Museu de la Xocolata – Barcelona

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Got back to Barcelona and a few days later, A invited some of us to join her at the Museu de la Xocolata to celebrate her birthday. Apparently, one of their professors at ESADE was the director at this museum, and they had done a field trip here, but A was away for it. The professor said she could bring a few friends to check the museum out and also make some chocolate at a discounted price! The museum has a variety of chocolate activities for both kids and adults. Our activity was called “Lollipops” and it was actually targeted for children, but I have to say, it was tons of fun! They have adult activities as well, like “Chocolate Tasting” and “Combining Brandies with Chocolate”. They all sound really interesting! When my sister visited, she had actually wanted to visit the museum, but we thought it was a bit pricey once you wanted to join these activities since they were pretty pricey. I think the original price of the Lollipops class, which includes a 30 minute guided tour of the museum is 17 euros.

 

 

 

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Once you pay at the register, which also connects to the cafe, you get a ticket! Your ticket is actually a chocolate bar though! It’s like going to the Willy Wonka chocolate factory and receiving a golden ticket! The chocolate inside was pretty good too. It was piece of dark chocolate.

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You’ll see some of their chocolate sculptures near the entrance. Can’t believe this bear is made of chocolate! So cool!

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Then our chocolate chef took us to the classroom where we would make our chocolate lollipops! It’s pretty cool since you actually feel like you’re at a cooking workshop. I didn’t get a picture, but there was a chocolate fountain come down, and we were able to just dip our fingers in if we wanted to. The birthday girl even got to just drink some chocolate out of the fountain. The chef was really nice even though our group were a little rowdy and messing around. So basically, she gives us some pointers on different designs we can make and how to control our piping bag. Then we go ahead and fill our piping bag up with chocolate, and it’s definitely more than enough. Most of us ended up just squirting some in our mouth since we had so much leftover. The chocolate is dark chocolate too, although we all thought it looked like milk at first. But when it dried up, it became apparent it was dark chocolate. She also gave us some white chocolate to work with to make our designs more interesting. Then at the front of the table, there were an assortment of toppings we could add such as marshmallows, coconut flakes and fruits.

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Here is what I ended up with! I realized how difficult it was to control the piping bag since the chocolate comes out pretty quickly. It’s also really hard to get the chocolate to be smooth on the surface.

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We got aprons and chef hats as well which was cute! And in the back was our chocolate chef!

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These were my friend’s lollipops. Love the monkey!

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They really don’t care what you do with your chocolate here and let you be as creative as you want…and so…my friend decides to make some sort of chocolate masterpiece. A flag maybe? I have no idea, but he used a ton of chocolate and I think he got a stomach ache that night from eating so much chocolate…. We were told they had never seen someone do something like this before. Not sure if that’s a compliment…

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While we waited for our chocolate to solidify, she took us on a quick tour around the museum. There was an explanation of the history of cacao and where it’s from and the differences between dark, milk, and white chocolate. Then the best part was seeing these chocolate art sculptures. Seriously, they are so impressive and I can’t believe they are made entirely of chocolate! Here is Messi!

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Chicken Little

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The famous Salamander Gaudi always uses in his art

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Bambi!

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And even the Sagrada Familia! Wow!

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Then when we got back, our chocolate had solidified. We carefully pulled them off our plastic sheet, and got little baggies to take them home in. Well other than that masterpiece… He had some trouble taking that home… And how were the lollipops? Not bad. Not the most amazing chocolate I’ve had, but it sort of reminded me of the Purdy’s lollipops. I did find it a little sweet even though they were dark chocolate. I guess it wasn’t a high percentage of dark. I didn’t even end up finishing all my lollipops, since they can only be fridged for around 2 weeks. I was pretty much away the next few weeks, so I never got to try all my lollipops! A really fun activity for a few hours if you have time in Barcelona though! Obviously not something to do if you’re on a tight schedule though. The museum itself isn’t that big, and they’re mostly the sculptures that are really impressive, but you could probably walk by it all in 30 minutes. It’s the activities that are really fun and worth coming for I think!

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Kaiku – Barcelona

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On another day off back in Barcelona, S, A, and I decided to go try out a new restaurant. It’s amazing how beautiful the weather is, even when it’s mid November. Surfers were out at the Barcelonetta beach, and this was the view we had from the restaurant! Such a nice change from typical rainy Novembers back in Vancouver…

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Anyways, our professor had compiled a list of his recommended resturants, and Kaiku was one of them. At first, we weren’t able to find it since their name on the banner is quite faded… We had to double check a few times to make sure we were at the right restaurant! It was a pretty nice day with some wind, so we decided to sit outside. We grabbed our seat ourselves (you find your own seat at most European restaurants), and a waitress came by right away with menus. The menu was in Catalan, and although we could make out most of the translations, she still gave us some help. Good service!

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Green Salad with Honey Vinaigrette, Rosemary and Red Pepper

At Kaiku, they have a regular menu, but also a daily 3 course menu (like most Spanish restaurants). Since the regular menu is quite pricey, we went for the 3 course lunch menu. It was 11,50 euros, with VAT included. It included a drink of your choice, and I went for a glass of white wine. The choices are limited, but we still managed to choose some items. A and S both went for the Green Salad. I tried some of it, and to my surprise the honey vinaigrette was so delicious! The salad was a bit sweet and sour, and the red peppers were also a nice addition.

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Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup with Basil and Parmesan

For myself, I got the Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup, which I really enjoyed. It was creamy, but not too thick and filling. A nice consistency, and the hint of basil and Parmesan gave it great flavour.

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Bake Sea Bream  with Tomato Sauce and Parsley

For our entree, we all went for the Sea Bream. The other choice was a Veal Hamburger, and since Kaiku is known for their seafood dishes, we automatically went for the fish. I’m not a big fish eater, but when I go out to eat, I do like to order fish dishes. However, when I saw the dish come, I was shocked. I didn’t know it would be the whole fish… This is extremely common for sea bream though, and I found that most European restaurants present their fish as a whole. Well, it’s not surprising, since most fish at Chinese restaurants are as a whole too… I guess I was just imagining a nice piece of fish fillet.. Anyways, I didn’t really know how to eat the fish, since I’ve never really ate a whole fish, so I just watched my friends skillfully skin off the meat. It’s pretty cool actually! The bones are really just in the middle, so once you skin off the top layer of meat, you’ll see the bones, and you can detach the whole skeleton. The sea bream was just topped with tomatoes and a green vegetable, along with a green sauce. However, this simplicity was perfect as the fish was extremely fresh. Also, the skin was baked to perfection so it was crispy. I normally hate eating fish skin, especially if I can see the scales, but I devoured this fish with satisfaction.

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Coffee Flan

For dessert, the choices were not listed on the menu, so the waitress told us the choices verbally. I went for the Coffee Flan. It was sort of like a caramel flan, but infused with coffee flavour. I really liked this since I enjoy flans, and mixed with the whipped cream, it wasn’t too sweet!

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Banana Pudding

A went for the Banana Pudding. At first, we thought it looked like the Coffee Flan, but this was much more dense. She said it was pretty good!

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Fruit Cake

As for S, he went for the Fruit Cake. It wasn’t exactly what we had imagined, but was more like a berry mousse on a tart like base. It was fruity and a mix of sour and sweet. He enjoyed this a lot as well.

All in all, Kaiku is worth checking out if you’re near Barcelonetta. The 3 course lunch menu is a good deal and will fill you up just right. Also, the view you get from sitting outside is just perfect! What better way to enjoy the weather with quality food!

Lizarran and a Dali Day Trip – Figueres

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On a day off of school, A, S and I decided to take a day trip to Figueres. It’s a town north of Barcelona, in the province of Girona. We took the Renfe from Barcelona at the Passeig de Gracia station, and it took roughly under 2 hours. The town is pretty small and easy to navigate with an awesome tourist information desk supplying us with maps once we got off the train. The main attraction here is the Salvador Dali Theater Museum. There isn’t much else to do other than this museum, and the town is really famous because it’s where Dali was born. To be honest, I had no idea who Salvador Dali was. I knew nothing about Spain before coming here, and art was something I wasn’t too interested in. But S and A were taking a Spanish Art History class at ESADE, and their professor had recommended them to visit this museum. I had nothing to do, so I joined them, hoping I wouldn’t be too bored from looking at art. This was the best decision ever! If you’re someone who usually isn’t interested in art like the ones at the Louvre, I assure you that Salvador Dali will make you enjoy art!

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I think if I were to describe Dali in one word, it would be “weird”. Yup, Dali’s art is quirky and bizarre, but in a good way. He was a Catalan surrealist painter, but he has art work of all sorts. I often say that his work is trippy, because depending on the angles you look at it, the piece of art turns into something completely different. Hence it’s extremely fun to look at his work and you can be imaginative even if you don’t understand his true intentions. For instance, in this picture, when we walked in the room, it was weird to see two random paintings on the wall, and then a couch shaped as a lip. Then the blonde hair is actually a horse if you look from the other side. However, Dali wants us to look at it from the top of one wall and look into this circular glass. When you do that, it becomes a woman! I loved how his whole museum allowed us to be imaginative and creative. Something I don’t usually possess, but I really enjoyed and admired his work. The cool thing is that this theater was also completely designed by Dali himself!

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After an early morning in the museum, we decided to find food in Figueres. We did a quick tripadvisor search, and found that Lizarran was highly rated. Lizarran is a tapa bar which actually has many other locations around Spain. The fun part was that the tapas are self serve if you choose one of their options. This option allows you to walk down the bar and choose whichever pintxo you want. Each pintxo has a toothpick in it, and at the end, you pay by how many toothpicks you have on your plate. It’s pretty much based on a trust system. You can also choose to order off the regular menu, where you can have larger tapa dishes or actual entrees. We went for the self serve option. Some of the pintxos I chose included one with a cream cheese and salmon with a pedro pepper, shrimp and egg salad, brie with onions and garlic chips, and Iberican pork on imitation crab salad. All in all, quite a delicious lunch!

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After lunch, we rushed to get to the bus stop. We wanted to visit Dali’s house in the town of Cadaques. The best way is to take a bus that is near the train station, and it takes less than an hour. Cadaques is still in the province of Girona, but also on the Costa Brava of the Mediterranean. It’s beautiful here, with boats along the shorelines. The white house in the picture is one of the homes Dali lived in later in his life and is located in Port Lligat, which is a small village in the Cadaques area. Dali spent a lot of his childhood in Cadaques, hence he went back here to live later. The house is now called the Casa- Museo Salvador Dali, meaning the Salvador Dali House Museum. You do need to pay to enter, but it’s pretty cool inside, so worth a visit. Apparently in the summer or peak seasons, you’ll also need reservations.

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There will be a tour guide who will bring you and a small group of visitors in his house. She gives very brief information, so it’s not too useful, but you are welcome to ask her more questions. Here, this is where Dali used to do his paintings. When you look at the paintings at the Theater Museum, you’ll find lots of scenery and views of of the port since he painted from here.

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On the top floor, you’ll find weird looking objects. Like this egg shell. What was Dali thinking putting an egg shell on his house…?

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The beautiful view from his house. He has many paintings of this scenery if you visit the museum.

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And he also decided to put an egg on the top of his house. I have to admit, Dali is pretty cool. Who in their right mind would think of doing something like that? Also, how in the world did he structure this egg so it wouldn’t fall off?

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In his backyard, he has this giant… Such bizarre art.

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And here is a picture of Cadaques while the sun sets. I love how the houses are all white here. Such a beautiful place to spend in the summer, and hence many Barcelona locals spend their summers here as a getaway. This was already early November, but it was still fairly warm.

Tapa Tapa (2) (Passeig de Gracia) – Barcelona

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Smoked Salmon Potato Salad

Before N took off on her flight, we decided to grab some tapas and sangria. We ended up at Tapa Tapa on Passeig de Gracia. You’ll find lots of tourists at this location since it’s located at a prime spot filled with tourist traffic and their pictures on their menus always lure me in! We had a pitcher of sangria, and N ordered the Smoked Salmon Potato Salad. Just a basic potato salad topped with some pieces of smoked salmon. It was decent, but I thought it was a little pricey for the size.

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Grilled Cuttlefish

We gave the Grilled Cuttlefish a try as well, but I was a bit disappointed. They were quite small and not as plump as the ones at Ciudad Condal. I mean, Ciudad Condal has served small cuttlefish before, but they were still very plump and tender. These were not as tender and didn’t seem as fresh. They were also slightly over grilled. I also didn’t like how the tentacles were to grilled that they were crispy. The ones at Ciudad were way better especially when the price here was around the same.

All in all, I wasn’t too impressed with the food at Tapa Tapa on Passeig de Gracia. I had visited the one at the Arenas for lunch when they had a lunch deal, which I thought was much more worth it. This location doesn’t offer the lunch deal, so you end up paying quite a lot when you order several dishes. To read my post on Tapa Tapa at the Arenas, click here: Tapa Tapa (Arenas)

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

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!