Sunday, 25 November 2012
BCN MKT WUZ OMG
Sigh. Another town, another market to try - oh the hardships.
(And by the way, BCN are the call letters for Barcelona....not Brad & Cassie Niessen...but it did seem kinda cool though ;-)
Barcelona's permanent covered market is La Boqueria. It is a bustling building in the same vein as the Granville Island market....but as an older, wiser big brother. And this isn't just a market for tourists (although the front two stalls are certainly there to draw us in). As we walked the aisles, gazing at the wares, we were jostled about by short Spanish ladies tugging loaded handcarts from one vendor to another with their daily shopping. And the site of a chef strolling around, sampling freshly sliced cured meat was not uncommon.
Smack dab in the middle of downtown, off the pedestrian walk of La Rambla.
A beautiful wrought iron entrance sign welcomes you to the market.
And just to the left of the main entrance, a more North Amercian welcoming sign. We assumed that the company found it better to pull people in saying they sell coffee to dunk-into....versus the actual item to be dunked?
The selection of fruit was amazing, such is the blessing of the southern location. And it was both the selection and literal size of the fruit that was huge! They certainly know how to showcase their products.
And it was mushroom season. Where the stalls weren't overflowing with fruits, they were laiden with a huge variety of mushrooms.
The seafood was located in the centre of the market - where the straight aisles suddenly curved into a huge oval - all covered in whole fish, filets, fresh prawns, crabs, cockles, mussels...it seemed endless.
The charcuterie vendors were numerous as well, with many selling various cured and smoked styles of ham (Iberian, Serrano....). You almost can't see this vendor amongst all his hams...but he's slicing off pieces for a client to try.
When you read about the market on various websites, everyone says "great place to get juice!". And they are not kidding. What should be explained is this - almost every single fruit stall (and there are quite a few) sells fresh squeezed juices. And each of them has, at least, a dozen flavours (kiwi-coconut, banana-dragon fruit, papaya-pineapple, the list seems endless).
It's hard to choose....here's our tip though - bypass the stall at the front as most others in the rest of the market sell the juice for €1 (cheaper than out front). Yes, a glass of fresh, squeezed juice for a euro! Needless to say Cassie had blackberry-coconut coursing through her veins after a few days.
And it's not just your thirst you can quench at the market. There are lots of stalls to grab food for eating right away. 'In a cone' seems to be the transport method of choice when taking the food to go. And hey, can't argue with a good blend of ease in both portability and edibility. This was a cone filled with fried meat fritters, pickles, potatoes topped with a fried quail egg (wink, wink, Irene).
And from the charcuterie, two simple cones - one with Iberian ham and one with manchengo cheese slices....doesn't get much more Spanish than this (although a cup of Sangria would have been great...but then I would have needed another hand...)
On our last day we opted for tapas at the market. The tapas are great because if you only want a snack, the portion size is perfect (or, if you're like us and want to sample a bunch, then you can!). And most of it is on display as well....so if your Catalan isn't up to snuff....your pointing finger probably is.
The meal was made even more memorable sitting beside a dear old lady, taking a break from her shopping and snacking on a slice of omelette and a coffee. As you can see from OUR drink selections, we bypassed the coffee and opted to wash our food down with a beer and a cava....hey we're on holidays!