Rosa Negra (2) – Barcelona

When N came to visit, I wanted her to try some of the best food I’ve had in Barcelona. Rosa Negra was one of my favourites, and although it wasn’t Spanish, she was up for having some Mexican food. When we got there, there was a huge line, and they told us to come back in 30 minutes. We took a walk around the neighborhood, and when we got back, our seat was ready.

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Nachos with Cheese Sauce

We shared an appetizer to start. We got the Nachos with Cheese Sauce, which of course had corn tortilla chips, and the toppings included beans, homemade cheese sauce, jalapenos, chopped tomatoes, onions, and coriander. It was cheesy with a kick to it and a great dish to share!

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Taco Variety Plate

N got the Taco Variety Plate so she could try the different tacos. It came with 4 different tacos and included grilled beef, slow cooked beef, chicken, and seasoned slow cooked pork. Looked really delicious and she said it was good!

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For myself, I was reminiscing the previous time I had the Cochinita Burrito, which was basically a burrito filled with seasoned slow cooked pork. Last time I had this, I shared it with my friends along with other dishes. I didn’t realize how much this was, and I was thoroughly filled by the end of the meal.

Again, a great find in Barcelona for some Mexican food. To see my previous post, click here: Rosa Negra

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La Pizza del Born – Barcelona

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La Pizza del Born was recommended by my Spanish professor, so I decided to go there for a quick lunch with N. The Born district is pretty cool and attracts the young and hipster crowd. There are tons of trendy fashion and art boutiques and the area generally has less tourists. I actually found the area more upscale too. At night, the bars in the district are filled with young people.

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Anyways, La Pizza del Born is located right on Passeig del Born so extremely easy to find. They offer a large variety of pizzas, which I believe are Argentinian style. They keep their different varieties of pizzas behind the window and reheat them up when you order. Or if you’re lucky, you’ll get ones right from the oven. They claim to have over 20 different varieties and just from the window, it was already difficult to decide which one I wanted! They also have pastas, empanadas and tons of different beverages.

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There’s sit in at the shop, and although it was completely filled when we got there, we quickly found a spot. The turnover is quite quick since most people eat and go. Every item is quite affordable with a slice of pizza for 1,90 euros. However, during lunch, they have a special deal where it’s 3,90 euros for 2 slices of pizza and a beverage! Perfect for students on a budget.

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So here is what I got. A slice of Smoked Salmon with Caviar Pizza and a Mushroom Pizza. For my beverage I got a can of orange Fanta. The slices look quite tiny, but they are a medium thick crust. The dough is extremely soft and fluffy. I believe it was more like a focaccia pizza than typical American pizza. It was topped with tons of cheese and there was a decent amount of toppings. I liked how they had toppings like smoked salmon which wouldn’t be widely found in North America. Since the dough and crust are thicker, two slices will get you decently filled.

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After the pizzas, we walked to the Mercat del Born, which was built in 1878. This was actually the main wholesale market in Barcelona, but it was shut down in the 1970s. I learned in my history class that around 10-15 years ago, they decided it was time to change this building up and put it to use. They decided to change it to a library and while they were preparing the foundation of the building, they dug the grounds and realized the ruins of the La Ribera neighbourhood. La Ribera basically means “The Shore” and they basically found the neighbourhood of the Medieval times. Since it was so important as the ruins show what life would have been like back in 1700s, including 1714 which dates the fall of Barcelona and the end of the War of Spanish Succession, they kept digging to reveal the rest of the neighbourhood and have now changed this to a museum. You’ll get a sense of what the houses looked like back then, and this floor view is free to the public. If you want to actually go down and see the ruins, then you’ll need to pay a fee.

Ciudad Condal (3) – Barcelona

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Grilled Cuttlefish

I’ve literally visited Ciudad Condal once every month for the time I stayed in Barcelona. This will be my last post on it since I didn’t take any pictures doing my last visit. I just thoroughly enjoyed my food that one last time! Anyways, on my third visit, I brought N since she came back for another visit a week later. We hadn’t gone the last time, and I pretty much think this is a must go place, so we arrived early in the evening to get a seat at the bar. We had to wait a while for the montaditos to be taken out for dinner, but it was fine when you have a glass of beer to wait with. First up, of course my favourite Grilled Cuttlefish. This time, they only gave us two cuttlefish but they were ginormous! At first I thought it would be more tough since they were so large, but they were still extremely tender! This dish never disappoints me.

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Shrimp and Mushroom Montadito

We also had my favourite salmon montadito which isn’t pictured here and a few others that I had previously tried. A new montadito we tried was the Shrimp and Mushroom Montadito. The shrimp and mushrooms were lightly grilled and topped with the same sauce they used for the cuttlefish. It’s basically a sauce of olive oil and herbs. It worked really well and the shrimps were very fresh. I also loved the mushrooms and they were not the typical mushrooms I see at supermarkets. It was interesting that I saw these same mushrooms at a local market in Figueres in Spain as well. I’m guessing they are popular mushrooms in Spain.

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Shrimp and Crab Salad

To finish, we had the Shrimp and Crab Salad. Of course the crab is imitation crab. I don’t think I recall seeing crab on menus or markets, other than at La Boqueria. I guess Barcelona is not famous for eating crab. However, they use imitation crab a lot in their food. Still, this salad had a lot of shrimp and they were extremely fresh and large! It also came with two pan con tomate, which are baguettes that had been lightly brushed with tomatoes.

To see my previous posts on Ciudad Condal, you can click on these two links: Ciudad Condal and Ciudad Condal (2)

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Lastly, here’s a picture of the Torre Agbar. I see this pretty much everyday since my house is near it and it acted as my direction indicator in the first few weeks. I kind of took it for granted and never even really knew what this tower was. Apparently many tourists actually come here to take a picture! I did some research just now and found that it’s actually a 38 story skyscraper which marks the gateway to the new technological district in Barcelona. It’s an office building and owned by the Agbar company, which is Barcelona’s water company. It’s actually the third tallest building in Barcelona so you’ll usually spot it when you’re up on a Barcelona mountain. During the day, the tower isn’t this colour. It looks like it has reflective windows and the light just shines on the tower. However, at night the tower is what attracts tourists. There are over 4,500 lighting devices on the outside that uses LED technology and creates images and colours that change. It’s extremely gorgeous! You can visit this tower by getting off at the Glories metro station.

Can Culleretes – Barcelona

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Another restaurant C recommended was Can Culleretes. It’s a family run restaurant that began in 1786, hence it’s listed on the Guinness Book of Records to be the oldest restaurant in Barcelona. Pretty neat, and the architecture itself is pretty cool. It’s also easily accessible for tourists as it’s just off the street of La Ramblas near the KFC near the Liceu metro station.

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There’s paintings all over the walls. Apparently, this was also the restaurant where Gaudi would come once a year to dine at. He didn’t normally dine out otherwise.

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The atmosphere is very traditional and the waiters and waitresses are all dressed in uniforms. The restaurant was quite empty at first since we arrived before they opened and there were some other diners waiting outside as well. You need reservations here and often a week in advance. Shortly after, the restaurant was filled.

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The whole atmosphere of the restaurant was just traditional but filled with art.

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Sangria

Of course, we started with a pitcher of Sangria. I thought this was stronger in alcohol than typical ones. Not as watered down for sure.

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Assorted Seafood Platter

We shared most of food in order to try everything. We began with an Assorted Seafood Platter. The seafood was all steamed and came with mussels, clams, prawns, and what I think were crayfish since they were much smaller. I thought this dish was just okay. It was sort of bland and basically only required the seafood to be fresh and steamed.

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Cannelloni with Spinach and Cod Fish

Can Culleretes serves traditional Catalan cuisine, and one popular dish is the Cannelloni with Spinach and Cod Fish. Cod seems to be widely popular in Spain and Portugal, hence you’ll find it at most restaurants. I absolutely loved this dish! It was super creamy and filled with tons of spinach. The cod on the other hand was difficult to really taste as the cheese and spinach flavours covered it.

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Catalan Suckling Pig

The Catalan Suckling Pig was basically what we came here for. C had previously dined here and said this dish was amazing. I’d be honest and say that all the other dishes were just alright in my opinion and I probably would not visit the restaurant again if I’d be dining on those. However, this Catalan suckling pig is a must order and I would come back for just this dish. The skin is roasted to a light crisp, and there is a thin layer of fat with the meat being extremely tender. i liked this since the little hint of pork fat made the dish so much more satisfying but it wasn’t gross like some porchetta which has too much fat. The sauce also made the dish perfect. It was slightly sweet and had dates and other dried fruits. When you soak your meat in the sauce, it’s just perfect!

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Chicken with Ratatouille

The Chicken with Ratatouille is also known as the Pollo Con Sanfaina. It’s basically the Catalan version of the traditional French dish. The ratatouille was made with lots of tomatoes, garlic, onions and peppers. They used drumsticks for the chicken and they were soaked in the vegetable sauce, so very flavourful. However, I didn’t find this dish any amazing.

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Mixed Sorbet

For dessert, we had the Mixed Sorbet. This was very smooth and was very refreshing.

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Whiskey Tart

Another dessert we had was the Whiskey Tart. It was basically like an ice cream cake with a few layers of sorbet and mixed with a hint of whiskey flavour. Not bad!

All in all, Can Culleretes is a decent place to visit for traditional Catalan cuisine. I would suggest getting the Catalan Suckling Pig and the Spinach and Cod Cannellonis. Other than that, the items I had tried were just average. Prices were also on the expensive side. I still think it’s pretty cool to say I’ve dined at Barcelona’s oldest restaurant though!

Serrajordia – Sant Cugat

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Mousse Cups

ESADE is located in Sant Cugat, and honestly, I don’t find food that appealing there. I guess it’s just that there’s limited choices, and the prices are higher than out in the city. However, on our walk to school from the station, we always pass by Serrajordia. K made it almost like a habit, to always grab a small breakfast there. He said their little pastries, like their mini cookies and biscuits were really good! I, on the other hand, always had breakfast at home, so never really got to try their pastries. However, most of my friends said they are a great bakery! One day, C invited us to her dorm for dinner she would cook, and I decided to stop by Serrajordia on my way to get some desserts. They have a variety of cakes, and also individual mini cakes, but I looked in the freezer and saw these little mousse cups. How convenient and cute! They aren’t the cheapest desserts out there, but definitely worth the money when you think about places like Thomas Haas. I got two Lemon Mousse Cups, one Triple Chocolate Layer, and one Chocolate Mousse. Each one were topped with little crispy chocolate balls and some had chocolate or berries on it. Everyone enjoyed them! They were smooth, but because we had fridged them and they hadn’t cooled enough, they were almost like an ice cream texture, which none of us minded. My favourite was the triple layered chocolate!  Now I wish I had tried some of their other pastries. I doubt I would come back here since it’s so far from the city…

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Anyways, if you haven’t realized, I’m putting a little twits to my food blog and introducing some places I’ve visited while on exchange. I guess it’s a way for me to remember and document some of the things I’ve done and to help others who are traveling in Europe. One of the first places I visited in Barcelona while my sister visited, was Park Guell. It’s basically one of the top tourist destinations for Barcelona tourists. It’s a little difficult to commute here, just because the metro doesn’t take you straight to the entrance. However, if you take a bus, it’ll get you right to the station, and the last bus stop is Park Guell, so not that hard. It’s a garden with amazing architecture designed by Antoni Gaudi, who you must recognize when you visit Spain. I feel like pretty much all architecture Barcelona is famous for is done by him! It’s extremely tourist-filled during the summer months. During September, when my sister visited, it was also free to go in. We got lucky and didn’t need to pay!

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Many people refer to this place as looking a bit like Candy Crush or a Candy House. I do agree. Everything seems like it’s sugar coated with frosting. And I absolutely love the mosaic you find at the top. You’ll also see the statue of a salamander that is popularly known. This park is basically one that you won’t experience any where else. It’s not one of those romantic parks you find yourself in London or Paris, but one that is whimsical, artsy and fun. You’ll find yourself taking pictures of literally every angle of this park. There’s so much to see, you won’t even feel tired climbing up to the top of the park with the burning sun on you! A must see!

Pizzas L’avia – Barcelona

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There are always plenty of things to do in Barcelona, and one afternoon, we decided to visit Montjuic. Montjuic is a hill in Barcelona and very close to the city center. In fact, you can hike up to it just by walking up from Plaza Espanya. From the Palau Nacional, which houses the Museum of National Art of Catalunya, this is the beautiful view you get of the city. If you continue up the hill, or choose to take the bus, you will reach the top of Montjuic where you will find a fortress.

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After our mini hike, U took us to Pizzas L’avia. It’s in the El Ravel neighbourhood, which is sometimes known to be a little dangerous at night. Her brother said that the little shop is great for cheap local food, so we took the adventure to check it out before it got dark. The place doesn’t look the most amazing on the outside, but the food is great and cheap!

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I love how they actually make their paella in a giant pan. It was the first time I actually saw such a big paella pan in person.

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They also have a bunch of other dishes and desserts. Yes, the dishes are not exactly fresh, since they are pre- made, but freshness wasn’t really a big factor in making these dishes delicious.

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They are famous for their Empanadas. We chose the Honey Empanada and Spinach Empanada. They were warmed up in their oven and filled generously. A great value for only around 1,30 euros each!

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I guess someone also got a Salad… Typical salad, nothing difficult in making this one.

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We got the Prosciutto and Cheese Pizza. Their pizzas are quite interesting. They don’t really dig a hole in the middle to put the fillings in. Instead, they just place the toppings right on top, so you don’t exactly get a crust on the side. The pizza was really delicious though! Extremely fluffy and although the ingredients are basic, they really work well together.

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We also got two dishes of the Paella. It’s not the best paella I’ve had, but it tasted really local and I liked how it wasn’t too saucy. The rice was a little overcooked, but I actually liked it since I find that some of the other restaurants cook it too al dente. There was an abundant of seafood such as shrimp and mussels in it.

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U said that the Bacalao here is amazing. It’s a very common dish for the Spanish, and it’s basically cod fish topped with lots of tomato sauce. This one also had eggplants and other vegetables. I found the sauce to be very similar to a ratatouille. I really enjoyed this as the sauce was actually sort of sweet!

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Lastly, we had another fish dish, and I actually found this very similar to the Bacalao, but with less sauce. I couldn’t really tell the difference, other than the fact that it was more deep fried. Tasted like cod to me too…

Overall, Pizzas L’avia is a great place to check out if you want to try some local food and at a cheap price. You can also get some of the items to go.

Els Quatre Gats – Barcelona

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Els Quatre Gats means “The Four Cats” in Catalan. You’ll sometimes see that it’s short termed as 4 Gats. This restaurant has a lot of history! It started as a hostel, then became a cabaret, a pub, and finally a restaurant. It’s been open since 1897! There is supposed to be a lot of art and architecture history behind the building and it’s actually well known because this was the spot where Picasso used to come very often.

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Inside, the place is colourful and there is a small section of tables near the entrance with the bar behind.

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If you continue walking in, you’ll find that the restaurant is actually quite large. There’s also an old piano on the side, and it seems like there are jazz nights here.

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The restaurant is filled with art pieces, and Picasso actually had his first exhibition here. I love how there’s two seater tables at the top balcony. It sort of looks unstable, but people still sit up there today. I could only imagine Picasso sitting there sipping a cup of coffee and finding art inspiration.

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This is the menu. The title page for the menu is actually made by Picasso. Pretty neat! Anyways, the prices at 4 Gats is quite pricey and not for everyday meals. However, they offer a menu of the day with 3 courses during lunch time for around 16 euros. It’s much more expensive than typical menu of the days, but the restaurant is almost a famous tourist spot, and the setting is close to fine dining. So it’s quite reasonable.

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Bread

Of course, we ordered the lunch menu, since most entrees on their own were the same price. The set came with a bread roll for each of us.

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Mineral Water and Red Wine

Then came a glass of mineral water and a bottle of red wine for our table of 5 to share. The wine wasn’t actually too bad. Usually the house wines are watered down and extremely cheap. You get around two glasses each. I liked how the waiters were very professional in the way they poured the wine and how they placed our table setting.

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Paella

Since we had 5 people, we ended up ordering every single item on the menu. They had four choices in each course to choose. We were able to try a bit of everything this way. The first appetizer was Paella. I really enjoyed this! This was probably one of the best paella I had. I hadn’t had a lot of paella in Barcelona just because I wasn’t very fond of it. I could have it once or twice, but I eventually got sick of it, and it’s also not the cheapest dish. This was a seafood and meat paella. Rice was moist, but not too saucy, but at the same time, it wasn’t too dry. The rice was cooked perfectly so it wasn’t too hard or soft. There were shrimps and mussels and a meat I couldn’t really grasp upon what it was. It had a chewy texture, but I loved it! I felt like it was some part of pork. Loved this dish!

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Spinach Lasagna

Another appetizer was the Spinach Lasagna. The lasagna was actually quite a decent sized portion as an appetizer. I could easily get filled up by this and the bread. It was very creamy with a load of cream sauce and tons of spinach. There wasn’t too much cheese to it though, so it wasn’t a very cheesy lasagna. Definitely more of a cream base one.

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Goat Cheese Salad

The Goat Cheese Salad was plated beautifully. I liked how the cheese was made into almost like a terrine, where there was nuts mixed into it. I’m not a huge fan of goat cheese, so I found the cheese to be really strong. My friends really enjoyed it though. The greens were also extremely fresh and crisp.

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Vegetables with Parmesan

I was hesitant about the Vegetables with Parmesan, as it sounded very plain. However, it was plated beautifully again. They stacked the vegetables on top of each other to make a square shape, and topped it with lots of Parmesan. This was then baked I believe. It was a simple dish, but I really enjoyed it! I thought all the flavours worked really well together and I never enjoyed eating vegetables so much!

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Stew Fish with Clams and Potatoes

Now onto the entrees! Again, we tried every item on the menu. I didn’t think the presentation of the Stew Fish looked too appetizing, but then again, it’s a stew. Surprisingly, there was a lot of fish! The sauce was very flavourful, and all the ingredients were soaked in it. Not bad, but wasn’t my favourite.

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Swordfish with Vegetables

Another fish dish was the Swordfish with Vegetables. The swordfish were battered and deep fried. There wasn’t much of a sauce to it other than the vegetable mix with a slightly tangy lime sauce. However, the fish was fresh, so it was really delicious without any real sauce.

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Steak with Baked Potatoes

I thought the Steak was both a hit and a miss. We ordered two dishes of this, and one was cooked perfectly, while I thought the other was a little undercooked. Both dishes were cooked very rare, but one of them was extremely tender while being pink. The other was a bit tough and I almost felt disgusted that I was eating raw meat that was extremely difficult to chew. Let’s comment on the good dish. It was lightly seasoned with salt and topped with some green onions. It was already sliced into strips so it was extremely easy to eat. As for the potatoes, they were baked alright with a generous sauce on top. I found the baked potatoes to be just average.

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Duck with Artichoke

The Duck dish didn’t look too appetizing again, but it was actually quite delicious. The duck was extremely tender and the meat would just fall off easily. I wish the skin was a little crispier. The artichokes were cooked till soft and complemented the dish quite well. A lot of sauce on the dish as well.

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Apple Cake

As for desserts, we ended up only choosing two out of the four, since the other two were a yoghurt or fresh fruit. Didn’t sound too interesting. So instead, we got the Apple Cake. Sadly, it was quite disappointing. The cake was extremely sweet since it had alternating layers of a cream custard. The custard was very similar to the ones they use for Catalan Cream. It was too moist and soggy with the cream, and none of us really enjoyed it. Also, overly sweet!

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Pineapple with Catalan Cream

Lastly, we had the Pineapple with Catalan Cream. We weren’t too sure what to expect, but it ended up to be simply a kebab of pineapples on a skewer stick and topped with tons of Catalan Cream. It was actually quite refreshing! Not the most amazing dessert, but it wasn’t too sweet. A great way to finish our meal.

Overall, I was quite satisfied with Els Quatre Gats. I don’t think it’s a place I would recommend as a must go, but I think it was cool to dine here at least once. You really get that artsy atmosphere and now I can say I’ve dined at the restaurant where Picasso did! Also, service was not as bad as other reviewers have written. I found it a little cold when we first stepped in, but our waiter himself, was extremely funny and friendly. You’ll also find an older crowd here.

La Rita – Barcelona

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If you have extra time in Barcelona, and are rollercoaster fans, PortAventura is the theme park to head to! It was nearing Halloween, and PortAventura is known to decorate their theme park for Halloween. A group of us who love thriller rides decided to head there on a weekday to avoid the crowds. It’s located in the south of Barcelona in a city called Salou in Tarragona. We took the Renfe train from the Barcelona Sants Station near Barcelonetta and it took a little less than 2 hours I think. When we arrived, the park was all decorated and I really enjoyed it because there’s different themes based on regions of the world.

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In the China themed land, there’s the famous Shambhala! This roller coaster is famous because its the fastest and tallest hyper coaster in Europe. It’s 76 m tall and has the longest drop in Europe at 78 m. Pretty impressive and a lot of fun! So much fun we went on this ride multiple times. PortAvenutra is also neat because it has a water park in the summer. I’m sure the park is a huge hit during the warmer months. They even had a haunted house and some other special attractions because of Halloween. Definitely worth going and the waits aren’t that long during weekdays. A tip for those going: they sell these Chupa Chup gummy candies at stores such as Carrefour and sometimes the bags will have a PortAvenutra coupon. Basically, if you buy two bags of these gummies, finish the bag, then keep the sticker coupon on the bag and bring it to the admissions office, and you can get two tickets for the price of one! A great deal where you only pay around 22.50 euros each in the end.

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Anyawys, after a long day, we finally grabbed dinner back in Barcelona. We were at the park from opening till closing. By the time we got back, it was probably around 9 pm. We got out of the station, and found La Rita across the street. I had seen great ratings and the menu looked decent, so off we went. Inside, the place is actually quite fancy, but prices are affordable. It basically reminds me of La Fonda again, with good quality food, nice decor, but average prices. Funny thing is, I did some research later, and found that it’s owned by Grupo Andilana, which also owns La Fonda… No wonder!

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Hamburger “Rita” on thin bread, glazed onion, tomato, Havarti cheese and a bowl of chips

C got the La Rita Hamburger. When we saw it, we were kind of confused. There was no top! A gourmet burger for sure. The meat was fresh and seemed homemade. The glazed onions were flavourful and the Havarti cheese was melted beautifully.

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Fideua noodles “ca la Margarida” style with shrimps, clams, and aioli sauce

For myself, I decided to go for the Fideua Noodles . D actually ordered the same and it came in the same dish. We were both sort of confused when it came. They were paella noodles! We were both craving some typical pasta and I was craving my pasta to be drenched in a white sauce. I think we had some misunderstandings when we were reading the menu and got really confused. The menu actually wrote garlic sauce, so I thought it would be a white garlic sauce. You know..the typical seafood linguine in white sauce or some sort. But nope. I mean, the paella noodles were great and all, but I just wasn’t craving it. The aioli sauce came on the side as usual, and you could mix it in as you liked.

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Iberian Fillet

I believe this was the Iberian Fillet, or some sort of steak. S and a few others chose to order this. It was cooked perfectly to medium rare and was tender and juicy. It came with half a tomato and some french fries.

Overall, La Rita seems to have quality food. I think the only problem was I ordered something I didn’t want. If not, I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed my food much more. Everyone else did. La Rita actually serves typical Catalan food, so a great place to visit if you want to experience true Catalan cuisine. Prices were very reasonable and service was great as well!