Barcelona is the capital of the Spanish region called Catalonia, which means that Catalan people, Catalan cuisine and Catalan culture dominate the city. Being real patriots, the Catalans are extremely proud of their nation. They also respect the large number of tourist that come to Barcelona and treat them to a variety of national dishes, tradiotions and cultural sights.
Patisseria Hofmann (opened by May Hofmann’s cooking school) is a must for anyone who thinks he knows a thing or two about croissants. They are famous throughout the city for a reason, and in 2010 they were ranked the best in Spain. Grab some to your liking - classical ones or with raspberry, mango or mascarpone filling – and go to a nearby Parc de la Ciutadella for a breakfast/picnic.
Ivory is a small showroom on one of the side streets of a block occupied only by Catalan designers. There are adorable silk summer dresses, a small selection of footwear, and a couple stands with all sorts of accessories – while taking your eyes off the counter is difficult, leaving the place without buying a ring with wolf’s head or another small one for your pinkie is simply impossible. The customers are attended to by Carola, a lovely owner, buyer and seller rolled into one. And if one boutique will not satisfy you, on Carrer Mirallers there are a myriad other small shops of local designers.
Fundació Antoni Tápies
Antoni Tapies (1923-2012) was a Catalan painter, graphic artist and sculptor. His foundation occupies a house built in the 1880s, during the early period of Catalan modernism. It was the first in the city to unite the principles of modernism with industrial technologies, hence metal constructions on the roof of a brick building. Do not miss a terrace in the inner yard.
Catalan bar/restaurant Cerveceria Catalana is especially well-known among tapas fans. Just sit at the counter and point to any tapas you like. It’s best to begin with pan con tomate – grilled bread rubbed with fresh tomatoes and seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add to it a slice of first-class jamon and go on to straight-from-the-sea grilled seafood - navajas a la placha, sepia a la plancha, broscheta de gambas. Those can be ordered from the menu. They also make solomillo de ternera, or mini-steaks. If there is still some room in your stomach left, finish the dinner with one of the home-made desserts. Another good thing about this venue is that the average bill per person rarely exceeds 20 Euros, including alcohol.
They say that if Catalonia were a district, that district would be Gracia. You won’t meet such demonstrative nationalism and such amount of Catalan flags anywhere else in the city, and if you happen to be here at the Day of Catalonia (September 11th), you will see the whole district turn red-and-yellow.
This district is a striking difference from the rest of Barcelona. It is a small city within a city occupied only by Catalonians, where restaurants feature mostly local food, and Catalan speech can be heard on the streets. Gracia has a charming bohemian vibe of its own. A walk in the vicinity of Carrer de Verdi is definitely recommended to anyone who is tired of main tourist locations of the city.
A residential house built at the beginning of the last century by Antonio Gaudi for the Milla family, now it is one of the main tourist attractions in Barcelona. The most interesting thing about the house, the one that justifies the entrance fee, is an incredible rooftop terrace. It looks like a stone park of Gaudi’s imagination, with hanging gardens, benches, bridges, stone flowers and chimney pipes that resemble guards.
It is one of the oldest restaurants with Catalan cuisine in Barcelona and a must for anyone who calls himself food connoisseur. Here you can try authentic Catalan dishes prepared according to ancient recipes. Good old paella with seafood and Crema Catalana dessert are especially remarkable.