Story and photography by Manos Angelakis

Catalonia 2016 Vineyard Panorama

Boca Grande
A Barcelona Sojourn.

Catalonia is a Northeast Spanish region of rolling hills, verdant vineyards, majestic mountains and picturesque towns and villages. The area is rich with possibilities for an ideal holiday.

One can start by exploring the city of Barcelona; a large metropolitan area steeped in history, culture and some of the best restaurants to be  found in Northern Spain. Barcelona is also at the center of the Catalan  wine culture, as it is surrounded by numerous DOs and DOQs (the Spanish  equivalent of a DOCG).

In my opinion, the region produces some of the greatest red wines in the  world, as well as a diversity of whites and rosés with exceptional style for every occasion and purse. During your travels, you will find that  there is no such thing as a typical Catalan wine; even though most are  created by the main Catalan varieties of Garnatxa (Garnacha) and Samsó (Cariñena) blended with small quantities of Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo,  Cabernet Sauvignon and other local and international grapes. The whites  are usually blends of Garnacha Blanca or Parellada with some Sauvignon  Blanc and/or Chardonnay. Three local white grapes: Parellada, Xarel.lo  and Macabeo are used to create an exceptional sparkling wine, Cava;  Spain’s delicious answer to Champagne. Pedro Ximenez is also used in  some blends as well as vinified by itself to give aroma and perhaps a  hint of sweetness to the resulting white wine. Many of the larger  wineries in the region have tasting rooms for visitors.

After a long day of tasting wines, an excellent meal is essential.

Catalonia 2016 Las Ramblas

La Rambla is a 1.2 kilometer boulevard that is considered the civil,  cultural and gastronomic axis of Barcelona. Radiating from La Rambla are streets, alleys and other boulevards. Bars, tascas (tapas bars),  restaurants and other gastronomic treasures are easily found in those  side streets.

Eating and drinking in Barcelona is a delicious experience and the chefs and  cooks that prepare the food deserve kudos for their succulent creations. Regional specialties as well as classics are served to accompany the  local wines.

Boca Grande Entrance

We had lunch at one of the best restaurants in the city: Boca Grande, at Passatge de la Conseptió 12. Famous for extremely fresh seafood and  scrumptious rice dishes, the restaurant is open from 1:00 pm to  midnight.

We started with small plates washed down with a lovely cava. The cava was  soft and fruity and very refreshing; the perfect starter on a warm  spring day. The restaurant has a outstanding cellar and Daniel Rivera,  the sommelier, knows his wines! The kitchen is as good as the cellar.  Here the fare changes almost daily, depending on the season and  ingredient availability and there is a long list of 40 daily specials  ranging from small plates to first courses, to fish and seafood courses  and finally desserts.

Boca Grande Pan con Tomato

The first item was a Catalan classic, pan con tomato; a piece of  charcoal-toasted bread, very ripe tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper.  You cut the tomato in half and rub it on the toast, covering the bread  with the tomato pulp. Then you drizzle extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle sea salt and pepper on the pulp. It is a peasant’s repast but with freshly baked bread  and tasty, ripe tomatoes it’s a delight. The next offerings were “Cod  Rinds” as well as Foie and Mango caneloni (sic), and a glass of  refreshing Gazpacho. While we’re waiting for the next batch of  appetizers an entire Turbot was brought to the table so we can see it.  It was so fresh I think it was swimming in the Mediterranean earlier  that day.

Boca Grande Turbot

As I mentioned above Boca Grande is famous for fresh fish; as you enter the restaurant there is a fish display on ice under glass and the  lobsters in the display were still waving their antennae and moving  their claws.

Boca Grande Fried Padron Peppers

Daniel uncorked a bottle of crisp white wine Les Brugueres from Priorat; an  aromatic, slightly acidy wine that paired beautifully with the  appetizers. On a piece of clay roof tile, came Fried Padron Peppers,  they are small, green, very tasty and mild, sprinkled with sea salt and a very small amount of breadcrumbs. Then came Tuna Tartare over an  Avocado base; rounds of Fried Zucchini toped with a bubbling Béchamel  sauce and sprinkled with chives; grilled Octopus with potato slices and  caramelized onion in a different cream sauce. By that time, the deep  fried turbo was on the way to the table, and it was boned tableside and  served.

Boca Grande Tuna Tartar

The kitchen creates numerous seafood dishes including fried King Prawn  tails “al ajillo”, Mussels marinera- style, grilled scallops and also offers exceptional rice dishes, such as paella “marinera” and black rice (using the cuttlefish ink) with cuttlefish and cockles.

Boca Grande Desserts

We finished the cava and the white wine as well as all the appetizers and  the deep fried turbo. Even though lunch takes a couple of hours -- this  is Spain after all -- no one departs without dessert and a cup of  espresso or an Americano.

Thank you Núria Ruiz i Mila and Ramón Raventós for guiding us through such an exceptional culinary encounter.




© June 2016 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.



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