Monday, August 07, 2006

barcelona diary: golfo de bizkaia

i had so many recommendations for different bars and restaurants in barcelona and i tried many of them but the one i loved the most was one that we found completely by accident. it's a small pintxos (basque for tapas) bar located in the heart of el born in la ribera district of barcelona.

being champagne lovers, we had gone in search of el xampanyet based on brett's blog post but sadly they were closed. i think the owners had pushed off for their summer holiday to some secluded island off the coast of italy or greece and i imagine they were sprawled out on the beach enjoying their peace and quiet while more and more foreigners thronged the barcelonian bars at the height of the tourist season. (note to self: august is a bad time to visit the big cities in europe).

golfo de bizkaia is just down the road from el xampanyet, is wonderfully unpretentious and serves the most delicious tapas from basque country. you take a seat at the bar (if you can find one) and grab whichever tostada looks irrestible from the dozens of plates in front of you. every few minutes, a waitress walks around and waves another tempting plate of pintxos just from the kitchen. a melting brie tostada topped with black olive tapenade caught my fancy while h enjoyed a wide variety of salami, eel and other tostadas that i couldn't even begin to name.

i was attracted to the table on the right hand side of golfo de bizkaia where a plate of fresh green chillies caught my attention. i asked the waiter for some and he started piling on loads (like twenty to thirty!) on an empty plate. i protested wondering how on earth i was going to bear the heat of so many chillies but he insisted that i had to get a full plate or none at all so i watched in dismay. the waiter ordered me to go back to my bar stool and wait patiently.

a few minutes later, he brought out a plate of grilled green chillies dressed with sea salt. what an idiot i was - i should have known earlier. the green peppers were none other than my favourite pimientos de padron! i can't even begin to describe how delicious they were when the pimientos were fresh off the grill. we consumed the entire plate in no time at all and washed it all down with lots of delicious cava. i can still experience the sensation of biting into a spicy pod and chasing down the heat with chilled bubbly. oh what a feeling!


Blogger Amy Sherman said...

Yum! Sounds like you stumbled upon a gem. I loved the way they counted up the toothpicks in some of those places to figure out how much you'd eaten and what you owed!

1:40 am  
Blogger cal said...

Oh my, sounds wonderful. As timing would have it, I've just come back from a weekend in the Basque country myself. We were in Vitoria-Gasteiz for the fiesta, but managed an afternoon and evening in San Sebastian which is jam packed full of pintxos places - we went from one to the other sampling a wide a variety. There appears to be a healthy rivalry between them all to product both the best but also the most innovative. Twas great.

8:15 pm  
Blogger beth said...

I love your international eating!

9:54 am  
Blogger Lulu said...

hi amy,
wish we could have managed to go to barcelona together - that would have been really fun. but then l and h would have gotten really fed-up of non-stop food talk :)

hi cal,
basque country sounds like food heaven. i've been reading so much about it lately and i'm dying to go there in spain the next time we head to espana. have been all over andalusia and now barcelona so pamplona and san sebastin beckon!

hi beth,
i've been extraordinarily lucky with travel in the past few years so am making the most of it!

8:30 pm  

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