Let’s get serious about Catalan cuisine and dig a little deeper into tapas in it’s current form.
Is Barcelona the home of tapas?
It didn’t originate from Barcelona but you will find a wonderful selection of tapas around the city.
You may have heard of master chef Ferran Adrià and his world renowned restaurant El Bulli and the new city centre incarnation Tickets.
It may surprise you to know that although nowadays tapas is ubiquitous with Barcelona its never really been the home of tapas.
What is the Catalan cuisine?
Catalonia itself has developed a unique gastronomical style with itsabundance of fresh seafood, fruit, vegetables and meat.
The food genre known as mar i muntanya – the local equivalent of surf ‘n’ turf puts meat and fish together on the same plate.
Similarly they love combining foods such as fish with nuts and fruit with poultry.
One speciality is pa amb tomàquet – toasted or grilled bread slices rubbed with tomato, olive oil, garlic and salt which is often a breakfast dish.
Ham and cheese are pretty important too. The main centres of cheese production in Catalonia are in La Seu d’Urgell, the Cerdanya district and the Pallars area in the northwest.
You’ll find lots of goats cheese, either soaked in olive oil or there is melt in your mouth gorritxa which is made from penicillium mould.
Sausages are pork based for the most part the most commonly found being botifarra, fuet (a thin, dried pork sausage) and llonganissa.
On the vegetable front you’ll find mushrooms are something of a speciality.
Wild mushrooms, spring onion are picked and cooked in season January to March often in a spicy tomato Romesco sauce.
Sauces are more important here than other parts of Spain. The more common sauces are sofregit (fried onion, tomato and garlic) and samfaina (similar to ratatouille – sofregit plus red pepper and aubergine or courgette).
It’s not just an Italian treat, they also have their own pizza called a coca. Sometimes they come with sardines and you can get sweet and savoury options.
A creme Catalan is also pretty tasty just don’t call it a creme bruleé….
Ok, so what is the Tapas connection?
Imported to Barcelona is the pintxos style of tapas which is basically like little canapés.
Slice up some baguette and add everything from bacalao (cod) to morcilla (black pudding).
This could also accompany some Basque white wine, txacoli which is served like cider giving it some bubbles when first poured.
Pintxo comes with a toothpick and payment is by the honour system – you keep your toothpicks and present them for the final count when you ask for the bill.
Modern dining in Catalonia
Nowadays there are plenty of places serving up gourmet delights and there’s always pintxos available in bars.
In Barcelona the food scene is one of the best in the world. You can sample Michelin star dining or go for some street food – the city is full of genuine culinary delights.
Scope out the famous Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, often simply referred to as La Boqueria for some outstanding food and wine.
Or just over the border in France seaside towns such as Collioure serve up fantastic seafood tapas often including anchovies, sardines and the traditional Catalan surf and turf options.
For Barcelona city tapas tours we went on the New Europe tapas tour which was really good value for money and we got to eat in a Michelin star restaurant.
This post is making us hungry!
Let’s look at a recipe for some tapas….
RIOJA BRAISED CHORIZO WITH CHICKPEAS