If you’ve lived in New York for any stretch of time, you understand the dynamics of crowds all too well: the tourist presses in Midtown and down Broadway in Soho, the dSLR-wielding would-be photographers swarming Union Square on a Saturday morning, the crush of commuters on a weeknight 4 train. I live with eight million other people, you think, so naturally I’m ready for any crowd, anywhere.
Visiting El Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (otherwise known as simply La Boqueria) on a Saturday is an excellent way to test that theory. I’ve spent weeks now trying to come up with some sort of analogy to what the Boqueria experience is like, but the problem is there really isn’t a pure analogue. Fairway is a full-fledged brick and mortar store, the Greenmarket feels positively airy in comparison, and Eataly is…well, we’ll get back to Eataly in a bit. In the meantime, let me try to give you an idea of what it’s like to wander around this massive market.
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The houses and inns along Passeig del Mar in Caldetes/Caldes d’Estrac.
It seemed like a good idea at the time to relish the beginning of fall on the beach in Caldes d’Estrac, swimming in the Mediterranean’s surprisingly strong current, and tucking into a delicious lunch at a tiny seaside restaurant. We had been teased with a quasi-sunny day the previous Friday, but clouds intervened before we were able to stay outside for long (not that it stopped me from at least getting a momentary dip in the sea) and so when that Monday dawned bright and sunny, there was naught else to do but go to the sea, armed with chairs and towels and books. I spent most of my time in the Mediterranean, either swimming or standing strong against the intense tide to collect seaglass, shells, and pieces of clay tile.
In retrospect, I think this was a bit of a mistake because I am now sure that this was the day that ruined the rest of the fall season for me and Michael. It doesn’t help that since we touched down in JFK that following Wednesday we’ve had more than our fair share of lousy weather (see: frankenstorm and then nor’easter), but even on our nicer days I’ve been yearning to go back to the little bar in front of Kalima and eat tapas, drink beer, and watch the sea while bathed in sunshine.
Boquerones with olives and beer.
Our lunch that day was very simple: a starter of some anchovies and olive oil and bread, and then gambes a la planxa for me and pintxos moruns for Michael. I had been looking forward to getting those whole shrimp since we booked our tickets, but it wasn’t surprising when Michael went with some pork with a side of papas fritas; while we enjoyed at least a few meat dishes at every place we went to, the portions were not large and often they were cured, so when he had an opportunity to enjoy some fresh meat to himself, he took it. Read More
Outside Taller de Tapas, L’Argenteria, en El Born
Ever since I started seriously reading through Andrew Coleman’s Catalan Cuisine a few years ago with its gentle rejection of the tapas culture found elsewhere in Spain, the quasi-misnomer of Barcelona Wine Bar here in CT (and now Atlanta!) has kind of bugged me. If tapas aren’t a big thing in Catalunya, then why name a tapas place after its capital city? Fortunately, Andy and Sasha answer that question within the first pages of their cookbook:
We chose the name Barcelona because, while we planned to offer an authentic tapas experience, we wanted to feature a wide-ranging selection of Mediterranean food and wine. Spain’s Barcelona is a cosmopolitan, pan-European city that reflects this outlook.
It’s true: you do see a very wide variety of options in the city of Barcelona, but it’s very easy to get the tapas experience if that’s what you happen to be craving. And frankly, when it’s in the mid-80s and it’s humid and you’re definitely a little parched because there aren’t enough 1.5L bottles of agua sin gas to properly hydrate anyone, tapas are really the best alternative. And if you’re going to go for tapas, why not follow the advice from the best place to get them on the East Coast? Read More
We came home from Barcelona and Caldes d’Estrac Wednesday afternoon after a long, but thankfully uneventful flight, and I am now in the process of going through the 600+ photos I took between the new camera and my cell phone. It was a restorative trip; swimming in the Mediterranean was as relaxing as wandering through city streets, and having the opportunity to not only see FC Barcelona play in Camp Nou, but to join in the roar of wild excitement, is not something that will be easy to forget as I listen to subsequent games on Radio Barca.
There are so many stories to tell and so many new things to cook as a result of this trip, but as I’m slowly making my way through it all, I wanted to at least give you a glimpse of what we saw, and what better image to share first than one of The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria? If Fairway is my NYC food heaven, then La Boqueria is my food market nirvana.
More to come soon…