Most delicious fish dishes from Spain for you
Fish in Spain is as important as pork when it comes to cooking. It couldn’t be otherwise when the country is surrounded by water pretty much everywhere expect for the border with Portugal and the Pyrenees bordering with France. The Atlantic ocean provides amazing seafood to the Northern region of Galicia, the cold waters of the Bay of Biscay have always provided fresh fish to the Basque Country, and the Mediterranean sea has inspired the cuisines of the Southern and Western regions, all the way from Andalusia to Catalonia.
So trying a variety of local fish recipes should be a must for any foodie traveling to Spain. And we know how hard it is to choose from a foreign menu when you aren’t too familiar with the local cooking: how can you tell what are authentic Spanish fish recipes, what’s international and can be found anywhere else, or what’s just a chef’s invention? So for all of you fish lovers, today we are sharing those Spanish best fish dishes that are most representative of our culinary culture. Enjoy!
This is our top Spanish fish dish selection:
Sardines. While sardines are popular in many ways (fried, roasted, salted as anchovies, marinated in vinegar…) we love them in vinager with herbs(en escabeche). Sardines and other fish (as well as rabbit, pork or chicken) are first coated in flour and fried or poached, then we add some garlic, bay leaves and herbs such as thyme, oregano and black peppercorns, then white wine and paprika (or for a more authentically Spanish touch, pimentón de la Vera), and only after the wine alcohol has evaporated, some vinegar. The whole preparation needs to rest for at least one day, in order to absorb all the flavors, and it’s then served cold. You’ll find them often as a cold tapa, or as tinned food.
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Read a book on the history of Spain before your trip to take the most out of it!
Next Sunday is April 23rd, Saint George’s Day and International Day of Books. If you are planning a trip to Spain, what a better way to prepare than reading a few Spanish history books? You’ll be able to understand much better the sites you’ll be visiting as well as the local culture. Spain and Catalonia have a long history that dates back from the Romans, and even further, the Greek, the Cartagenean and the Iberian. Plus some specific periods of our history are totally fascinating… Make sure to read about the ones that you are most interested BEFORE you come, so you can ask the right questions to your tour guides and get the best possible picture.
This is our curated Spanish history book selection:
The Spanish Civil War, by Hugh Thomas. The Spanish civil war was one of the most violent events for Europe in the 20th century, and it is relevant not only because of the clash it represented between the republican system that was established in 1931 in Spain and the fascism, led by Francisco Franco, who won in the end. This war finally ended in 1939 with the victory of Franco, and it derived in an economical crisis and a dictatorial government that became a constitutional monarchy after the death of the dictator. The British author of this book, Hugh Thomas, gives a special narrative for this dark event in the history of Spain, where the military force won over the republican and democratic values, giving s very detailed specifications about the equipment and artillery used, and the contributions made to each side by other countries that would be later on involved in the World War II, which pretty much right after the end of the Spanish Civil War – so actually both wars are very connected to each other. If you want to see how the international scenario influenced in this war suffered by Spain, this Hugh Thomas’s book is the best option you could choose.
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Traditional food and tapas in Poble Sec
Poblesec is the neighborhood located at the foot of the Montjuic Hill, between the port and Plaça Espanya. While for many years no one will find anything exciting to do there, now it has become a pole attracting food lovers of all budgets: from people looking for inexpensive tapas, to those who want to try traditional cooking, to big spenders.
Eating in the Poble Sec district is a great option for a meal after you finish visiting the Hill of Montjuïc, or if you are planning to attend the Magic Fountain show. Or if you just want to explore this vibrant off the beaten path area. Or if you’ve heard of one of its many restaurants and want to try it, of course! That’s why today I’m sharing with you my favorite ones.
These are our favorite restaurants in Poble Sec:
Quimet i Quimet. A classic place for tapas in Poble Sec, this is a super tiny family-owned tapas bar with walls elegantly displaying bottles of wine and distillates, and a counter in one site behind which the owner and a couple of helpers prepare their montaditos (slices of bread with different toppings) on demand in front of you. Nothing to do with the many Basque restaurants where pintxos are already prepared and seat in the counter waiting for you to pick them up. At Quimet i Quimet there is a menu (in English, as well), from where you can choose your topings: cheese, paté, egg, anchovies, caramelized walnuts, olives and more. You can also order some gorgeous assortments of cheese, canned seafood or veggies, some really thick and crispy potato chips, and their memorable croquettes. Plan to come for lunch on a weekday to avoid the crowds – otherwise it might be difficult to get in.
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Really? Gaudi hidden gems?
Everyone knows the Gaudi masterpieces. Sagrada Familia church, Park Guell, Casa Mila (Pedrera) and Casa Batlló… But is that everything he did in town? Not at all! There are a few earlier works that he did before becoming famous, that aren’t as crowded as his top sites and they show you his evolution and background in a more pure way. Some of them are open to the public, while some other need to be seen just from outside. And there are a couple of them that are located out of town and you need to take public transportation, rent a car or book a tour to get there.
Are you curious about them? They are actually a great plan if this is not your first time in Barcelona and want to do something different, or if you are spending a few days in town and want to dig a bit deeper into Gaudi’s world.
These are the early Gaudi works that most tourists miss:
Palau Güell. Located at the bottom of La Rambla, this is the mansion that his friend and patron Eusebi Güell commissioned him. The neighborhood was pretty bad (picture a dark port district with crime and prostitution), so the Count Güell thought that forcing his guests to cross that district to come visiting would hopefully have a good influence in the area and help improving it. It didn’t help as much as he hoped (and Ms. Guell hated the house for that), but Gaudi created an impressive mansion that makes a pretty interesting contrast with Casa Batllo and Casa Mila that he built later. A starred dome and a roof terrace with colorful chimneys are its main features. It’s also a great way to see how the aristocracy lived in the late 1800’s compared to the bourgeoisie of Passeig de Gràcia.
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Delicious cakes and pastries from Spain
Spanish people love pastries. We eat them for breakfast, with our midday coffee and even during the merienda (mid-afternoon snack, kind of like the British tea time, but without the tea). That explains why there is a bakery pretty much in every street in Barcelona! We couldn’t leave without our freshly baked bread and our delicious pastries.
When I’m on a food tour, I always make sure to show my guests some unique bakeries and point out at the local cakes they sell, so maybe they want to try some. And if they are staying at an apartment, very often they end up planning to get some for breakfast next day. It’s also a great treat for kids! So today I’ll be sharing with you my favorite ones.
These is our foodie-curated Spanish pastries list:
Ensaïmada. Ensaïmada is to Spain what croissant is to France. Actually, you’ll often see them displayed side by side in bakeries. This pastry comes from Majorca, and the name comes from the Catalan word “saïm“, which is pork lard – its main ingredient (I’m afraid it’s not a vegetarian-friendly treat…). You’ll often find two different flavors of ensaïmada: the plain one and the one stuffed with spaghetti squash jam (cabello de ángel). But if you ever travel to Majorca, you’ll find it stuffed with many other ingredients ranging from chocolate, to whipped cream and even sobrasada (a Majorcan pork spread with paprika) – this last one might seem like a quite unusual sweet and sour mix, but when it’s served hot, it’s surprisingly delicious! In Barcelona, you’ll find this one and many other flavors at the specialty shop called Formentor.
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