Tag Archives: Barcelona

Bar Vallés – San Sebastián, Spain

It was a gorgeous afternoon in San Sebastián spent shopping and meandering bars while plucking pintxos off counters and sipping delightful Txakoli. The sky couldn’t have been clearer so we took loads of great photos throughout the day. Eventually we had “shopped until we dropped” and decided it was time for another refreshment pit-stop. Casa Vallés was next on the map since it was super close and a whole two hours since we last ate. We decided to poke our heads in for a gander.

Bar Vallés opened in 1942. It gives off that impression with history exuding from the  wood paneled walls and ham hocks hung dripping from the rustic iron rails. It was the exact opposite experience of where we had our first pintxos earlier that day. Here we had a very traditional menu and much less-modern décor.

I appreciated the step back into “old-school Basque-vibes”. We arrived at an odd time of day which allowed for quicker “pint-xing” since the dining area was completely empty. With all of the sunshine there was no way we could sit inside an empty restaurant. Sidewalk seating it was! There was a bit of scaffolding around us, but otherwise we had a great view of the square from their café section.

Menus were already provided at the table (pictured below). Pintxos are great for sharing (or not) and with friendly price points of 2-5 euros each, one could easily go crazy. You’d explode and maybe rupture something before that, but grazing around town is a very reasonably-priced activity for all.

Our Assignment: Pintxos at Bar Vallés meant we would be ordering Tortilla Bacalao and Merluza Romana (pictured below).

It was nice to have a pintxo where the bread wasn’t part of the composition but rather an “optional” accompaniment. Tortilla de bacalao (pictured on top) was a tortilla made of salted cod, eggs, onions, green peppers, garlic and parsley. It was nice and moist. Merluza Romana (pictured below) is made up of hake (not cod). A lemon is provided to squeeze on top for a citrusy “zing” that cuts the grease nicely. I liked the denseness and consistency of the skin that formed on the outside. Both of these tortillas screamed BRUNCH to my NYC foodie-mind.

On the way back to our hostel we stumbled into another bar that was part of Robin’s hit-list called “Bar Izaraitz”. We looked at eachother and figured one more pintxo couldn’t possibly hurt before dinner.

What do you think happened? We went ahead and ordered a “Gilda’ (pictured below). It was part of our “SS -homework” and helped us feel like we were getting vegetables into our diet…You know vegetables like pickled peppers, salt cured anchovies and green olives on a tooth pick. If I could have it my way, I’d get all of my vegetables into my system like this. I have such a savory palette that I’m basically a walking ball of sodium.

Evidently this pintxo is a big deal around these parts. It’s named after the actress Rita Hayworth who played Gilda in the film produced in 1946. Like much of the other interesting pronunciation in the Basque region, the “Gilda” is pronounced “Hilda” locally.  (Txa-txa-txa!)

Day one in “SS” already had us acquainted with the city and our map reminded us that we would have to spread out our pin-txing in order to avoid a trip to the vomitorium. With some fancy foodies ahead, we would have to curb ourselves until well after sundown…What to do? Where would Robin and Jenzie “pinch” next? Or who would they “pintx” next? Stay tuned to find out in the next post of Jenzie In The City!

For More Information: Casa Valles

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Cal Pep – Barcelona, Spain

After a stroll through Sant Pere-Santa Caterina, it was nearly time for dinner. Cal Pep was on the agenda! Earlier in the day we had strolled by just to check out the scene and to see if we could recruit two personas for our reservation. It happened that two unlucky souls had dropped off, so we needed a complete party. The plan was to turn up and wait for a seat at the bar. Worst case scenario we could kill some time drinking delicious wine while making Spanish friends.

We were shuffled into the overwhelmingly lively bar area at the front of the restaurant. Attempting to make our way over to the dining area and out of harms way, we slowly earned the best view in the house. It only took about thirty minutes and a little cava.

The corner of the resto became pretty intimate quarters with about 7-8 bodies all huddled up, simultaneously dodging extremely busy servers and bartenders rushing about. We eventually became friendly with these two and scored a table under the original reservation.

The Meal:

The dining room was basically a cave-storing area for all of their delightful wines.

The meal began with some more traditional tapas-fare like tortilla.

We had some fried calamari…

Then we moved on to some larger squids and shared a tender tentacle of broiled octopus.

A steaming pan of shellfish loaded with fresh clams and mussels arrived to the table as well.

These courses were broken up by lighter tapas such as bruschetta-type-vehicles with red peppers and anchovy along with blistered padrón peppers sprinkled with sea salt. It was all very wholesome and traditional Spanish food made with super fresh and high-quality ingredients.

We later graduated to some heartier chorizo and beans with a sturdy side of veggies and potatoes surrounded by (fish heads).

There was so much delightful wine free flowing through the entire meal. We made sure our server sent out a bottle of red and white to complement the meal accordingly. He did a great job at making sure “the well did not run dry” that evening.

He even sent out a dessert just to remind us of where we were dining (in case we forgot)…Maybe it was in case we forgot where we were entirely.

There are seriously few tastier things than an authentic crema Catalana! I’m still trying to figure out how they got “Cal Pep” to stand out on top after torching it. I would have expected it to all melt down. #magic

This guy was so playful and welcoming…He made our experience at Cal Pep so much fun! I couldn’t believe the value of our experience when the check came. I’m so scarred by NYC prices that I expected this meal to be double the cost.

I wish I could say the rest of the night went as well as our delicious dinner. It was the first time I turned up to a club to be turned away! Word on the street was they didn’t like my shaved head or my footwear (I had flip flops on).

I had to return home for a costume change and appropriate footwear. Le sigh*

#thankgodforthe24hourpharmaciaandresourcefulandsupportivefriends <3

It had been a full day in Barcelona and sadly “life on the run” had begun to take its toll. You see, in your 30’s it’s all fun and games until someone ends up at the pharmacy (at 2am)  ordering drugs through a 3×5″ flap in the door.

I’m convinced this city will never let me like it.

All is well that ends well (with a croissant at the airport).

With new Spanish foodies on the horizon to explore, I was excited to catch my Vueling flight.

For More Information: Cal Pep

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Bodega 1900 – Barcelona, Spain

Last tPeanutPimpMama1-300x300ime I was in Barcelona was Autumn of 2010. It was my second attempt at conquering the city since 2005 and I felt that it would not let me love it (no matter how hard I tried). Keeping up with my 5 year average, it was time to touch down again. I had a very short window of opportunity to make the most of it. All considered, what I thought would turn out to be a good day turned into an unforgettable one! Maybe there wasn’t time for a museum, the beach or even strolling at a leisurely pace, but it was time to eat Barcelona! With a failed attempt at snagging a ressy at what is currently one of the top restaurants of the world (Tickets by Albert Adrià) I figured his traditional experience with a nice vermouth and tapas at Bodega 1900 would have to suffice.

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When I walked in I was impressed by the tiny yet lively space. The restaurant is completely open-plan and you are literally dining in the kitchen as all tapas are prepared right in front of your face. We were greeted quickly in a curt fashion with menus as we sat in one of the best seats of the house. After ambivalently skimming the list we decided to go for the tasting and wing it “Chef’s Choice”. While tapas are not an indigenous dining experience to this city, I was excited to see one of the Adria concepts while trying to keep it purely as Spanish as possible.

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They started out strong with a little molecular gastronomy! (Pictured Above:  “La acetuna-S con piparra” – Liquid Olive) This spoon held an olive bubble which burst in your mouth with a pungent pop of olive later finishing with tinges of smokey brine. I would have loved to see how this olive embryo came to fruition. It was almost egg-yolk-like in appearance and consistency upon first glance, minus the eggy center. It actually exploded on your tongue with a clean burst of olive-y goodness.

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With our palates now primed by that savory delight, we scarfed some snow crab pintxos otherwise known as “Pulga de cangrejo”. Here the snow crab salad was detailed with a mixture of creamy avocado and romesco dots.

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The serving became a bit more aggressive in speed with two more tapas placed before us. (Plate 1)-Smoked salmon with truffle honey and (Plate 2)- Berenjenas con salmorejo – Eggplant fries with tomato purée . The salmon pintxos had a little complexity with the mixture of truffled honey and the saltiness of the salmon and spice from the horseradish yogurt. Essence of truffle was a nice touch to what could have tasted like an NYC brunch. It’s an instant lox and cream cheese correlation… There’s no getting around it. The zucchini fries were less inspiring and served with salmorejo sauce that cooled off the piping hot fried vegetable stick in balsamic drizzle.

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Then this happened…I was expecting something a little more sophisticated than shrimp cocktail. Thankfully the shrimp were fresh (and clean) and the sauce wasn’t a typical cocktail sauce. That would have been a travesty. Instead it was a sweet mustard based dip.

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With all of these animal parts on hooks… We knew they had to end up on our plates eventually.

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They started us off with a dry aged beef carpaccio called “Rubia Gallega” which is cured for at least three weeks before being sliced for enjoyment. I swear they sprinkled some olive oil on there in efforts to resuscitate it.

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A little Manchego never hurt anyone. I was happy this made an appearance after the salty meat slivers.

IMG_9118Next up were the “Croqueta de jamón Ibérico Joselito” – These are deep fried and filled with Joselito Iberian ham and bechamel then served on little grease blotters. Thankfully we were only served one each. I think they could tell we were fading fast.

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Next we moved on to hot dogs! “Mollete de calamares picantes”- a hot-dog-like miniature bun filled with calamari and topped with a kimchi chipotle drizzle along with aoili. It was certainly a playful Asian-inspired presentation, but the squid was lost in all of this stuff. (wah*)

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Then there was meat on a stick! (Lamb to be exact)

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Finally another course worth writing home to mom about! Evidently this region of the world is known for the best squid. I have to say that this was the most amazing piece of mollusk I’ve had in a while. It was juicy and tender and my knife cut straight through what (can go all wrong) and tends to be a rubbery mass. Hiding beneath our grilled tentacle was a bed of roasted rosemary potatoes. Nom*

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With night time cocktails around the corner in Barri Gotic, we decided to keep the dessert course rather light. Pictured Above: “El melón con vermut blanco”- A boozy honey dew tranche soaked in vermouth. This might have been right up there with the un-olive and the octopus for me personally. It was a refreshing palate cleanser that left us feeling less pig-like and ready to hit the town.

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PPM witnessed a magical storm that evening with an interesting view of Park Güell. It might have been the first time she was elated to be stuck in a dark alley sans umbrella. She did not sleep a wink that night and would do it all over again if she could. Finally some great memories in Barcelona!

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Cheers!

~PPM

For More Information: ca.bodega1900.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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LA LLOTJA @ El Nacional – Barcelona, Spain

As you all know PePeanutPimpMama1-300x300anutPimpMama has been on a European-Extravaganza recently. It came to a sad ending a week and a half ago when I landed in JFK with a heavy heart but a whole darn slew of new adventures and funny times to write about. This trip was extra special since it marked the 10 year anniversary of PPM’s first move overseas to study at IPAG in Nice, France. Oh the adventures that have unfolded since! IPAG reunion planning turned into an amazing trip choc full o’ birthday celebrations and revisiting old stomping grounds that are ever-so-layered with precious memories and more nostalgia than words can express. A decade later and I can still say that Nice has my heart. #ThatRivieraTho

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(Pictured Above: Ralph at Casa di Ip – Home for a night)

With a good friend having just relocated to Barcelona, it seemed like an opportune time for a stopover and some quality beaching with the city’s newest resident. Funny that our host decided to return home to the U.S. upon our arrival to sort out visas etc. leaving us minus a tour-guide and plus a set of house keys. He wasn’t the only thing that went missing that first day… The mystery of the runaway suitcase began.

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With stress levels on the rise (and no clothies for my friend), we spent the greater part of the afternoon arguing with Royal Air Maroc. (PPM Note: Do not fly Royal Air Maroc under any circumstances EVER.) Her lost case called for an impromptu shopping and styling session on Las Ramblas. This bittersweet success had to end with a celebratory meal. With two restaurants on my hit-list for our big day in Barca, El Nacional was our next stop.

IMG_9080The concept reminded me of a Spanish version of Eataly with multiple dining concepts existing under one roof. It seemed intriguing and worst case scenario, a great place for a cocktail and a light nosh. When you enter the restaurant you’re greeted by a rather large display of random plants stacked on shelving for your enjoyment. (Seriously random). Of course my initial thought was, “Pretty…Can I eat these?”

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We took a lap around to avoid making hasty decisions. The Cocktail Bar was alluring but sans bartender which was probably for the better.

IMG_9067After a gander we settled on LA LLOTJA which prides itself on a concept where one purchases their fresh fish by weight then selects from five different preparation options including; baked, charcoal-grilled, steamed, fried or cooked on the griddle. That was way too much to think about for a late afternoon visit, so we decided to stick with smaller sea creatures in the end. In case anyone is against the aquatic life, you’re probably in the wrong corner of El Nacional but there are a couple meat items to keep you occupied.

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Light seafood-bites are exactly what happened alongside a couple of nice glasses of Cava juuuuuuust to get the edge off. The foodies had: (6) Mediterranean Oysters at 3,50 €/each, Steamed mussels with fresh herbs for 12,00 €, and of course the Bread with virgin oil, salt and fresh herbs for 2,75 €. We needed that crusty-goodness to sop up all of the herbal-mussel delisch! (PPM Note: Larger and deeper than your average oyster, these magical shellfish had flavors of the sea progressing towards a slightly fruity and creamy finish. Amazing.) Lucky for us the Cava (Juvé y Camps, Macabeo, Parellada) was only  4,75 €. We had two rounds served back to back to put the fire out. I would love to see this place during more appropriate meal times since it must be jumping! With four restaurants and four bars to choose from you could stay here for a while.

Thankfully that Euro is at a favorable exchange rate…I’ll cheers to that!

~PPM

For More Information: www.elnacionalbcn.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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