A croissant filled with Serrano ham and melted manchego cheese was a nice hug to my insides, whilst my body ached from all our days of nonstop action. In Barcelona, a popular grilled sandwich of ham and cheese is referred to as a bikini sandwich. Now what I’d like to know, is who on earth has buttery, melty sandwiches come to mind when preparing to squeeze into a bikini? Oh excuse me, more pastry has arrived.
Long, flaky strips stuffed with chocolate and cream were the final kick needed to sugar rush us into gear. We packed a bag and headed for the beach. You know how in life there are usually a series of unfortunate events? Well, let’s put this down to a series of fortunate ones. We walked along the beach towards our destination, The W Hotel Barcelona. A gleaming, glass wave at the end of the beach, sticking out of the marina. Our room wasn’t quite ready, so we made our way to Bravo 24 for our lunch reservation. Here, Chef Carles Abellan, who studied under the great Ferran Adrià of El Bulli for 12 years, brings typical dishes of Barcelona to life.
We excitedly chattered over the menu as individual bags of chips (crisps) were placed before us. These had an earthy herb flavouring and we happily crunched away as more nibbles arrived. Freshly baked bread, sea salt, two types of olive oil and the most incredible olives were next to sample as we placed our orders.
We all know how I feel about nibbles.
The restaurant is large and beautifully decorated inside. But, we much preferred dining on the terrace with ocean views and a nice breeze. A plate of saffron coloured calamari arrived. Knowing we hadn’t ordered this, I quickly snapped a picture before the embarrassed waiter shyly shuffled back over, muttering apologies and whisking away the pretty dish. What we had ordered soon arrived. Delicate fritters of salt cod with a subtle hint of lemon and honey. These were absolutely delicious. Perfect salty, sweet bites of comfort food. Followed by chicken croquettes, with an incredibly rich flavouring. Razor clams arrived on a stone grill with charcoal burning underneath. These were tender and smokey in a deliciously light sauce, which we sucked from the shells. The ‘ugly’ tomato salad arrived on a beautifully warped plate. Ripe chunks of fresh tomato and cooked, tender tuna belly lay on a bed of onion, olives and caper berries. Servers appeared table side with enviable copper pots to serve our final dish. Suckling lamb shoulder roasted with 12 bulbs of garlic rested on a bed of tender apples and sweet onions. This was absolutely stunning and so rich with flavour. My date went for the English approach in ordering a cheese dessert. Mató is a type of Catalan cheese with no added salt. It’s often served with honey as dessert and here was paired honey foam and lychee sorbet. I stuck true to form and went for little molten nuggets of delicious chocolate fritters. You stick the whole thing in your mouth and then crush them until they pop, oozing warm chocolate sauce. The waiter warned me when I placed my order that I would need to share. This was met with a grin and an eye roll. However, as delicious as they were, I soon surrendered and shoved the bowl across the table as I was ready to burst like the devilish chocolate fritters themselves. A terracotta cup of green tea helped my overstuffed state and I heroically managed to gobble up the crunchy chocolate treats brought to soften the blow of the bill. Utterly food drunk and overexcited to see our room, we raced to the elevator. Here, I was momentarily distracted by a giant, shiny wall of sequins, before being ushered into the elevator.
We exited the elevator to this. With all the composure and elegance of a true lady, I ran down the hall giggling and threw open the door. Remember what I was saying about stuffing yourself with food and then slipping into a bikini? Forget about it.
After thoroughly exhausting our room exploration by jumping on the bed, opening all the cupboards, pressing every button, snooping through the drawers and dancing around the room, we decided a lounge by the pool was long overdue. The pool area overlooks the beach, giving you all the joys of a beach day, minus the hassle of sand. We sprawled out on beds and soaked up the sun, wiggling toes to lounge music playing from speakers.
The sun slowly began to sink behind the mountains and the shade crept its way across the beds. Rested and ready for adventure, we went back to the room to shower and get ready to explore the city by night. We walked for miles, up through different neighbourhoods, noticing the different areas and way the buildings, people and shops changed.
Ravished from all our walking, we couldn’t have been more delighted to find Els Sortidors del Parlament. They don’t have a website, but here is where you can find them. The interior was very cool and warehouse-like with products, wines and oils on display for sale. Tables in the front of the restaurant were barrels and stools, perfect for sipping cervezas and catching up with friends. We sat ourselves at a barrel and looked over the menu.
More than ready for some tapas, we started with another salad of tuna belly, but this time with fresh tomatoes, olives, peppers, pickles and a delicious sauce. A dish of raw cod with more vegetables was very fresh, but a bit chewy. However, we absolutely loved what arrived next. A slate of crunchy toasts to slather with foie gras, top with fig compote and sprinkle with sea salt.
To cut the richness, we enjoyed tangy bites of boquerones en vinagre. Fresh anchovies served in vinegar with garlic and parsley is a typical tapas of southern Spain.
Last, but certainly not least, we tried tender ribs coated in a spicy, olive tapenade. The sauce was so flavourful and delicious, I could’ve happily slathered this on the toasts and consumed it on its own. Having filled ourselves with more delicious food, we headed out into the thick night air. We walked until we came to Font Màgica of Montjuïc, just in time for the show. The Magic Fountain is one of Barcelona’s biggest tourist attractions, giving performances of light, water and music every night from Thursday to Sunday. We watched the water dance to the music, with everything from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Oasis to Shakira, ending with an emotional version of Ave Maria. The perfect performance to end another stunning Spanish day.