Saturday, July 7, 2007

Barcelona, La Boqueria

When I arrived in Barcelona at 7:30 in the morning my friend Armand told me that I could not go to the hotel and sleep for a few hours because I had to go to La Boqueria, a wonderful indoor/outdoor food market. Being a diligent food editor, I obeyed. He said that the market was at its best early Saturday morning and that we would start with breakfast at Pinotxo.

We arrived at the Pinotxo Bar and he immediately ordered a café con leche along with a chucho or in Catalan a xuxo from the wonderful character who runs the bar. Chucho is a deep fried pastry that when made properly is about the most decadent way to start the day. As we waited in front of the bar I noticed someone eating a plate of sausage with white beans. What the hell, I thought, let’s have that too. Armand said that coffee probably wouldn’t go well with the sausage and beens and suggested having a beer. I was all for it, and let me tell you, a beer is a great way to start the day if you’ve had no sleep.

The sausage was amazing--not fatty at all and not overly spicy. Just succulent sweet pork. The white beans were unbelievable--tender, cooked perfectly, and topped with a little parsley and garlic drizzled with olive oil. Armand also ordered Cigrons del Pinotxo or Pinotxo’s chickpeas, a secret recipe of chickpeas with blood sausage. Crazy delicious! Again, cooked perfectly, the blood sausage adding a wonderful allspice kind of flavor with onions, pignoli and some fresh herbs.

Now for the chucho. Fried and filled with a sort of farmer’s cheese, it was great. I’m not a fried doughnut person but I must say this melted in your mouth at first bite. The dough was light as air and the cheese filling was not too sweet and went perfectly with the warm dough.

The market was indeed bustling and a visual treat on every level. Stalls with hanging Pata Negra hams, marble slabs stacked with dried salt cod, pyramids of figs, fish mongers selling every kind of crustacean imaginable and wonderful tapas bars filled with people eating and drinking. This was truly a great way to start the day and begin my week in Barcelona.


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