I’m going to do something a little different for the next few posts and I hope you can dig it because I know I did!
Wifey and I took a little trip to Spain and Morocco recently and we flew, drove, ate and boogied our way through the trip. Needless to say, what we experienced left quite an impression on us and we want to share it with you.
We’re not big on planning but we had a wish list of destinations which served as a rough itinerary. By the way, Europe is very popular so it may be a good idea to book the big sites in advance because we learned that tourist attractions and historic sites can book up and sell out. You’ll have to choose between an open itinerary and pre-booked activities or some combination of the two.
The rough plan: Fly there, drive here, eat everywhere
We got a good deal on a flight to London with Air Transat and then hopped on a Vueling jet to Barcelona for a stop at a Michelin 2-star restaurant before grabbing another Vueling jet to the island of Ibiza for the big club and DJ experience. Back to Barcelona to pick up our convertible rental so we could cruise down the Spanish coast in the sun and see the sights. We drove a total of about 900 kms stopping in 6 towns before heading back to Barcelona to catch a flight to Morocco so we could check out the markets and catch thermals in a hot air balloon! Alas, we had to head home but not before stopping into some pubs in London just to cap it all off.
Barcelona: Easier to scratch the middle of your back than scratch the surface
We landed in the early afternoon and dropped our bags in our cool little boutique hotel located in the center of the city close to the ramblas, gothic quarter and the waterfront. We enjoyed our complimentary welcome cocktail at the hotel bar and the headed out for a walk.
We were totally down with the vibe and energy and the “ramblas” (basically a pedestrian boulevard) were full of happy people and restaurant and cafe patios to enjoy. After exploring for the afternoon, we found a place to enjoy some Spanish fare which included tapas of course!
I am a huge fan of the smaller portioned dishes known as tapas because I don’t have to struggle deciding on what to eat when you can order multiple small dishes to sample what the chef has on offer.
One of the things we booked well in advance was a table for two at Michelin 2-star restaurant ABac on our second night so we figured it would be a great day to grab some bicycles, see the sights and work up an appetite. The bikes ran about 20 Euros for the day so we did not have to worry about what time we would be returning them. There is a very handy network of bike lanes through the city so it was an excellent way for us to explore on the second day. We may have gotten distracted by a few more restaurant patios for sangria and Cava but isn’t that what vacations are all about…? Time passing was the last thing on our minds and just writing this paragraph has me wishing we were back there right now.
You had to know I was going to find a way to talk about food
After working up a little sweat and riding along the waterfront, we headed back in the late afternoon to freshen up and get ready for our dinner. The sun had gone down now and the day had cooled a little as we grabbed a taxi to ABac. We were greeted by a beautifully lit garden that followed us to the entrance. The styling and design of this place definitely added to the anticipation of the meal to come. We were cordially greeted and taken to a table on the poolside terrace to enjoy a cocktail and peruse the menus and surroundings before being taken to something that I’ve never experienced before. We were lead into the kitchen for a quick tour. It was also where we were served our first two courses which were, on that day, Mexican inspired with the first being a margarita bite and the second was nori fish tacos. The presentation, location and flavors set the tone for the rest of the evening. This certainly had impressed us both and we were captivated for the rest of the evening.
We chose to go with the large tasting menu and the wine pairing because as much as we love food, there was a slight chance we were in over our heads and I figured we better let the professionals do the driving, so to speak. We were about to enjoy an 18 course masterpiece and I now know what this whole Michelin star thing is about. The food was beyond amazing and influenced by regional dishes with Spain’s avant garde and gastronomy awesomeness! Did I mention that this area of Spain is home to a number of the world’s best restaurants according to the Michelin guide? There were so many courses and wines tasted that it was a very difficult task to remember everything that was enjoyed. They will provide you with a copy of the menu and wine you enjoyed during your visit to help with this challenge. The funny thing is that we forgot the lists on our way out so I can only tell you about some of the highlights… But don’t worry because I took pictures!! Here are a couple of the highlights
A very commonly seen dish in Spain is Iberian ham and melon. The ham is traditionally aged for 36 months and has a silky texture with a nutty flavor due to the amount of acorns that the pigs eat on their grazing grounds which pairs amazingly with the aromatic and sweet melon. This was one of the courses on our dinner card but what was served was beyond what I could have conceived. Deconstructed and then rebuilt into something brand new but the familiar and delicious flavours were still there to put a smile on our faces.
Before this trip, I did not know that gazpacho is a Spanish creation and it can be found all over the province of Catalunya. This gazpacho course was served with roasted garden tomatoes and peppercorn basil foam. *mind blown*
Dessert was named sweet pumpkin on the card and definitely had us wondering and imagining what it could possibly be. Once again, our expectations were way off base and also surpassed. The pumpkin was not something you eat but rather an ornate dish in the shape of a pumpkin plant with different assortment of sweets and delicacies served on its leaves.
From the kitchen tour to the wine selections from popular and lesser know regions, masterfully prepared and flavorful tasting selections and a chocolate ganache with chocolate gelato both made right at the table, this was an unequaled dinning experience and now we will be looking for the next time we can come close to matching this kind of treat.
For any and all foodies out there, I highly recommend treating yourself to a Michelin star dinning evening soon!
I would describe more of the mind blowing selections but I figure it might be best to just show you in a slideshow!
We left with full bellies, smiles on our faces and a slight glow on from the delicious wines we enjoyed with the meal. This place will certainly inspire my future cooking and preps! Now it was time for an early night because we had a plane to catch to Ibiza at 6am the next morning! Stop by next week to see what that was all about!
Petey Pabs out…