How is it possible to eat almost every Catalan speciality within the span of just a few hours? With the Devour Barcelona food tour anything is possible.
During a little more than 4 hours, our guide, Renee, showed us the town, literally, by walking us around the neighborhood of Gracia, taking us to the local market, old family run establishments, and newer foodie havens.
During our nine (yes, nine!) stops we had the pleasure of trying everything that Catalan cuisine has to offer, from olive oil to cava to meats, cheese, and fish. It was the perfect Barcelona food tour.
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Considering we have been to Barcelona twice before, and Madrid once as well, I thought that I was fairly knowledgable about Barcelona, and Spanish cuisine. But, I realized I still had a lot to learn.
A Barcelona Food Tour in Gracia
First off, this Barcelona food tour took us through the Gracia neighborhood, one that I had never stepped foot in before, despite being just a few metro stops up from the popular Las Ramblas. It is a fiercely proud neighborhood, that held off for years before being annexed into Barcelona. Even today, people will say they are from Gracia first, Barcelona second.
Most important, this Barcelona food tour celebrated the Catalan cuisine, famous for this fiercely independent region. We tried many foods I had never had before in Spain, many of which I would eat over and over again.
So, what did the Devour Barcelona food tour have in store for us?
At Casa Pages, we ate a grilled botifurra sandwich, with homemade aioli accompanied by a glass of cava, a sparkling wine prevalent in the region.
We of course had this glass of cava around 10:30 am, and Renee explained that this meal is a typical Catalan breakfast. Of course it is.
The grilled sausage was bursting with flavor and perfectly grilled, on a slice of toasted bread, with a touch of roasted peppers, I would eat this sandwich every morning if I could.
At the Mercat de l’Abaceria Central, the local Gracia market, we made two stops. First, we ate an olive and salt cod skewer, which was like an explosion of flavors in the mouth. The juiciness of the olive, along with the salty and slightly fishy flavor of the Catalan salt cod, it was amazing.
After wandering the market for a bit, we stopped for a selection of Spanish and Catalan cheeses, including la dehesa de los llanos, which was a cheese that recently won an award that can be referred to as the Oscars of cheese.
We left the market and found ourselves quickly at Oi Sal, which is a speciality olive oil shop, something that is fairly new to the scene in Barcelona. We learned about quality olive oil, and how different it is from the garbage sold in the super markets.
Next, on the Devour Barcelona food tour, we visited L’Anxoveta, a new restaurant opened by a guy who left his corporate job to follow his passion for food. We tried the famous Catalan specialty, a bomba.
The bomba is a potato and ground beef croquette, topped with brava sauce, which most people are familiar with because of patatas bravas, a dish that seems to be on every Spanish restaurant menu around the world.
After, the owner showed us how to make our own pan con tomate.
This was another dish that I had heard about in the past, but did not realize how much is part of the Catalan cuisine. A day old piece of bread is often rejuvenated the following day by rubbing it with garlic and tomato, along with olive oil. It became a running joke with Eric and I that every place we went to, the staff was pushing pan con tomate on us, and Eric does not eat tomato. We found out that we could order some with tomato and some just with olive oil. But, it made me realize what a staple this is of the Spanish diet.
We then stopped for Syrian pastries at Pastisseria Principe. Renee pointed out that obviously Syrian pasties are not typical Catalan treats, but she used the stop to highlight the international focus of the Gracia neighborhood, and that this particular pastry shop was one of the most famous and popular in the area.
One of our favorite stops was Bodega C’al Pep on the far end of the neighborhood. It was a typical locals’ bar, half bar and half shop, where we tried another speciality drink, a red vermouth called Perruchi.
In America, vermouth was always just something used in a cocktail, like in a martini. In Spain, it is a drink on its own, and we certainly became addicted. The vermouth at C’al Pep was served with fuet, which is a slice of bread topped with cured meat, and some boquerones, or pickled anchovies. These also became another new favorite of mine, and are a perfect snack along with a drink.
At La Botigueta del Bon Menjar, we ate homemade meatballs, or albondigas, made by another corporate dropout who decided to start living his passion. We also tried a typical romesco pintxo, or small bite on a piece of bread. In this case, it was roasted vegetables.
The final stop on the tour was in a traditional, old school bakery, Pastisseria Ideal, for another Catalan speciality cremat. Cremat is similar to a French creme brulee, but it is not fired on the top, and the tradition of cremat has been around much much longer!
And, finally, we were done, with full bellies and tired feet. One thing to note is that this is not your typical food tour, which might involve a few good sized dishes at a handful of establishments. There is a good amount of walking, and with nine stops, I was happy the portions were all kept reasonable. Otherwise there would have been no way to fit it all in.
But, most important was the dedicated focus on highlighting Catalan cuisine, something I was not all that familiar with before the tour.
Devour Barcelona Food Tours run Tuesday through Saturday at 10:00 am.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.