January 12, 2012


My first impression of Barcelona was two-fold: (1) Hm, quite dirty and more metropolitan than I imagined; and (2) Holy moly, why is it so chilly??  Sadly, my plans to go swimming in the Mediterranean was quickly deterred by the fact that the daily high barely hovered around 65F.  So instead, I stopped by a H&M and bought a pair of ballet flats and skinny jeans (my flip flops weren't working for me and as for the jeans, they were only 10 euro!).  What - the weather made me.

Perhaps what requires less justification is what I consumed physically (maybe).  First, I was pleased to finally see what I believe to be "traditional tapas."  Yet among the traditional small plates, there were some unusual players as well.  Case in point: 

Baked Camembert on a stick, rolled in honied peanuts and topped with a drizzle of fruit preserve
It was delicious.

Sampler tapas plate (anchovies, clams, prawns, croquettes, grilled chiles)

Fresh seafood Paella

For C's birthday dinner, we trekked to the beach area for some bomb [dot] come paella.  I was holding out on paella up until this point (7 days in Spain), so I knew this was going to be a special dinner in more ways than one.  I ordered seafood paella, and about 40 minutes later*, a heaping plate greeted my salivating face.  Naturally, I cleaned it like a champ.  I might as well have licked the plate and gnawed on the shrimp heads and mussel shells, but I'm not THAT barbaric.  But seriously, delish!

*Note: If your paella order takes less than 30 minutes, be wary.  Some places will try to trick you by serving you frozen paella.

For lunch the following day, we trekked back to the beach area for lunch at a local champagne/ sandwich bar called Xampañería Can Paixano or La Champagneria.  Since two of my friends recommended this place to me on separate occasions, I knew this had to make my "must-visit" list... and oh my, was it worth visiting!  First, the "cave" of a place is probably the size of your standard tennis court in length, but much skinner in width.  Half of the width is dedicated to the "kitchen" and counter, and part of the length acts as a cellar for the different champagnes.  When we pushed our way in, we were greeted by sheer madness -- people were yelling orders, merrily drinking and laughing, and noshing on rolls stuffed with fatty meats.  The ambience reminded me of Grand Central Market in Downtown LA with far less space and a heartier vibe.  After several minutes of being pushed around, we managed to place our sandwich orders and A and I split a bottle of rose champagne (on top of the individual glasses we initially ordered).  Because of the overall energy of the place and the underlying feeling of being rushed, we downed everything in record time... and suddenly, the world became a happier place.  In our happy place and before my usual post-drinking sleepiness kicked in, we walked towards the beach for our afternoon siestas.  

Post-beachside nap, gelato was consumed.

Espana is great!
(But America is greater). :)