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!

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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

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!

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!

Cafe Granja Viader – Barcelona

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Cafe Granja Viader was recommended by my Spanish professor. This cafe has so much history! The family business began in the 1870s and started as a farm. They are also among the first to start the dairy industry in Spain, and they invented Cacaolat, which you will see all over Spain. Cacaolat is basically the Spanish version of our Milk2Go. The cafe is actually located just inside the streets off of La Rambla, so extremely accessible. You’ll find locals eating here with their children, but tourists have also discovered this cafe and has been a popular destination.

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The cafe still has such a vintage feel to it! Very basic furniture with the waiters dressed professionally.

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Painters are hung around the wall. We came just when the second opening time began, and hence we got a seat right away. The cafe closes from around 2-5, abiding to the siesta. Therefore, many of my friends have found it difficult to visit here, or when it’s open, there are usually huge crowds.

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Swiss Hot Chocolate

N had came to visit me in Barcelona, and I decided to take her here after she got off her flight. Another friend had suggested items to order, so I followed. First, we got a Swiss Hot Chocolate. This was basically the Spanish Hot Chocolate, but topped with a huge lump of whipped cream. The whipped cream was actually light and didn’t have that heavy milk taste that cheap processed whipped cream had. You need to realize that the hot chocolate in Spain is literally melted chocolate. It’s so thick! I don’t think they put any milk in it… The whipped cream really helped lighten the hot chocolate and give it a more milky texture.

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Spanish Hot Chocolate

My friend suggested we order just a Spanish Hot Chocolate, and because the Swiss one had so much whipped cream, you could just scoop over half of it onto the one without the cream. This worked out perfectly. When we tried the Spanish Hot Chocolate by itself, we felt it was too heavy. They use dark chocolate, and hence it’s not too sweet. But still, imagine yourself drinking a cup of just melted chocolate… It’s quite something. We both agreed that we wouldn’t be drinking hot chocolate in a while… Extremely rich and smooth though!

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Churros

We also got an order of Churros. The plate came with around 4 looped churros and there was one that was a bit different. It had a lot more sugar on it and had a slight cinnamon taste to it! The churros were fresh and surprisingly not too sweet. I did find that the churros were a little hard for my liking, so I ended up dipping it in the hot chocolate. It was the best way to eat it, especially since it got a little boring just drinking the thick hot chocolate.

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Overall, I was quite satisfied with Granja Viader! It’s a nice place to sip on some hot chocolate and grab a snack. I really felt like I had went back in time and was experiencing the true Catalan way of enjoying tea time.

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To finish off with some Barcelona attractions, I attended the El Clasico 2013! For those who aren’t football fans, like myself, El Clasico is a football match between the Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The two teams are among the richest and best teams in the world, and Barcelona and Madrid themselves have always been rivalries in football. Also because of other political issues, like independence, the two cities are always heated when they compete. My friends luckily convinced me to attend, and it was the best decision! I’ve never been to any sports game in my life, let alone football being of any interest for me. However, it was so much fun, and the crowds were full of spirit. Never felt so excited watching a game! Camp Nou, the stadium is also the largest football stadium in Europe! It was fully filled and although our seats were almost the last rows, we still had clear vision of the game. And of course, Barcelona won!

Ciudad Condal (2) – Barcelona

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It was C’s birthday on the weekend, and as a foodie, she told me she hadn’t been to Ciudad Condal! Ciudad Condal is my favourite tapas spot in Barcelona, if you have read my previous post: Ciudad Condal. I told her it was a must and off we went with a few other friends! This time, we were smart and got a seat at the bar. Pictured above are just some of the salads they offer.

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And here are some of the montaditos, seafood and other tapas.

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My all time favourite Salmon Montadito! I just had to grab a picture of it!!

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Here, I chose two Salmon Montaditos. Again, it was flavourful and the salmon was fresh! In the middle was an Imitation Crab Salad Montadito topped with a pickle and shrimp. This was surprisingly really good too! The downside is that it’s imitation crab. Barcelona seems to use this ingredient a lot, and you will actually find this vastly in grocery stores.

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Grilled Cuttlefish

We finally got the correct Grilled Cuttlefish! This was absolutely amazing. The seasoning was perfect and the cuttlefish was so tender!

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Grilled Steak with Apples and Foie

I got this randomly and didn’t think much of it, but it was one of the best pintxo I’ve had! It was around two pieces of grilled steak, with alternating pieces of cooked apples, and topped with foie gras! Like holy! This was heaven. I didn’t know cooked apples could work so well with the rest of the ingredients. Sadly, I’ve been back another two times, and both times they did not have this pintxo again. Not sure why…

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Deep Fried Brie

We saw in front of us this weird looking nut coated bar on a stick and we asked what it was. Apparently it was brie! The chef would pop the stick in a deep fryer when you order it, and then they would place it on a slice of baguette and topped it with a strawberry sauce. Strawberry sauce and cheese? Yup, it worked! Such an odd combination but it was actually pretty good! Loved how when you cut the bar apart, the cheese would ooze out! It was nutty and cheesy, but sweet at the same time because of the sauce!

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Veal with Padron Peppers

Again, I got the Veal with Padron Peppers, which I had gotten at Cervecería Catalana. It was quite the same, with the veal cooked perfectly and lightly seasoned with salt.

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Pumpkin Cake with Sweet Port

Since it was C’s birthday, we ended dinner off with some sort of dessert. We didn’t imagine the cake to be a stick, but this was delicious! It was more like pumpkin spice, since the pumpkin flavour itself wasn’t too strong. It was also not really a cake, but more of a pastry. We found that pouring too much of the sweet port made the cake too bitter and alcohol-tasting. Otherwise, great dessert!

Tapas 24 – Barcelona

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On exchange, I was able to meet some amazing friends from all over the world. I was especially happy to have met C, who was from my hometown and was also a fellow food blogger! It was great to have someone understand the time we go through to write these posts and why we could take minutes just trying to take a good picture of our food. I have to say, C is a serious foodie compared to me! You can check out her food blog here: http://cherriehui.blogspot.ca/She definitely did her research, and suggested we go try out Tapas 24 as it is owned by Chef Carles Abellan. Carles is a Catalan chef who was trained at elBulli, which is a former restaurant famous for their molecular gastronomy. Now, Chef Carles has several Michelin star restaurants all over Barcelona, and Tapas 24 is just one of them. It’s probably one of the most casual and affordable restaurants he owns. The restaurant is always packed and we luckily got a seat outside.

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It’s cute how your utensils come in a little envelope with the menu on it. As you can see, prices are above average for small portions. It’s quality over quantity here, so definitely don’t come with an empty stomach unless you’re ready to empty your wallet.

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Sangria de Cava

We got a pitcher of Sangria de Cava for drinks, which is Sangria but instead of red wine, it’s champagne. Therefore, it’s a bit fizzy! This was good!

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Bikini Comerc 24

The Bikinis are one of Tapas 24’s most well known item. In Spain, Bikinis are essentially sandwiches with ham and cheese. Inside this prized Bikini, is a white mild cheese, jamon iberico, and flecks of black truffle! The sandwiches are cut into little pieces, and you can basically finish it in two bites. Extremely small for around 8 euros, but so worth it! The bread was toasted perfectly and the truffle flecks made a simple sandwich full of flavour. A must order!

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Les Braves

Braves are one of the most popular tapas in Spain. Chunks of bite size potatoes which are deep fried. They were topped with a garlic mayo and ketchup. The sauce was excellent and the potatoes weren’t oily. Excellent!

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McFoie – Burguer

The McFoie is also extremely popular at Tapas 24. I didn’t expect the burger to look like this, but it tasted so good! It’s essentially a beef patty mixed with foie gras and this is filled inside the burger like a pocket. I can’t even really describe how the outer burger was like. It’s definitely not a burger… It was crispy, warm and soft. It also came with a dipping sauce which was made of foie gras. It was like foie gras heaven. A small portion, but so good and well worth it if you’re a foie gras lover!

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Pan amb Tomaquet

Bread brushed with tomatoes is eaten at almost any Spanish restaurant. It’s interesting to note that Tapas 24’s menu is all in Catalan, so the menu names are a little confusing sometimes for a Spanish reader. However, our server was really nice and basically went down the whole menu and translated it into English despite her running around for several minutes before helping us. These were toasted to perfection and lathered lavishly with tomatoes, olive oil and lightly seasoned with salt.

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Alitas “coreanas”

These were Korean inspired Chicken Wings! This was off their regular menu and on a menu they had written on the chalkboard. Definitely one of our favourite dishes. The sauce had an Asian flare to it and was a little spicy. I loved how the chicken wings had the bones removed so it was easy to eat. The skin was slightly crispy and the meat was tender and moist.

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Sepionetas

These were baby grilled cuttlefish and they were also a big hit at our table. Cuttlefish in Barcelona are so tender! These were slightly grilled, topped with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lightly seasoned with salt. My favourite!

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Xocolata amb Oli

And for dessert, we got their signature Chocolate with olive Oil. Who would have thought olive oil would go with chocolate right? Well at Tapas 24, they know how to play with their ingredients. It was essentially scoops of chocolate mouse and it was drizzled with olive oil. On top, they placed pieces of thinly cut crostinis so you could scoop the mousse. The mousse was already smooth, and along with the olive oil, it was just chocolate heaven! It was also topped with some salt, so it was a mixture of sweet and savoury, which was unexpected, but somehow worked!

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All in all, Tapas 24 is worth a try if you’re ready to try something different and challenge your taste-buds. Their menu is very limited, but they do have some daily specials which are worth trying. It’s a cheaper alternative than trying the other elBulli restaurants which could really break your bank! And to finish today’s post off, is a view from the top of Montserrat. Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain just a few hours away from Barcelona. If you’re ready for a hiking activity, challenge yourself by climbing to the peaks of Sant Jeroni for a spectacular view. If hiking is not your thing, then visit the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary. The mountain is known for its religious significances in the past, but for myself, I was wowed by the beautiful formations of the mountains. Not exactly the same as the mountains in British Columbia, and the hike itself was actually pretty easy! Nothing compared to the Grouse Grind, so definitely check it out if you want a physical activity here in Barcelona.