Like Hailey mentioned on Tuesday, we were lucky enough to have a friend show us Barcelona. With Andrei’s help (and car), not only did we explore Las Ramblas and La Boqueria, but got our fill of Gaudi with visits to Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, and many other must-see sites such as the Montjuic Castle. It was great. I got to geek out over architectural beauties like the Sagrada and minorly freak out while walking down the almost 400 claustrophobic Sagrada tower steps. Andrei made it so we didn’t have to plan anything, just follow his lead or itinerary. The only thing that was left in our own hands was the food. You would think that two food bloggers like Hailey and myself would have this covered, but oh boy… were we in for an “experience.” Let me explain…
Our first night in Barcelona, we had quite a misadventure, where we ended up losing one of our party on the subway. Remarkably (to me at least as I only know about five Spanish phrases), we ended up meeting up with the missing friend within the hour, though the mini ordeal left us all extremely hungry. What happens when six girls with the propensity for eating large amounts of food start complaining about hunger pains? You walk into the first restaurant in sight, that’s what happens.
At first, I would say that the place gave off good vibes. Not only was it packed for the middle of the week, the restaurant offered a pretty good 3 course paella meal. I was sold, if only because I could snack on some complimentary olives while we waited. Hailey and I were almost done with our olive dish when I spotted IT: a dead cockroach swimming in the olive juices. I think it goes without saying that we lost our appetite pretty quickly after that.
With our food experience tainted by the extra “protein,” we decided that we would go into night two’s dinner with a more educated stance. After doing a little research on Trip Advisor, we decided to take a risk on tapas at a place called Tossa. And, let me tell you, I’m really glad we did. Though tapas are traditionally “small portions,” but Tossa’s dishes are more family-style-sized. If you have the chance to visit Barcelona, I highly recommend you do your restaurant research…unless you enjoy an extra “crawly” story.
C/Napols, 291 – Barcelona
What to Order:
Our favorite tapas: small chorizo in cider, assorted croquetas, tortilla espanola, fried calamari
Favorite drinks: Sangria and cafe con leche!
La Boqueria was definitely one of my favorite spots in Barcelona and exceeded my expectations. The last time I visited Barcelona in 2010, my native friend refused to go with us since he said it was “boring and touristy.” This time I made him take us, and I’m so glad we went. There were there dozens of combinations of fruit juices — from kiwi-strawberry-guava to coconut-raspberry; any fruit combo you could imagine can be found at the boqueria, and the juices were quite refreshing on a warm Barcelona day. In addition to the juices, vendors displayed the typical ham legs hanging from the roofs of stalls, beautifully assembled tapas on skewers, chocolate drizzled strawberries, colorful dried chilli peppers, and piles of gummy candies … just to name a few things you may see.
The market is magical and well-worth a stop for a snack while strolling down La Rambla, or even to grab some high-quality jamon y queso for later. I also picked up a few gifts here, such as the infused olive oils and flavored salts. La Boqueria kind of blows my beloved Brentwood Farmers’ Market out of the water.
As Hailey mentioned earlier this week, we’ve been MIA from our blogging duties while we were off galavanting around Spain. And, honestly, I’m having a hard time focusing on real life when I am constantly filled with memories of our European adventure. No worries blogging friends. In order to finish this post, I’ve locked myself in my room with the last of my Knoppers stash for sustenance/brain food. (Knoppers are a Polish chocolate wafer my roommate introduced to us while we were in Ibiza. Many of our vacation stories revolve around these wonderful treats). Here it goes…
On Tuesday, Hailey talked about one of the best meals we had on our trip. Today, I’ll tell you about one of our best dining experiences: Restaurante Botin.
Founded in 1725, Botin is the world’s oldest running restaurant. I’ll admit, I geeked out a little bit over this restaurant. Not only do they still cook their house specialties in the traditional Castilian fashion, the restaurant also used to serve as the local watering hole for many of the greats in English literature, most notably, Ernest Hemingway. I wanted to take a photo in Hemingway’s usual seat, but the table was occupied by customers, so I resisted the urge to be a total creep.
If you ever have the chance to visit Botin, I recommend you go for the experience. While the food was really good, if you don’t like gamey food, you may not be head-over-heels for the cuisine. If you can appreciate that most recipes on the menu probably originate from the 1700s, you will not be disappointed!
Calle De Chuchilleros, 17 – Madrid
What to Order:
Appetizer: Since you can never go wrong with European baked goods, we ordered the bread and butter for an appetizer. Just be aware, the restaurant charges you 1.60 per roll and 2 euros per pat of butter.
Main: Our favorites are: the house specials–the roast suckling pig and the roast baby lamb. If you prefer something less gamey, try the garlic prawns.
For your enjoyment, here are a few more pics from our Madrid-leg of our Spanish adventure.
Cathy and I took a little blog hiatus during our trip to Spain! (And another week off for recovery…) But we’re back in action, and happy to share all of the delicious food we encountered in Espana. Our first spot on the trip was Madrid. I’m obsessed with the New York Times 36-hours series, and read about El Mollete from their “36 Hours in Madrid.” It definitely lived up to the NY Times’ praise. It’s a tiny, cozy spot with about 5 tables, so I definitely recommend making a reservation. The owners/chefs automatically became our best friends, and sat with us to discuss what we wanted to eat. Amanda is vegan, and upon her explaining in Spanish that she is vegan, the owner said: “Que? Porque?!” Yeah, they don’t really understand what vegan even means there. A little flustered and not wanting to explain in Spanish her choice to be vegan, she blurted out that dairy hurts her stomach. This led him to believe that she could eat anything but dairy, explaining to her that they had lots of food she could eat, including tuna, jamon and duck. At this point she gave up.
Besides the food being incredible (the pastries filled with goat cheese and honey were particularly amazing), the best part of the meal was when the waiter brought out the duck. I don’t think he really spoke English, so as he brought it out he said, “Aqui, QUACK QUACK QUACK!” We started cracking up, because no one in the States would bring out a steak and say, “Here is your steak, MOO MOO!” Albeit bizarre, the staff was super friendly, and I would argue it was one of our best meals in Spain.
C/ Bola 4, Metro Opera, 28013 Madrid
What to Order:
Our favorite tapas: Croquetas de Queso (Cheese & Ham Croquettes), Saquitos de Queso de Cabra con Miel (Goat Cheese and Honey in Pastry), Ensalada de Aguacates (Avacado Salad), Huevos Rotos (Broken Eggs), Magré Pato (Duck)
For some more fun…here are a couple of pictures from our wonderful day-trip to Toledo, outside of Madrid!
This past weekend I completed my second half marathon, the Nike Women’s Half in Washington D.C.! I had a fantastic weekend catching up with my old friend Krissi, who convinced me to do this race with her, culminating in the epic race around our nation’s capitol through various monuments and along the beautiful Potomoc. (By the way, Krissi is a much more serious runner than me and has an awesome running blog called the RUNetarian!) If you’ve never raced before, let me tell you how exhilerating it truly is. The sense of comraderie and achievement among the 15,000 runners in this race was so inspiring, and it really shows how much of a mental game running is when you achieve something better than your highest expectations. Despite a busy week of work travel leading up to the race, I actually felt pretty good about how I did…but hope to shave down my time even further with the next one!
A huge decision runners must make is what to eat on race day. You want something that will give you energy but not make you crash and burn later. You also need to think hard about the quantity, because you don’t want to be too full while you run, but you also want to eat enough to sustain your body for a couple of hours. My perfect raceday food: Overnight Oats. Oatmeal gives you tons of nutrients and good whole grains, filling you up and giving you the fuel you need. The really awesome thing about overnight oats is that it’s raw, so it’s super easy to make in a hotel room the night before a race if you’re travelling! Krissi and I stopped at Whole Foods the day before our race and picked up the essentials: organic rolled oats and almond milk to make in our hotel room and store in the minifridge overnight. This was the simplified version; when I’m a home, I like to be a little fancier and add cinnamon, a hint of agave or maple syrup, chia seeds, peanut butter, fresh fruit etc. The recipe below is perhaps my favorite overnight oats combo, but feel free to experiment yourself!
Cinnamon Chia Overnight Oats
1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 Tsp Chia Seeds
1 Tsp Grade B Maple Syrup
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
Pour oats into a jar, and mix in cinnamon and chia seeds. Add milk, and stir in maple syrup. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, top with fresh fruit and enjoy!