Tapas is a concept, and also a way of life, that was created centuries ago in Spain. One of the most common tales about tapas comes from the region of Castilla y La Mancha where in medievel days taverns used to serve wine glasses covered with a piece of ham or cheese in order to prevent flies from falling isnde. In Spanish, “tapa” means lid. Got the point, right? While different stories exist as to how tapas came about, what it is really important is the fact that the concept consists of sharing small plates of well balanced foods between friends. Every ¨tapeo¨ (in Spanish) starts with an assortment of cheese, cured meats and olives. And here I share with you the essentials tapas foodies love when visiting Barcelona. Let’s check them!
Locally known as ¨Bunyols¨, this is an ancient tapa made of cod, flour, garlic, and parsley and which is then deep fried in olive oil. Cod is a fish that was brought to the Iberian Peninsula by Basque sailors and has become an essential ingredient in Catalan gastronomy. It is dried with salt, and thereby keeps its qualities for months. The best places to eat cod can be found in the Barcelona Market Stalls, my favorite choice is Bacallaneria Pujamar at La Boqueria Market.
La Boqueria Market
Rambla, 91 08001 Barcelona
Bolas – Best Tapa in El Raval
What I like about Barcelona is the fact that tapas don’t necessarily need to be traditional. Innovation it is an important aspect of the Catalan Capital. In the Raval district there is a small tapas bar that serves so-called “Bolas” (balls). They are a fusion between the traditional meatballs prepared in Spain, but with a mexican twist. Shira, the owner of A tu Bola, added mexican chipotle, coriander, garlic and lemon to the bolas and locals loved it so much that back in 2015 her bolas were chosen as the best tapa served in the multicultural Raval neighborhood. On top of that, other variations of bolas are available as well, including a vegetarian option.
A Tu Bola
Carrer de l’Hospital, 78, 08001 Barcelona
+34 933 153 244
Fuet and Manchego Cheese
The quintessential foods of any ¨tapeo¨ moment are Manchego cheese and Fuet. Loved by everyone, and especially kids, these two foods are at the heart of Spanish cuisine. The Manchego cheese (from La Mancha) is made from sheep’s milk and has a compact consistency and buttery texture. It’s flavor is distinct, creamy with a slight spiciness. And Fuet (from Catalonia) is a cured meat flavored with black pepper and garlic, and sometimes aniseed (anise), and unlike chorizo it doesn’t contain paprika.
La Boqueria Market
Rambla 91, Stalls: 424, 425, 426
+34 93 318 11 37
Hot Potatoes (Patatas Bravas)
This dish is quite modern and originated in Madrid in the 1960s at Casa Pellico and La Casona, two restaurants that don’t exist anymore, but where people would queue to enjoy them along with a drink, usually a cold beer. The potatoes are cut in small cubes and fried in olive oil, and served with alioli sauce and a bit of paprika that can be slightly spicy. The preparation of the sauce varies by city. In Burgos, the sauce is tomato-based, and also includes vinegar, red pepper, and a variety of spices which give it a bite. In Valencia and Barcelona, the potatoes are covered in aioli and a sauce made of olive oil, red pepper, paprika, chili, and almonds.
Carrer del Paradís, 4, 08002 Barcelona
+34 630 07 20 79
Fair Trade Ice Cream
Despite the fact that ice cream came from Italy, plenty of genuine gelato artisans have settled in Spain. Here in Barcelona we find Swiit, a small ice cream shop located in the center of the Gothic District where Giovanni (from Italy) and Tracey (from the US) craft amazing mixes with fair trade ingredients. I love this place because it offers the most interesting flavors. Have you ever tried carrot or mascarpone with figs ice creams? I also love the fact that all of their ice creams are seasonal, the production is based on fresh produce available at Barcelona markets throughout the year. This is a great way to close a tapas tour in Barcelona.
Swiit Ice Cream
Baixada de Viladecols, 2c, Bajos 2 08002 Barcelona
‘+34 608 95 16 37