On Sunday we went to La Platilleria for lunch. It is a small corner bar, towards the top of Poble-sec, an area which is fast becoming a new foodie destination in Barcelona. Oli had been here before and was raving about the platilleria – little plates of food.
La Platillera is run by an Argentinian couple – the very charming Mariela Di Stefano, front of house and chef Fernando Silva, who’s previously worked for top Catalan (Michelin stared) chef, Jordi Cruz, so I was expecting some very good little dishes!
I would describe La Platilleria as a tapas bar – somewhere that serves small portions or rations of food. Tapas come from the South of Spain – originally they were little snacks given away free when one bought a drink. The story goes, that they started off as pieces of dry bread (covers) to keep the flies out of your glass of wine or sherry. As time passed, bar owners elaborated on the tapa, probably leaning towards salty ingredients that encouraged customers to order more drinks. In Andalucia this tradition of tapas continues and one can almost eat for free, but at the cost of a resaca (hangover). Internationally tapas bars have become very popular as somewhere one pays to eat a series of tapas as lunch or dinner, so in spite of the fact that Cataluña does not have a tradition of serving tapas, the tapas bar has become part of Barcelona food culture over the past 30 years.
The menu here is simple and I applaud it – doing a few things well, is far better than trying to do a lot of things to a mediocre level. The menu is written on two little blackboards (above) and all the wine and beer is displayed on the bar with a little price label around the top of the bottle. Mariela takes the orders and serves the drinks, while Fernando is hard at work (solo) in the small kitchen behind the bar – we could see him painstakingly preparing all the dishes.
On arriving, Mariela presented us with mixed savoury nuts
and I chose some oliva picantona (olives marinaded in hot pimentón) while we perused the menu. I realised afterwards that they have their own vermut, which I should have been drinking as an aperitif – doh!
Instead we drank rather a lot of local Cepell rosat (an organic rosé).
I suspect we ate half the menu, starting with thinly sliced mojama on coca bread. Mojama is air dried tuna – almost like a Serrano ham.
The burratina or burrata is the Italian word for buttered – it is a delicious pocket of mozzarella filled with soft curd and cream. Here it’s served with a green salsa and rocket salad.
Pa amb tomàquet (or pan con tomate) is a Catalan invention – fresh or toasted bread, rubbed with garlic and then the inside of a tomato is squeezed on top. This is drizzled with olive oil along with a pinch of salt.
This fantastic codorniz escabechada (quail in escabeche) comes in a jar with a pomegranate salad.
Cooking quail or partridge in a vinegary sauce (escabeche) is an old fashioned method of preservation – brought to Spain by the Moors. Fish or meat cooked in this way can be sealed in a jar and kept for weeks in a cool place – the dish improves with age too!
Cecina de León is delicious air dried beef, cured in a similar manner to jamón serrano.
Patatas bravas are a staple served in most Spanish bars. Here the chunks of fried potato come with a salsa brava (hot tomato sauce), mayonnaise, thin slices of green pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. I’ve noticed (since I lived in Barcelona during the 90s) that mayonnaise is now added to the dish. I don’t know if this is an idea that comes from Dutch potato fries with mayo or if it has originated in Spain…
Pop (in Catalan) is Fernando’s take on Galician pulpo à la feria – boiled octopus, served with potatoes and sprinkled with pimentón.
Polenta y rabo is slow cooked oxtail served on a bed of polenta. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the oxtail tasted quite similar to my own recipe.
Mandonguillas (Catalan) or albóndigas (meatballs) – yet another classic Spanish dish done to perfection here and served with broccoli.
Crème brûlée is the one pudding I can’t resist – especially not here, where it is served with raspberries on top.
When we’d finished and paid, Mariela took a bottle of Naranja out of the fridge and poured us both a glass. This is an astonishing dessert wine, made with Pedro Ximénez and Zalema grapes, plus sun dried orange peel. It is somewhat like a bitter sweet orange sherry.
Expect to pay about €30 per person for food. Most of the wine seems to be about €18 per bottle and beer is around €2.50. I recommend sitting at the bar, where the very attentive Mariela will charm you while you wait for your next plate. It was fascinating to watch chef Fernando Silva hard at work producing all these little food marvels.
Fascinating! As per usual;! Have quite a list to conquer once I DO get there! Being rather ‘greedy’ for experiences and tastes as I am, the tapas idea [which one can translate all the way to the Scandinavian smorgasbord!!] has always appealed!! Would love to taste the various escabeche and ‘pop’ plates, please!!
Thanks Eha – this one is a must visit! Having a brilliant chef make the individual plates himself is something special 🙂
Every single dish looks better than the next!
What a feast.
Hi Nadia – yes most definitely a feast 🙂
Now that is a perfect restaurant for me….Lots of small portions of everything! I really like to try home made vermouth when bars have it and I liked the sound of the orange infused Pedro Ximenez. We have a few bottles here at home of PX, maybe I should try to make some!
Hi Tanya – I’m still kicking myself for not trying the vermouth – I think I was distracted by trying to get a decent exterior photograph. The only downside to making Naranja is the 8 year maceration process, but it might be interesting to see what sort of result 1 year would produce 🙂
8 years eh? Don’t think I’d have the patience but 1 year could be worth an experiment!
It’s a long time to wait for a drink!
Oh my. What a meal. I learn something every time. Mojama looks like something I would love as does the codorniz and the cecina de leon and rabo. So good. No carajillo?
Ha ha – of course I had a carjillo, but it was back in the Raval. I’m sure you would have absolutely loved the food here.
Should I ever get to Spain, I definitely need to revisit your blog first to see where to eat!
Thanks Marlene – I really appreciate that compliment 🙂
Bonne journée !
Merci Joséphine 🙂
That has to be one of the best set of small dishes that I’ve ever seen….so envious…although I do contest the Catalan claim to bread, oil, and tomato….:)
I’m only referencing what I’ve read 😉
The Spanish discovered tomatoes along with South America and I’m sure the recipe makes use of a tomato glut and stale bread. Both are common in the warm Spanish climate.
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