Monday, July 16, 2007

Mercado de la Boqueria and El Japonès (Barcelona)

One of my favorite markets in Europe is definitely the Mercado de la Boqueria in Barcelona. It has some of the freshest produce, meats, seafood, etc. around. The best part about it is that even if you are a tourist and aren't looking to cook, you can easily pick up fruit plates already cut up for you or just grab a seat at one of the tapas bars around. We sat down at Pinotxo Bar, which is near the entrance right off of Las Ramblas. Typically these bars will have a few staples plus whatever is fresh that day, so we ordered a number of plates including lamb chops, croquettes stuffed with different chesses, fresh catch of the day, etc. The service was very friendly and it's easy to chat with fellow diners at the bar, checking out what each other is eating. After a satisfactory lunch, we walked around the market some more and picked up a number of different fruits to try as well as some fresh-squeezed juices/smoothies. There were combinations of every fruit imaginable, from passion fruit to mango to starfruit, although it's a bit of hit or miss on which stands had the better ones. All in all, this is one place not to be missed when you go to Barcelona.

We spent the rest of the day walking around Park Guell, which is one of my favorite spots in Barcelona. We were quite hungry by dinnertime, and I was craving sushi. As most of my friends know, I'm a huge fan of sushi. And as good as food gets in Europe, that is one thing that I missed the most. By now, I've been in Europe for a month and a half, and I still have not found really good sushi. The sushi that we had in Marrakech (see July 14 entry) only whetted my appetite for more...

El Japonès looked promising - the decor was very chic and the place was crawling with people. They also charged prices that were similar to what you would pay in a trendy NYC restaurant. Unfortunately though, the similarities ended there. The sushi we got was fine but unimaginative. I have yet to find a sushi restaurant in Europe that served more than just tuna and salmon. We also ordered some rolls, tempura shrimp, and teppan yaki soba noodles. They were all decent, but portions were tiny for the price they charged. Sigh, the craving for sushi continues... And no, I have not forgotten my mission, but as I looked around the chic restaurant, the hunt for cute men shared similar disappointments as my hunt for good sushi.

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