Barcelona is a culinary capital offering a wide and wild variety of cuisines and creative dishes. However, grazing on tapas and dining in fine restaurants can be both wearing on the wallet and bruising on the palate.
There sometimes comes a time when you just want something more ordinary, a light bite to fill a hole while out and about.
Well, you could try a Bikini.
Yes, Bikini. When wandering around the city you’ll see the word Bikini scrawled on chalkboards outside snack bars. It’s a very popular snack, probably the most popular snack after the ubiquitous patates braves [patatas bravas in castellano].
A Bikini is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.
The name, Bikini, is unique to Barcelona and Catalunya. Try ordering a Bikini outside of Catalunya and you’ll prompt incomprehension, a measure of confusion, and perhaps a little argument; in Spain a Bikini is known as a mixto.
The sandwich, similar to un croque monsieur in France, is said to have been so christened here, in Barcelona, in 1953.
To check out the history of the Bikini GO HERE
There are two food tests for any snack bar in Barcelona — the Braves test and the Bikini test.
Zarajos as served at Morryssom
One of my favourite tapas dishes is Zarajo, braided sheep’s intestines wrapped around a vine branch and usually broiled, though often grilled, sometimes smoked, served hot with a wedge of lemon.
Zarajo is not common in Barcelona — the dish originated in Cuenca, the city in Castilla–La Mancha.
Zarajo go well with a beer, though I recommend you try them with a glass of rough, strong red wine.
Two places which I know serve zarajo are:
- Morryssom’s — one of my favourite lunch restaurants and tapas places — 3,40€.
- Bar L’Amistat, Carrer de Torrijos, 13, in Gràcia — 3,90€.
Zarajo as served at Bar l’Amistat, Gràcia.
Zarajo as served at Bar L’Amistat
Spain’s most popular lunchtime deal — the menú del día — was invented for the convenience of tourists. Ironically, most tourists are not aware it exists.
When visiting Spain you’ll save yourself a ton of money, and discover some wonderful food offerings, if you adopt the local custom of eating your main meal of the day between 2pm and 4pm and opt for the menú del día.
Opting for a menú del día will relieve you of the stress of:
a) not knowing what the final bill (check) will be before you sit down;
b) wading through a seemingly endless menu of dishes you may not be familiar with;
c) choosing a wine to accompany your meal.
Another good reason to try a menú del día is that you’ll encounter and rub shoulders with natives, as opposed to other visitors. Rafa Peña, the very highly regarded chef at Gresca, says,
“In the evening 70% of our diners are foreigners, at lunchtime almost 90% are Barcelonins.”
On a good day, nothing beats a good, long, chatty menú del día with close friends or family.
Paella served as a first-course as part of a menú del día.
So, what is a Menú del día?
Most restaurants in Spain, even Michelin-starred establishments, will offer a menú del día — menu of the day — a fixed-price lunch, Monday to Friday.
A menú del día will usually offer a choice of 5 or 6 first-courses, 5 or 6 second-courses, 5 or 6 desserts, wine, water (or beer or soft drink) bread and coffee, for an all-inclusive price of anywhere between 6,50€ and 30plus euros including service and tax.
Though things are changing, we don’t do ‘cocktail’ sauce and other sweet’n’spicy gloops in Barcelona.
If in a snack bar, or bar-restaurant, and you’ve ordered a burger then your server may bring you tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard automatically. If they don’t, and you want them, ask for them — ketchup [ketch-oop] — mahonesa [my-yon-essa]— mostaza [moh-sta-sa]. Continue Reading…
Zucchini or Courgette Flower with mozzarella as served at Paco Meralgo
Tataky de lomo de buey con enoquis (Tataki of beef tenderloin with enoki mushrooms), as served as part of the menú degustación at Goliard.
Goliard in Vila de Gràcia is currently one of my favourite restaurants for both lunch and dinner
Here are 10 good reasons why:
February 3rd, 2015 —
Off to an art exhibition opening at Vinçon for 8pm and to meet with two visitors from Montreal — Binky and Jennifer.
Very interesting evening.
The opening seemed much more busy than is usual. And, the age profile of those attending seemed much older than usual. The older demographic is in part explained by the fact that the artist, Francesc Artigau, first exhibited at Vinçon in 1975 — two years after the gallery opened. The exhibit consists of just one large painting split over three canvasses.
- Here’s a LINK to background about the exhibit.
- And, here’s a LINK to the artist’s website.
We met Binky and Jennifer, and, from the off we hit it off. We had a Moritz beer and a few bites of cheese, crackers, olives and llonganisa then took a tour of the store.
Bar Bodega Quimet
Then we all headed up to Gràcia and Bar Bodega Quimet — one of my favourite haunts for a bite and a drink. At around 9pm it’s a comfortable 15 minute stroll — during the day it can be a frenetic hike. During the day you spend as much energy, if not more, sidestepping the shoppers, gawkers and strollers, as you wend a way up Passeig de Gràcia.
Bodega Quimet was packed. Tuesday night on a cold, damp February evening — packed. Must tell you something.
We perched ourselves at the bar and ordered a bottle of Montsant and a few delicious bites. Then got ourselves seated at a table and ordered more bites and more wine. The chat flowed readily. Laughs came easily — in part prompted by my being locked in the toilets.
Good food, good drink — great company.
We met having exchanged a few emails — we parted as friends.
The Barcelona effect — again.