Vermouth is making a big comeback in Spain, in part because it often has a slightly higher alcohol content and can be ordered all over town. This makes it easy and cheap for young hipsters to get drunk quickly. But, at Bodega 1900 in Barcelona, they are taking a more traditional look at the concepts of vermouth and the bodega.
Traditionally, anar a fer el vermut, or to go have a vermouth, was an event in an of itself. Along with the class of vermouth, traditional tapas were served, often small plates of preserved meats, pickled vegetables, or salted fish.
Gluttony at Bodega 1900
Bodega 1900 is the brain child of the famous Albert Adria, brother of Ferran Adria who for years had the best restaurant in the world nearby in Costa Brava, el Bulli. Albert is trying to breathe new life into the old traditions of vermouth and preserved dishes.
I knew I wanted to give it a shot, although I was a little hesitant about the preserved foods and strange confits. We decided to start with a few dishes and see where it took us. I was not expecting to end up touring almost the entire menu, walking out of Bodega 1900 stuffed and slightly tipsy on Vermouth.
Pork rind with hot spices (or, cortezas de cerdo) : These were the crunchiest and most high quality pork rinds I have ever eaten. Certainly, not your uncle’s bag of greasy pork rinds.
Stuffed olives: Certainly one of the more unique items on the menu, and most definitely an homage to Ferran’s molecular gastronomy. A very complicated process that even our knowledgable server could not explain. They were not the consistency of an olive, although it certainly tasted like one. Instead, they had the consistency almost of a mousse, and required no chewing to swallow. I actually liked it.
Boquerones: A more traditional preparation, fresh sardines, pickled with garlic and olive oil. I love boquerones, and they are one of my favorite Spanish foods, but these had a little something more to them, perhaps because of the higher quality olive oil, and the paper thin slices of garlic.
Cecina de Leon: This was a pure treat. Cecina generally refers to the process of salting and drying beef. The color, the display of the meat on the tray, and texture made these slices of Spanish cured meat special. Eric started to play with his meat a little at the end, noticing how this beef was almost paper thin.
Lomo Iberico: Cured, Iberico ham. A simple pleasure. Look at the grain of the meat, and the deep red color.
Calamari brasa: A grilled squid served in olive oil and its own ink. It was perfectly prepared, not chewy, and entirely fresh.
Razor Clams (or, navajes en escabeche): I’ve had razor clams before, usually cooked in olive oil and garlic, or chilies in Asia, but these were different. They were almost pickled or preserved, still in olive oil, with black pepper and a bit of citrus. The texture was different too, from a grilled clam. They were more moist and almost thickened. They were very good. We saw the table next to us order these, pointed, and had to have them.
Patatas Bravas: A classic Spanish tapa, and one we ordered to soak up all of the vermouth we had drank during our Saturday afternoon lunch. These were, honestly, some of the best I have had, probably because the potatoes were thinly sliced making them more crunchy. The crunch was a great compliment to the bravas sauce.
Squid Hot Dog (or, mollete de calamares): Another dish we ordered because our neighbors did. We just ordered one and shared because we were pushing maximum density. This was, essentially, a squid hot dog: calamari on a bun with bravas sauce. It was a great way to end a fantastic lunch.
This was one of the best meals I have had in Barcelona, and certainly a place I would recommend. I loved the twists on classics like calamari, razor clams, and olives – embracing traditional methods to create new modern dishes. I did not feel the menu to be as challenging as I expected, and our server walked us through it all, and answered all of our questions.
Bodega 1900 is a must do while in Barcelona. And, the tapas are perfect to eat throughout the day.
Bodega 1900 in Barcelona can be found at Carrer de Tamarit, 91, in Barcelona, and is closed Sunday and Monday. Tapas range from 2-12 Euros per plate and a glass of their house made vermouth is 3.75 Euro. Reservations are essential.
For more tips and stories on Spain, check out the With Husband In Tow Spain Food Travel Guide!