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Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, is defined by quirky architecture, imaginative food and vibrant street life. Dining out remains a major pastime, whether lunch in a local bar, tapas with friends, or dinner at one of the many renowned restaurants throughout the city. Aida explores La Xocolateria, Entrepanes Diaz, and Palo Cortao.
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- I'm Aida Mollenkamp. I'm a chef and writer with a passion for exploration. And I'm in search of the best food a city has to offer. Whether it's a locals only favorite or a chef's secret special, join me as I go Off-Menu in Barcelona. Barcelona is hands-down one of the world's most renowned food destination. From the heights of the Adria Brothers Michelin star temples to the homiest traditional cuisine and everything in between, the city offers a constant feast. Fortunately, I have local producer and food expert extraordinaire, Lucy Garcia, to help me navigate it. - [Aida] Lucy has hosted chefs from around the world, introducing them to the best of Barcelona. - Traveling the streets with her, she seems to know all the city's secrets. - [Aida] Xocalateria is Catalan for chocolate shop. But, this place is more like a pristine laboratory where Spain's most beloved confections are reinvented. The mad scientist behind it is Master Pastry Chef, Oriol Balaguer. - I am Oriol Balaguer, pastry chef, chocolate maker. It is my passion and my hobby. It's like Willy Wonka Company. We prefer here hot chocolate We prefer here ice cream. Our cakes, our candy collection, everything is to excite the customer, no? - Chocolate at La Xocolateria. - [Aida] This is my happy place. Oh my God, these are stunning. - [Lucy] It is. - [Aida] That looks like it could be at Fashion Week. - And here, we have our chocolate collection, different collection. - And the croissant won Spain's Best Croissant Award. - I've heard about this croissant. Congratulations! - Thank you so much. We love to work with the dough. - So, I know I want a croissant and some-- - Churro. - Yeah, some churro. - And hot chocolate. - This is how I like to start my day. Thank you, Oriol. - Okay, thank you. - Okay, I prepare, thank you so much. Let me work on this. - [Aida] Okay, thanks Oriol. Our hot chocolate, made only around the world. It's difficult from here, from Barcelona, from Catalonia. Screw that, around the world there is hot chocolate, but in other part of the world, it's more liquid. Here it's more thick. - It's not like your cocoa. - Almost like a liquid-y ganache. - Yes. - Our recipe, three ingredients, milk, one, and the best chocolate. It's amazing experience. Croissant, hot chocolate. - Ah, thank you. - Oh, my goodness. - And churros. - And churros. - Okay, I've got this, I'm ready to go. Thank you, bye. - Typically, what you do is you dip, the churro and the croissant, or whatever. - I need to just try it as is. - Good? - It's excellent. Now this rivals the best croissant you'd have in Paris. And I think the only thing that will make it better is this chocolate. - Another thing, bring on in our Spain is the churros, chocolate and churros. Here we finish in the oven. That's why it's more healthy, the smell is better, and the people, they like it more crunchy. - Churros to me, make me think of coming to Spain, like late night, you go and you have this and it's kind of you're like "cap" to your day, right? - Yeah, we eat late and we party late. - You're people of the night. - Yes, we are. - Spaniards are people of the night. - Yum, that churro is nice and crispy because it went in the oven. I really like this first stop. I think you've come in strong, lunch is starting off our day in Barcelona. So, I'm excited to see what else we have. - [Lucy] So, this is the Santa Maria del Mar by the sea. Because actually, the harbor was like just behind these buildings. It's the best and most true example of Gothic building in Barcelona, and it was built in just 50 years, which is very unusual.-- - [Aida] Wow. - [Lucy] The Cathedral of Barcelona was built in over like 350 years. - [Aida] Filled with some of Spain's most beautiful and diverse architecture, Barcelona is a feast for the eyes as much as the mouth. One place that excels in delighting both senses is Entrepanes Diaz, a gourmet sandwich bar that suggests an elegant 1950s atmosphere with lots of marble, brass, and a wait staff replete in waistcoats and bow ties. - So, this is Entrepanes Diaz. - Do you want drink anything before I give you the carte? - What would you like? - Whatever you recommend. - What about a vermouth? - I know you guys have this vermouth craze, so yes, a vermouth would be good. - [Lucy] A vermouth, no? - Perfect. - The sandwiches, it's not like your conventional sandwiches. These are more like dishes that you put into bread. - [Waiter] Here you are. - It's not a usual.-- - Thank you. - Thank you very much. In Catalan, they say, "Salut i forca al canut." - Okay, Salut i forca al canut. Cheers. - Oh, this is great. It's got like a nice spice, but it's not too sweet and not too dry. It's almost like a white and a red mixed together. It's really nice, I enjoy this. - A little bitter. - Yeah. - But citrusy. - Okay, what do you want today? - I think we should do the calamaris, because I think it's a really very popular one and I think it's really good and different. And I think we should do Antxon. - Ah, okay. Hello, again. - Hello. - This is Antxon and this is the squid with mayonnaise and ink. - Ooh, I'm gonna cut into this first. We've got the squid ink mayonnaise on one side, and the regular mayonnaise on the other, and tons of fried culinary. - It's a really light bun, too. - And let's be real right now. The only think I like better than fried food is bread and this has both combined with mayonnaise. This is kind of my dream sandwich. I'm like, can I have this everyday? The calamari stays really crisp and has like a nice, bright flavor to it. Like a little bit of lemon and it's not too lost. - No, it's not heavy, either. - Okay, that was amazing, but this looks insane. - This is gonna take us to outer space now. Take off. - Woo, can hear how crispy that bread is. - Ooh la la. - This is amazing. I love the crunch of the potatoes and the potatoes and paprika. - And the textures, right? The egg with the sausage and the crispiness of the potato. - Yes. - Spain in a bun. - Exactly, Spain in a bun. That's how they should sell it. Do you want some of this? Its' "Spain in a bun". - It's actually a Spanish breakfast in a bun. - Yeah. - Are you ready to go on? - I'm not sure where we could go from here, but let's do it. I trust you. - [Lucy] There's more. - [Aida] Okay. And how does one walk off all this delicious food in Barcelona? A trip to an 18th century hedge maze, of course. In the hilly, green district of Horta-Guinardó, behind the palace of a Spanish Marquis, you'll find Parc del Laberint, composed of trimmed Italian cypresses and adorned with neo-classical tributes to the God Eros as well as the original maze runners, Ariadne and her lover, Theseus. Of course, I can't help thinking of Jack Torrance in "The Shining". As the day wanes in beautiful Barcelona, it's time for one of Spain's most beloved customs. The small, delicious bites known the world over as tapas. - I'm taking you to a place in a couple of sectors that I really like a lot. that I come often. - [Aida] Pala Cortao restaurant, located at the foot of Montserrat is an intimate celebration of exquisite ingredients and bold reinvention of classic cuisine. - [Lucy] So Aida, I normally sit at the bar. It's my favorite spot. - Okay. - Hello, Fede. He's one of the owners. What do you wanna start with? Shall we do the sherry? - Well, yeah, sherry and ham is why you brought me here.-- - Sherry and ham. - And there is a ham, literally I'm looking at it right now. So, yes. - Muy bien, let's go. - So, ham and sherry are kind of like the bread and butter, the foundation... - Of Spain. - of Spain. Spain was built on ham and sherry. But, I would say that until a couple of years ago, most people thought of sherry as like some grandmother in the corner drinking creme sherry, or whatever that stuff's called. - Yet, it seems to have like disappeared from the scope of normal food. - Even here in Spain. - Yeah, even in Spain. I think it's making a bit of a comeback. Cheers, Salut. - Ooh, that's good. That is a dry, dry sherry. - See how thin he's cutting it. It's really a special technique and way of cutting. - [Fede] This is a bellota ham that comes from the south. - It's all along the Atlantic rim. - They have to be free. - And spend their life roaming these forests eating acorns. - Okay, let's try it then. - Mm, it's so good. - This is beautiful. Oh, that is amazing. Definitely worth the price of a plane ticket, this right here. - [Fede] Now is the wild mushroom season. - [Lucy] And Catalan's love their wild mushrooms. They all go hunting for wild mushrooms. - All time try to take one of them. - It's a big, big, big thing. - [Fede] And we have prepared a combination with the small baby squids and some sherry wine red Ruche. - Okay, and sherry means we should also have more sherry. - We should. Maybe we should go on to Pala Cortao, which is the name of this restaurant. Superb. - Oh, it's really good. Wow, the squid are delicious. - Oh, thank you very much. Look at the color of that. Isn't it beautiful? - Yeah, this is beautiful. Oh wow, that's unlike any sherry I've ever had. So, you have this style of sherry, why was this the name of your restaurant? - We choose this name for the restaurant because we love the history in some way. - Well, Pala Cortao means "a cut steak". It's got this kind of air of mystery. - Okay. - So. - You know mistake that becomes something... - Wonderful. - Wonderful? This is Pala Cortao. So, this is the potatoes with poached egg and foie. - Now, we're getting serious. - [Fede] Yeah. - This is like comfort food. - Foie gras is comfort food? I wanna grow up where you grew up, if foie gras is the comfort food. I appreciate that. Wow, just when you think it's going to be too much, it's not. It's a really well-balanced dish. - It's not heavy at all. - The fact that it's basically gratin potatoes with foie gras and poached egg, everything about it should be heavy, somehow it's light and delicate. - Anything else you wanna suggest? - I'm gonna surprise you with a nice plate, off-menu, okay? - I'm always open to surprises, yeah. - [Fede] This is the special off-menu that I told you, rice, and papaya. But, it's more the style of the countryside, you know. - I love how brothy it is. - It's very tasty, very, very tasty. - You can really taste that wood fire oven. - Wood fire just gives everything a totally different flavor. - And the sofrito, for me that combination of peppers and onions is like such a comfort flavor for me. This is delicious. - You like it? - Yeah, excellent. Thank you. - Buenisimo. - Thanks to you. - Thank you for having us. - Thanks to you. - Cheers. - Cheers. - [Lucy] Palo Cortao. - [Aida] You have really shown me Barcelona. Thank you, this has been a very delicious day. - [Lucy] Ce la food delicious. - [Aida] Yeah.