Besides trying to eat six meals a day like a Spaniard, we wanted to spend the day on Montjuic. Montjuic is roughly translated as Mount Jews and is the highest point of all hills that surrounds Barcelona. Montjuic is also the site where the stadiums of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics are located.
We guessed that there would not be much in terms of good food in a place like that. So it was just perfect that we get something for the trip to Montjuic.
So we went to the Viena Cafe to buy the “Best Sandwich in the World”. No kidding … New York Times called the sandwich at Cafe Viena in Barcelona as having the best sandwich in the world.
It is in this New York Times article that Mark Bittman said
But this gets a little technical; let’s just say it’s the best sandwich I’ve ever had.
Alright, it was controversial when Mark Bittman wrote that but for what it’s worth, things written by the NYT is very much taken as a gospel truth.
OK, NYT also said that the Zen Chinese Cuisine in Richmond is also the “best Chinese restaurant outside of China”. We went to that restaurant (blog here) before it closed a few months later! So, there you go!
We went to the Viena Cafe which is located on La Rambla, just a short walk away from the La Boqueria. Sure enough, the entrance has that Mark Bittman quote of the sandwich.
We expected that this is a large sandwich shop, but it wasn’t. It was more like a bar than a sandwich cafe with no sandwiches on sight. We did not remember the name of the sandwich and thought we just go in and ask for “the best sandwich in the world” to go.
The folks did not quite understand English and embarrassingly, I had to stand next to the counter and repeated a few time quite loudly that I wanted the “best sandwich in the world”. I drew quite a few amused looks from the people around me. Suanne withdrew behind me trying to hide under my shadows.
They made the sandwich at the kitchen. It was about €7 each. We did not want to open up the bag to peek at it as if by doing so, the moist sandwich will dry up and make it no longer the best sandwich in the world. We did not want to put it also in the backpack lest we end up squishing it flat. The distinctive yellow Cafe Viena paper bag to be hand carried with pride and on show to everyone. Oh yeah … it was that precious.
With the Best Sandwich in the World in hand, we made our way to Montjuic. The journey itself is quite interesting.
We first took a driverless shuttle train which is part of the Barcelona Metro system.
We then took the gondola to get to the castle on top of Montjuic. The gondola ride is extra but we did not have to pay because we had the Barcelona Card.
The ride gives us a commanding view of the city of Barcelona. The city is flat with lots of low rise buildings of uniform height.
Out of the low rise buildings you could clearly see the landmarks. The above is the Sagrada Familia with the 8 of 18 towers completed. When completed, the middle tower will tower twice the height you see above and will be just 1 meter shy of the height of Montjuic.
The fortified castle was built during the 17th century and had been undergone a few expansions to what it is today. It used to be a prison and the site of a number of high profile executions.
There were nothing much to see here other than the commanding view of the city.
We found a nice grassy area to have the best sandwich in the world. We were saying to ourselves this is perfect … the view was beautiful and the weather was cool enough to sit outside the shade. Opening up the bag, we found this …
Ladies and gentlemen … introducing the Iberian Ham Flauta … the best sandwich in the world. LOL!
You know, Suanne and I both agree that this IS one of the best sandwiches we ever had. It is perfect in many sense. The flauta (the “flute” bread) gives out loud crackles on each bite. It was unbelievably crisp. We only bought one to share and kicked ourselves for being stingy and bought only one.
Inside, it is filled with cured Iberian Ham. Spanish called this Jamon Iberico and is something we had quite a lot of after this first taste of the marvelous cure ham. The chewy ham tastes smokey and salty. The bread is spread with ripe tomato, something we learned to appreciate a lot of. Writing this now, I can still remember clearly the crackle of each bite and then tearing the chewy ham with a pull.
Is it the best sandwich in the world? That is a hard call to make but it sure is one of the best ham sandwich we had ever had. But for what it is worth, we now know what this tastes like.
So, if any of you readers happen to visit La Rambla in Barcelona, go and buy a flauta from Cafe Viena. I am pretty sure you will enjoy it.
Does anyone know if there are Iberian Ham sandwich like these in Vancouver?
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I think Bosa sells it. Don’t think you’d get such good bread here though.
I’m still smiling about your adventure ordering the best sandwich in the world with Suanne hiding behind your shadow. It sure does look delicious!
Oyama in granville island has really good spanish ham
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I recently tried the sandwich too. Viena is a small chain of restaurants and there was one across the street from my hotel in Barcelona. It also has large posters outside touting the “best sandwich….” After carefully reading the copy of the NYT article (also posted in the place) and studying the menu, I figured out which one it was, and ordered.
Best in the world? Probably not, though it was good enough that I went back and ordered another the next day.
However, I would say that it was the best sandwich in Spain. At least of the ones I tried.
Coincidentally, I also went for this same sandwich (quite reluctantly due to the price….more than C$10!) one evening while strolling along the La Rumblas, passing time before the late Spanish supper hour. One bite & t’was indeed “love at 1st bite”! From here on, it was almost jamon Iberico everyday (the best one I found was in Salamanca around the Plaza Mayor.