August 2009

Frittata & Aioli

I promised I was done with my trip to Barcelona, but–as often happens when I travel abroad–I came home eager to cook my trip. Of all the things we ate during our ten days there, two dishes were immediate candidates for the Amateur Gourmet treatment: frittata & aioli.

Barcelona / El Bulli Wrap-Up

This is my last post about Barcelona and El Bulli—thank you all for your patience as I recounted my trip in such great detail. For anyone who wants a quick all-purpose post that covers the bases, here they are: we stayed at (and loved) the Banys Orientals which was recommended by a reader, had the friendliest staff, and lovely music on its website. (They also helped us rent a car for our journey up to El Bulli.) In Roses, we stayed at the Hotel Coral Playa, which was recommended by Louisa Chu, and was a charming (and relatively inexpensive) option for those of you lucky enough to get a reservation at El Bulli. As for our dinner at El Bulli, many of you asked how much it cost. The answer is $1000 (about 700 Euros). That may seem outrageous, but I’d been saving since February so when it came time to order wine, etc, I didn’t have to be a cheapskate. (Without the wine, and without a tip–which, I imagine, is optional (though I left a nice one)–the meal could’ve been more like $700.)

La Boquería & Mercat de Santa Caterina

Wandering around the markets of Barcelona–which is an essential activity for any food lover who visits–you’re confronted with sights and sounds and smells that’ll haunt you forever. I may one day forget the spires of the Sagrada Familia, but I’ll never forget my time wandering the aisles and aisles of fresh fish (so fresh, some of it’s still moving!), eggs placed out on piles of hay, and cuts of meat so stark and unfamiliar, they’d probably frighten Francis Bacon. What follows are a bunch of pictures I snapped wandering around the markets, with some occasional commentary.

One Really Bad Meal

Lest you think our trip to Barcelona was nothing but lollipops and rainbows, I thought I’d take the time to tell you about our worst meal of the trip. Before I get into it, I want to assure those of you who recommended this place–and several of you did–that I hold no grudges and that you weren’t alone in recommending it: we found recommendations for it in not one but two of our guidebooks. Which is why I feel the need to warn anyone headed to Barcelona to stay far, far away from this highly-touted restaurant; please, heed my warning: do not go to Le Quinze Nits.

Barcelona’s Best Bites


How do you sum up a city’s food in one post? It’s an impossible task, and one I can’t even pretend to set out to do. I considered splitting this up into multiple posts–one on tapas, one on Bistronomics (a new restaurant trend in Barcelona, where high-end restaurants serve multiple courses for reasonable prices)–but ultimately I thought it would be more useful to you, and more manageable for me, just to pick the best bites from our trip. What you’re about to see represents the best food we ate in one of the world’s great food cities: Barcelona, Spain. If you’re planning a trip there soon, you may want to follow our lead.

Julie & Julia

“Julie & Julia” is a movie about connections. There are the connections between Julia Child and her husband Paul, her collaborator Simone Beck, her sister Dorothy, and her pen pal Avis; the connections between Julie Powell and her husband Eric, her best friend Sarah, and the one that forms between her and her ever-growing audience. But it’s the connection between Julie and Julia–two very different women who never met in real life–that forms the heart of this movie, a movie that’s been covered to death, but a movie to which I, myself, felt a profound connection.

Pa amb Tomàquet

If there’s one dish that most fully represents our time in Barcelona, that really captures the varying cooking styles we encountered but also represents the deeply rooted food culture that exists in Catalonia, that dish has to be “Pa amb tomàquet”–Catalan for “bread with tomato.”

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