Thursday, July 29, 2010

Streets & Eats Of Barcelona




Can't remember what ham this was, but it was very good. Notice the light tomato spread which is very Spanish. As in Italy, no mayo or butter is used for sandwiches which I prefer too because then you can taste the flavor of the ingredients or fillings. I think mayo is used in many countries to mask the taste of inferior ingredients.(note 22/8/10: thanks to the reader who has informed me that bread smeared with tomato and drizzle with olive oil is called pa amb tomaquet)

Flat baguette sandwiches are easier to eat than regular baguettes because they are flatter and not as chewy. Frankly, I got sick of baguettes because they were so hard and chewy and after eating baguettes my mouth felt raw and sore. Europeans have tougher mouth linings, I've concluded.


Tarta santiago, a yummy slice of almond tart.

Not all water fountains are for drinking, a fact we found out too late.

Big juicy cherries. I think they need to come up with seedless cherries.

An expensive slice of pine nut crumble that was dry and bland.

This was the worst thing we ate. We were at the train station to check out the tickets and had to have lunch there. Potato tortilla sandwich, jambon sandwich and stale, hard churros.



A creative pizza that isn't perfectly symmetrical. It was the biggest pizza I've ever eaten and it was only about 11 euros and very tasty.

And it was the thinnest pizza I've ever eaten too.

A complimentary fruity granita drink that was laced with strong alcohol which made us giggly and giddy again because we had a jug of sangria too.

I'll give the name of the restaurant when I find the card.

You must try horchata, a drink made from tiger nuts. It is a light beige milky drink that tastes a little bit like coconut santan and is very refreshing and delicious.

101NIKON1 R1
Free hugs

This cafe off La Ramblas served the best churros (and the sandwich was yum too) but I've lost Rick's book so I don't have the address.

That's horchata in the glass. This one was too diluted.

We should have ordered the Spanish chocolate (gooey, thick, black, rich chocolate) instead of swiss chocolate (thick, rich choc with a big topping of cream) to go with the churros.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Park Guell, Barcelona

Park Guell is a park in Barcelona designed by Gaudi. I had no idea what the fuss was about Park Guell and since Rick Steves only gave it a one triangle, I didn't really want to go but the two architect students did so I went with them.

From the metro station, we walked about 15 minutes before we got to here, where we were told that it was a long walk up to the park.

It was another HOT day with no shelter from the sun. Heat + uphill climb made the journey to the park very tough. I drank a lot of water and Coke and wished I was shopping in El Born.

Once inside the park, we had to walk about 20 minutes, again in open sun. Most of the ladies were in summer dresses but we were in jeans. When we got into Barcelona's airport from the Netherlands, the ladies on our flight appeared from the toilets in dresses and sandals, all their jackets, scarves, shoes and jeans gone. In hot weather, dresses are really the best attire.

As someone who lives in the tropics, I am typical in my preference for large green rolling plains, conifers and fields of wild flowers. The Mediterranean landscape of dry, dusty and grey-green vegetation (olive trees mostly) is exotic but not beautiful to me.

We followed the girls up this tiny hill top where about a dozen of us perched dangerously to appreciate the view of Barcelona. On the hill top, there's a cross made of stone (behind the man in red) and an arrow of stone pointing up to heaven--Christ is the way to Heaven.

White people always sit in the sun. Asians always sit in the shade. We sat in the shade of the cross set in the middle of the hill top.

The phallic Torre Agbar is on the left and Sagrada Familia on the right.

Another 15 minutes walk lead us to an open area of the park filled with buskers, vendors and people out for a stroll.


One great thing about Italy and Spain is that there are drinking water fountains everywhere. Nice straight legs. Europeans are mostly slim and healthy looking, unlike the Australians or Americans. I think it all boils down to small serving portions and a lot of walking. I lost 2 kgs in 2 months.



palm fronds,


star fishes and octopuses in the ceilings,


colorful broken mosiacs, are all Gaudi features.





Gaudi's rooms are never straight or linear. I love this house, it was like a play house.


I applaud Gaudi's park because it stands out as a park where you can explore and wonder unlike regular parks which look alike whether it's Hyde Park or Central Park. The only thing I didn't like was the sun because it was too searing hot.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

La Boqueria, Barcelona

In every city I went, I tried to go to the market, especially the open markets. Of all the markets I've been to on my Europe trip, La Boqueria stands out as the most interesting and eye-boggling. Although La Boqueria is covered, the sides are open so it still has that casual open market feel. Set in La Ramblas, this market has hundreds of stalls that specialize in fruits, veggies, seafood, dried fruits, dried veg, jamon, meat and many food stalls that are of restaurant standards. It is open Monday to Saturdays (Europe takes Sundays very seriously--everything stops and the shops and streets are deserted), 10 am to 7 pm.

Go to La Boqueria with an empty stomach because there are many things to eat there. Prices are not cheaper but this is after all on La Ramblas where all the tourists are. Rick Steves mentioned many stalls you can eat lunch at but since I lost his book (very sad about that) somewhere near the Spanish Arc Triomphe, I can't give you restaurant names and street addresses. Rick Steves' Best of Europe really is the bible to travelling in Europe. My copy of Lonely Planet was untouched because it just isn't as good as Rick's Europe. Rick knows Europe like a local and writes in a funny, light-hearted way and rates places of interest--3 triangles means 'must go', 2 means 'don't miss', 1 means 'go if you have the time', something along that line--and I've found all his tips and recommendations very useful, except for the tip on the Uffizi in Florence but I'll talk about that when I come to that.


My daughter and I absolutely love flat/donut peaches. Choose the ones that are unblemished, firm yet fragrant. We don't even peel the skin off.

I've said it before, I prefer Spanish cured ham to Italian.  Look at how fresh the ham is. Here we tried the serrano (left) and the 99 euro /RM400/US$125 per kg Jamon Iberico (right). Both were good, with Iberico stronger in flavor while the serrano was smoother. The jamon was so good, we were a little heady after eating it.

 Jamon Iberico is made from the black Iberian pig and the best jamon Iberico comes from  free-range pigs that feed on acorns in the last few months before slaughtering.


An egg stall. Black ostrich egg omelette anyone?





Porcini mushrooms, dried but very fresh! The dried porcini that I get in Australia is usually  broken, brown and slightly powdery, a sign of age.

If I remember right, these morrels were 300 euros/RM1200/US375 per kg.


Pesticide-free flowers for garnishing.

More edible flowers and some flower-shaped tomatoes.


Wild strawberries

This stall sold Asian fruits like rambutans, guavas, tamarind, dragon fruits, mangosteens, tamarillos, starfruits, lychees etc.

Apart from cut fruits, you can get pure fruit juices thick as puree in various combinations. Refreshingly delicious on a hot day.

Those rabbits were big.

Love them Europeans; like the Asians, they eat every part of the pig .


Oohhh, goose liver. So big I thought it was fat.


Are these barnacles?



1/2 meter-long rectangular crepes come with fruits or savory filling.

Baccala/bacalao or salted cod which the Spanish and Portuguese love. Baccala needs to be soaked for hours to remove the salt. I was disappointed with the baccala fritters because  they were totally bland  (so tasteless that we couldn't finish that small portion) while the baccala balls were slightly better but still not tasty.

A very delicious plate of mixed mushrooms for about 3 euros. That's my copy of Rick Steves' (whom I began to call Stick Reves; I have the tendency to do that. Is it some kind of speech condition?) Best Of Europe 2010.


A couple of guys next to us recommended the grilled razor clams with a plate of baguettes, 15 euros/RM60 (that works out to RM10 per clam!)/US$19.

Grilled and topped with olive oil and parsley, this clam was so savory sweet and fresh!

He was drawing scenes of the market.

Lots of chocolate stalls too.

La Boqueria, an awesome market. Must go. Vic Market in Melbourne needs to learn a lot from La Boqueria in terms of variety, volume, presentation, freshness of produce and ambience.
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