|Sagrada Familia, Facade|
|Roof top of Casa Mila by Gaudi|
And so, upon arrival, for my first full course evening meal at La Bodegueta, 233, Carrer Provenca, http://provenca.labodegueta.cat/ , I was all set to order some great wines without worrying about my budget. I started off with a lovely and lively Verdejo, with bright citrus and fruit flavors, crisp acidity that whets the appetite for some delicious tapas such patates Bodegueta, Pop Provenca (octupus) and pickled anchovies.
|Finca Menade, Verdejo Ecologica 2019|
After a few glasses of the Verdejo, I washed down the rest of the tapas with a light bodied, but perky, fruity and tantalizing local Garnacha. And to top off the tapas, so to speak, I opted for the house-made dark chocolate helado (gelato) which dazzled my taste buds to no end. I was off to an auspicious start!
The next afternoon, after touring the Casa Mila, one of Gaudi's numerous architectural masterpieces that dot the city, I stopped for some lunch-time tapas at "Artespanol" http://provenca.labodegueta.cat/ right down the street. The mini Manchego slider and Champinones al Ajillo (sauteed mushrooms with garlic) hit the spot. And it's never too early for a glass of Tempranillo to pair with the tapas, especially at 4 Euros a glass!
That evening I met my new colleague and amigo, Karol, at a local hangout (Els Sortidors del Parlament https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d4987810-Reviews-Bodega_Els_Sortidors_del_Parlament-Barcelona_Catalonia.html) near the University - nothing fancy, and although it was more of brew-focused pub, it still had an ample wine list, this being Spain where the wine flows.... well, you get the idea. I selected, and introduced to Karol, a Mencia from the Bierzo region in northwest Spain, one of my go-to reds from this D.O.
Once regarded as a simple, regional grape vinified for local table wine, the quality of Mencia has improved markedly in recent years attracting the attention of the worldly consumer. Even in the US, it is a good value wine, typically exhibiting earthy, vegetal characteristics with notes of berry and a stony minerality. It is genetically related to Jaen from Portugal and may have originated from this lusophonic neighbor.
By the way, the hotel where my colleagues and I resided that week was the Hotel Ayre Rousillon https://www.ayrehoteles.com/hoteles/ayre-hotel-rosellon/ located a block from Gaudi's renowned Sagrada Familia in the city's Eixample barri. Conveniently located, it offers a fabulous breakfast buffet for a modest price (15 Euros), and a small bar serving a basic tapas menu. Single rooms average around 100 Euros per night. Check-in, concierge and daily room cleaning were all up to par. My room even had a view of the Sagrada Familia.
Tuesday evening, our work team celebrated at a neighborhood restaurant Los Bellota http://www.losbellota.com/ just down the street from the hotel with a full array of hors d'oeuvres, tapas and paella washed down with an excellent Reserva Rioja and topped off with Cava in frosted flutes.
Tasting notes: Intense nose with notes of black fruit, fresh red berries;sweet, spicy aromas of vanilla, cumin, and nuances of wild herbs tinged with menthol; fresh, intense mouthfeel with good acidity, and well balanced alcohol; lasting, bold finish with reappearance of red fruit and sweet spice; ready to drink now but with great cellaring potential.
And here's the Cava that topped off the regalia, courtesy of the restaurant owner:
It's a typical blend for Cava, including Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Parellada with a touch of Chardonnay. Aged 2 1/2 years on the lees, it is produced in the méthode champenoise.
Tasting notes: fresh, dry, clean with a nose of citrus, white flower, mineral, anise, and croissant; pairs well with sauteed shrimp, fried calamari, cold asparagus salad, Manchego cheese, Serano ham, cold. (Indeed, we actually should have started off with this sparkler to accompany our tapas!)
The following evening, after an especially long and intense work day, my colleague Pedro and I took the metro down to the Barri Gotic to check out the Cuisines Santa Caterina next to the newly renovated Santa Caterina market.
In this sprawling space under the undulating wooden superstructure of the market, the restaurant and tapas bar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and features an eclectic array of fusion cuisine, including Mediterranean, Asian and vegetarian dishes served on sleek counters and long wooden tables. After superabundance of meats and cheeses at repasts in the previous few days, veggies, greens, salads and fresh grilled fish were a welcome alternative. We opted for a zucchini salad, sauteed vegetables and grilled calamari with asparagus.
The rustic, whole grain and sour dough breads were also absolutely scrumptious. A bright, fresh and crisp couple of glasses of house Verdejo also did the trick. (The restaurant website link appears to be broken, but you can direct your browser to this Barcelona website for more info. https://www.barcelona.com/barcelona_directory/restaurants/catalan/cuines_santa_caterina )
For my final night in Barcelona, Karol joined me for a delicious and abundant repast at another neighborhood restaurant that caters mostly to locals (I spied only a few other turistas in the dining space). Meson A Veiga, just up the street from the Hotel Ayre Roussillon on Carrer de Sardenya, features Galician style cuisine in a relaxed, convival setting with friendly, welcoming service. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187497-d5768278-Reviews-A_Veiga-Barcelona_Catalonia.html
It was obviously a very popular neighborhood spot as it quickly filled up (it was a Friday night) so we were fortunate to get there early and grab an open table for two. We started off with a large goat cheese salad and fried calamari which I attacked with gusto as I had skipped lunch that day to build up an appetite after the breakfast buffet.
For the wine, I selected a Godello from the Monterrei D.O. (Denominacion de Origen) in Galicia. (Godello is the star white wine in the neighboring Valdeorras D.O. and its top producer is Godeval. Please see my previous blog post touting this wine which is one of my all time favorites and a Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2016 https://phillywineguy.blogspot.com/2017/06/ )
This 2018 Galvan, a 60/40 blend of Godello and Treixadura, originates from the Adegas Daniel Fernandez, "adega" being the local term for winery or estate, as in neighboring Portugal. http://bodegasdanielfernandez.com/
At 13% alcohol, the Galvan is delightfully crisp and expressive, exuding an intense fruity bouquet with notes of citrus, white flowers and fragrant green herbs. It paired most excellently with the whole grilled sea bass I enjoyed as a main course and held forth with a persistent fruity finish. (And not to belabor the point, but at just 14 euros, you would be hard pressed to find anything remotely close in value in a Stateside restaurant.)
So there you have it, folks - what may be my last trip to Europe for the foreseeable future. I hope you are all well-stocked with fruit of the vine to see us through these trying times. (As far as I know, you can still order wine online while the brick-and-mortar wine and spirit shops are shuttered.)
Take care, stay safe and enjoy a glass of vino to take the edge off. Salud!