Barcelona Binge

By Ratha Tep Posted March 14, 2007


Mission: Barcelona in 14 hours. My plan was twofold—see Gaudi's architectural masterpieces during the day and eat at night. I wandered around the Passeig de Gracia with its wide streets, curvy trees and ornate building façades, roaming from one whimsical Gaudi building to the next. But as I wasn't meeting my good friend Peter until past midnight, I couldn’t help but feel slightly lonely and displaced—despite being completely charmed by the city. So I made my way to Cal Pep. I got lost about eight times trying to navigate the windy, narrow streets, but I realized I’d found the tiny tapas spot when I saw the line out the door. It wasn't yet opening time—which was at 8pm—so I chatted with the Irish couple standing ahead of me. When the door finally swung open, the stools along the counter filled up within seconds. I was out of luck and had to wait until the second seating. So I hung out behind the counter—along with the other diners in the same predicament—feeling slightly restless, until I started talking and sharing glasses of crisp white wine with a restaurateur from Amsterdam. I didn’t get to sit down until about an hour later—to delicately deep-fried artichokes that practically melted on my tongue, tiny cockles and chorizo in a garlicky sauce which I soaked up with crispy pan con tomate, and some more deep-fried goodness: fritto misto. Realizing I had gone a little overboard on deep-fried things, the Amsterdam restaurateur passed along some of his explosively garlicky potato-chorizo omelettes and tender braised pulpo. I left stuffed—feeling full in every possible way.

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