In this post, guest blogger James Cave from Skyscanner gives his insider tips to making the most of the Spanish food during your short break to Barcelona…
One of Europe’s top destinations for gourmands, Barcelona suits every budget and taste. It is certainly possible to spend a whole year in the city and its surrounding regions eating your way through Catalonia, as the fresh local specialties change with the seasons. When you’re planning a short city break, however, you might want to get more focused to make the most of your time in this epicurean nirvana.
If you’ve only got a short time to spare in Barcelona, you’ll want to cut to the chase and find a flight that puts you in the heart of the action. There are cheap flights to Spain which fly directly into the city’s Barcelona El Prat airport, which is the most central. You can also fly into Reus, in Catalonia, or Girona, on the Costa Brava. Both of these are only about 100 kilometres from Barcelona, and are ideally situated near beaches for seafood sampling and wine and cheese tasting tours in the surrounding countryside.
There’s no doubt that you can find memorable meals anywhere in Spain, with its rainbow of produce, cured meats, freshly caught seafood, and meandering vineyards. Yet Barcelona holds a special place in the hearts and stomachs of foodies, as much for the bold flavours of traditional Catalan cuisine as its place in the gourmet world of “new Spanish cuisine,” exemplified by Ferran Adria’s imaginative El Bulli restaurant. This blend of influences creates an innovative, exciting, and varied gastronomic scene to sample in the city’s eateries.
For many, Barcelona is synonymous with tapas. Sample traditional treats such as cured sausage, salt cod with tomatoes and onions, and fried artichokes, or opt for more contemporary adaptations such as tuna with balsamic syrup and aubergine mousse.
To make the most of your time, you could start off with a guided tapas tour, which will help you avoid the overpriced, touristy spots along the Ramblas and get to some of the local favourites. If you prefer a more DIY approach, you can walk around the city and pop into its tapas bars as you go. Top spots include Quimet & Quimet, known for its mussels and cheese selections, Bar Tomas for its famous patatas bravas, and Tickets, the new offering from Ferran Adria where you will find everything from liquid ravioli to spiced tomato tartare.
One of the most beloved brews to accompany tapas in Barcelona is cava, Spain’s sparkling answer to champagne. Cava is light, fruity, and omnipresent throughout the city in its numerous cava bars. Catalans don’t save the bubbly for special occasions alone, but use any night out as an excuse to get celebratory.
For an informative day trip that will go straight to your head, you can get out of the city and into the heart of Cava Country. The Penedes wine region is located a
45 minute train ride south from the city centre. Get off in the town of St. Sadurni, which is home to two of the major producers of cava, Codorniu and Freixenet. You can tour their bodegas to learn more about how this sparkling wine is produced while contemplating the varying shades of cava through samples.
Spanish cheese is distinct, with many sheep and goat’s milk varieties not well known outside of their place of origin. This can make cheese tasting around Barcelona a true pleasure for those seeking new experiences. In the city, you can visit artisanal cheese shops such as Tutusaus, which has an expertly curated selection of local flavours.
Formatgeria La Seu is another, housed in a former butter-making factory and run by a Scottish cheese enthusiast. With 25 different types of small Spanish farmhouse cheeses on offer, you can sign up for a cheese-tasting course to while away the afternoon. Day-trippers may opt to get out to La Garrotxa, one of Catalonia’s cheese making centres. This region is known for its soft, creamy goat cheese as well as its impressive volcanic scenery.
Have you sampled any of Barcelona’s delicious delicacies?