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March 23, 2007


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Ah, so they *do* have the bacon-wrapped date there, too. See, I'd thought that maybe that was just a Chicago tapas bar thing, as I haven't seen the bacony date on menus at tapas bars in San Francisco (though it's been a while since I've been to one). And when my husband and I went to Andalusia a dozen years ago, I remember getting really excited about how great the tapas scene was going to be, because I'd been turned onto Spanish food by a few great tapas restaurants in Chicago--but it turned out that tapas in those small towns in the Costa del Sol consisted only of short breadsticks, slices of dry Spanish chorizo, and olives. Bar snacks. There was no pisto manchego. No patatas con alioli. No smoked salmon and egg plate with toast points. And most definitely no bacon-wrapped dates. I guess that perhaps Chicago tapas had embellished upon the original just a little too much. (Instead they had probably taken their culinary cues from Spanish restaurants, which were excellent--I still haven't forgotten a perfectly garlicky, creamy, white gazpacho that I've never encountered since--especially since we ate only at fine dining establishments after I got sick early in the trip.)

Those tapas/pintxos/bocadillos bars in Barcelona sure are great, aren't they? Just yesterday I was wishing we had those here in SF, where I could just grab what I wanted from one of those gorgeous platters and pay only for what I eat. Eating quanta only to the point at which I am full, as it were, rather than ordering a whole plate and not finishing half of it, thanks to American portions. There are sushi boat restaurants, why can't we have tapas boats? (Or maybe there could be little tapas-bearing bulls going around a track, to stick with a more Spanish idiom.)


Oh yeah, and the architecture, too! Casa Batllo is just a gem, isn't it? We did that one first and poked our heads into the lobby of Casa Amatller since it's on that same block, La Manzana de Discordia I think it is? And then we did Casa Mila a couple of days later. The apartment in Casa Mila seemed less impressive after seeing the cohesive vision of Casa Batllo, but it had the cooler rooftop by far.

As for Las Ramblas, have you been to that amazing market there yet, where you can see all kinds of Mediterranean fish and foods for sale? I think they have a couple of counters where you can get coffee and some incredibly fresh cooked seafood while you're there. It's the complete antithesis of the American supermarket way of completely sealing in plastic wrap anything that might possibly give off an aroma...even in the revamped ferry building here in San Francisco, shops are too separate and orderly to give the sense of abundance that the market just off of Las Ramblas has.

And, I don't know why I'm obsessing about food, since I just ate two hours ago and am not hungry--but don't forget to indulge in unpasteurized cheese while you're on that side of the pond. (Not that I know of any unpasteurized Spanish cheeses--if you were in Paris, though, I'd say fill up on epoisses while you can!) The two things I miss the most from having lived in the EU are unpasteurized cheese and European wines that don't have import duties doubling their price. (And I miss that in London I could buy bread-and-butter pudding from the refrigerated ready meal part of the store. All you had to do was heat it up and it was instant gooey dessert comfort food, which the British do better than anyone else. Yum! But that doesn't do you much good in Barcelona.)


What is the price for entry into the Casa Batllo now? I remember is as being pricey. And, darn, I cannot remember the title of the movie I watched a year or two ago, which had a setting in one of those apartments.

Lee Kottner

I'd guess Kristin's obsessing on food because it's so good here and because I'm obsessing on it too, and yes, Casa Batllo really is a gem. It would be kinda of unreal living in a place like that, in the sense that it seems so much like a fantasy house. Lord it's lovely though. It's almost 16.75 euros (at about $1.30 to the euro) to get in now, Roger, and Casa Mila was just a few euros cheaper, so it was a pricey sightseeing day, though definitely worth it. Where else would you see this? Wow.

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