I love food, be it eastern, western or Mediterranean cuisine. Experimenting with food is sometimes a hobby and a passion. At times when I cook, I try to recreate a dish from previous food experiences with a twist of my own. Therefore, when we travel, food tasting is an important part of our trip. Instead of opting to choose the familiar, safe food, we always choose the local specialities of a particular place we are visiting.
Our visit to Barcelona, in the Catalan region of Spain, provided an excellent opportunity to discover Spanish food, especially, Catalonian gastronomy. Cooking methods and use of ingredients vary from region to region in every country. The story is same in Spain too. Spanish cuisine varies from region to region. The most significant difference in Barcelona, in Catalan region, is, how they cook paella. It is said to be a common practice of Catalan’s to mix meat with seafood while cooking paella dishes. The next thing I noticed is the very, many, tapas bars in Barcelona. It’s usually full of people. Spanish people have dinner late at night, often, after 9 or 10 p.m. It is a social habit of Spanish people to have a drink and a small bite before dinner, usually in one of the tapas bars. Tapas snacks may include a broad range of fried or grilled seafood, chicken wings and most noticeably Padron peppers, a type of chilli that belongs to Capsicum family.
The most unforgettable dining experience we had to date is the time we spent in Barcelona. If it is a tapas bar or an experience in a restaurant, it was, actually amazing. Especially the last dinner we had in Barcelona was outstandingly good, truly memorable and will stay in our memory forever. We came to know about a restaurant named, Passadis Del Pep in Barcelona during our trip in March 2013. When enquired about the place, we found the price per person wasn’t cheap, a 100 Euro per person. We managed to book a table for our last night and considered it as our last Spanish food treat. Besides that, when w travel, we usually share a meal between us for lunch and save money for proper dinners. So a hundred Euro per person was totally justified.
We took a taxi to Passadis Del Pep that night. The driver stopped at a particular road after driving for about twenty minutes. We paid him the fare and disembarked the vehicle. He immediately left, and we realised we were on a deserted road. At the time, there was no traffic, nor any people on that road. It was close to 9 pm. We thought we have fallen into a tourist trap, we would be attacked and robbed, if we resist, probably killed. As we imagine the worst kind of scenarios, we looked out for buildings, which look like a restaurant. There was none visible to the road. The building in front of us certainly didn’t look like a restaurant, had no windows; therefore there was no sign of tables and chairs and people inside it. It had no name, but a number above its door, number 2 written. Entrance to the building was an open door to a corridor visible to the road. There was no one in the hallway. We decided it would be better to enter the building and find someone who can assist us. We entered the building and almost immediately a man approached us. We told him we were having trouble finding the restaurant, Passadis Del Pep in the neighbourhood. He answered we were in the restaurant and walked us past the corridor, into a big hall, with arched walls, beautifully decorated the interior with paintings and artefacts of several household and kitchen items. He checked to confirm our reservation and seated us. As soon as we sat, a waiter briefed us on the restaurant’s arrangement, regarding food and drinks. According to him, we need not order our food, they will serve from the “chef’s pick of the day.” The arrangement sounded like “you eat what we serve and pay a 100 Euro person.”
Soon, a waiter began served us. First, drinks, followed by sea-snail, crayfish, clams, prawns Padron peppers, baby squid, octopus, shrimp lobsters and finally paella. After the paella, we asked the waiter to stop serving us, as we were too full to go ahead with the adventure. If we had continued, we would have discovered more magic of Spanish or rather Catalan cuisines. The seafood and other small bites we had that night was flavourful delicacies, presented beautifully and hard to forget. It was worth the experience and worthy of a 100 Euro treat. If I ever get a chance to go to Barcelona, I would visit Passadis del Pep once again. I would indulge myself with the “chefs pick of the day” until I can no longer bear to hold the food in my stomach.