Barcelona 2019 Food Blog
“The cuisine of a country is its landscape put in a pot.”
While I don’t usually blog about food and restaurants, I simply had to share some of the wonderful dining experiences I encountered during my last visit to Barcelona.
I recently attended the Microaire HiDef body sculpting course in Barcelona in March 2019. The course was directed by Dr. Ahmed Saad. I chose to return to the incomparable Hotel Serras, a boutique hotel, located on Carrer de Colomb and not far from Las Ramblas. I have stayed at the Hotel Serras in the past when attending conferences on Super-microsurgery and Lymphedema. The hospitality accorded to guests is exceptional and one immediately feels at home. Incidentally, Las Ramblas is one of Europe’s most iconic streets. Therefore, it is a tourist trap brimming with pickpockets and to be avoided at all costs.
Our first evening we had dinner at Llambor ( pronounced Yam-bor) located in the Barrio Del Borne. This upscale restaurant offers a modern interpretation of Catalan staples such as grilled octopus, patatas bravas and beet carpaccio. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and the clientele remarkably well heeled. The bar is exceptional and the cocktails turned out with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. I do recommend settling into your meal with an Aperol Spritzer, which I found to be a refreshing entre into the evening after exploring the city by foot. Of course, for something with more substance, a Negroni may be the order of the day.
After a walk around La Sagrada Familia the following day (I highly recommend a personalized tour of Gaudi’s fantasy realism Modernisme architectural masterpiece which can be arranged through Context Tour Guides — our tour guide was Ziada who was excellent.), we stopped in for lunch at a local favorite, La Paradeta (the literal translation of which is the Stall), which boasts three locations around Barcelona. La Paradeta offers a mix of a seafood market and eatery combined in one. The fresh sea food offerings are resplendent in their displays and bursting with colors not seen at neighborhood Wholefoods. One simply picks the preferred fare by weight (one more reason to master the Metric System). After paying, the sea food is whisked away to the kitchen and returned beautifully presented and perfectly prepared. I suspect no choice in the preparations are offered but it seems that most of the seafood is grilled or flash fried. Regardless, it was simply one of the freshest and most delicious seafood experiences I have enjoyed. The delicacies served originate from the Balearic Sea, or Mar Balear, which is within walking distance from the restaurant. One item not to be skipped are the razor clams — an item that is difficult to find back home. To wash down my lunch, I had a local draft beer known as Urgell, not to be confused with Bier Urquell, a light and heady pilsner. Interestingly, they do offer a Shandy on tap — a first in my experience.
An unexpected but welcome experience was a speakeasy in Barcelona. I’m not aware that we exported the Volstead Act (aka the Prohibition under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States) to Spain. Nonetheless, the Catalan take on the speakeasy was quite charming. The establishment known as Bobby’s Free is located on Calle Pau Claris. The storefront is an old school barber shop complete with the red and white striped barber’s pole. On entering the barber shop, one is greeted by the “lookout” who will politely demand the “secret” password. The password can be obtained from the hotel concierge or, even more conveniently, on the establishments website. In our case, we flubbed the password but nonetheless given a chance at redemption in the form of a trivia question. I suspect we botched the consolation trivia question as well (something to do with Leanardo deCaprio and a 1920s role — to which we answered Catch Me if You Can). We were graciously permitted entry through a cleverly designed pivoting wall which, after a short descent down some dimly lit stairs, opened up into opulent spacious bar beautifully appointed with dark woods and leather. The cocktail menus were ingeniously sandwiched in spirally bound LPs (for our millennial readers — that means in between two vinyl records). Following cocktails, we had dinner at Casa Rafols. A fun decor but reservations are a must.
On our final night, we decided on Italian on Carre de Colomb. A short walk from the Hotel Serras is the Italian eatery Cecconi’s. I always enjoy Itlaian food on the Mediterranean as the food seems to be imbued with flavors hard to capture back home. I’m told that in many cases the produce is sourced very close to each other ie. the olives, tomatoes, and garlic are generally grown within a few square miles of each other. The service by starched white jacket clad wait staff was impeccable. A fitting finale to our culinary tour of Barcelona.
The next morning, as we prepared to depart the Serras, the Chef presented us with a basket of fresh breakfast pastries. Although we protested, we were firmly and politely admonished that we “could not possibly travel on an empty stomach.” A final gesture of the excellent hospitality we experienced in Spain and the importance that the culture of food plays in everyday life.
Dr. Reddy is a Board Certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon. In his quest for continual improvements in Plastic Surgery, he is fortunate to travel around the world to evaluate and learn new techniques and refinements in Plastic Surgery.
P. Pravin Reddy, MD is a Board Certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.