Eat With – Barcelona Tapas
Guest post by one of our travelers: Paige G.
Spain is the land of tapas. Tapas are generally small savory dishes served with drinks in Spanish cuisine. As we learned from an earlier Tapas Tour in Granada, in Spain you order a drink and they automatically bring you a snack. Tapas can range from light items like nuts and chips (crisps) to heavier options like a spanish omelet, jamon (ham), or chicken.
This experience was booked by Lysa for us as a surprise and we had no idea what to expect. On an early evening (early on Spain standards) we arrived at an apartment building near Mercat Del Born in Barcelona. We buzzed the door, a British gentleman told us to come on up, we hopped in the lift, and we were greeted by said British gentleman, John. He directed us into their cozy apartment where we then met Sonia. We stood in the kitchen for greetings and introductions.
John poured us all drinks, a Spanish spiced wine. He said it was traditional wine that had been sitting with herbs and spices in it. He served it in a small glass over ice with a slice of orange and 2 olives.
We started chatting about the experience and what we could look forward to. On the other side of the counter Sonia pulled the lid off a hot pot filled with water, put some tongs in, and pulled out an octopus or pulpo, in Spanish!
Sonia explained to us that they had gotten the octopus fresh from the market and taken care with prepping it to ensure the right texture and tenderness. While they got it fresh from the market, they then froze it to ensure it would be tender. Then, when they were ready to cook it, they boiled some water, but did NOT just drop it in. She explained you have to ‘scare’ the octopus. Not literally scare it, but drop it quickly into the water around 3 times and then on the 4th you can drop it all the way in. She said that by doing this not only would the tentacles not curl up all the way, but the skin was more likely to stay on, preserving the color. I trust her fully because it looked beautiful.
After the octopus demonstration they instructed us to have a seat and get comfortable.
We sat at their beautiful table set for all 8 of us in their open dining/sitting room space. At each of the place settings there was a small glass for water, a red wine glass, a white wine glass, and a champagne glass.
In the middle of the table was our first tapa. Skewers of olives. One was paired with spicy peppers and one was paired with pickled onions, anchovies, and sardines.
DYK that Spain is generally the worlds #1 producer of olives? In 2019 Spain produced well over 3 million metric tons more olives than Italy did.
It was now time for our second drink, water. Still and sparkling in the most beautiful glass bottles. Most of us don’t reach for sparkling water, but a few of us decided to go for it and it was surprisingly refreshing!
They then brought us their version of a typical Spanish Gazpacho. Pureed. It was amazing.
Then we moved onto tapa number 3, the beautiful octopus we had previously seen, but this time it looked much different!
This time it was chopped into small pieces and served on top of boiled and sliced potatoes with Spanish (smoky) paprika and rock salt. Our pulpo aficionados said it was the best of our entire trip!
With the pulpo they served us a Spanish white wine. Unlike a traditional white wine, it wasn’t sweet. It had a fruity top note, but a dry finish. It was fantastic and perfectly paired with the fish.
Tapa 4 was an interactive experience where we got to make our own pan con tomate (bread with tomato). They brought us baskets with sliced bread and bowls of fresh refrigerated uncut tomatoes. They were small little plump things and you could see the condensation slowly forming on them as they hit the table.
Sonia instructed us while showing us how to create our own. First, you take one slice of bread and one tomato. You pour some really good Spanish olive oil onto the bread, cut the tomato in half and then spread the tomato on both sides of the bread so it coats it. You then finish it off with salt and enjoy the experience.
We then continued with a beautiful charcuterie board (a personal fav) with meats, local manchego cheese, and nuts. Jamon Iberico was a group favorite, so we never shied away when it served!
From here the final bits of our meal came fast, but we didn’t slow down!
We then got served a homemade Spanish Tortilla (omelet). Different from a traditional American omelet, Spanish tortillas are made in a pan with eggs and potatoes. Traditionally served cold, this was warm fresh off the stove and the best we had during our trip! (So many bests of our trip!)
Our two final dishes came to the table at the same time – a dish of sausages from the local market just below their apartment and seared shishito peppers.
The sausage varieties included blood sausage, artichoke, mushroom, mild, and chorizo.
In the summer the sun sets around 9:30pm in Spain, so as we were getting our final plates we opened the balcony door to a beautiful view of the mountains and the sunset!
A perfect way to end the night! Oh, until they mentioned they were watching a dog and brought her out. A few of us, myself included, are obsessed with dogs and literally jumped out of our chairs when we heard a dog was near!
When people ask me my favorite part of this trip, this is it! If you’re ever in Barcelona this has to be something you experience!
Want to book this experience for yourself? Check it out here.
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Off You Go, Then!