Tapas, typical dishes and desserts of Catalonia
Our B&B, located in the center of Barcelona, in addition to offering cheap prices and an excellent breakfast, is committed to telling and enhancing the culture and local traditions, to help our guests to live an experience as much complete and authentic as possible.
The cuisine has always been an important element in the Catalan culture, so we would like to talk about it in this article, as part of the history and cultural identity of Catalonia, and therefore also of Barcelona.
Catalan cuisine is made of fresh ingredients typical of Mediterranean diet, and is highly appreciated for its characteristic.
In this article we want to introduce you the typical Catalan dishes, and we will give you some suggestions on where to try them.
Let’s start with appetizers!
Tapas tapas tapas
PA AMB TOMAQUET
Simple bread rubbed with tomato and seasoned with olive oil and salt, sometimes even garlic.
It is prepared with an excellent rustic bread or with the so-called pa de coca or de cristal, or a thin and crunchy bread with very little crumb.
It is eaten as tapas or served together with other tapas, ideal to accompany cheeses or cold cuts.
You can find the pan with tomate almost everywhere, but we suggest you try it from Cal Pep (Plaça de les Olles 8) or the Bar del Pla (Carrer Montcada 2, 08003). Both about 30 minutes walk from our bed and breakfast Lolita B and B, or easily reachable by metro, line L4.
You cannot order tapas without trying the Iberico Jamon!
Let’s make a small premise: In Spain there are mainly two breeds of pigs, the serrano and the Iberian (also known as pata negra). Serrano ham comes from well-selected pigs, but its diet is based on cereal feed and is almost always grown in captivity. This means that the serrano ham has lower quality characteristics than the ibérico.
Iberico ham is such when it comes from a particular breed of pig, has been fed in a certain way and has undergone a long and careful treatment. This makes the Jamon Iberico a prized and qualitatively better ham than the serrano ham.
You will also find the term bellota on the labels of some Jamon, this indicates that the pig was fed acorns, exclusively or not (the percentage before the word bellota indicates the proportion). The ideal, being able to choose, is a jamón ibérico 100% bellota.
We suggest you try it at Reserva Ibérica (Rambla de Catalunya, 61, 08007 Barcelona) just 10 minutes walk from our B&B, or from Andreu xarcuteria (Carrer Giralt d’en Pellisser 24) Jaume I metro, yellow line L4.
The name says a lot!
It is a fried meatball, stuffed with mashed potatoes and minced meat, covered with a good sauce made of onion and paprika, and the alioli sauce, made with oil and garlic, in short, a bomb called done!
It is said that the bomb was invented in the neighborhood of Barceloneta, and therefore we can only propose one located in the same area, and moreover, in the place where it is said to have been invented the recipe: La Cova Fumada (Carrer del Baluart 56).
For a few euros you can enjoy this delight, in the historic establishment with a welcoming and familiar atmosphere.
We also suggest you the Bombeta (Carrer de la Maquinista 3). Both can be reached by metro, L4 yellow line, Barceloneta stop.
Also this is one of the most known tapas of the Catalan, even here the simplicity is king. The word escalivada is a Catalan term meaning “cooked in the ashes”. It is a mixture of aubergines, peppers and sometimes onions, grilled over the fire and seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. There are several variations, sometimes it is accompanied by anchovies or toasted bread.
You can try it at La Flauta (Carrer d’Aribau 23), just 5 minutes from our bed and breakfast or at the Velodrome (Carrer de Muntaner 213), also in the center of Barcelona, 10 minutes walk from the Lolita B and B.
Once again the key is simplicity. The calçots are local onions (similar to leek) cooked on the grill and always served together with an excellent romesco sauce, made with tomato, nyores (small dried red peppers), garlic, breadcrumbs, grilled almonds and other secret ingredients that change according to the variants. This popular seasonal specialty is wrapped in newspaper after cooking, to keep its tender heart, and then dipped in sauce. In many restaurants a bib is provided to eat it, because eating it without getting dirty is virtually impossible! The eaten, moreover, is generously accompanied with plenty of red wine drunk directly from a porrón, practically a jug with a beak.
Calçots season generally runs from late December to late March and we suggest you try it at Restaurant Carmen (Carrer de Valladolid 44), reachable by metro, red line L1 and blue line L5, or a 30 minute walk from the B&B if you want to walk.
We also recommend Can Xurrades (Carrer de Casanova 212), known for its calçots coming directly from the garden of Valls, and a 9-minute walk from Lolita B and B.
BOTIFARRA AMB MONGETES
If you need to get back in force after long walks and visits to the city, this is the dish for you! butifarra is a typical Catalan sausage and the mongetes are white beans. They are initially cooked separately and only at the end are mixed because the beans taste like fat.
If you are walking on the Rambla, stop at the Restaurant Romesco (Carrer Sant Pau 28), also reachable by metro, green line L3, Liceu stop.
If you find yourself near the Sant Antoni market instead, we suggest the Can Vilaro restaurant (Carrer del Comte Borrell 61), also reachable by metro, purple line L2, Sant Antoni stop.
The fideuá can be defined as an alternative to paella. The recipe, in fact, remains substantially the same, but the rice is replaced by short spaghettini, the so-called fideos. They are often accompanied by alioli and lemon sauce.
Here too we have different variations of the dish: with calamari and prawns, with meat (chicken or rabbit) or mixed (the so-called Mar i muntanya).
Suggestions: La Mar Salada (Passeig de Joan de Borbó 58-59) L4 yellow line metro, Barceloneta stop.
Xiringuito Escribá (Av.del Litoral 62), yellow metro line L4, Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica stop. The best option if you want a sea view!
It is without a doubt the Catalan dessert par excellence. Catalan cream is very similar to French crème brûlée and is made with milk, egg yolks, sugar, a little lemon and orange peel, and cinnamon.
If you are strolling around the Barcelona Cathedral, take a break at Cafe Granja viader (Carrer Xucla 4-6), a café of the past that has always been a reference point for Catalan desserts.
A stone’s throw from placa Catalunya, and a 20-minute walk from our B&B, find the Julivert meu (Carrer del Bonsuccés 7), well known for its location but also for its delicious Catalan cream.
MEL I MATÓ
For cheese lovers, we recommend mel i mató, which is also a typical dessert of Catalonia. The honey is made of ricotta covered with honey and decorated with walnuts.
Walking through the Gothic quarter, also not far from our bed and breakfast, you can enjoy the mel i mato at El Cercle (Carrer dels Arcs 5), metro yellow line L4, stop Jaume I.
As an alternative, we suggest the Segons mercat (Carrer de Balboa 16), metro Barceloneta yellow line L4.
Coca can be sweet or salty, but the sweet one is probably the most appreciated and consumed in Catalonia. If you enter in any pastry you will find several types, the most famous is that of San Juan, which is celebrated on June 24th. It is sweet bread, of different shapes, which can be filled with cream, garnished with candied fruit and glazed sugar.
If you are heading towards Casa Milà, it is worth taking a break at the Turris bakery (Carrer Gran de Gracia 34), one of the city’s best known bakeries.
Another historic bakery is the Escribá (Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 546, red metro L1 stop Urgell), where the desserts are still made according to the original recipes.
We close this article with a quote from Virginia Wolf that seems more appropriate than ever: “A man cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if he has not eaten well”.
We thank you for reading our article, and as always, we invite you to comment and send us your suggestions.
We are waiting for you at Lolita B and B.