6//1/2006 4:10pm/ Barcelona
I'm pleased to report that new levels of culinary satisfaction were just achieved, and none too soon with one night left in Barcelona. Your intrepid diarist, out on the front lines of the gustatory battlefields, has once again scored a decisive victory against the cursed wallet-emptying, boring-food adversaries who seemingly lurk round every corner.
How's this for lunch: Three courses, each unbelievably satisfying, plus 1/2 bottle of wine, plus after lunch café solo (espresso), all for a mere $11.00 US....did I mention that whole "I don't want to leave" thing? And all by happy accident! I left wanting to go to Pinotxo in the Boqueria.Not to be a one trick pony, but it simply is the best. Way too crowded at lunch, two deep at every bar stool. Crossed over La Rambla, did a bit of shopping in the Gotic, them back across La Rambla into the El Raval neighborhood. Had a cerveza at a small bar while I pondered my lunch fate, getting fairly ravenous in the meantime. It had been , after all, almost four hours since my late breakfast at Pinotxo. Wandered down a couple more blocks, and saw a sign outside this nondescript place called Flor de Maig (address: C. Bejar 70), just maybe three blocks off La Rambla. Had a set price menu outside that seemed suspiciously cheap, which always worries, but this place was also off the tourist track of Rambla/Gotic, so you know they were chasing locals. The menu offered a first/second/dessert/bebida (drink), and bread for nine euros. The menu...well, what I could make out of it anyway...looked promising. Entered a clean. modern dining room, and got my table for one (shades of Steve Martin in "The Lonely Guy"!). Was looking at the menu, asked for a first course of spinach-ricotta tortellini, and was wondering about my second. There were two guys sitting next to me. One guy gives me the eye, says, "Hey, you like fish?" Me: "Um, yeah". He says "Have the bacalao." Who was I to argue? Salt cod it is.
Ordered a glass of vino blanco. My waitress, who was incredibly nice with the best smile, brought an empty glass and a full bottle of white. Thought "Now that's my kind of glass of wine!" Coming out of my fantasy, figuring that the first glass was included, and then they'd charge for more, I poured away. As I found out, there was happily no upcharge for the second or third glasses, and now I'm wondering what would've happened if I had drank the whole bottle, besides me getting an early groove on followed by a later nap. Well, the first course of tortellini in a light cream sauce was really nice, and generously sized. Then came the bacalao. Here's a picture:
This was a seriously good plate of food...that's a lightly sweetened citrus purée around it, that was the perfect counterpoint to the ever so slightly salty fish. One of the best things I've had on the trip. It was one of those perfectly balanced dishes, and again a very nice sized portion of fish. I was loving very bite! Finished that, feeling pretty full at this point, but with dessert to come, took my servers advice and had the profiteroles.....
....oh yeah, nothing wrong there. In a trip filled with great food at stupid prices, this may have topped the list. When in Barca, get your hungry bodies to Flor de Maig!
Now taking a break on my small, sunny balcony, making dinner plans in my head, plans that will certainly begin with a Tanqueray martini at Boada's that will look something like...make that exactly...like this:
To my wonderful sister and brother-in-law, knowing your love of the perfect martini, I toast you with every sip! To everyone else, wherever we are, life is good, no?!