Tag Archives: Barcelona

41 Degrees, Barcelona, Spain

Hands down, the best meal I have had. Ever.

41 Degrees started off as a cocktail lounge, attached to the tapas bar, Tickets, by Adrià brothers, Ferran and Albert. The intimate 16-seater bar then started serving a 41 “course” dinner of amuse bouches.

The meal is a totally immersive experience that I don’t want to spoil for anyone who has not yet been. Suffice to say if you’ve been, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, then it’s an absolute must-visit if you are in Barcelona.

It’s also the closest thing to El Bulli, with owners, cooks and many staff from the famed, now-closed legendary restaurant. (Albert Adrià himself has referred to 41 Degrees as a “mini Bulli”).

Make no other plans for the evening – our dinner started at 8 and we left after midnight. And with an almost ridiculous attention to detail, we didn’t stop grinning at each other the entire evening. Every thing is intended to (and does) surprise and delight every one of your senses.

I heard that Albert is planning to return the space to its cocktail roots, and moving the dining experience somewhere nearby in Barcelon’s theatre district, but bookings can only be made via their website.

Restaurant Cal Pep, Barcelona

Assorted fried seafood – crispy deliciousness

An absolute must-go for tapas when in Barcelona. Get to Cal Pep early – you can’t book, and the word is out – the 20 stools in the front room were full as soon as the doors opened for lunch at 1.

We chatted to the waiter at the counter, asked for our favourites (pimentos, clams) and then left it to him to recommend, based on what produce they had that day. There didn’t seem to be an enormous range – the waiter explaining that ingredients are kept to a minimum, with the emphasis on freshness. Just the way we like it.

Every dish was a stunner. Josep Manubens Figueres, the chef and owner (“Pep” is a common Catalan nickname for Josep), ensures the seafood at his tapas bar is the freshest that is available every morning at the fish auctions along the nearby Costa Brava every morning.

Cooks wait patiently until the first order comes in, and then they come in flying, thick and fast, with no reprieve, and what I can only describe as “organised chaos” ensues.

Chick peas with fried spinach and jamon

The dish of deep-fried seafood – lightly floured small fish, squid, calamari rings and small prawns – came out crispy and tasted of each individual piece of seafood, not just randomly of oil. The chick peas and vibrantly green spinach (not at all overcooked or gloppy) had bits of fried jamon, imparting the dish with its flavour and providing a nice contrast in texture.

There was just one meat dish – a speciality of the house – botifarra de porc amb foie d’ànec fresc, pork sausage with foie gras and port wine, served in inch-long slices over white beans.

Saffron milk cap mushrooms cooked on the grill

We also tried for the first time some mushrooms we saw at the Boqueria, the saffron milk cap. Bright orange in colour with deep green stains (which apparently appear when the mushrooms have been handled) – the flavour is mild and the texture is almost “crunchy”.

Simplicity is the key to the beauty of each dish – with every plate, there was nothing that didn’t absolutely have to be there.

Remember to get there early – or be prepared to stand impatiently behind diners like us. Their schedule is complicated, so check their website to find when they are open.

Cal Pep
Plaça de les Olles, 8, Barcelona
Tel: 011-34-93-310-7961

Pinotxo Bar, Barcelona

Really ? I am quite horrified that I am writing about a bar I went to in OCTOBER LAST YEAR, when we are almost at the end of February ! No excuses, just happy that I finally am finding the time to update my blog.

Barcelona was one of the cities we visited in our Spanish escapade. It was actually after visiting Seville, which is the informal “home of tapas”, so we took a risk with tapas in the super-touristy (but still sublime) Mercat de la Boqueria just off the Ramblas.

But how could we go there and not visit the 14-stool Pinotxo (pee-no cho) – an establishment in the Market. Pinotxo’s nephew, chef Albert Asin, mans the tiny stove in the tiny kitchen. There is a menu, although it’s just easier to look at the produce they have behind the counter, and order what looks good and takes your fancy. (Ok, it was also because everything on the menu was Spanish and they don’t understand me when I speak Spanish). But with the bar inside a foodie’s delight of a market – how much fresher can your produce get ?

Of course we had to start with the requisite Spanish peppers – padron – and crusty bread rubbed with fresh tomato. That was just to whet our appetites, along with icy cold beers.

Some gorgeously plump and red langoustines were cooked a la plancha, with nothing more than a sprinkle of salt at the end and a thick fillet of codfish, also straight on the grill, with a bowl placed over it to steam.

One of the waiters was sitting next to me having his lunch and he was eating a simple pasta, which of course meant that I had to have what he was having ! Penne with a simple ragu sauce. Again delicious.

How they manage to get the food cooked so perfectly, at such a pace, in that tiny space, is beyond me. But then that’s why Pinotxo as been around for almost 100 years now.

Pinotxo Bar
Plaza de la Boqueria
Ramblas, Barcelona