Tibidabo and Santa Anna – Barcelona

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My last day in Barcelona was a beautiful sunny day (even though it was the end of December). One attraction that many of my friends had visited, but I hadn’t, was the famous Tibidabo. Tibidabo is a mountain that provides a spectacular viewpoint of the city. You can reach the mountain by taking a T2B shuttle bus that departs at Pl. Catalunya. Took roughly less than 30 minutes, and it went around and around and up the hill. Up on the mountain is an amusement park, and most notably, a Catholic Church. This is called the Temple de Sagrat Cor.

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The Church is translated to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It took 60 years to construct it. The interior is rather small, but beautifully decorated with stained glass windows and mosaics. Very colourful and filled with details.

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The amusement park is the oldest in Barcelona, and features some pretty cool rides and I would assume you would get some breath-taking views high up on those rides. We didn’t go on any rides, but there are various viewpoints on the mountain and the view is beautiful. I’m so glad I got a chance to come here on my last day as it really wrapped up my 4 months in Barcelona. I cannot wait to be back! It’s like my second home now!

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After a relaxing morning up on the mountain, we decided to grab some lunch. I did some searching on Tripadvisor and we ended up at Santa Anna. It was just tucked into one of the streets along La Ramblas. Santa Anna is a place filled with both locals and tourists. They have an awesome lunch menu for 10,70 euros which includes bread, a drink, and a 3 course meal. You will be super full from the meal! It’s also great for tourists since they have an English menu and can converse in English very well.

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Lemon Fanta

For the choice of drink, I went for the Lemon Fanta. I was always a fan of Fanta, but it’s not super popular in Vancouver. I swear I drank Fanta the most in Spain, other than Sangria. I couldn’t believe that they gave us a huge bottle of Fanta though. It comes in the glass bottles, but this was one size larger than the usual. I was beyond filled up just by the drink and fizz itself.

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Broth Soup with Meat and Vegetables

C got the Broth Soup with Meat and Vegetables. It was filled with corn, meat and pasta. She said it was a nice light soup and wasn’t too salty. For me, it sort of reminded me of chicken noodle soup. You could get semi full just by the soup itself already!

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White Rice with Tomato Sauce, Fried Egg, and Fried Banana

K and I got the White Rice with Tomato Sauce, Fried Egg, and Fried Banana as our appetizer. Yup, rice for an appie! Okay, I sort of laughed when I read this on the menu, but I wanted to try it anyway. It’s such a weird combination, but somehow it didn’t taste too bad! The fried banana are basically like banana chips. You get a good amount of tomato sauce on your rice, and then a sunny side up egg. This would make a pretty good breakfast actually!

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Salt Cod with Tender Garlic Sauce

For the entree, I got the Salt Cod with Tender Garlic Sauce, which is one of their popular dishes. This was so delicious!! The fish was so tender and moist. It came with some lentil beans, which I wasn’t a big fan of, but the garlic sauce was very light and added a bit of flavour without being too overwhelming.

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Grilled Veal Steak with French Fries and Green Peppers

C and E both got the Grilled Veal Steak with French Fries and Green Peppers. I find it odd, but the steak in Barcelona is often cut very thin. Hence, I find that the meat is a lot more tough since it gets overcooked really quickly. They both agreed it was just average.

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Roast Pork Chop with Honey and Mustard

K got the Roast Pork Chop with Honey and Mustard. You’ve got to get messy eating this one! A nice honey glaze on the meat, but as usual, the pork chops didn’t have too much meat on them. It also came with some potatoes.

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Catalan Creme

For dessert, we wanted the Pineapples with Cream, but they ran out of that. Instead, we got the Catalan Creme, which did not look too appetizing. It was slightly torched so there was a thin layer of caramelized sugar on top. I found it average, and I was too full to finish this.

All in all, Santa Anna has some pretty good deals for lunch. I hear that their regular menu is also really good! Service was also very friendly. And that was it for my stay in Barcelona! I cannot wait to be back! Before returning to Vancouver, we took a trip to London, which will be featured in my next post!

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Tapa Tapa (Maremagnum) – Barcelona

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Cheese Cannelloni

Coming back to Barcelona, I was bittersweet since my trip was coming to an end. Two more days and I would be leaving Barcelona to my last destination in London. At the same time, we were in Barcelona at an odd time – on Boxing Day, where everything is basically closed. I needed to do some last minute shopping in Barcelona, since it’s quite a shopping heaven here if you enjoy the Inditex brands. The only mall open was Maremagnum by Port Vell, and everyone seemed to have made their way there. After a day of shopping, we settled at Tapa Tapa at the Maremagnum location. Tapa Tapa is known to be more of a tourist spot, since it’s overpriced and not exactly the most amazing tapas. But we were tired and didn’t want to waste metro tickets going to another location. We started off with the Cheese Cannelloni, which is a popular tapa in Barcelona. It was rich and creamy, with a very thick sauce on top. I did find it a little too salty though.

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Acorn-fed Iberian Ham Croquettes

Next up, K’s favourite Iberian Ham Croquettes. They were soft and cheesy inside with a strong Iberian ham flavour. The outer coating was deep fried to a nice golden brown. If anyone knows where I can buy these frozened to heat up in Vancouver, please let me know. I am already craving them now.

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Assortment of Montaditos

Next, we had the Assorted Montaditos. This was a colourful plate with 5 different montaditos. Starting on the top left was a Melted Camembert and Acorn Ham. The cheese was a stringy texture, but I didn’t really like the taste of it mixed with the ham. Just beneath that was the Spanish Potato Tortilla. Again, a very typical Spanish tapa. You got lots of potatoes within a thick omelette and it was placed on a tomato brushed piece of bread. To the right of the omelette, we had Mini Burger with grilled onions. I’ve had this as the Trio of Hamburgers, and loved the one with onions. The grilled onions just bring so much flavour to the patty. Then we have the Iberian Ham next, which I’ve found that I’m not a huge fan of. I can eat it sometimes, but I can’t have it constantly. I find the ham flavour too strong personally. Last but not least, we have the Crab and Shrimp Salad, which is personally my favourite. It’s so simple, with just imitation crab and chopped up shrimp, mixed with mayo, but it’s absolutely delicious! This is a good deal if you want to try a variety of tapas, since it’s only around 8,75₮, whereas if you ordered everything separately, it would cost around 12₮.

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Assorted Salads

Since we were sharing our dishes, it made sense to get another large plate, so we got the Assorted Salads. It came in an impressive presentation, almost like a monster! In the front, we have the Classic Russian Salad with Tuna, which is by far my favourite Spanish salad. I’m even trying to make this at home now!  Tons of tuna, some corn, peppers, and loads of mayo. If I remember correctly, the one behind was the Green Salad with Goat Cheese and Vinaigrette Tomato. I didn’t really like this one since I’m not a fan of goat cheese or tomatoes. Next was the Mediterranean Pasta Salad and Prawns. This one was another favourite, although it lacked prawns. In fact, I don’t really remember having any prawns. Regardless, the pasta salad was flavourful. Last but not least, it was the Potato Salad with Smoked Salmon. I found this one a bit bland. Again, a good deal if you want to try the different salads, as it comes to only 8,25₮.

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Moorish Pintxos

Moorish Pintxos are essentially Meat Kebabs. I think we were eating pork here if I’m not mistaken. It’s basically rubbed with a spice before it’s grilled. It was lightly topped with salt, and it was definitely a nice kick to our meal. Not too spicy, but very flavourful for sure. Everyone enjoyed this dish.

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Squid Ink Paella (Regular size)

Last but not least, my mom wanted to try what Spanish Paella really was, so I suggested we get the Squid Ink Paella. They have a tapa size and a regular size. We chose the regular size, but couldn’t end up finishing it all. I’ve found that I enjoy the Squid Ink sauce more than the Valencian style. I just enjoy the taste of seafood more, and I find the squid ink very flavourful. I found this paella a bit more dry than La Fonda and it also didn’t have as much cuttlefish. Regardless, still decent.

And of course we ended our night with some Sangria. I would suggest Tapa Tapa only if you aren’t able to make it to other local restaurants. You get a taste of what Spanish cuisine is like, but by no means, is this the anywhere close to the best. Oh, how I miss Spanish food already!

Bodega Santa Cruz – Seville

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The previous night after dinner at the terrible La Tradicional, we saw that Bodega Santa Cruz had a lot of people having drinks and tapas. We decided to go back the next afternoon for a quick lunch. It wasn’t as packed during this time, and we were able to find a seat, contrary to how many say you must stand. What I really enjoyed about Seville was the fact that they spoke Spanish, whereas in Barcelona, they speak Catalan and I often cannot understand the menu. In Seville, I was really able to put my Spanish to use and it seemed to work! Glad that I could at least sort of order food and have basic communication with the locals.

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They have a chalkboard full of tapas, and most of them are only 2 euros, which is a pretty good deal. Almost all of the tapas also came with these little bread sticks. First, we had the Spanish Omelette, which is a very typical Spanish dish. I actually ate this in a sandwich at school a lot. It’s basically a thick egg omelette which is made of potatoes and then deep fried. I wish it was served hot, but I know that this is typically served cold.

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Next, we had the Russian Salad, which was basically potatoes and corn. It had tons of mayonnaise which made it tasty. This was a very basic Russian salad.

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Croquettes were a must order. They weren’t as fresh as other restaurants, but were still decent. These also came with some fries and mayo. Again, the fries were thinly cut, something that seemed typical in Seville.

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Someone suggested to order the Seafood Pancakes. They were sort of odd… They were basically a potato patty with shrimps in it. I believe they put the whole shrimp, still with shell in to deep fry, so we actually bit into pieces of shell. I guess you could technically eat the shell, but I found it a little odd.

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Patatas Bravas are also a must in Spain. This one came with tons of sauce. A mix of mayo and ketchup. These deep fried potatoes are always a pleaser.

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And lastly, we had the Smoked Salmon Molletes. Andalucia is famous for molletes, so it was no surprise that we were having molletes in Seville. Lightly grilled buns with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Definitely not as a good as Ciudad Condal’s salmon montadito, but not bad.

Overall, Bodega Santa Cruz was a very down to earth bar to grab some cheap tapas. Don’t expect amazing quality, but you’ll get to sort of experience some typical Spanish tapas at a local joint. Next stop, Italy!

La Tradicional and Seville Sights

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In Seville, we stayed at the Apartamentos las Cruces. It was located in the Santa Cruz neighborhood, which I later learned that it’s a typical tourist spot! It’ was the Jewish quarter back in the day and has many of the historical buildings here. Seville is filled with beautiful buildings. Here, the Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world! And as a church alone, it’s the third largest in the world!

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This is the Main Door or Door of Assumption on the west facade. Very intricate decorations, although this door is not used for visitors. We were able to enter at a different door, and you’re able to see part of the church. The rest of it will cost money and also allows you to go up the bell tower I believe.

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Another must see is the Alcazar of Seville, which is the royal palace, and previously a Moorish fort. It’s the oldest royal palace in Europe that is still being used! This is the Courtyard of the Maidens and shows just some of the beautiful architecture of this palace. Today, the upper levels are still used by the royal family.

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The Torre del Oro or the Golden Tower is a military watchtower right by the Guadalquivir River. It was actually a prison back in the day too! Today, it is a military museum and costs admission to enter, so we didn’t go inside.

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Bullfighting in huge in Spain, although it’s not available in Barcelona. I guess one of my regrets is not seeing a bullfight during my time on exchange! The Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Sevilla is the oldest bullring in the world! Pretty cool! The facade outside is in a Baroque style and brightly coloured. Unfortunately, there were no shows during our time, but only a tour of the ring.

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Last but not least, I personally think a must see is the Plaza de Espana or Spain Square. We have a Plaza de Espana in Barcelona, but this is definitely so much more impressive! The plaza is located in the Maria Luisa Park and was built for the Expo back in 1929. It shows the Renaissance style of Spanish architecture and showcases a lot of tiles! Extremely beautiful with all the colours.

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At night, we went to this busy street filled with restaurants. We went to La Tradicional, which was such a tourist trap! I can’t find the restaurant online, but it was on calle mateos gago.

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First we had Croquettes, which were still acceptable. It wasn’t the best ever, but they didn’t seem very fresh. The only thing I enjoyed were the fries. In Seville, I realized that their fries are almost like hickory sticks. They’re cut so thin and therefore, when deep fried, they are very crispy and crunchy.

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We also ordered a tapa size of Paella, which I was not impressed by at all. It was so dry and the seafood wasn’t fresh. It seems like a dish for tourists who haven’t tried authentic paella.

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I ordered a cup of Gazpacho, which is cold tomato soup and it was nasty! I’ve had a good cup of Gazpacho back in a local cafe in Barcelona, and it was so good! This one had such an odd flavour and was so strong in onions.

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The Seafood Salad was also such a disappoint. If Ciudad Condal was a 9/10, this would be a 3/10. The seafood was not fresh at all! The shrimps were so tiny and seemed like frozen shrimp. They even cheaped out on the imitation crab. It was just filled with tons of onions and green peppers. We didn’t like the flavour at all.

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The last dish was the Fried Calamari, which was also a disappointment. I guess it was one of the better dishes, but it was basically like eating batter. The cuttlefish was almost non-existent, and I’ve had plenty better in Barcelona or Vancouver. So disappointed.

Beware! Do not go to this restaurant. It’s so catered to tourists that they speak to you right away in English and offer you an English menu. Seville is pretty Spanish-oriented, so you can tell right away they are used to tourists at this spot.

Vineria San Telmo – Seville

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We only stayed a night back in Barcelona, really for my new travelers to drop off their luggage. And of course, we ate at Ciudad Condal once again! Everyone was totally satisfied! Next morning, we were off to Seville, the capital and largest city of Andalusia, an autonomous community. Seville is very south in Spain so we were able to enjoy some sunny weather! We stayed at Apartmentos Las Cruces, which is pretty neat since it was basically like a one floor townhouse for ourselves. Two queen size beds, huge bathroom and kitchen. We did have an issue with our hot water tank, but other than that, it was a very good deal and at a good location in the Santa Cruz area. We took a short walk out in a maze (the streets keep turning!) and we found Vineria San Telmo, a nice little bar/cafe. It has pretty high ratings on Tripadvisor! Service wasn’t too bad and there were English menus.

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Squid Ink Spaghetti with Garlic and Grilled Scallops

First, we had the Squid Ink Spaghetti with Garlic and Grilled Scallops, since many reviews suggested trying this. I did find that the spaghetti was a little too dry since there isn’t really a sauce. The pasta is very bouncy and chewy though!

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Fresh Grilled Foie Gras with Apple Compote

Next, we had the Fresh Grilled Foie Gras with Apple Compote, which is perfect for foie lovers. I loved the little touch of the flower painting too! I didn’t know that apple would go so well with the foie! A nice apple spread similar to apple sauce, paired with the foie that melted in your mouth. The outer layer is grilled to a nice crispy texture.

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Quail Eggs with Cured Iberian Ham

I think the Quail Eggs with Cured Iberian Ham was the most physically attractive dish! Essentially montaditos or bread with Iberian Ham and topped with sunny side up quail eggs. I still found the Iberian ham a little tough for my liking, but the quail egg was delicious with the yolk still runny!

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Duck Breast with Chutney and Yucca Chips

Finally, we had the Duck Breast with Chutney and Yucca Chips. The duck breasts were grilled, but I found the inside to be a bit tough. Not the best duck breasts I’ve had. The chutney sauce was nice to go with it, since it was a bit sweet and sour from the mangoes. Yucca chips are also known as Cassava chips, which are really sort of just like potato chips, but they’re a lot more crunchy.

Overall, I really enjoyed the dishes at Vineria San Telmo. Prices are quite reasonable, and they have a large variety of choices.

Carmelitas – Barcelona

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Bread with Chocolate, Olive Oil and Salt

After dinner at Tickets, we were obviously still sort of hungry. We met up with D since it was our last farewell night and headed to Carmelitas. C had been here before and said that their food is average, but they have good desserts and a casual environment. It’s located in the Raval area, so it can be a little sketchy at night, so go as a group. The restaurant is also a bar, so it was huge. We were taken to the very back where it was much more quiet but seated more of us. We had a pitcher of sangria and ordered pretty much every dessert on the menu! First was the Bread with Chocolate, Olive Oil and Salt. The rest of the group thought it was an interesting combination, but C and I had already tried something similar at Tapas 24. This was definitely a lazy version of it. We could’ve easily made this at home. It was literally a piece of bread brushed with olive oil, with two squares of semi-melted chocolate and topped with salt. It was smooth and the salty mixed with sweet was again a good taste. Still, I would prefer the Tapas 24 one more, since the chocolate was almost like a mousse.

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Cheesecake

We tried two of their homemade cakes, which you need to ask about since they change daily. We had the Cheesecake, which I really liked. It was topped with some honey on top! Very smooth and fluffy and the top was golden.

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Chocolate Cake

The second homemade cake was the Chocolate Cake. It was quite dense and more like a fudge cake. It came with some nuts as well on the side. Not bad!

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Santa Teresa’s Toast with Ice Cream

We weren’t sure what the Santa Teresa’s Toast really was, but we went for it anyways. It was basically like french toast, but with more of a cake batter. It was deep fried on the outside and topped with sugar on the outside. I loved it! So good! There was some honey on it too. It came with a scoop of walnut ice cream, which was additional, but the warm and cold feeling was amazing!

The desserts were around 4 euros each, which is reasonable at a restaurant. We loved how the environment was really casual and we didn’t feel pressured to leave or order more. Service was also great!

Tickets – A Molecular Gastronomy Experience – Barcelona

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I’m so excited to write this post because I truly think my dinner at Tickets was the most memorable dining experience I’ve ever had! Tickets is owned by Ferran Adria, a an award-winning chef known worldwide. Let’s start with some background information about him, since he’s a pretty crazy guy. He used to run elBulli, which all foodies are aware of – the Michelin 3-star restaurant located in the city of Roses in Spain. elBulli was a restaurant all about molecular gastronomy. His cooking took on a scientific approach and an average meal at elBulli could cost you 250 euros. It eventually closed down in 2012 due to losses, and soon after, he opened Tickets Bar in Barcelona! It’s a place which will leave you with an empty wallet and stomach, but also an experience like no other. I mean, how often are you going to eat at a restaurant owned by one of the world’s best chef?

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Now before you think you can just go ahead and visit the bar tonight, be reminded you need to make reservations around 3 months in advance…Yup. Well C made the reservations perhaps 2 months in advance and was able to get a table. Sometimes, if you go at around 6pm, you can try walking-in, although you might have a time restriction. For some reason, they had mixed up our reservation and ended up having a restricted time to eat… Anyways, you are greeted by a lady who looked like the ringmaster (all suited up in circus-wear). We got seated, and even their plates and cutlery were interesting! Instead of forks, we had these… tweezers. Yup, I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do with them. But they’re on the menu and you can purchase them too. You can also purchase the menu which is a cute little book.

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The inside is almost like a circus. It’s so colourful and each area sort of has a theme. If you’re a smaller group, you can sit at these bars and see the chefs at work. The picture is a bit blurry, but they had those Chinese Lucky Cats waving their hands on the shelves…not so sure what theme that was!

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In front of us was another themed section. They showcased a machine that had something to do with their special olives (which I’ll talk about later) as well as tomatoes and the famous Spanish Iberican Ham. We had invited our Spanish professor to dinner and it was so informative since he could tell us more about the food we were eating as well as communicate to the servers. They know English, but it’s obviously easier when they speak Catalan. My prof pointed out that the ham wrapped in red hanging above is the Joselito Iberico Ham. Joselito is the brand and is known to be the highest quality of cured hams in Spain. Iberico cured hams are from free range and acorn-fed pigs in Spain, but Joselito is known for its pigs being able to run around in a land filled with oak trees in the town called Guijuelo in the west of Spain. Today, Joselito Iberico Ham is known as preium quality cured ham and is priced very high!

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Cava

We began our meal with a bottle of cava (champagne) to share. I don’t remember the name of of it, but I really enjoyed it! We ended up having two bottles throughout the night for the 6 of us, and it gave us quite a few rounds. You can choose your dishes off the menu by yourself, or have your waiter decide, which is what we did. He basically asked us for our budget and he would help us order dishes that would give us a good variety of their famous dishes. He said the average budget is usually 70 euros, but our prof told him ours would be 50 euros, and he said it would be fine. Our bill ended up around 60 euros each since we ordered two bottles of cava and it also included tips. We were also able to try around 15 different items! It may sound pricey, and I don’t think I would ever spend that much on a meal for myself, but I definitely suggest doing this once in your lifetime!

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Tempura of Pistachios – 3,60

Our first item was Tempura of Pistachios. It came in a basket with individual little bags filled with around 8 pistachios. The pistachios are lightly coated with tempura batter giving it a very light crunch. Not bad, although I don’t know if they’re worth 3,60 euros each bag…

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Tickets’ Olive S – 8,10 for 6

Then came the Tickets’ Olive S, which is the classic example of molecular gastronomy and a signature of ElBulli. For a starter, I absolutely hate olives. I hadn’t told the server about that, so when the olives came, I was a little hesitant. But I sort of just stuck through and said I’d give it a try. The best part of the service at Tickets is that the server will teach you how to eat each of the dishes. Of course you can eat it differently, but the food is designed to be eaten a certain way. The instructions are so detailed yet concise from the server in the most casual way. For instance, they’ll tell you whether you should take 2 bites, or just eat it in one bite, or whether to just use your hands to eat it. These olives were presented on this silver spoon and were sort of glazed with a jelly. He said to put the olive in your mouth and lightly, using the top of your mouth, press down against your tongue. What happened was something I couldn’t imagine…The olive just burst and this olive flavoured liquid filled my mouth. I was left with a very thin piece of skin. I had to think twice about what just happened… This is just an example of what’s so fun about dining at Tickets. You would think an olive is hard and solid, but not at Tickets! It was like an infused olive liquid inside a jelly and I loved it. I felt like it wasn’t as pungent as normal olives. A MUST TRY!

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We were then given another Olive-S. It looked identical but this time it came in this little jar. I believe he said it was infused with rosemary. Again, it popped in my mouth with the lightest pressure. This one was much more pungent, and I preferred the regular one more.

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Crostini with Tomato Seeds & Cantabrian Anchovies

Next was the Crostini with Tomato Seeds & Cantabrian Anchovies. Oh god, another fear of mine. Yup, I’m not a fan of anchovies either… But seriously, after eating at Tickets, I questioned myself because I loved all the food that I normally hate. Does that even make sense? Although Tickets is all about modern molecular gastronomy, their cuisine is still based on traditional Catalan and Spanish ingredients, and this is just an example of that. Pan con tomate was basically the traditional counterpart of this dish. And of course, Cantabrian anchovies are premium anchovies found in the sea of northern Spain. This was eaten in 2-3 bites and the crostini was crunchy with the anchovy not being fishy at all! That’s what I really hate about anchovies, but these weren’t fishy. It was also topped with these little silver paper looking flakes that looked like fish skin. It was actually made of potato!

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Manchego Cheese – foam inside of mini airbags with hazelnuts olive oil caviar – 8,40

Then came these little cheese puffs. The Manchego Cheese were turned into a foam and filled in these light, airy mini airbags. You put the whole puff into your mouth, and again, it just explodes. Your mouth is then filled with a buttery, smooth cheese. It was also topped with hazelnut olive oil caviar which added a nutty flavour. Manchego cheese originates from Spain and is from sheep milk. I’ve had it on its own before and it was really pungent for me, but not here! The balance was just right!

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Joselito’s Iberian Ham – 13,40 (tapa)

Then we got to try the famous Joselito Iberian Ham. I’ve had quite a lot of Iberico jamon during my time in Spain, but I’m pretty sure I was having cheap versions of this prized cured ham. The pieces of ham were light pink and so thin with a just the right amount of fat. It was wrapped around an air baguette! The baguette was hollow inside and the feeling you got when you bit into it was very similar to the Manchego mini airbags. Super light and the ham was perfect with a touch of paprika.

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Quail Egg in Nest

Then came a visually beautiful dish. It was like an egg shell in a nest! It was the Quail Egg in Nest, which had a quail egg in an edible crunchy nest. The quail egg was runny in the middle with the yolk just bursting in your mouth. I find that most of their dishes are about the explosions in your mouth! The top of the egg was also topped with some wasabi mayonnaise which gave it a little kick. Delicious!

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Tuna with Roe in Cone

Next was the Tuna with Roe in Cone, which was again presented beautifully. Even the plating they used was whimsical! The cones were put in a pot that looked like it was crumbled and filled with pebbles. The tuna sashimi cubes were wrapped with seaweed and then wrapped around a crispy cone.It was then topped with some tobiko. So delicious and made me miss Japanese food. I love how they mix other cuisines into their menu. There’s really something for everyone!

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Edible Crab – in avocado cannelloni – 14,80

Then came another dish with an ingredient I wasn’t very fond of. It was the Edible Crab which was wrapped with tons of avocado slices! I usually choose not to eat avocado, but holy, this was so good! Basically they use the avocado slices to imitate a cannelloni with the crab meat filled inside. The avocado was so soft and creamy and mixed with the sweet crab. It was just amazing.

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Oysters with Ponzu Sauce and Salmon Roe

Mmmm then came one of my favourites! Oysters with Ponzu Suace and Salmon Roe. Such a simple dish, but the freshness of the oysters combined with the Ponzu sauce, which is citrus based really brought out the sweetness of the oysters. Again, they took advantage of the Japanese sauce to accentuate the dish. The salmon roe also gave a little pop in your mouth. I could’ve easily ate a dozen of these…

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Marinated Fried Fish

The Marinated Fried Fish was probably my least favourite. It didn’t seem as special. I believed it was fried sea bass which was marinated in a spicy sauce. It was crispy and not greasy, but I didn’t find it too spectacular compared to the rest of their menu.

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Confit Potatoes – with Iberian cured ham and pork rib juice – 10,80

The Confit Potatoes also didn’t make it onto my top favourites list. The potatoes were cut thin like scalloped potatoes, and were very soft. It was soaked in a lot of the pork rib juice and paired with an Iberican cured ham. The whole dish was topped with a bit of paprika. It was good, but wasn’t a stand out dish.

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Mollete with Double Chin

We were then presented with the Mollete with Double Chin inside these little paper bags. Mollete is a type of bread roll that originates from Andalucia in southern Spain. The bread was so fluffy and light! I don’t think I’ve had bread that light before. It was filled with some fatty pork – sort of like pork belly. It was so juicy and the pairing was so simple, yet delicious.

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The Worms

Next was dessert time! Our server started carrying over an aloe plant and we were all confused. Are we having aloe for dessert? But wait! There were these cut little Worms on the plant. They even had little eyes!! They were passionfruit-flavoured marshamllows! Definitely an fascinating presentation. They melted in your mouth, but I did find it to be a little too sweet.

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Black Sesame and White Chocolate Lava Rock

Then, he brought over a lava rock… We were all like what? Do we just eat the rock? Is it chocolate cake? By the end of our meal, we were always guessing what we were eating. The grey-looking pumice rocks were actually Black Seasame White Chocolate! It was like having an Aero chocolate in your mouth! So airy and it just melted in your mouth. Seriously, how can someone be so imaginative!?

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At the end of our meal, we were definitely not full, but it filled me enough so I wasn’t hungry. The bill came in a Paellero tin can, which is the traditional seasoning the Spanish use to make paella. It’s a blend of spices and saffron according to my prof.

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And that was my gastronomical experience at Tickets. I think their slogan is La Vida Tapa which is on their theatrical movie posters outside. It translates to The Tapa Life. Tickets is definitely more than just tapas. It’s a way for diners to be curious about what they’re eating and be filled with surprises. It’s a change from the traditional ways of cooking, and I highly recommend everyone who loves food with a twist to visit Tickets. The brothers have also opened up other establishments, like 41 Degrees Experience, which I am dying to go back to try when I can afford it. Tickets is their tapas bar, so it’s priced lower. Can’t wait to be back!

I actually found a video clip from Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations where he visits Tickets! It begins at 5:40 for those interested 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ghf5gGKgAkg

Sports Bar Italian Food – Barcelona

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Exchange was wrapping up and many of my newly made friends from all over the world had made traveling plans. We soon realized that although we would still be somewhere in Europe, it would be our last time seeing each other. Well until we meet again somewhere in the world! We quickly organized a dinner with some of our closest friends, and T suggested we go to Sports Bar Italian Food. I was skeptical at first when I saw the outside, but it’s actually rated very well on Tripadvisor and didn’t fail to impress us! The atmosphere is friendly and not exactly like a sports bar, although they have TVs to watch sports on. It’s Italian owned, and the owner was super friendly and funny.

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They have a pizza oven just like how they do it Naples, except this one is shaped as a soccer ball! How cute!

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We had taken a look at the menu and knew we wanted some pizzas and pastas to share, but were indecisive about which ones to get. The owner came by and basically asked if it would be okay for him to just pick and choose customized items for us and it would be enough to get us filled. He came back with these pizzas that basically had 4 different sections of toppings. This was pretty good since we were able to try a bunch of different flavours! Since there were only around two slices for each flavour, we weren’t able to try them all. Some of the toppings were eggplant, zucchini, prosciutto, and mushrooms. The pizza was fluffy and I liked how it was pretty thin. Not exactly thin crust, but I liked this thickness.

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He also made one that was all the same toppings. This one had a red cabbage, some pork and filled with tons of cheese. I’ve never had red cabbage on my pizza before, but it actually tasted really good! Love how it was really cheesy.

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Then for pastas, we had the Seafood Spaghetti. The spaghetti was very thick, but it was cooked to al dente, so had a great chew to it. I know that true Italian pastas normally don’t have loads of sauce on it, but I wished this one had a little more sauce. I found it a little bland. There was an abundant of seafood though, including clams, squid and shrimp.

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My favourite was the Mushroom Ravioli. It was very saucy and creamy with loads of mushroom. The flavour of the sauce really made the dish good. The pasta was also very fresh and each ravioli was stuffed with a good amount of cheese.

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Some of our friends wanted to try the Rigatoni, since the pasta are shaped with large hollow holes so it’s sort of like a tube. I find that this type of pasta needs a lot of sauce or else it tastes like you’re just eating dough. This dish did have more sauce than the spaghetti, but could still use a bit more. It was a tomato base with Parmesan at the top.

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For dessert, we shared two desserts. First we got the Homemade Tiramisu. It didn’t look any good, but it tasted amazing! Tons of mascarpone cheese and a hint of alcohol. Cream and topped with chocolate powder. Everyone enjoyed it!

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He also suggested that we try this Italian Donut dessert. It was filled with cream and topped with chocolate sauce. It was quite sweet, so sharing this was a good idea. Not bad!

All in all, Sports Bar Italian Food had some pretty good Italian dishes. I thought the pastas were just average, but the pizzas were definitely really good! People even say it compares to the ones in Naples! I really liked how they were able to customize our pizzas and really helped with our orders. Service was really good and prices are quite reasonable. There weren’t too many people in the restaurant, so we were able to just stay and chat for a long time.