Barcelona: Tapas in Bar Castell Near La Rambla

I read somewhere that one should avoid eating at the restaurants that front La Rambla.  They are tourist restaurants which often means that it is overpriced and lacking in quality.  A dead give away is the menu and signs in English.  So, we avoided those places like plague.

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Instead we were advised that we should duck into one of the many side streets along La Rambla.  Indeed … it was a whole new area to discover.

We were looking for a tapas bar for our dinner.

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We peeked into one that looked lesser like a tourist spot.  My criteria is … the customers must look like locals and that the staff can’t speak English.  This one met the criteria.  Bar Castells is the name of the bar.

They had a number of tapas on display at the bar.  We made our order by pointing and hand signs.  Oh yeah … I grunt a few English words too to mimic human communication.  We got by.  They seems to understand.  I think they had seen the likes of us before.

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The bar was unbelieavably smokey.  Unlike Vancouver, there are no non-smoking laws here.  They don’t even have a non-smoking section.  Suanne wanted to turn back but when I told her I don’t know how to cancel the order in Spanish, she had no choice.  Everyone seems to smoke here.

We went to the empty back section hoping that the air is cleaner.  It was better.  But only for a while.  Before long, this section gets filled up too and EVERY table have at least a packet of ciggies on it!  Suanne was horrified.

One thing we were sort of glad … we were the only tourist looking person here.  Everyone looked like they are locals, speaking Spanish and in working attire and all.  Boy, Spaniards does talk very loudly in this restaurant.  It is like they are talking for the neighboring tables to hear.

Oh, I forgot.  The people in Barcelona are not Spaniards and do not speak Spanish.  They insists that they are Catalonians and they speak Catalan.  Not that I can make out the difference after half a day in Barcelona.

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The waiter came by asking what I wanted to drink using the universal hand signal for drink … you know, the thumb to the mouth.  A little shake of the hands means alcoholic drinks, I suppose.  A steady hand must have meant non-alcoholic.

I learned an all important word during the flight to Barcelona … Cerveza.  So, I ordered a Cerveza.  It seems like no one ask for one by brand.  When you ask for a Cerveza, they bring a Cerveza.  Strange thing too … when they brought me the cerveza, they pushed the “sal” next to the beer.  I wasn’t sure if they meant for me to have salt in my beer or they was just moving it and happen to move it next to the beer.  Rather than looking like an idiotic tourist, I did not use the salt.  I did not see anyone else in the surrounding table did.

You think Spaniards Catalonians drink their beer with salt?

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Bread was complimentary, I should think.  It does not taste fresh and is dry.  It tasted like it was made in the morning.  

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It took a while for the tapas to be brought to our table.  We had thought that they just have to put it on a plate and serve.  Nope, they heated the food up for us.

The liver was nice.  I like livers.  Suanne hates them.  She says that they tasted “powdery”.

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Kidneys too.  I like them and Suanne doesn’t like it.  I thought it looked like something she would like because it could pass as a Chinese dish in Richmond.  She had a few token bites.

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At least she finds the squid good.  They are pretty small.

We were thinking … what we need is some steamed rice.  The juice on the tapas would have been great with steamed rice.

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Instead of rice, we dunked the bread into the sauce.  We finished the bread in no time.  Without us asking for it, the waiter brought us more bread.  Very attentive … I was impressed that he was not annoyed with this picture taking tourist who doesn’t speak Spanish.  I am beginning to like Spaniards Catalonians.

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The fish was really good.  Since Suanne did not touch the kidney and the liver much, she had almost the entire plate of this.  Suanne said that while it was good, it was not crispy.  Ahhh … she is comparing with the Chinese style of making this.  [Honey, you are in Barcelona, not Richmond.  And no, I don’t think they serve steamed rice here.]

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The bill came up to €16.75.  That is about $26 Canadian.

Looks like there are no nonsense like GST and PST (or the HST!!) like we do in Canada.  And the Spaniards Catalonians, they don’t tip like we do.  You could get away for not tipping here and rarely when the local tip, it is not more than 5%.  So like the saying goes “when in Barcelona, do as the Barcelonians do” … oh … was that right or was that Rome?

Whatever.

I like Spain Catalonia already.

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  1. I have heard that Spanish put salt in their beer. Or maybe I heard it in the context of Mexico or South America. I’m just assuming that because in the U.S. context I think that is what more people have experience with. All I know is that it is supposed to be those really light-colored beers because they were joking about putting salt in something like a Guinness and people were freaking out.

    I wonder if it is an idea related to the michelada… just because they both have salty items.

  2. I think I know why he pushed the salt towards you with your beer. Either the beer is bland and the salt will help enhance the flavor, just like salt does with food…or the other thing is carbonation/fizziness, to make it more fizzy?

    Try putting salt into your pop, you’ll see what I mean :).

  3. It’s very important that you don’t refer to Catalans as Spaniards! They have their own distinct language (NOT a dialect) and a rich culture and history. And their food is pretty great too! Hope you liked Barcelona!

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