Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dining in the Spanish Tradition

La Rambla
Hello Barcelona!  I've arrived here in this lovely Mediterranean city.  This is my fourth visit and even though it is the second largest city in Spain, it still feels charming and, especially in the city center, old world.  Although I'm here on business and as such I'm staying up near the new ultra-modern convention center (see below), there is regular subway service into the heart of the old city and the famous Rambla walking street (shown right).

Tonight I dined on a Valencian favorite, paella.   I think of paella as Spain's national dish, although my Spanish hosts say it is a regional favorite.  Most restaurants here offer Valencian paella (meat), seafood paella and mixed paella, but there are many others as well.  Since I'm on the coast, I had the seafood paella tonight, and what a treat it was.  It's hard to see the rice in this photo for the abundance of seafood.

Tapas is also very popular here in Spain. If you haven't had it, you can think of it as a series of appetizers that make up a meal. They may be hot (fried squid, meatballs, shrimp, beef tips, sausage, empanadas, etc.) or cold (olives, pickles, cheeses, garlic bread, etc.) We order many different tapas and combine them throughout the evening to make a full meal. Serving tapas like this is designed to encourage conversation, because you are not so focused upon eating an entire meal all at once, and there is plenty of time between servings for good conversation.  In fact, we order it just a dish or two at time.  Of course, with high quality Spanish wine also being abundant, the conversation will flow easily.

A favorite tapas restaurant in Barcelona.
On a final note, the Spanish dine late. It is not uncommon for restaurants to be filled only with tourists before 10:00 PM. My Spanish hosts will usually say 'let's meet for dinner in the lobby around 9:30' which means to me we will not be back from dinner until sometime after midnight. It does make those early morning meetings at the convention center ever so challenging.

Disfrutar de lo lindo!

Convention Center


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