1. Pa amb tomàquet (Pan Con Tomate)
One of the true staples of Barcelona is Pan con tomato, which literally translates as "bread with tomato". It is basically bread, optionally toasted and rubbed with tomato and sometimes garlic, topped with olive oil and salt. In restaurants, the sauce is usually made in advance, but if not, to truly combine the ingredients it is recommended to rub the garlic first and the tomato second. Olive oil is usually added last.
As such, it is more of a side dish or a small snack – known as tapas- and can be found all around the city. In restaurants, the dish is offered almost always by the waiters, so you will sure not miss it!
A Catalan specialty - calçots - are a type of long green onions that are milder and larger than regular onions. They are usually barbecued and served with Romesco sauce or salvitxada. There is even a gastronomical event, called 'Calçotadas', which takes place in early spring, when the calçots are in season. A huge lot of them are eaten during this period.
To make them tender, the calçots are usually wrapped up in a newspaper. As a custom, calçots are served with local sprinkling wine, called "cava".
The name of the dish comes from the Catalan verb "escalivar", which means "to cook in ashes". Thus, it refers to the traditional way of preparing this meal in the embers of a wood fire.
The meal as such consists of vegetables, such as eggplants, onions, red peppers and tomatoes. After being grilled, the vegetables are skinned, sliced and seasoned with olive oil. Escalivada can be served as tapas, as a main course with grilled meat, or on toasted bread. Considered one of the traditional Catalan meals, it is perfect for vegetarians!
The birthplace of fideuà is said to be the region of Gandia in Valencia, where a cook, who worked on a boat, replaced rice with noodles in a dish called "arròs a banda". Problem was that the captain of that boat was a big fan of arròs a banda and therefore never left enough of it for the rest of the crew. In order to make it less attractive for the captain, the cook decided to replace rice with noodles and, thus, a new dish, called "fideuà", was born. It soon gained popularity across the region and beyond.
The Catalans now consider fideuà part of their national cuisine. Aside from noodles, it contains fish, shellfish and other ingredients, all cooked in an iron pan. There is a clear similarity to seafood paella, except for noodles instead of rice.
Any cold day in Barcelona will get warmer with this colorful, tasty dish on your table.
Aceitunas are marinated black or green olives. Both Catalans and Spaniards are known for their love of olives and olive oil. In Catalonia, you can find olives sold on numerous markets or served as tapas in restaurants. If there is only one sort of tapas available, it is most certainly olives. The most popular Spanish olives to be tried are gordal, manzanilla or arbequinas.
6. Seafood and Suquet
If you are a seafood lover, then you are lucky, because each morning coastal Barcelona gets a supply of freshly caught monkfish, sea bass, cod and prawns. No wonder that many local restaurants specialize in seafood and many dishes on their menu feature seafood much as possible.
An important role in cooking seafood plays olive oil, which is, generally speaking, a staple of Catalan cuisine. No meal in Barcelona is complete without trying some local seafood. One such must is called Suquet, a fish stew. The ingredients include tomatoes, garlic, onions or potatoes with chunks of fish or shellfish. Yummy!
7. Allioli and Romesco Sauces
Just like any good cuisine, the Catalan has its signature sauces that go along with many of the local dishes.
Allioli, or aioli, sauce is usually made of garlic, olive oil and egg, and is served with seafood, olives or boiled vegetables.
Another major sauce is called Romesco, and consists of almonds, tomatoes, olive oil, red pepper and garlic. It is usually served as a dipping sauce for calçots and other foods, like fish, also get accompanied with it rather often.
8. Jamón Ibérico
Jamón Ibérico or Iberian ham is a type of cured ham, which is produced in Spain and Portugal. There are distinct types of it, the finest of which is called "jamón ibérico de bellota", cured for 36 months. Plates of sliced jamón can be found at market vendors or, most commonly, in numerous restaurants serving ham. It is safe to assume that jamón is everybody's love in Barcelona!
Botifarra is one of the key dishes in Catalan cuisine, reportedly based on ancient recipe. Basically, it's a pork sausage spiced with black pepper and salt. There are many different varieties of botifarra available, such as raw botifarra, rice botifarra and black botifarra. This sausage is also used as an ingredient to other dishes, like botifarra sandwiches, for instance. It is therefore considered more of a street food type, and is widely available with street market vendors.
Cava is a Spanish answer to the French champagne, a sparkling wine widely popular at home and abroad. The name comes from the Catalan "cave", which means "cellar", and refers to the original way of making sprinkling wines. Today, the cava wine is a #1 drink for most celebrations, as well as a really good accompaniment to various seafood and tapas.
Commonly referred to as "Spanish champagne", it comes in two main varieties - white and rosé.