Hi from sunny Barcelona!!!
Kevin and I are here on vacation and we are about to embark on a culinary adventure. We are a part of a Secret Food Tours in Barcelona where we get to experience some of the real hidden gems of this city.
Barcelona is a city built from passion and there’s no better example than the famous architect Gaudi. As a brilliant creator, he infused his love of nature with architecture to create such distinctive designs. What I was about to experience was how passion is the secret ingredient that transforms even the simplest Spanish dish.
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Our Secret Food Tours guide was named Miguel. He’s originally from Salamanca, Spain but he knows Barcelona so well and he definitely knows great food. I hope you feel like another member of the group as we explore this amazing city together.
We started in the Born District to get a really good sense of not only the city’s food but its history too. Our first stop took us to a shop run by a husband and wife couple dedicated to making the best breakfast pastries…. well one in particular, a churro.
They were served with a thick dark drinking chocolate which was the perfect accompaniment to the churro. In addition to their olive oil fried churros, I tried churros popular cousin, porres, and of course, thick drinking chocolate. Both delicious in their own right. I have a feeling I would have never stumbled upon such a unique place like this without someone taking me there.
As we walked through the streets of Born, I started to get a better sense of how the locals lived.
Our next stop, the Santa Catalina market. It’s the second oldest market in the city after La Boqueria. Miguel’s tip was to keep an eye out for the grandmas when you’re shopping. Because just like I learned growing up in Ireland, no one makes food with more love than you’re granny.
After trying a little local cheese, Miguel bought us over to try some of my favorite jamon. He explained in great detail about how the pigs are reared and fed and about the process for making the different types of cured meats.
You could taste the quality of the cured meats, they melted in your mouth. No gristle, the fat simply melted away in your mouth. I was in jamon heaven…
After our snack we washed it all down with wine from a porron. This bottle was invented at the end of the Middle Ages when it become a problem with men sharing the same bottle. There is nothing more elegant than this. They used to all go to the taverns and the bars and all would share from the same bottle. Sounds very fun, but not super hygienic. So of course, everybody had to try some, including my husband Kevin and I.
With a taste for wine and something a bit more substantial we headed off to have lunch. Over lunch Miguel explained to us where the tapas came from and just what food really means to the Spanish people and their lives.
After lunch, we visited a shop that has been around since the 1800’s. Inside the original roaster that toasts the copious nuts they have. It was really special to see, and smell.
Our next stop was to Barceloneta, a seaside neighborhood that featured our next eat. Miguel had definitely saved the best for last, lovely rich rice and seafood paella.
I have never had traditional paella before. Miguel explained what makes it authentic (like not stirring the rice) and what does not (like adding chorizo). He said that the rice shouldn’t get moved, and actually it should crisp around the sides. According to Miguel, paella can succeed or fail by seconds. The goal is tender rice and perfectly cooked shellfish all at the same time.
Compared to other ‘paella’ I had, this was the real deal. This is some of the nicest paella I’ve ever had and quite possibly it has ruined all other paella for me as they will not come close to how good that one was.
In Spain, great food is about the magical combination of good ingredients, simply prepared. What Barcelona exemplifies is that great food really is about emotion, especially love. I want to say a huge thank you to Miguel and Secret Food Tours Barcelona for bringing us on a fantastic adventure
For more information about Secret Food Tours click the link. This website post is just a little taste of our tour. Watch my video to see more about the stops me made.
Secret Food Tours are all around the world from Chicago to Dublin, Berlin to New Orleans so make sure you check them out and see if there is a tour near you.
“The good thing is that you’re never going to starve in Spain. We will always feed you,” -Miguel
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Next week on Gemma Eats, I’m taking you to Disneyland!
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