry (5.49 €):

It looked pretty.  But it still tasted like the flan that I know and dislike.  I don't know...that eggy texture just gets to me.  Sorry flan lovers!

Great paella, but I wasn't exactly blown away.  And I really wanted to be.  If I ever go back to Barcelona, I'll be on the lookout for another paella place.

Can Majó is a great place for a romantic date or to meet the future in-laws.  Probably not the kind of place you want to wear shorts and flip flops to.  If you're looking for paella, go in packs of even numbers.  (It makes ordering much easier.  Really.)

So ended our time in Barcelona.  Lisbon up next!

Can Majó
Almirante Aixada, 23
08003 Barcelona, Spain
93 221 5455

Monday, August 26, 2013

Spain: Cerveceria 100 Montaditos

Even though we just had dinner at Ciudad Condal, we still ducked into Cerveceria 100 Montaditos for an after-dinner snack:

The ordering process was super easy and tourists-with-crap-Spanish friendly.  Just peruse the menu and write down the number of the sandwich you want on the notepad:

Next, tear off a sheet and take it to the counter:

Minimum verbal communication necessary.  Wait for your number to be called and then voila!  Sandwich time.

Montaditos are tiny tapas-sized sandwiches.  Cerveceria 100 Montaditos offers well, 100 different montaditos ranging from 1 € to 1.50 € each.

We each ordered one montadito.  First was #74, jamón ibérico con salmorejo y tortilla de patatas or iberico ham with gazpacho and potato omelet (1.20 €).  It came in a mini-ciabatta bun:

#84 was salmón con aceitunas y mayonesa  or smoked salmon with olives and mayo (1.50 €).  It came in a
 grain bread bun:

Finally, to keep it simple, we got #8, pollo asada or roasted chicken (1 €):

Chips are an extra 1 €.

Not sure if I could get full off of montaditos without ordering half a dozen for myself, but Cerveceria 100 Montaditos is certainly a good, cheap option for a quick meal (or snack) in Barcelona.

Apparently Cerveceria 100 Montaditos has reached the U.S.!  If you live in Florida, you're in luck.  If you're on the West Coast like I am...give it a few years.

Cerveceria 100 Montaditos
Rambla de Catalunya, 11
08007 Barcelona, Spain
933 04 05 04

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Spain: Ciudad Condal

One of the hotel staff recommended that we try Ciudad Condal for tapas, so after a Gaudi-filled day, we did so.  The building was undergoing a bit of cosmetic surgery so we nearly walked right past it:

We were warned about the long wait, but I guess we were a bit early for the dinner rush because we got seated immediately:

With the help of an English menu, we selected a bunch of tapas dishes.  First were the croquettes:

They were priced at 1.10 € each and were filled with chicken and cured ham:

Of course we had to try the bravas potatoes (3.75 €):

Not the most flavorful of potatoes.  Kind of a let down.

The montaditos (small sandwiches) with grilled peppers and pork loin (1.85 € each) were much better:

The baked red peppers (4.10 €) were interesting:

They came stuffed with cod puree:

We ordered "roman style" squid (6.95 €) with absolutely no clue what that meant:

Apparently "roman style" just means the squid is cut into rings.

There was a tapas of the day menu completely in Spanish.  In the spirit of being adventurous, we randomly picked a dish off the it.  We went with the "rabas de calamarcito andaluza" (5 €) and prepared to be surprised.  And we were...by how normal it turned out to be.

We thought we were being adventurous.  Instead we got fried squid...cut "andaluz style".  Which just means in strips:

Oh well.  You can never have too much fried squid.

To round out the meal, we ended with Catalonian-style cream with burnt sugar (3.75 €).  Also known as creme brulee:

Ciudad Condal is great because it's reasonably priced and tourists are expected so English will get you through.

However...tourists are expected.  So while the food is decent, it's not exactly spectacular.  Or even just great.  And while the staff are super friendly when you're at the door trying to decide whether or not to enter, their attitudes make a complete 180 once they have you in their trap and seated at a table.

I'm sure there are better tapas places in Barcelona.  Lesson of the day: don't always trust what hotel staff tell you.  Sometimes they only tell you what they think tourists want to hear.

Ciudad Condal
Rambla de Catalunya, 18
08007 Barcelona, Spain
933 181 997

Friday, August 16, 2013

Spain: Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria

I know I've been rather MIA this past week and I apologize for that.  My sister is back for summer vacation and on top of that, CK is visiting from Chicago, so things are pretty crazy around here.  To make up for my absence, I give you a monster post about la Boqueria with lots and lots of pictures!  (I'll try to keep the text to a minimum.)

When I travel, I love to visit markets.  Markets are always so colorful and lively and most importantly, filled with good food.  So when my sister strongly recommended that we check out la Boqueria, I really had no complaints:

La Boqueria is a sprawling maze of fruit stands, cured meat stands, cheese stands, fresh fish stands, candy stands, and whatever other stands you can think of.

We naturally gravitated toward the cured meat stands:

Uh, find me one person (who isn't a vegetarian) who can resist this:

Yea.  I thought not.  We quickly snatched up a cup of proscuitto as our first purchase of the day:

When I spotted this baked goods stand, I dragged T and AF over and refused to budge until we bought something:

Or as it turns out, a lot of somethings.  But how could I resist?  Just look at this selection:

While I was perusing the baked stuff, AF discovered this little sausage and fries cup sitting at the top of the counter:

I immediately picked out this little pocket of goodness:

It was filled with chicken:

We bought this cheese bread out of curiosity:

Both the flavor and the texture were rather intensely cheesy:

Not exactly my cup of tea, but I can see a cheese lover being a huge fan.

Then came this empanada:

Hello porky:

Everything was heated in the microwave, but that didn't bother us at all.  You can't expect everything to be piping hot right out of the oven all the time.

So that we didn't choke on all our bread, we stopped by a juice stand:

There were probably a dozen juice stands at la Boqueria.  Make sure you walk around a bit before deciding on one because some have more juice options than others and some charge 1.50 € while others only 1 €.  We didn't do enough checking around, which is how we ended up spending 1.50 € instead of 1 €.

Oh, well.  The juice was delicious though:

I don't remember the exact flavor combos, but there was definitely a papaya, a mango, and a berry.

After finishing everything we bought, we waded back in to the market for dessert:

There was no way we could just walk past this display:

I picked out a pina colada popsicle:

I don't remember what AF chose, but T went with strawberry and coconut:

My pina colada popsicle was no joke.  I could take the alcohol immediately.  The alcohol taste was just so...present...that I gave up on finishing the thing.  I'm a wuss like that.

We loved la Boqueria so much that we were back the next morning.  AF made a beeline for this stall:

She wanted the spicy chorizo and she wanted it yesterday:

Meanwhile, I was drawn again to the same baked goods stall.  There were still so many things I wanted to sink my teeth into.  Like this arepa for example:

It came with pork crackling and cheese:

Woo, boy.

Then there was this baby:

It was like the empanada from the day before, but much breadier and filled with chicken:

A little too bready.

I was excited to try another fried pocket:

This time, I went with tuna:

Probably one of my favorites.  Closely tied with the arepa.

As if that wasn't enough, we got this pot pie like thing:

The bread was pretty dense, but the shrimp filling was quite good (though not exactly shrimpy):

As with the day before, we stopped by a juice stand to prevent ourselves from choking on all the bread.  This time, we walked around until we found a stall selling juices for 1 €.  I picked some kind of kiwi blend while T and AF picked the brightest color drinks they could find:

There may have been dragonfruit in that Pepto-Bismol colored one.  Heh.

Love, love, love la Boqueria.  You really can't visit Barcelona without stopping by.  It's the best place for a quick snack or a light meal (or a heavy one if you're so inclined).  And for all you tourists, la Boqueria is the perfect one stop shop for edible souvenirs and it's also great for colorful photo ops.  Plenty to see wherever you turn.

GO.  Really.  You won't regret it.

This ends my monster post.  Hope it made up for my recent neglect of this blog!

Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
Rambla, 91
08001 Barcelona, Spain
93 412 13 15
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