....... Divertimento: Paella

Sunday, 3 July 2011


When I was planning my trip to Barcelona, I was determined to try as much local food as possible. So on my list of must haves was paella, churros, hot chocolate, tapas and ham.

As you know, paella is a Spanish rice based dish. I was really looking forward to my first paella meal, not the least because I was craving for a meal of rice anyway. The words of a friend who holidayed in Barcelona 2 summers ago were ringing in my ears. Her family of 3 had a paella meal at the beach front - $1,000 for an unimpressive meal. Well, I picked a restaurant in Barri Gotic, the oldest part of the city, for my debut.

I don’t speak Spanish or Catalan (the local dialect) so I was really thankful for the illustrated menu. I ordered a senorita paella. This was in contrast to the senor paella – both are seafood paella but the shellfish in the senorita paella comes peeled.

So here is what it looked like:

seafood paella
I was surprised, unlike the photograph on the menu, the seafood was rather difficult to find on my paella. For a national dish of such repute, I must say, my paella was not impressive. I am not sure if it is because this paella was not cooked well or whether I just prefer rice cooked differently. One thing I had difficulty with many of my meals in Barcelona was the saltiness. This paella was no different. I was expecting a seafood meal. What I got was rice soaked in salty but otherwise tasteless gravy with lots of peas and a few bits shellfish. The cost? €18 or $200. I am not ready to give up on paella yet. I wonder if there are any Spanish restaurants in Hong Kong serving good paella?

Speaking of my craving for a meal of rice, I don’t believe there is a Chinatown in Barcelona but I am not sure. I did come across 2 asian groceries and 1 asian restaurant “Wok to Walk”. There was always a queue at Wok to Walk. It’s more a fast food joint selling fried noodles cooked in front of the customer at the front of the restaurant. You can either eat in or walk off with your box of noodles.

In this photograph you can see one of the asian groceries in Barri Gotic (with the green sign). It was delightful that there were seemingly spontaneous parades happening every day or two as you stroll around this part of Barcelona.

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