Snails in salsa arribata

Back when spring was easing into summer, I really didn’t fully appreciate just how much we had planned in the first few weeks of the season, and here we are in the middle of July. One thing I resolved on doing this summer was to spend some time revisiting my favorite Catalunyan dishes since we wouldn’t be making our biennial trip over to Europe this year, what with us buying a house and me buying a new car, but with everything we’ve been up to it’s been awhile since we could devote a couple of days to anything more fun than a typical weeknight meal.

With a weekend looming on the horizon with no plans but our own, I decided to give us a chance to relax and give ourselves a mini Caldes d’Estrac vacation, at least with food if not in beach time. Rosado would be poured, caftans donned, and my hope was each dish would bring us back to those warm days we would spend along the Mediterranean coast. Read More

Cured Alaskan salmon with goat cheese, honey and soy sauce as inspired by Quimet i Quimet

When I started doing research on vermouth and specifically what kinds of snacks would be served with the taking of the vermouth, I came across a really interesting, if surprisingly simple combination from the people of Quimet i Quimet. Located in the Poble Sec neighborhood of Barcelona, this tiny tapas bar specializes in tapas featuring tinned seafood–a delicacy in Catalunya–and serves many kinds of vermouths to boot. It’s long been on my list of places to visit but unfortunately we’ve yet to make it there, and I hope a third visit will be the eventual charm to finally bring us to that part of the city. (I have a feeling that a vermouth crawl will be in order now that I’m equipped with a list of all of the must-visit places to go thanks to Vermut.) Read More

Allioli from El Taller.

Now that our big news is out in the open I can return to my previously-scheduled food blabbering. Once again I find myself two months out from our trip to Barcelona and with very few posts capturing all of the amazing food we had this time around, but I hope that a preoccupation with figuring out where we were going to live next was at least a decent reason to be distracted. With many of those details finally being ironed out, it’s time to talk about one of my top-five restaurants of all time: El Taller in Caldes d’Estrac.

We were introduced to this place by a front desk employee of Kalima two years ago: still very jet-lagged and also exhausted from twenty hours of travel to get there, I asked him for a recommendation for a good place to eat. He asked me if we wanted peix or carns, and quickly jumped at the latter. Giving me a card for a place called El Taller, he assured me it was the best place to get meat in town. The meal we had that night was exquisite, and one of our few regrets during that trip was that we weren’t able to return there for one more meal later during our stay, so when we were planning this most recent trip Michael assured me that we’d probably eat there every night we were there. Read More


Well, it was a whirlwind of a week, but we’re back and rested and tanned. This trip was exactly what we needed: days spent sitting on the beach and swimming in the sea, long walks around neighborhoods both familiar and new, and meals filled with delectable food and drink. We covered a lot of ground and still didn’t manage to fit in everything I wanted to see…but then that leaves plenty to explore on our next visit.

La Riera in Caldes d’Estrac

Michael likes to tease me that I’m always content to go back there versus trying somewhere else new, and it’s true that if I could go there as often as I pleased I would, but this trip convinced him of the value of revisiting a place that is already somewhat familiar. This time we were not only able to revisit favorite restaurants, but also try out a bevy of new ones and squeeze in a half-day trip to Montserrat, in addition to indulging in significantly more beach time than the last time around.

Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

Another difference from the last trip is my eagerness to write about this one. I’m still not sure what prompted the writer’s block that plagued me two years ago—I still think the cold and grey weather was the culprit in addition to the shorter days—but despite feeling a familiar twinge of melancholy, I’m also incredibly eager to capture all of our experiences to paper. I won’t subject them all to you in this space, but you’ll have to forgive a number of Catalunya-specific posts likely over the course of the next few months as daylight becomes shorter and plumb this trip and its many meals for inspiration.

¡Jamón jamón!

Baked eggs with sobrasada at La Tasqueta de Caldes.

Baked eggs with sobrasada at La Tasqueta de Caldes

One of the aspects of Spanish food culture that I love is how they eat eggs at any time of day, with no need to cloak it in the really irritating “breakfast for dinner” trope.* The tortilla is perhaps the most famous way they cook eggs–check out Le culs en rows for her rather brilliant mini-tortillas that you can make in a muffin tin, by they way–but I’m convinced that the Spanish version of any egg preparation is the best. When we do have some eggs on Saturday mornings, Michael follows the technique that José Andrés calls for in his scrambled eggs with shallots and scallions recipe and they always are really creamy and tender because he makes sure they are still a little runny when he pulls the pan off of the heat. And then there is the baked egg variation, which I first enjoyed at La Tasqueta de Caldes in Caldes d’Estrac and I’ve been trying to recreate ever since.

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Shrimp with garlic and cava reduction/gambes a l'all amb reducció de cava

Shrimp with garlic and cava reduction/gambes a l’all amb reducció de cava

The last few weeks have not been particularly kind to us here at The Manhattan [food] Project, thanks to a series of injuries, illnesses, and mounting work stress that inevitably comes at the end of the calendar year. While everyone is physically fine (or at least close to it) now, in the last few weeks I had to deal with a husband who had a nasty sinus infection and a father who smacked his head against a curb when he tripped on a slippery ramp in Danbury during a weekend visit. (They are both fine now, but I feel like my sanity was hanging by a thread there for a while.) Even before all of that excitement I had been feeling discouraged, frustrated, and uninspired, and had it not been for an email exchange with a lovely reader, I’d be a lot crankier right now because I wouldn’t have this dish, straight from La Boqueria, in my repertoire. Read More


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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