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Hi Bold Bakers!
While I was home in Ireland this Summer I wanted to do a quick get away trip to another city in Europe. I had a lot of choices but really I only had one place in mind, Barcelona. The reason is simple. I love the travel show “I’ll Have What’s Phil’s Having” on Netflix. It’s hosted by Phil Rosenthal, the creator and writer of the sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond. He travels all around the world and savors what the locals have to offer. I binge watched the whole season but the one episode that stuck out to me was when he visited Barcelona. So I did what any normal person who is obsessed with food would do, I wrote down everywhere he went and I went there too.
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In Spain, they put so much care and effort into every meal including breakfast. I’m really excited to try some traditional churros and really thick hot chocolate. Where the churro originated from is still unclear, but I trust that the Spanish know a thing or two about making them. Located off the busy street of the famous Las Ramblas, this is Granja Viader, a family business that was started almost 150 years ago. Five generations later, the milk and eggs are still brought from their family farm to make some of their amazing treats including their churros.
This is one way to start your day off. Churros are a really simple pastry. They are simply choux pastry which is what you make profiteroles with. They deep fry them until they are lovely golden brown, they toss them in a little bit of sugar, and then you eat them when they are nice and warm. They’re crunchy, they’re not too sweet. I could bathe in this.
For your hot chocolate, you have to make sure that it is really thick like this one so it will coat your churro. The great thing about it is that it’s not overly sweet so they really balance each other out really well. So I’ve said this before but the best churros I’ve ever had have actually been in Napa in Northern California, but I have to admit, being here in Barcelona and having this traditional dish here, this might be the top of my list.
After this sweet breakfast, I couldn’t help but wander the streets of Barcelona. These back streets are filled with the hustle and bustle of every day life. I was on my way to a legendary place that I was so excited to experience. La Boqueria is a popular tourist destination and according to some locals, it’s not quite where they would go on a daily basis but I found it vibrant and filled with so many culinary possibilities. I’m here inside La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, one of the most famous food markets. I already know what I want to eat inside so let’s go.
There’s a lot of fresh fruit vendors but they do all of these juices along with fresh fruit cups and things like that. It’s absolutely incredible and inexspensive. You can see it’s pretty much every fruit you can imagine.
After my sweet breakfast of churros, I was on the hunt for a bite that was a little more savory, like jamon or Spain’s famous cured ham. Their specialty, jamon Iberico, refers to the pigs from the Iberian Peninsula, which includes Spain and Portugal. The curing process can take up to a year but sometimes stretches for many years to give the meat an incredible flavor. My choice today was more of a sampler which I ended up referring to as a “ham cones.”
You’ll see here in Barcelona that a lot of the butchers and the delis, they sell little cones like this full of jamon and cheese, maybe with a little bit of breadsticks. I think it’s absolutely genius and it’s only a couple of dollars. This jamon is really tender and sliced incredibly thin. I could eat ham cones all day long. This is kind of a Spanish version of fast food, which I am all about. If there was more fast food in the world like this, I think we’d be doing okay. Definitely be very happy.
And then I found my dream destination, El Quim de la Boqueria. Executive Chef Quim Marquez and his team bring creativity and their passion for beautiful and well prepared food to anyone who has the great fortune to try it. So when coming to La Boqueria, I looked online and this is one of the most popular spots. They do eggs like nobody’s business. So I’ve decided I’m going to get eggs with squid. They look amazing and also, the squid comes from straight the water so why not get what’s local and fresh and amazing.
Here they fry their eggs in olive oil so they almost kind of deep fry their eggs. You can see they’re nice and kind of bubbly and crispy around the sides. And they’re cooked to perfection.
This is why I love Spain. It is amazing food done simply. You don’t have to do a whole lot to squid to make it taste good and the very same with eggs. Squid tastes like the sea. It doesn’t taste like fish. It isn’t chewy. It’s soft and it tastes like the sea. Absolutely gorgeous. To get the true impact of the kitchen, just check out this monitor that shows you all of the kitchen stations. In a very tight space, these guys do a lot to create a variety of amazing dishes. I don’t think I’ve actually ever had anything like this squid before. Look how tiny it is. You’re going to have to trust me, it is like, just barely sautéed, really soft. This is how you should enjoy squid. If you were to taste this dish with your eyes closed, you would never guess that it is squid.
The squid in Barcelona is so different from the squid I’ve had all over the world. They know how to cook it just right and best of all, it tastes like the sea air. Absolutely amazing. It’s kind of sweet.It’s a little bit creamy. Their produce served with eggs, just simple fried eggs, I mean, come on.
So after this amazing dish, I decided to continue my breakfast theme with another something sweet. I am absolutely stuffed but I saved room for one more thing, a xuxo. Now this is a traditional Catalonian pastry. Usually you have it in the morning time and it’s full of custard. Now this is a traditional dish and I’m starting to think the Cronut acutally came from this because it is pretty similar to a fried croissant with a filling on the inside.
This is so unbelievably good. A little bit of sugar on the outside, it really is like a mix of a croissant and a doughnut deep-fried. Yeah, these guys know how to do breakfast. It’s crispy on the outside without being kind of greasy. It’s soft in the middle. And do you see all of those lovely layers of pastry? Then you’ve got a lovely, soft vanilla custard in the middle. It’s absolutely insane. And then, of course, sugary coating on the outside. Breakfast of champions.
Barcelona is a wonderland of amazing fresh food done right. While I was just a visitor for a few days, the locals make you feel right at home. I learned quickly that Barcelona is not just a place; it’s a feeling.
Coming up Next Week on Gemma Eats…back in Barcelona.
I’m taking you on a secret food tour to enjoy more great food and even drink wine just like the locals do.
All right here…on Gemma Eats.
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Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.