Bones Festes 2018

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I found this fantastic mother pig pie and babies, in La Colmena – Dolceria de la Colmena is one of Barcelona’s oldest pastelerías (patisseries) and it’s always good to have a look in the window when you pass by. I assume the pig is a savoury pork pie, since suckling pig is commonly served here at Christmas. I noticed vacuum sealed pigs in the supermarket this week – they even sell them frozen, as per turkey in Britain and America.

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El Hogar Gallego

carrer de les ànimes

On Thursday we went to El Hogar Gallego for lunch. Calella is only about 5 streets deep, as you walk up from the beach towards the mountains – El Hogar is on Carrer de les Ánimes to the left.

el hogar gallego

El Hogar is a smart Galician restaurant, a tell tale sign being the high prices on la carta (menu)

el hogar carpark

and the palatial car park opposite!

el hogar bar

A beautiful wooden bar runs down the right hand side of the restaurant, with silver service dining at the rear.

langostas

For those of us lunching from the low price menú del día there’s a seating area to the left of the bar, alongside the crustaceans, who were very good company.

menú del día

You will see from the remarkably cheap menú del día above, that one gets 4 courses here (at lunchtime) for €10.90.

vi moraleda

Wine is extra, but this bottle of house Moraleda rosat was very good for €9.90.

consomé

We both ordered the delicious savoury consomé (spelled with one m in Catalan).

ous fregits amb patates

Oli ordered ous fregits amb patates (egg and chips) as his second course. I’m reminded of a time, when my Valencian flatmate (1991), cooked up a plate of egg and chips for lunch. He told me that it was a typically Spanish dish and asked what we had like it in England?

macarrons amb pollastre

I had macarrons amb pollastre (macaroni with a chicken sauce).

pa

Galician food is quite hearty – even the bread comes thick and rustic.

arròs negro

We both ordered the excellent arròs negro as our main course. This unctuous dish is like a seafood paella, made with Valencian rice and blackened by squid or cuttlefish ink. This one definitely contained squid and octopus. We ordered a little allioli on the side. Just before this arrived, I noticed that our impeccable waiter served the food from it’s dish with spoons, in the traditional silver service manner, albeit at a side table and not quite in front of us.

flam de café

For pudding, Oli ordered flam de café (coffee flan),

tarta de pistacho y fresa

while I had tarta de pistacho y fresa (a strawberry and pistachio cake with cream) – tarta can mean tart or cake in Spanish. This one blew me away with it’s incredible fresh strawberry flavour. The top (other side) was studded with crushed pistachios.

jamón

The restaurant has several sections. Towards the end of the long wooden bar, there’s an area dedicated to jamón – you will notice at least 14 hanging in the background.

fish fridge and bar

Beyond the jamón, is the fish fridge (left)

cranc

and finally next to the fine dining area, there are beautiful plates of crab and other fish.

el hogar nadal

I failed to notice the car park Christmas decorations during the daytime, but Oli alerted me to them the next day (after visiting the post office round the corner), so I grabbed my camera and returned to take a picture!

For a delicious lunch, in a beautiful establishment with first class waiters, El Hogar Gallego is a must visit restaurant in Calella. Our bill came to a modest €37.29 for 2 people. The New Year’s Eve menu is quite tempting – at €175 it sounds expensive, until you take into account that it includes a free bar and is open until 5am!

El Hogar Gallego is at: Carrer de les Ànimes, 73, 08370 Calella, Barcelona.

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Banys La Gavina

banys la gavina

Last weekend some friends came to stay and on Saturday night (after another lunch at Domèstic) we went to watch the Catalan Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band, Willy and the Poorboys. Someone spiked our drinks with alcohol, so on Sunday we stumbled down to the beach for restoration.

calalla beach

We went to Banys La Gavina, a bar and restaurant on the beach, with a walled outdoor garden and sea view. We’d been here for drinks back in July and it’s a pleasant spot to watch the boats go by…

vermutu.

I had a few vermut de la casa, Oli was on white wine and Jonas was drinking beer. After a couple of drinks we got to feeling hungry and asked to look at the menu.

banys menú

Being Sunday, there’s no menú del día, so we were on a regular beach menu. There were a few standards that took our fancy…

croquetas

We ordered 6 croquetas (which were excellent) and 3 had gone, in a flash, before  my camera could get to them.

paella

The paella was very good,

fideuá

but fideuá was the star. For those unfamiliar, fieuá is a paella like dish, where the rice is replace by short pasta (vermicelli), which when cooked correctly stands up straight in the paella (the metal dish that paella takes it’s name from).

honeymoon

By this time we were drinking Honeymoon wine with Oli and all our hangovers were cured!

leftovers

As you can see, we weren’t taking any prisoners.

carajillo

As per usual, I had a carajillo de cognac to finish my lunch.

la playa

As the afternoon wore on, we went inside for one last drink…

interior

There was a lovely local family function taking place, which added a little sparkle to our day.

vi blanc

When Jonas and friends left, Oli and I went outside for the real final drink

capvespre

and to watch the sun setting over Barcelona, 30 miles down the coast.

Banys La Gavina is at: Passeig Manel Puigvert | Lado Campo de Futbol, 08370 Calella, Barcelona.

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La Musa Bistrot

la musa

On Wednesday we had lunch at La Musa, a bistro on a tiny street at the back of Calella Església (the Church of Santa Maria and Sant Nicolau).

vi blanc

We drank a few glasses of vi blanc ecològic (an organic white wine which comes unlabeled), while we debated what to eat from the €13.50 menú del día – 3 courses including wine or beer.

la musa menú

Nookie decided to have two starters, so Oli opted to have two main courses – all perfectly acceptable, when you have a choice of starter, main and pudding and you swap amongst yourselves.

amanida de magrana i mató

Nookie’s first choice was amanida de magrana i mató ( a salad with pomegranate and mató whey cheese).

risotto de bolets

Oli ordered risotto de bolets (mushroom risotto) as his main course starter

hummus de cigrons

and I had hummus. When I asked for additional bread, the owner rushed inside and returned with fresh bread straight from the oven!

trinxat i espàrrecs

At this point Nookie’s two starters plan went wrong and she changed her mind. In spite of being mucked around, our hostess kindly offered to make Nookie a trinxat i espàrrecs (trinxat with asparagus), containing no bacon or pork fat.

trinxat de la cerdanya

Oli and I both ordered the regular trinxat de la cerdanya (cooked in pig fat to keep the Inquisition at bay), which came with a thick and crunchy piece of bacon on top and delicious crispy slices of garlic. I could have eaten this twice, it was so good!

figues amb mató i mel

For pudding we all ate the same – figues amb mató i mel (tiny sliced figs with mel i mató).

carajillo

…and no lunch is complete without a carajillo de congnac!

La Musa Bistrot is at: Carrer del Raval, 10, 08370 Calella, Barcelona.

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Domèstic Restaurant Marisqueria

restaurant doméstic

As you might have gathered, I’m staying 30 miles up the coast from Barcelona, in a small town called Calella. The coastline running north to the Costa Brava and France is almost non stop towns and villages, which are top summer holiday destinations. On Saturday we went for lunch at Domèstic, in the next town along, Pineda de Mar – a ten minute walk from the center of Calella.

domèstic interior

Domèstic is a popular Saturday lunch time destination for local Catalans. We booked in advance, to make ensure we got a table and sat on the outside (completely enclosed for winter) terrace, which has a sea view.

domèstic menú

The Saturday menú includes 3 courses, bread and half a bottle of wine per person for €23.50.

fuet i aceitunas

While we perused the menu, our waitress brought us a little plate of olives and fuet (a popular Catalan cured sausage).

sopa de peix i marisc

Both Nookie and I ordered the Sopa de Peix i Marisc (seafood soup).

peix i marisc

I knew this was going to be delicious and was not disappointed. Below the surface, I found mussels, calamari and pieces of hake. The calamari was particularly tender.

trinxat de la cerdanya amb ou fregit

Oli ordered Trinxat de la Cerdanya amb Ou Fregit (trinxat is fried potato and cabbage, cooked with smoked pork fat and bacon). This originally comes from Cerdanya, but has become popular throughout Cataluña. It’s somewhat like bubble and squeak, served with a fried egg on top here.

amanida de formatge de cabra

As a main course, Nookie had Amanida de Formatge de Cabra amb Vinagreta de Friuts Vermells (goats cheese salad with red fruit vinaigrette).  I tried this and aside from the beautiful presentation, the goats cheese was sublime.

botifarra escarrracada

Oli ordered Botifarra Escarracada amb Rovellons i Reducció de Ratafia (crumbled botifarra sausages, with saffron milk cap mushrooms and a reduction on ratafia).

secret ibèric de gla

I had Secret Ibèric de Gla a la Brasa amb Patata Pobre (secreto is a hidden cut of pork between the shoulder and the belly – this one was Iberico pork de bellota [acorn fed] with poor people’s potatoes [boiled]). The pork was crispy on the outside and beautifully tender inside.

mel i mató

For pudding we all had the Catalan classic – Mel i Mató (fresh whey cheese with honey).

ermita de sant gil

I drank Ermita de Sant Gil, a popular house rosat here (also severed in Tic-Tac). When we asked for an additional bottle of wine, the charge was €6, which is outstanding value!

carajillo

After pudding I drank the usual carajillo de cognac (for courage).

doméstic peix

As we left, I made sure I took a picture of the fish display, including hake, monkfish, rascasse, salmon and turbot

We had an outstanding lunch here – I thoroughly recommend Domèstic!

Domèstic Restaurant Marisqueria is at: Passeig Europa, 208397 Pineda de Mar.

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Tic-Tac

tic-tac

One minute I was turning on the central heating and checking my jumpers for moths and the next I was on a plane for Cataluña. I’m staying in Calella, 30 miles north of Barcelona and the temperature is ranging between 18 and 21º C (it’s been raining for the last two days, almost solidly, but the food is good, so I’m very happy). I’m staying with my friend Oli in a palatial apartment on the main shopping street and it’s a buzzing Catalan town, con mucha marcha. If you remember back to July, I had lunch here in a restaurant called Can Miguel – afterwards, as we turned a corner, we looked into the window of Tic-Tac and two French diners (outside) told us that they’d just had an excellent lunch, so I was very keen to come back and try the food (Oli, of course, has tested the water for me, during the intervening 3 months).

tic-tac menú

We had a look at the menú del día (above) beforehand and it all looked very promising. Today being Thursday, arròs and fideuá were on the menu, which had me sold from the start.

vi rosat

We drank a local vi rosat – Ermita de Sant Gil, which is quite a popular house wine in Calella. This is a decent vino de la casa – sometimes a house wine can be a bit rough.

amanida de la casa

Oli ordered Amanida de la Casa (house salad) as a starter …Oli ordering salad, what’s the world coming to?

carxofes fetes al forn

I had Carxofes Fetes al Forn al estil Tic-Tac (artichokes cooked in the oven, Tic-Tac style) – which looked stunning and tasted delicious in a Miso jus. It was so good that when I’d finished the artichokes, I tipped the bowl up to drink the broth!

arròs a la cassola de peix

We both ordered the same main course, which came in a large cassola (pan) – Arròs a la Cassola de Peix (casserole of fish rice), this is somewhat like a paella, but the rice is in a soupy or stick sauce and it’s cooked in the oven. You will find similar called arroz meloso  which I believe is named after the consistency of honey (miel). This was excellent!

crema catalana

For pudding I had crema catalana (I had to have this on my first day, as it’s one of my favourites). The Tic-Tac version is first class and tastes a little fruity (of oranges and cinnamon).

carajillo

No good meal in Cataluña is complete without a carajillo de cognac, to pick you up for the rest of the afternoon (or to help with a little siesta)…

The Tic-Tac menú lived up to it’s French recommendation  and was worth the 3 month wait!

Tic-Tac is at: Carrer de Jovara, 3, 08370 Calella, Barcelona.

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Sopa Seca (Dry Soup)

sourdough bread

This is a Portuguese bread and garlic soup, Sopa Seca de Alho, which reminds me somewhat of the Spanish Sopa de Ajo (while being quite different at the same time). Bread soups were, apparently, brought to Iberia by the Moors – think gazpacho, ajoblanco, migas, etc. With very few ingredients other than water, stale bread can be turned into something warm and appetising that fills you up, especially when working in the fields on a cold day.

The Portuguese have a large repertoire of bread soups, known as Açordas (typically from the Alentejo region). The most basic Açordas contain water and garlic, while the more exotic include prawns, coriander, bacalhau (bacalao), eggs, etc.

Sopa Seca de Alho (serves 2):

half a stale baguette, sliced as above (ideally sourdough)
6 pieces garlic (finely chopped)
1 pint stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 heaped teaspoon pimentón de la vera dulce
1 beaten egg
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

garlic

In an oven proof pan, fry the garlic in olive oil until it starts to brown a little.

stock

Pour on one pint of hot vegetable or chicken stock (many recipes call for water, but I prefer a bit more flavour).

microcosm

Stir in a teaspoon of sweet (dulce) pimentón de la vera and let the liquid simmer for a minute or so.

bread in stock

Push the bread down into the stock, so that it absorbs the liquid.

beaten egg

Pour a beaten egg over the top of the bread.

baked

Put the frying pan into a preheated oven at 200º C for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the top has browned. While this is called a dry soup, do not let the pan go completely dry – there should still be a little liquid in the bottom when done.

scrambled egg

Serve with sardines, prawns, bacalao, scrambled eggs, etc.

I find this dish quite intriguing. The egg baked into bread has a slight custard flavour, the crust has a texture similar to crispy pork fat and the soft sticky lower side to the bread is quite unctuous. This really does turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. I ate sopa seca for lunch, but will be serving individual portions with a fish or fried quail’s egg on top, as a dinner party starter soon.

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