I had never been to Barcelona, until recently. People who know me would always be shocked by this as I love to travel but had promised my Mother (long ago) that should I ever go there, it should be with her. So promise fulfilled, we seized the opportunity of the extra 4-day weekend we were given courtesy of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding and off to Barcelona we went armed with recommendations from friends as well as the opportunity to meet up with fellow foodies 'Uncle Ji' of Twitter @VhatYouTalking and newly published author of cookery book, the lovely Niamh Shields of blog 'Eat Like A Girl'@EatLikeAGirland her fab new book Comfort and Spice.I waste no time in heading to the City's most famous food market, La Boqueria to marvel at the foodie delights that only a food-obsessed junkie like myself could faint at the sight of. The market is absolutely rammed and in hindsight, a Saturday morning is perhaps the worst time to have made our visit, but planning is SO un-Spanish. Everything is done very last minute, so thats exactly how we decide to roll during our trip. We are trying to eat breakfast somewhere, anywhere in fact would do but it is impossible to secure seats at any one of the dozens of eateries and Tapas bars in the actual market itself so we browse the market instead taking in every sight, sound and smell.
Whole legs of Jamon are hung from every possible place. '5J' Jamon (or Cinqo Jotas - meaning '5 Acorn' Iberico Jam) is among the finest hams money can buy. Only trumped by Pata Negra, the king of Spanish Jamon, known by it's characteristically dark (almost black) meat and generous and greatly-prized fat content. Whole piglets are also on display; a sight which some may find disturbing, but this is Spain; they are proud of their love for all things pig. They eat from nose to tail and don't waste a scrap, including the blood which makes excellent 'Morcilla' blood sausauge, I'm told. I haven't quite gotten my head around eating blood sausage, but I know it is delicious. Sometimes you just can't overcome some hesitations.The diversity of the stands at the market are absolutely incredible and if you Spanish produce was the only thing on offer, how very wrong you would be! Exotic fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat and every kind of cheese, delicacy and food stuff imaginable. Quite overwhelming in many ways really and if I'm honest, we did a quick tour and pretty much escaped the crowds as soon as possible. Still, I'm incredibly glad that we got to see the market, after all I had spent years wanting to visit it and never had the chance until now.We ate in various places in Barcelona, including Ferran Adria's (of the famous El Bulli) new opening of 'Tickets' but by far the most wonderful discovery came courtesy of my friend @VhatYouTalking which we were grateful to have discovered. Taperia Lolita is a wonderful little eatery located away from the obvious touristy spots and instead in a residential neighbourhood, evidence of which is seen as 90% of the diners at the Taperia, seemed to be locals who knew the staff very well.Taperia Lolita is actually owned by Albert Adria, the brother of famed molecular gastronomy Chef Ferran Adria and although you won't find any crazy dishes on the menu here, the Tapas is certainly more interesting than you would find in the more run-of-the-mill Taperias in town. 'Lolita' is actually a bull with red lipstick, fondly mounted on the wall. Vegetarians stand down, no animals were harmed in the mounting of Lolita, as she is not a real bull. She is very pretty though and does making a striking centre piece in the restaurant, especially in that wonderful shade of slut-red lipstick that graces her puckered lips.We pretty much ordered everything on the menu and the dishes came out in quick succession. In fact the only thing that we failed to order where the tempura-looking chicken fingers, which we later regretted as actually they are apparently quite famous for them. Dainty plates of baby octopus, sugar-crusted aubergine cubes (bloody marvellous!) squid, croquettes of Jamon, grilled sausages, black squid and squid ink croquettes (my absolute favourite Tapas of the lot) Cecina cured beef, broad beans with black truffle vinaigrette, white asparagus with truffles, salt cod (bacalao) fritters, pan con tomate (wafer thing crispy grilled bread with tomatoes), belly tuna with tomato and onion salad and so much more that I could barely remember!
Desserts at Taperia Lolita were pretty interesting too. The 'Pink Panther' cake is something I would normally NEVER order, but slicked in a gloriously thick pink (white chocolate) icing, it was so 'Tongue in cheek' that I simply had to have it. Strawberries macerated in Balsamic vinegar and sweetened with honey just burst with sharp acidic flavours in the mouth and the sweet honey flavour was a perfect finish to them. Lastly a fresh white cheese dessert that was almost gelatinous came with a huge jar of honey on the side and although not my favourite item on the menu, it was certainly pleasant enough.I could quite happily have eaten at Taperia Lolita EVERY SINGLE DAY, but sadly they close on Sundays and Mondays and therefore it was our first and last opportunity to experience their superb food. I highly recommend this as a MUST-DO dining destination in Barcelona... and if you are feeling particularly adventurous, then Ferran Adria's 'Tickets' is just a 2 minute walk from Taperia Lolita, so maybe you can blag a table on your way past.
Tamarit 104, Poble Sec, Saint Antoni 08015 Barcelona
Metro Poble Sec [L2, L3]
Telephone +34 93 424 5231
La Boqueria Market