Friday, August 28, 2015

Tapas Tour - Barcelona

Leading up to our trip everyone I spoke with couldn't stop raving about the food in Barcelona.  I spent a weekend there in college and remember the food being good, but didn't seek out well known spots the way I do now when traveling.  

The same few names kept popping up in all of my conversations so I made sure to add those to our "must-hit" list.  

Our first night we dropped our stuff and wandered out to find Passadís del Pep.  A hidden door behind an ATM, it took us a few passes before we found it.  But once inside, we were treated to an extra special experience.  There are no menus, in a coordinated dance waiters start bringing you one thing after another starting with a bottle of cava once you sit down.  We had all of the classics, pan con tomato, jamon, multiple shrimp dishes, baby clams, and the famous Catalan arroz negro.  We were stuffed to the gills but a super fun and authentic experience.  

Our second night we ate at Bodega 1900, the more casual tapas and vermouth bar by the Adría brothers.  Inspired by our experience the night before, we let our waiter do the picking and surprise us with his favorites.  Our only request were the olives (thanks Susan for the advice!!).  

Crudo tasting, calamari hot dog, eggplant fries, and tuna sampler

Saturday night we hit Bar Cañete.  We went on the early side, getting there by 7 to ensure we could grab seats at the chef's counter bar with a full view of the kitchen.  By 8pm every seat was full and it was quite a show.  Every Yelp review raves about the steak with foie gras and truffle butter, Mom proclaimed it her favorite tapa of the trip!  It was definitely up there for me as well.  Other highlights were their crispy fried eggplants with honey and the ham croquettes.  We enjoyed a lovely Albariño that was smoother and fuller bodied from the usual slightly effervescent style that I'm used to.  

For lunches, we hit Quimet y Quimet and Bar del Pla.  

We were second in line at Q&Q prior to opening and got a great spot right at the bar.  It's standing room only, and crazy to watch them assemble hundreds of tiny montaditos, small open-faced sandwiches piled high with amazing toppings.  Yelp readers favor the smoked salmon with cream cheese and truffled honey, but my favorite was the country pâté (guess I didn't get my fill while in France). 

Bar del Pla was located right near the Picasso museum, steps from our apartment.  It was here that I had my very favorite tapa of the entire trip.  So good, that I actually had it twice as I made Mom stop one afternoon for an afternoon snack.  It was also the cutest little 2-stool perch allowing us to enjoy our meal outside.  
My favorite tapa of the trip - smoked sardines stacked on the most perfectly grilled bread!

And lastly…..just to cross it off my list, on our last morning I saddled up to the bar with all of the hungover/jet-lagged tourists at Pinotxo Bar, those chickpeas were certainly worth it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - Red Hook Winery Visit

You might not think that we New Yorkers are lucky enough to have a winery in our own backyard, but thanks to the folks at Red Hook Winery, we certainly do!  Located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, the tasting room is easily accessible by the free Ikea ferry from Pier 11 in Manhattan making for the perfect little day trip.  

I recently made the trip on a sunny Saturday.  We started with a hearty lunch at Hometown BBQ to lay the foundation for the 40+ wines they make at Red Hook.  

That beef rib was no joke!
After lunch we walked down the pier to Red Hook.  The lovely Sandra set us up at a table by the window and got to pouring.  

Red Hook is all about showcasing New York wines.  Grapes are sourced from as many as 15 different New York vineyards and all wines are made right there in Brooklyn.  They partner with 2 prominent wine makers from Napa Valley, splitting each lot of wine to allow the wine maker to craft in his personal style.  Their two styles could not be more different, making it fun to compare and contrast the wines.

We tasted through so many wines, it's hard to pick a favorite.  If you're looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon and feel worlds away from the city, check out Red Hook Winery!

Tasting room is open daily from 11-5, no appointment necessary!  

Dozens of wines to choose from!

Great snack menu and cheese pairing options

After all that wine we needed to walk it off, walking all the way back to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge.  A perfect day indeed.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Three Days In Barcelona

At the tail end of our France trip, we hopped on a train and jetted across the border to Spain.  We spent three days exploring Barcelona (let's be real, eating and drinking through Barcelona).  We spent the first night in this hotel, and then moved into this apartment through Airbnb.  After such a fabulous experience in our apartment in Rome last year, this one was slightly disappointing.  For practically the same price per night we wish we had stayed in the hotel the entire time.  

We did two free walking tours with Runnerbean Tours, the old city walking tour and the Gaudi tour, which were both fabulous and a great way to get our bearings in the city.    

Setting sun in the cloister at the Barcelona Cathedral

The 13 geese in honor of Saint Eulalia who's body is entombed in the cathedral's crypt

Roman ruins in the heart of the city
Wine o'clock at our favorite wine bar 

Barcelona's version of a cronut - thanks for the recommendation Rayna!
Rambling through Las Ramblas

Paella lunch at Salamanca

We found this antique market (go figure) and this man had an amazing collection of watercolors!  

Amazing choose your own seafood adventure for dinner at La Paradeta
"You can bbq it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it...."

My favorite perch at the tapas bar that wins for best individual dish in my opinion!

One more post to come highlighting alllllllll our tapas!


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