Friday, 9 September 2011

Barcelona Restaurants: Barceloneta

How much would you pay for a plate of prawns, 6 to be precise?  At a good restaurant £12-15, though baring in mind they're just grilled, no foams, or sauces maybe not.  I'm guessing you would not pay £35, but if you don't at Barceloneta you will be missing out big time (I am going to caveate this by stating quite clearly that I wasn't paying, and if I was maybe I would be less adament).  The gambas de palamos are regarded as the best prawn world wide and after trying them I can't disagree.  If I was more pretentious I would say they were the Platonic archetype of a prawn, all others being paltry shadows dancing on the cave wall... but I'm not (ahem) so I'll just say they were bloody brilliant.  Food like this is what differentiates the Spanish and Itialians in their food culture.  Simple, unpretentious food, with bags of flavour, beautifully grown, caught or bred is king and people will pay a lot (some would say an extortionate ammount) of money for a great, great prawn that hasn't had much cheffing inflicted on it.  This is a very, very good thing.

Barcelona Restaurants: Cova Fumado

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Barcelona is full of experimental food, molecular gastronomy, etc, etc blah blah, I was trained with Feran Adria, blah blah, el Buli blah blah. Sadly very, very few people can do this food well, and honestly it's quite boring if people don't.  It stops being food and starts to be an infuriating attempt by the chef to convince you he's clever, and far too many kitchens seem to think this kind of experimentation and scientific apporach is a short-cut round learning how to actually cook.  After a couple of these trendy tapas/pintxos later I felt a bit deflated, I wanted a bar with proper food.  So after desperate Time Out IPhone search we decided to go to Cova Fumado, somewhere which seemed to fit the bill of proper food.
Initial signs were good.  It was heaving and not with a lot of tourists with guidebooks (as a tourist I shouldn't sneer, but it's often a bad sign).  The guy behind the bar was loud and shouting conversations at regulars and new joiners alike, his mum was behind the griddle along the other wall and the bar was made of granite and cracked and the chairs were near falling apart through years of enthusiastic eating.  The food did not dissapoint either, anything but - squid with oil and garlic was caramalised on the edges and beautifully soft and fresh.  Chickepeas with morcilla rich and moreish and the fried sardines were perfect.  Dried broad beans flavoured with black-pudding and chilli were another highlight.  The bill with beers and wine came to comfortably under £35 for two and was worked out with a pencil dirlectly on the bartop. 

This is exactly the kind of food I like, simple one to four ingredient dishes made with top quality produce and not messed around with.  The place had a great atmosphere in a been on the dockside forever kind of way, it's rough and ready and great fun.  Highly recommended.