After getting cleaned up we still had our bike so we decided to go and look at some attractions and try and make our way to garcia. Garcia is a district that is out of the touristy hub of barcelona and we heard really nice things from the bartender on the first night.
First stop Sangrada Familia, we made our way to the Familia to find that it had a large lineup outside and we had to make a choice of either biking around garcia or waiting for the church. Being mostly just foodies and not much for museums and art galleries we decided to leave the Familia for a longer stay next time in barcelona. So we headed off to garcia, which turned up to be a large hill that we had to climb. The streets were much quieter with many little piazza in between where locals would sit and chat. Here you can see sandy struggling up the hill. It’s steeper than the picture makes it out to be.
This was a fairly length bike ride and there were some restaurants we wanted to take a look at in garcia. However, we were either not able to find or they were closed. So being at the top of the hill we had some coke and a bottle of water and headed back to return the bikes. It was a fun ride down and then we ended up on the upper part of ramblas or the street that becomes ramblas and we shimmied between the crowd. Fun! Before we stopped off to return the bikes we had spotted a dried food store the day before that I needed to stop off at to buy some saffron. They only had one type which made the decision easy and the proprietor explained this is the main type of spanish saffron. I figured there would be different grades but hadn’t done the research. Regardless, it would be better than the one I had at home so I bit.
Dropped off the bikes and the night began! First stop Xampanyet. Please be finally open!! And it was, whew. The was already a crowd in there and when we entered all the standing spots were already taken at the bar. I was in a daze didn’t know what to do, so much action around me. People getting drinks, hollering to the people behind the bar, plates swishing over peoples heads as patrons grab dishes to head back to their tables.
Luckily for us the two right in front of the main bartender, who was probably the owner. I say this because he said that he would be willing to sell me the place for the right price. First things first their “champagne”. Not 100% sure what it was but it was a sparkling drink similar to a cava. As he poured it he would overfill just a touch and let the bubbles slide over the base of the glass. It was such a beautiful sight and a great way to start the evening. (fond memories)
Looking down the bar I could see a plethora of different dishes that we had to have. (although tonight I would stay clear of the iberian ham which I already had my fill). To start I pointed at the anchovies.
When we started fumbling with separating them the bartender stepped in and helped us extract the tails which held the two filets together. These were salty and briny and anchovielishes. At the same time I started ordering the canned seafood that they had. This was what I’d been waiting for for a long time.
Canned food is general to preserve or to try and keep food that otherwise would go bad. However, in this case they get the best, freshest seafood and can it. Where the canning process is intended to impart flavour and change the flavours to something different but also good. I used to love canned abalone as a kid for the flavours the can imparted on it and I was hoping for the same here.
to start we had canned clams and razor clams:
The both had the flavour of the sea but also another flavor that the canned imparted on it not unlike canned white asparagus. Furthermore, he had vinegars and olive oils he would add to the dishes before serving them. They were spectacular and worth the wait. Next we had to try their lard on asparagus? Nope ended up being a bread stick. And of course their sardines on crostini. Probably the best sardines I’ve ever had.
I ask him if they had octopus and they said no but then he pointed at this. I believe it is octopus that has been curl in on itself. I didn’t really like it because of the flavour but sandy devoured it. When I think of great octopus I think of a tender but elastic texture. This was more firm, not in a bad way though. However, I was expecting something light in flavour that octopus is, more of a vehicle for other flavours. This octopus caught me off guard with a stronger fishy flavour.
Next came the rather phallic asparagus. When I was in frankfurt germany I found these great extra large asparagus at wagners restaurant, which I still dream about at night. As a side note I found some bigger ones in the whole food in west van. Anyways, this asparagus blew it out of the water.
Absolutely giant, furthermore it had been jarred or canned it had a nice mellow flavour that preserving adds to them. Next we wanted to continue to visit the canned seafood. Berberechos, which I initially mistook for something else but they are actually part of a clam.
He served it with a little bit of oil and a special vinegar that he added. I bought a can of these, razor clams and some mussels. I tried the razor clams with some friends and they taste great on their own but its not until we added the red wine vinegar that it popped in flavour. Whatever, sauces they were adding at this restaurant they were the perfect complement to the canned seafood. The star was the mussel, they put a “spicy” oil on the mussel. It was not very spicy but it really added a depth of flavour. I’m still toying with what I can make here to add to the mussels when I eventually open them.
To cap off our apperitivo perfection we had an assortment of olives and garlic. All canned to perfection. The big surprise here were the garlic, they were pickled and much more mellow than they look, with that said they had the same level of crunch as a fresh garlic. Sandy had her fair share as well so I don’t know how they affected our breath. For those of you with keen eyes you’ll notice that we snuck in another one of those wonderful sardine crostinis.
I hardly wanted to leave and we already had way too much there. But I’m praying to the food gods that one day I’ll be able to make it back to this place and have things just like this night. It was not only great food and service but the fact that it was what we had come to spain looking for in it’s purest form.
We left looking for our main course. We again hit some closed restaurants but the night is young. Stay tuned for part 5 still on day 3.