Tag Archives: Tapas

Socarrat: A Seductive Spanish Cellar Worthy of Date- or Girl’s- Night

Socarrat Paella Bar

I’m craving the warmth of the holiday season. And I’m not talking about the 61 degree day we’re having on December 6th. I’ve tried turning on the TV Yule Log and listening to a little Annie Lennox Christmas Cornucopia, but what I really want is a night out at the kind of place that warms your face and your mood the moment you push aside the winter-proofing velvet curtains hung inside the door.

I first discovered Socarrat Paella Bar in the Fall. Brick walls adorned with antique mirrors, wood-planked ceilings dropping tulip-shaped lighting, high tables forcing the intimate lean toward your dining company — I loved it before I even placed the napkin in my lap.

Socarrat Paella

But of course it’s the measure of the menu that truly wins my heart — and Socarrat seduces successfully. Choose from any number of traditional tapas, from the steeply priced{and worthy} $22 24-month dry-aged Jamon Iberico, to the more reasonable and finger-aioli-lickin’-good, patatas bravas. The left side of the menu offers a generous list of bite-sized options that can be shared amongst friends or in a friendly game of toothpick wars with your date.

But what you really want to hold out for is one of Socarrat’s eight paella options {menu here}. Placed atop cleverly elevated and off-set paella pedestals, you can easily sample several pans despite the intimacy of the small table setting. The pricing averages $23 per person, but the paella pays back 10-fold with its heaping dish of fresh seafood, spanish-seasoned meats, colorful veg and the prized caramelization of the rice bed {know as the socarrat}.

The Skim: Even if it is summer, Socarrat Paella Bar is an option you want to keep high on your dining list when you’re looking for warmth. Excellent Spanish wines, flavor-bursting paellas, easily sharable tapas are all encased in a perfectly intimately-lit setting that is suitable for a fingers-crossed date night or an evening with your closest friends.

Map: 259 W. 19th {8th Ave} or 284 Mulberry {Houston}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone:  212.462.1000

Seconds on the Spanish Senorita!:
Barcelona Digested: Food for Foodies
recipe goodness :: peppers padron at home
recipe goodness :: celebrate with stand-out spanish sangria
recipe goodness :: barcelona favorite recreated | balsamic chick pea salad

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Barcelona Digested: Food for Foodies

And so comes the end of my Barcelona digestion. The recap of everything there is to love about Mercat de la Boqueria, how chocolate is central to Catalonia and where to go when you want to eat like a local, can only be ended with a summary of the places you must visit if you’re someone like me. Someone who takes more pictures of her food, than any 15th century painting or statue. The best thing about Barcelona is its astounding mix of traditional and avant garde — for that reason, it might just be one of my top 10 favorite cities to eat in.

Tapac 24 {Tapas and Great Breakfast | L’Eixample}
Tapas bar of acclaimed chef Carles Abellan, owner of Comerc 24. Great place to grab a full breakfast if you’re craving more than a typical croissant or boccadillo. It’s just off Passeig de Gracia, so an easy stop in this area before or after you check out the block of discord and Gaudi’s famous architecture. I had the most delightfully crispy edged egg, with a gooey yolk that ran all over a pile of roasted potatoes and chorizo. Um, yes. Why don’t they eat more breakfasts like this in Barcelona?

Breakfast at Tapac 24

Federal {Australian Farm-Fresh & Great Breakfast | Poble Sec}
Poble Sec is a new up and coming area, and is home to some of the best new restaurants {Ferran Adria of El Builli fame just opened Tickets and 41º here}. Federal is Australian-owned and serves an amazing full breakfast, which is hard to find in Boccadillo-loving Barcelona. The kitchen closes at 4pm on Sunday and there is always a wait, so plan to get there no later than 3pm. I had the most amazing coconut-banana bread w/ honey labne and a free-range egg with a yolk the color of a setting sun. Amazing.

Coconut-Banana bread with labne honey

Free range eggs straight from heaven

ABaC {High-End Dining |Tibidabo}
ABaC is the Per Se of Barcelona. Very quiet dining, inventive cuisine, extremely attentive service.  This should be on any high-end dining list and is worth every penny. I’d tell you everything I ate, but would ruin the surprise — just know that there was frozen “lipstick” involved.

ABaC: Maresme peas royal with Iberian consommé and citrics, barnacles and sea cucumber

La Botifarreria de Santa Maria {Spanish Meat Market | Born}
If you’re looking to smuggle some acorn-fed Iberico ham, Serrano ham or sausages in your suitcase, this is your place. If meat is what you’re looking for, come here and take in all the varieties — there’s even a Coca-Cola infused sausage.

Cured Meat!

Honey and Cheese Market {Market}
Stop by this market every other Friday and Saturday outside the Santa Maria del Pi church. Another great place to pick up some local goods for gifts — sample honey from eucalyptus, thyme, oranges, lavender, you name it and pair it perfectly with some delicious local goat and sheep’s cheeses.

Hone and Cheese Market

Other previous written-up foodie favs:

Cacao SampakaArtisanal Chocolates to die for

Mercat de La Boqueria The best market on the planet. Clearly, since it’s in every Barcelona Digestion that I wrote.

Everything you want to read about Barcelona:
Barcelona Digested: Hang with the Locals – Cava and Cafe Catalonian Style
Barcelona Digested: Chocolate Central
Barcelona Digested: Mercat de La Boqueria
recipe goodness :: barcelona favorite recreated | balsamic chick pea salad

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Barcelona Digested: Hang with the Locals – Cava and Cafe Catalonian Style

Barcelona: Where the locals go

When I travel, I want to know where the locals hang out.  What’s the best bite in town?  Where do they go to grab a drink?  How do they spend their Saturday afternoons.  Of course I’m sure there is some overlap with where the non-local, tourist types visit as well, but in an effort to sum up the recs I got, tried and loved, here’s a list of favs to get your cava and cafe con leche Catalonian style.

El Xampanyet {Cava & Tapas Bar | La Ribera}
Must do. A fantastic cava and tapas bar, serving the bubbly in ‘50s style champagne glasses. Hang out with locals standing at the bar for a few bites before going out. Family-owned since 1929, it has both good energy and an historical air that makes trying a bite of this and a bite of that, that much more enjoyable. Its bright fluorescent lighting gives it the feel of an old-school NYC Jewish deli, serving up great food in an unpretentious setting. And since the Catalonians like to come and go frequently, the people watching never stops.

El Xampanyet

Mercat de La Boqueria {Food Market | Barri Gotic}
It’s on every list. Stop here to eat what you see. Mounds of beautiful fruit, roasted nuts, chocolates galore. Also fun to admire the fresh seafood, chickens with their crown still on and even a few lambs heads w/ eyeballs – no prepackaged grocery store cuts here. Go early and enjoy watching the owners set up shop or eat at two of the best food counters in the market before it gets too crowded with tourists {Pinotxo or El Quim}.

Piles and Piles of Sweet Goodness

Pinotxo {Coffee & Tapas Bar | Barri Gotic, in La Boqueria}
A tiny family run bar, but the owner is one of the most well known in Barcelona. Go early for breakfast (9am), ask for the specials and hang with the owner and other market locals who stop in for a quick coffee and bite before the rush of the day begins.

Pinotxo

Meson del Café {Coffee Bar | Barri Gotic}
Tiny 100-year old café with delicious picardia (coffee w/ condensed milk and whiskey). It’s small and kitschy, which makes it a great place to perch and people watch while reenergizing.

Meson del Cafe Picardia {mmm}

Cal Pep {Seafood Tapas | Born}Great tapas bar known for their fresh seafood. Cal welcomes his patrons with his raspy voice and personal recommendations. It’s diner style seating with an impressive line-up of waiting patrons along the wall, but the distraction of watching the excitement behind the counter will keep you entertained.

Cal and his team

Fresh Clams from Cal Pep

Quimet y Quimet {Tapas Bar | Poble Sec}
Small little tapas bar where you rub elbows {literally} with the locals in a small, standing room only space. The walls are attractively lined with bottles of wine and spirits and the bar showcases all the tapas basics. Inventive combos still rely on the traditional canned food items, but stack up bites like roasted pepper, cream cheese, canned crab, langoustine, caviar, drizzled in balsamic, olive oil for a sensational snack. Also try the dried beef with truffle oil and olive tapenade.

Um, Yes Please. Thank you Quimet y Quimet!

How could you say no to these tapas?

Can Manel la Puda {Paella Outdoor Cafe | Barcelonata}
Excellent paella along a café strip in Barcelonata. This is the perfect Saturday afternoon destination to enjoy a glass {or bottle} of cava and some of the most delicious, fresh seafood paella I have ever had. This is how the locals spend their weekends — a lifestyle I could get used to rather quickly.

Outdoor Paella Cafes in Barcelonata

The right way to spend a Saturday afternoon

More Barcelona Digested:
Barcelona Digested: Chocolate Central
Barcelona Digested: Mercat de La Boqueria
recipe goodness :: barcelona favorite recreated | balsamic chick pea salad

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recipe goodness :: barcelona favorite recreated | balsamic chick pea salad

balsamic chick pea salad

I had this dish at an amazing little tapas bar called Pinotxo in Barcelona’s Mercat de La Boqueria. I went for breakfast, so I didn’t expect to be served such a savory, delightful combination of flavors at 9am, but delightful it was! After conversing with my minimal spanish and a lot of hand gestures, the sweet and lively owner, dished up a warm combination of flavors — chick peas, brightened by the parsley with a great balsamic tanginess that just put this simple, but amazing dish over the top. You certainly can eat this breakfast, but it will also make for a great side salad or protein rich entree.

Barcelona Balsamic Chick Pea Salad

Serves 4-6

2 oz ground beef
2 cans unsalted chick peas, drained
2 scallions diced
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
Black pepper to taste
Olive oil for drizzling
Balsamic for drizzling
Fleur de sel to taste

In a large pan break up ground beef to very tiny pieces and brown just until not pink. Add scallions to pan for 1 minute to release fragrance and soften slightly. Add drained chick peas to pan and add black pepper to taste. Stir to combine and remove from heat, transferring to a serving bowl. Drizzle with good olive oil and lightly drizzle some good balsamic. Sprinkle generously with fleur de sel and enjoy! Serve warm or at room temperature.

The Original Inspirational Dish:

Amazing Chick Pea Breakfast from Pinotxo

More from Barcelona:
Barcelona Digested: Mercat de La Boqueria
Barcelona Digested: Chocolate Central
Barcelona Digested: Hang with the Locals – Cava and Cafe Catalonian Style

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