Christmas Catalan Dishes

Barcelona does Christmas undeniably well. Whereas in many European cities, you are likely to have Christmas tat and poor Santa-imitations thrust upon you, the Catalans celebrate in style and yuletide joy is often accompanied by a range of delicious Catalan dishes and sweet treats. In Catalonia Christmas begins on 24th December and continues until Epiphany (Dia dels Tres Reis d’Orient) on 6th January when the presents arrive, providing ample time to fill your boots with some local culinary delights.

On Christmas Eve, We celebrate El Tío de Nadal (a Christmas log which poos presents) and whilst there are no traditional Catalan dishes to mark the occasion, no self-respecting Catalan would celebrate without having stocked up on Neulas (Catalan biscuits usually eaten with Cava) and Turró (a sweet food found in a variety of guises but its most original form is similar to that of nougat). Be sure to pick up your own share of these tantalising treats in any of the Christmas markets dotted around Barcelona.neules

December 25th in Barcelona is one big gastronomic treat. Catalan dishes served on Christmas day include escudella i carn d’olla (a sensational soup comprised of lamb, pig´s ear or cheek, potatoes, chicken, butifarra or Catalan sausage and Galets, a kind of pasta with a shape of a shell) , followed by pollastre farcit (oven roasted chicken stuffed with seasonal chestnuts and sausage meat). These Catalan dishes are washed down with Cava and sweet treats such as dried fruits and nuts, “Turrons” and “Neules”. You´ll also find giant Galets (pasta shells) along the streets of Barcelona in December which make great photo opportunities!

Escudella i Carn D'olla

Celebrations continue on St Steven´s Day (26th December) with family gatherings and once again, the opportunity to extend the Christmas waistlines with leftovers from the day before used to make “canelons”.canelons

Celebrate New Years Eve like a true Catalan with the surprisingly-tricky-to-master grape countdown in which you pop one grape in your mouth for every clock chime. Considered to ensure good luck for the year ahead, make sure you you don´t miss out – you can even buy packs of 12 deseeded grapes for the occasion! There are many theories attached to this tradition, but the most common explanation arises from the over-production of grapes around 1900. New Years Day hangovers aren´t usually soothed by a particular Catalan dish but stuffed chicken often crops up on the menu.uvas de Fin de año

Finally, the 6th January (Dia de Reis) provides yet another perfect excuse to indulge with El Tortell de Reis. This colourful, O-shaped cake is usually stuffed with marzipan or cream and glazed with fruit and contains two hidden surprises: a figurine of one of the threee kings and a fava, or dried field bean (yes, you read correctly, a bean!). Whoever is lucky enough to find the king gets to wear a paper crown whereas the less fortunate finder of the bean has to pay for the cake!

tortell-de-reis

So, loosen the belt and prepare to indulge. Catalan Christmas cuisine won’t fail to disappoint!

 

Top 5 best paella in Barcelona

Where to find the best Paella in Barcelona? Paella is a popular rice dish served across Spain and is often the focal point for family gatherings and long weekend lunches. Paella can be prepared with seafood, meat or vegetables and thus caters for a variety of culinary preferences. We’ve searched high and low for the best paella in Barcelona, so if you are a fan, pay careful attention to the following recommendations.

Top 5 best paella in Barcelona

  • At the top of our list for the provider of the best paella in Barcelona is Barraca, located a stone´s throw from the waterfront in Barceloneta. Barraca´s outdoor terrace on Passeig de Marítim provides the ideal spot to sit back and absorb the local atmosphere whilst sampling mouth-watering dishes from a menu prepared by acclaimed chef Xavier Pellier. The seafood paella here is not to be missed. However, if the idea of fresh seafood doesn´t tickle your tastebuds, the vegetarian paella comprised of organic produce is a great alternative. Due to its fabulous location and delectable dishes made from the freshest produce, Barraca undoubtedly serves up the best paella in Barcelona. Best Paella in Barcelona - Barraca
  • Coming in at a close second is La Mar Salada, famed for its prawn and lobster paella. The restaurant, frequented by locals and foodies alike, is a family run business which operates with the help of top Catalan chef Ferran Adrià. This family-run restaurant serves high-quality, authentic paella dishes and easily clinches a title of of of the best paellas in Barcelona.Best Paella in Barcelona - la-mar-salada-barceloneta
  • Next up is Suquet de l’Almirall.  This venue prides itself on using fresh produce straight from the port and offers a variety of paella dishes including mixed paella, noodle paella (fideuà) with lobster and a vegetarian option served with vegetables, olives and thyme. Suquet de l’Almirall´s maritime-inspired decor and attractive outdoor terrace make this place a true mecca for paella fans.Best Paella in Barcelona -suquet-de-lalmirall-barcelona
  • In fourth place for the best paella in Barcelona is Cheriff. Cheriff serves up a selection of paella dishes including the not-to-be-missed Paella Cheriff, in a traditional, relaxed setting ideal for families. With its exceptional quality, wholesome food, local feel and terrace, it is easy to see why Cheriff is one of the most celebrated paella destinations in the city.Best paella in Barcelona - cheriff-barcelona
  • Last but not least, paella fans should head to 7 Portes for a fusion of tradition, innovation and seasonal produce. 7 Portes is one of the most emblematic and popular paella establishments in Barcelona and after sampling speciality dishes such as Paella Parellada, it´s easy to see why. Best Paella - 7 portes
If you come to Barcelona to undertake a paella tour, we can help you with your stay. Are you ready to spend some incredible days in Barcelona?

Here’s Everything You Need to Know about the Mercat de Sant Antoni

Shopping at the Mercat de Sant AntoniFun and excitement abound in the thriving city of Barcelona, Spain.  This area is the dream vacation destination for many reasons.  Whether you want to go for a hike, sunbathe on the beach, shop for souvenirs, or explore history, Barcelona contains the perfect activity for you.  With so many one-of-a-kind attractions, a colorful culture, and delectable dining, Barcelona contains all the ingredients for a vacation you’ll never forget.  One attraction you have to visit while you’re exploring this city is the Mercat de Sant Antoni.  You’ll find plenty of things to do here and you’re guaranteed to return with a shopping bag bursting with goodies.  Discover everything you need to know about the Mercat de Sant Antoni and be sure to stop by during your trip.  

3 Frequently Asked Questions about the Mercat de Sant Antoni

1. What is the Mercat de Sant Antoni?

The Mercat de Sant Antoni is one of the largest market halls in Barcelona that is still active to this day!  Found at  Carrer del Comte d’Urgell, 1 in Barcelona, this bustling market is overflowing with fantastic vendors.  It’s also a local favorite because not many tourists know about it.  They are open Monday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

2. What Can You See at the Mercat de Sant Antoni?

You will love experiencing all the sights, sounds, and smells of the Mercat de Sant Antoni!  This is also known as one of those most characteristic markets in Barcelona due its wide variety of different vendors and booths.  Outside, browse through the many displays.  You’ll find clothes, homeware, shoes, and, only on Sundays, books and coins.  The indoors part of the market contains fresh produce, meat, and fish.  

3. What is There to Do at the Mercat de Sant Antoni?  

You can do more than just shop and stroll at the Mercat de Sant Antoni!  You’ll discover a few places to grab a steaming cup of coffee to give yourself a boost.  There are also tapas bars located throughout this market if you start craving a bite to eat.  This area is surrounded by numerous other attractions as well, so be sure to keep exploring once your shopping is complete!

Come Stay with Us at bizFlats Vacation Rentals to Complete Your Barcelona Experience!

Find the best place to stay during your Barcelona getaway.  Treat yourself to lodging in the finest accommodations during your Christmas getaway to Barcelona to admire all the festive attractions!  bizFlats Vacation Rentals has everything you need to feel right at home while you’re on vacation!  We offer luxurious lofts, villas, cottages, and apartments located throughout the most picturesque parts of Barcelona.  Whether you want to treat yourself to views of the beach or settle down in the heart of the city, we have the perfect spot for you!  We know you’ll love our comfortable furnishings and incredible amenities, so check our availability online right now to book your favorite vacation rental in Barcelona!

Photo by LUNAMARINA / Thinkstock

what is cava

What is Cava?

Cava is a champagne style sparkling wine made in Spain, and is known for being a more affordable choice for your celebratory occasions like New Year’s Eve and weddings. If you’re a fan of bubbly but have always wondered what the difference is between all these varieties like Champagne, Prosecco and Cava, we’re here to give you a little more information.

Naturally, we will be highlighting our Spanish preference and trying to answer the pressing question, what is cava? Because, well, we’re biased. We can only do so, however, in light of the other varieties, so get ready for your annual wine lesson – something it’s good to study up on at least a little before visiting Catalonia.

What is Cava?

Cava is a simple aperitif made primarily from three Spanish grape varieties. It is neither as sweet as Italian Prosecco nor as nutty as Vintage Champagne, making it the perfect middle ground and crowd pleasing bubbly beverage to serve your guests. While it typically uses Spanish varieties of grapes rather than French varieties, Cava is produced in the traditional French Champagne method. What makes Cava different, essentially, is that it is made in Spain with Spanish Grapes.

How Is Cava Made?

What sets sparkling wines apart from their counterparts is all in the bottling process, which is when the bubbles are formed. After being bottled, cava wine continues to ferment for months or even years. The bottles are capped with crown caps (like those used for beer bottles), and slanted down to allow all the yeast to settle in the neck of the bottle where the pressure will build up the most. After fermentation the tip of the bottle is then submerged in a freezing solution and a few inches of it are turned to ice, at which point the cap is removed, and the pressure in the bottle will actually expel the ice plug that has formed. The vintner will then top the bottle off and cork it.

Types of Cava

Finally, you probably want to know what all the different types of Cava are in your quest, asking questions such as “what is cava brut?” There are three types of Cava, all of which are made with a blend of the three main grapes used in cava production, which are Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, all of which are white varieties. Brut and Brut Nature Cava is a fruity style that has become popular because it is lower in calories than the other styles. It is fruitier also, making it the perfect aperitif. Cava Rosé is, of course, pink, meaning that vintners add other grapes into the mix to get this color, which is most likely the Spanish Garnacha and Monastrell varieties. Pinot Noir is also becoming a common addition. Finally Vintage and Aged Cava is more in line with the original French Champagnes and is known for having a more nutty and toasty flavor with zesty aromatics like apple and almond.   

Now you are ready for your cava drinking experience here in Barcelona, which you’re sure to find at any cocktail hour or included in many a sangria recipe. You can either be spared having to ask your bartender, “What is cava champagne?” or you can boldly ask away and learn even more!

 

catalan cuisine

Experience Catalan Cuisine

Catalunya has long been known for its cuisine, but until you’ve gone and eaten your way through Barcelona you won’t quite understand just how ingrained food is into this independent Spanish region’s daily life and priorities. There is much more to Catalan cuisine than giant paella pans full of fishy goodness, or tapas bars with a million bite-sized options to choose from – though both of these could probably keep you occupied for your entire stay.

Much more than just the unique tastes, smells, and textures, experiencing Catalan cuisine is as much about the ambiance of time, place, and form. There’s really no way to miss out on authentic Catalan cuisine moments while visiting as the locals take their food and dining seriously. Here are some ways to enjoy Catalan cuisine.

Tapas Bars

A Catalan cuisine all their own, tapas are as much a style of eating as they are a style of food. Offering two or three-bite snacks in different shapes, sizes and colors, any of Barcelona’s tapas restaurants promise an explosion of different flavors that there’s simply no way to prepare for. Another wonderful thing about tapas is that they are an inherently social food. Made for sharing, lingering over, and to accompany carafes of wine or bottles of beer, locals will typically spend hours at a restaurant chatting and nibbling late into the night.

Seafood Sampling

Being that Barcelona is right on the beautiful Mediterranean sea – yes it is actually a beach town within a metropolitan city! – there is very little chance that you’ll miss the opportunity to munch something fresh off the boat. If you’re not a huge fan of seafood, try a little nibble when out for tapas. If you love seafood then go to virtually any Catalan cuisine restaurant and sit down to order either paella or another local dish, esqueixada, which is salted cod with tomato and onion.

The Market

If you’ve traveled around Europe before, assuming you aren’t from there, you already have an understanding for the fact that they do food and shopping a little differently. If you’re staying in a flat in the city and need provisions for the week, there is no better place to go than one of the city’s famous markets. La Boqueria and Santa Caterina Market both offer photo worthy displays of everything fresh. The Mediterranean climate promises year-round fresh produce, so prepare to be spoiled, and don’t be afraid to make a trip to the market a daily habit while visiting the city. That’s how the locals do it!

Take a Tour

If you like to nerd out about food science, then you don’t want to miss the chance to tour one of the local wineries or dairies. Wine and cheese are staples in Catalan cuisine, and not only will tours afford you the opportunity to learn more about them culturally and historically, but you’ll certainly have a chance to taste some real rarities.

Catalan cuisine is one of the best parts of visiting Barcelona. Cooking classes, eating with the locals and visiting a famous restaurant are other wonderful ways to fill out your meal time here in the city. No matter how you choose to line up your foodie experience, you won’t be disappointed!

 

“Calçotada” de Valls (Spring Onion Festival)

If anybody ever ask me to mention a traditional Catalan dish, I would say “Calçots” without hesitation. Calçots are milder and less bulbous than onions.This weekend we will celebrate the 34th edition of Fiesta de la Calçotada de Valls (Spring Onion Festival).

 I know sometimes it’s better to discover new experiences by your own. However, some local events require some know-how/contacts, and it’s better to reserve a tour, so you enjoy all the insights of the festival. A great option is LivingIt, an agency focus on traditional events and local festivals in Catalunya.

If you decide to visit the festival by your own, make sure you get there early (before 10 a.m.) to  make the most of your visit. There are trains coming to Valls from Barcelona Sants Station.

There will be plenty of contests and activities, so  as soon as you arrive, go to get your tickets at the City Hall and get prepare to live a unique traditional experience.

If you are looking for accommodation in Barcelona, don’t miss our special offers for this weekend. Apartments in the city center from 36€ per person/per night.

Bon profit!