La Pepita

A place that came highly recommended to me was called La Pepita. Frequented by locals, my expectations were high and taste buds ready. Upon arriving, I was surprised to see that the place was homey, and felt almost like a mom and popshop, rather than an upscale dining establishment. This made me feel comfortable straight away. Simple wooden tables, flanked by comfortable chairs occupy the floor, while quirky paintings don the walls of brick and stone.

Quaint interiors at La Pepita

Quaint interiors at La Pepita

The relaxed space makes you feel welcome, at home even, in the midst of a foreign city

The relaxed space makes you feel welcome, at home even, in the midst of a foreign city

What really piqued my interest though was the simple menu, paper attached to a clipboard – pages and pages of tapas. Usually big menus overwhelm me, but I wanted everything and I think the most difficult decision of the day was what items to choose. To say we over-ordered for 2 people would be an understatement.

Straightforward menu with a vast selection of tapas - accompanied by a strong glass of Sangria

Straightforward menu with a vast selection of tapas – accompanied by a strong glass of Sangria

As much as I would like to explain each dish one by one, I fear I will only sound redundant because there aren’t enough adjectives like delicious, scrumptious, delectable, mouthwatering, drool worthy… Everything was phenomenal. When in Barcelona, this is truly a must! The only downside to this experience is that it ruined tapas for me forever. Damn you La Pepita!

Melon and Almond Gazpacho with Iberian Ham

Melon and Almond Gazpacho with Iberian Ham

Pan Con Tomate

Pan Con Tomate

La Pepita’s Bravas

La Pepita’s Bravas

Iberian Croquette V.I.C. (The Very Important Croquette)

Iberian Croquette V.I.C. (The Very Important Croquette)

The Golden Pepita with Beef, Foie, and Fried Eggs served on a bed of mashed potatoes

The Golden Pepita with Beef, Foie, and Fried Eggs served on a bed of mashed potatoes

La Pepita Bikini with Smoked Ham, Brie Cheese, Spinach and Truffle Sauce

La Pepita Bikini with Smoked Ham, Brie Cheese, Spinach and Truffle Sauce

Chocolate Pepita with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Bread and Black Olive Jam

Chocolate Pepita with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Bread and Black Olive Jam

A spectacular meal, with my favorite person. I could not ask for more…

My hubby enjoying the morning paper

My hubby enjoying the morning paper

Location: Carrer de Còrsega, 343, 08037 Barcelona, Spain

Mercado de La Boqueria

A trip through the colors and chaos of one of the biggest markets in Barcelona will always be one of my favorite days! From the fresh produce, the beautiful seafood, the cured meats, to the specialty items and ready to eat delights, candies, pressed fruit juice, gelato and so much more, you will not leave there empty handed or on an empty stomach.

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Find the Boqueria at La Rambla, 91. Opens at 8am daily.

 

 

Hola Barcelona!

It would be hard to encompass my experiences in Barcelona. In simple but true terms – I fell madly in love. From the scenery, to the art and architecture, to the people, culture, and of course, the food – It is a definite gem in the heart of Spain.

I think as a traveler, I always look to immerse myself in a city’s energy. Barcelona is the place for that – to me it felt like everyone around me had an infectious spirit – from the passersby on the street, to my great aunt Lulu and her daughter Sylvia, to the man selling churros on the corner, to the chic women sipping their Sangria by the ocean. I wanted to meet them all, I wanted to inhale this energy and drink in this spirit.

And though those notions are relative, what no one can deny was that I did, enjoy every last morsel of food. I am not a shopper but I will treat myself to a proper meal, 3, maybe even 4 times a day when I am on vacation.

 

LUNCH

My first post shows that no matter where you go, the food in Barcelona is exceptional. I start with a local franchise found all over Spain called Café &Te. Truth be told, I didn’t expect much from this place, found in many malls and busy streets alike. But we decided to sit because we had been tired from exploring our neighborhood. To my surprise, everything was nice – well presented, and still more delicious than most tapas places I had been to outside of Spain.

I started with pan con tomate (which you will soon find, became comfort for me) and croquetas. I loved the warm and crunchy bread with the cold, sweet tomatoes on top, seasoned simply with olive oil and salt. The croquetas were crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, and quite tasty. But the star of the afternoon was the surtido de Ibericos or the Iberian assortment platter with generous servings of various Spanish style cured meats for a little under 10 Euros – A steal! This went perfectly atop the pan con tomate. I finished off the meal with some rich churros con chocolate dusted with finely granulated sugar (I went simple with plain chocolate, but it comes in  many flavors such as mint, caramel, praline and mocha). I washed it all down with what they call a Dulce Delicadeza – an ice cold Coke, enhanced with fresh orange peel and vanilla flavoring.

Pan con Tomate

Croquetas

Iberian Assortment

Surtido de Ibericos

Churros con Chocolate and my husband’s Expresso

 

DINNER

Dinner followed in a small tapas bar that my Tita Sylvia and Tio Pascal took us to called El Canalla. The place was quaint, situated in a very pristine area of the city called Sarrià. Known for serving small plates and a fantastic selection of wine, it is a common hotspot amongst locals.

The Cava was flowing and the tapas kept coming. Ranging from 2-11 Euros per plate, it was quite reasonably priced for the quality of the food. Don’t let the term “small plate” fool you because these portions were good for sharing.

The food was phenomenal. A personal favorite was the calamares a la plancha – the squid was so fresh and lightly seasoned for that perfect bite. I usually like to add a spritz of lemon, but these were awesome alone. The pan con tomate came with jamon Iberico, which of course was 2-in-1 goodness, while the la russa, which is a Spanish potato salad, was so comforting and reminded me of home.

Here are all the small plates we feasted on…

Cava – one of my favorites!

Nuestras Bravas

Calamares a la Plancha con Donostiarra en su Tinta

Boquerones en Vinagre

La Rossa!

Tortilla de Patatas “ala minute”

Jamón Ibérico y Pan de Coca con Tomate

Jamón Ibérico y Pan de Coca con Tomate

Ganache de Chocolate con Caviar de Aceite

Bizcocho “Moscovado” con Crema

A special shout out to Tita Sylvia and Tio Pascual, who introduced us to the gorgeous neighborhood of Sarrià and took us to El Canalla.

 

Find a Café & Te branch through their website cafeandte.com/

E Canalla – Carrer Major de Sarrià, 95, 08017 Barcelona, Spain

 

 

When in Munich, Wiener Schnitzel

Our last night in Munich was spent leisurely walking through the city, taking in the cool air, the magnificence of the structures and simplicity of the stone pathways. Everyday at 11am and 12pm, then every evening at 5pm crowds rally to the Neues Rathaus to witness the Glockenspiel chime, recounting stories of the past through moving life-sized figures and the sounds of bells ringing. The Rathaus itself is an impressive structure that dates back to 1867. But what my husband and I found fascinating was that the mechanism behind these moving figures dates back over a hundred years yet still works like clockwork.

Our walk through the pretty city

Neues Rathaus

Of course, our trip would not be complete without sampling an authentic wiener schnitzel. Schnitzel is a staple in our home. It is an easy dish that is quick to make, and pairs perfectly with any vegetable. As one would expect, in Germany, the Schnitzel is elevated. Tender veal is pounded thin then breaded and deep-fried. It is usually served with a lemon wedge for that added acidity. We decided to go to Marktwirt, an adorable restaurant in the town square with private al fresco seating. This place is known for it’s Bavarian fare. Here, the schnitzel was served with a three-way salad and a side of beautiful fresh cranberries. We also sampled the Nurnberger Rostbratswurste(sausage), which was served with caramelized sauerkraut and horseradish. For dessert, we opted for an homage to the chef’s grandmother – Oma´s Apfelstrudel, served with vanilla bean ice cream.

Interiors at Marktwirt Restaurant

Cozy al fresco seating

Veal Schnitzel with Wild Cranberries

Nuernberger Sausage with Caramelized Sauerkraut and Horseradish

Apple Strudel

Marktwirt – Heiliggeiststrasse 2, 80331 Munchen