By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert
As the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, cultural Barcelona beckons and the delights of Catalonian cuisine abound. Enjoy art, architecture, cathedrals, tapa bars and restaurants. Revived thanks to the 1992 Summer Olympics, the traditional and modern looks blend well here and walking is the best way to absorb the unique artistic beauty of the areas.
The monument of Christopher Columbus points you in the right direction to stroll the tree-lined concourse of Las Ramblas with its shops, cafes and pantomime artists. Explore Barri Gotic, the city’s old town with medieval designed Romanesque buildings or head to Parc Guell to view the architectural wonders of Antoni Gaudi commissioned by industrialist Count Eusebi Guell. Besides seeing Gaudi’s extraordinary creations around the vicinity or in the Guell Palace, his personal effects are inside the Casa Museu Gaudi. He also built Caso Batilo that is worth a visit. But it is the Church of the Sacred Family that is his most recognized Gothic masterpiece. Picasso lived in Barcelona in his youth and the impressive exhibits at Museu Picasso show pieces from his Rose and Blue Periods.
Try delectable dishes from the Mari I Montana (the sea and the mountains) combining fresh fish from the Mediterranean and pork and beef from its fertile plains. Sip sparkling Cava (see below) or Spanish wines like red Rioja or white Albarino while savoring tasty tapas (see below) and indulge in a crema catalan (custard) for dessert. Brava Barcelona!
SAIL: BARCELONA. Before sailing away, bring the city’s flavors and flair home. Colorful Ceramica with Moorish designs, Gaudi glass, pimento (paprika) de la vera (smoked) or dulce (sweet), bottles of Cava or sherry vinegar fortified from Spanish wines recreates delicious memories.
SIP: CAVA (sparkling wine). Catalan for “cellar”, cava is the official name for sparkling wine produced in Spain’s Penedes area west of Barcelona. Crisp and fruity, it is Spain’s quenching answer to champagne. Salud!
SAVOR: Tapas (small bites). “Tapa” means lid from the 18th century when bar owners put a piece of bread on top of a drink to avoid flies. Today’s tapas can be olives, slices of chorizo sausage or jamon ham, manchego cheese, fish bites and meat pies. Enjoy all with a glass