Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Romain’ Roman Takes on Barcelona and the Local Dishes

Taking a break and enjoying my new guilty pleasure

Let me tell you, as much as I enjoy Italian food I was ready for a break. Thank gosh Barcelona was right around the corner, new place and new food. In no way am I an “expert” food critic just a food critic. This posting is about my experience and hopefully if you go to Barcelona, you can use this as a recourse. Before I begin with the food, I have a short story I would like to share with my readers.

There is always a reason why you meet people in life.  Might not know why, but there is always a story that enfolds later. This brings me to how I met Garrett. On the day I was visiting the Villa Borghese museum, I felt beyond sick, but knew that I had to press on because this was a once in a lifetime chance to see the gallery. While looking at a painting, I felt a heavy presence of eyes on me. As I looked over I saw Garrett. I quickly looked away and kept on going. Then again while looking at a different painting, I felt the same eyes on me. Before I could look over, Garrett came over and asked me if I was American (of course he knew, but I guess he had to break the ice some how). After that the rest was history. In short, I had convinced him to come with me to Barcelona. From there he invited a friend who lived in Florence, and that is how I met Cat. Kind of crazy how things work out, but I can happily say they are my new travel buddies!!! They love to travel and eat, but most importantly they knew how much I enjoyed sweets to the point that they followed me to the Chocolate Museum in Barcelona. 
Garrett, Kat and my self at Arc de Triomf
The first night was probably the best night when it came to dinner! We were beyond famish and desperate for food. We were on the La Ramba strip. While walking in one of the allies, we came across Tapas Royale. If you’re coming on the metro, take L3 and take the Liceu stop. The first word that comes across my mind when I think of Royale is posh, yet affordable. You get the first tapas free when you order a bottle of wine. After that you can order whatever you want. If you have two or three people, you can split the cost. We first ordered the duck tapas. It came with a sweet purée. Then we ordered the seafood paella. Very delicious! Then the calamari to top it off and finally we couldn’t resist we ordered the beef tenderloin with mash potatoes.
Duck tapas
Seafood paella
Tenderloin with mash potatoes
To save money, skip dessert at Royale. Down the street there is a vegan café that serves pistachio cake! They also have an assortment of cookies and muffins. I ordered a blueberry muffin with cheesecake frosting! Good thing I had a camera to take photos, sorry if this makes your mouth water! Trust me, I thought of all of you while I savored my dessert.
Pistachio cake
Blueberry Muffin with cheesecake frosting
The other restaurant I enjoyed was August. August is another tapas restaurant located on Ronda de Sant Pau street. Once again you can make it inexpensive by sharing with friends. We started out with a side of fries. Once I had a sniff of them from the table next to me, I couldn’t resist.  The first dish was chorizo. Next was my choice and I had to get the sausage with tomato sauce. With the extra tomato sauce I soaked it up with the bread. A cheap way of filling myself up might I add. Garrett ordered the clams and at first, I was a little apprehensive.  These clams did not look like the clams I was accustomed to back in the states. They were long, not round, but they tasted even better than they looked. Glad I took the risk. To conclude my meal, we got seafood paella. Compared to Royale restaurant, I have to say I preferred Royale, but both are really good! August was a little cheaper. Part of what you pay for at Royale is the atmosphere. Comparing food, I would have to say Royale tasted a little better, but with both you can’t loose on either one.
Sausages in tomato sauce
Weird looking claims but at least they tasted good
But the most important food… or rather guilty indulgence, CHOCOLATE! More specifically the hot chocolate! OH MY WORD is it good! Nothing compares to the Barcelona’s hot chocolate. NOTHING! I am going to have serious withdrawals when I return home. I can’t even find it in Italy. The best place I found hot chocolate was a bakery near Hospital de San Pau. It’s called Forn De Pa Sant Pau. They have a couple of tables in inside, and a nice variety of pastries. It seemed like the locals go for their bread there. Everyone came in and got bread. So if you’re going and like bread too, I say try it! But back to the hot chocolate, it’s only 1.90 and that is pretty cheap compared to the other places. On Sunday when I went back they were closed, so I tried another place down the street and they charged 2.25. The price was hard to swallow but not the hot chocolate, well worth it. Only live once!
The BEST hot chocolate in the world!!!
The only thing that is better than hot chocolate is Museu de la Xocolata! I stumbled across this place while trying to navigate to Arc de Triomf. Lucky me I was able to convince my travel companions to stop. Of course I ordered hot chocolate. My biggest dilemma was deciding on ordering the big or the small size. In the end I decided I would get the small and then after exploring the museum I deserved a few pieces of chocolate. (My dessert for lunch) The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm and Sunday from 10am to 3pm. For more information check out the website . Well worth your time plus, the Arc de Triomf is close by and the zoo!


The last little treat I tried while in Barcelona is a milk shake. One thing I’ve been craving is an American burger, fries and a shake. Well I got my burger in Barcelona. The burger and fries were as good as it’s going to get in Barcelona, which meant it was delicious! It was different than the American burgers, in the sense that this Barcelona burger seemed to melt in my mouth. Don’t worry it was cooked.

I got my milkshake later that night on the La Romba Strip at a gelateria. Originally I had envisioned a thick, milky ice cream shake, but that’s not what I received. It was very light because they use gelato. I got a strawberry milkshake and it was gone within five minutes. I tried to savor it, but it was so good (That and I was really thirsty).

What I love most about traveling to all these new countries is the food. Each country has its own specialty and I get to sample it as I go. I only wish I could bring some of the restaurants back home, but I guess that will be a good excuse for me to return to Spain. 

Yours truly,
Roamin’ Roman

PS. Since I spent Halloween in Barcelona you know I would find an appropriate treat. These are chocolate pumpkins.... and yes they were delicious!!!


  1. I REALLY LIKE those photos. Your eye for taking the pictures is improving. They are starting to look like they could go into an advertising campaign for chocolate!I am glad you learned the whimsies of your camera. I have ideas for some like a road less traveled. It will be fun to put together the book and stories. Sloan's boot camp misses you. Keep walking and sending more pictures. The more you take the better you get.

  2. In 1631, the first recipe for a chocolate drink was published in Spain by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, an Andalusian physician, in his book, Curioso tratado de la naturaleza y calidad del chocolate (A Curious Treatise of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate). This was the first work to deal exclusively with chocolate and cacao. Don Antonio is said to have lived for some time in the West Indies. Since he was a doctor, he pays a great deal of attention to the dietary aspects of chocolate and was concerned with the psychological as well as the physical effects of the drink. He says, "Chocolate is healthy. It makes the drinker 'Fat, and Corpulent, faire and Aimiable'. It was an aphrodisiac. In women it caused fertility but eased delivery, etc., etc." The ingredients in the recipe were:
    "Take one hundred cocoa beans, two chillies, a handful of anise seed and two of vanilla (two pulverized Alexandria roses can be substituted), two drams of cinnamon, one dozen almonds and the same amount of hazelnuts, half a pound of white sugar and enough annatto to give some color. And there you have the king of chocolates."
    1643 - It didn't take long for Spaniards to begin heating the mixture and sweetening it with sugar. Soon 'chocolate' became a fashionable drink enjoyed by the rich in Spain.

    As the Spanish royalty intermarried with other European Royalty, cocoa was given as a dowry. In 1643, when the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa (1638-1683)was betrothed to Louis XIV (1638–1715) of France, she gave her fiancé an engagement gift of chocolate, packaged in an elegantly ornate chest. A royal chocolate maker was appointed and chocolate drinking became the rage.

  3. What a treat. Another blog. And food. Beautiful delicious food. I am drooling with envy. One thing is missing though...a candle. A candle on top of a piece of cake. Did you forget? Today is your birthday. Happy birthday with all my best wishes for a day of unprecedented joy and fulfillment, etc. Norn

  4. Now,I have to go back and review your blog again for an encore experience. My stomach is growling in anticipation. Norn (Yes, living vicariously does have it's pleasures.)

  5. I love the food in Spain! I'm glad you got to sample it. Did you go see the Gaudi buildings?

  6. delicious. in barcelona you also have to try "pa amb tomàquet amb oli d'oliva" (tomato rubbed bread with olive oil)

    saludos from Barcelona