Day 2 - Barcelona - Gaudi & Tapas
After a good night's sleep we head to the rooftop for breakfast. To our delight we discover an array of breakfast options from locally-made pastries, fresh fruit and hand squeezed juice, as well as eggs and bacon. To top it off, cappuccino was delivered to our table.
We are heading to Park Guell (pronounced uay). This was Gaudi's dream project. He was hired to create a community for the elite of Barcelona to include sixty residence, a school, a local fresh food market, laundry services and acres of lush gardens.
Through his mastery of design, Gaudi used nature as his inspiration and you would be hard pressed to find a straight line in his creations.
Park Guell is filled with elaborate viaducts each offering shelter and purpose to enrich the lives of the occupants.
Gaudi is known for his use of mosaics. He incorporated found objects such as ceramic cups, plates and wine bottles. Due to the curvature of his architecture he found it necessary to break the tiles and glass into pieces in order to cover the curves.
Gaudi's love of the opera Hansel and Gretel inspired design of structures in the park. One building stands out with white tiles for the frosting and colored circles representing candy around the windows. It's a gingerbread house.
In another structures, Gaudi placed metal screens over the windows representing the witch's house and the jail where Hansel and Gretel were kept.
Unfortunately the project was a failure. The location was too far from the city center and the houses too expensive to attract buyers. The only home completed was the model home where Gaudi lived for twenty years.
Upon Gaudi's death he gave the city of Barcelona his prized park so that all the residents could come and enjoy his masterful creation.
Our next outing is to Bodega 1900, one of Albert Adria's famed restaurants. Chef Adria established himself as the pastry chef of the world famous El Bulli. Upon the restaurant's closure, Adria moved to Barcelona and opened several new restaurants. Most famous is Tickets, a playful restaurant with delightful creative cuisine. It is nearly impossible to score a reservation at Tickets. Tables are reserved two months in advance and typically are gone within the first ten minutes. Bodega 1900, just across the street, serves several of the same dishes but in a tapas bar setting. We were able to secure reservations at Bodega 1900 two months in advance in the first hour. Don't hesitate in reserving as we watched staff turn numerous diners away.
We were fortunate to be seated in the front room facing the preparation station. This is the best seat in the house. You get to watch them meticulously build each dish. The station is filled with sauces in squeeze bottles, fresh herbs, flowers, and an abundance of fresh seafood.
I am most interested in chef Adria's reconstructed olives. Somehow he managed to create the flavor of an olive in liquid form. Through food science he encapsulates the liquid in a thin gelatin sphere resembling a green olive . The waiter instructed us to place the olive on our tongue and gently press to the roof of our mouths, WOW! An explosion of olive fills our mouths and lingers for a brief moment.
Chef Adria is a master of food gastronomy and if playing with your food was an art form he clearly wins the prize. His food is whimsical to look at and equally satisfying to eat.
We enjoyed several small plates or tapas and finish with Adria's take on an ice cream sandwich, and melon soaked in Gin, Vermouth and Elderflower Liquor.
So, these don't sound terribly amazing, rest assured they blew our minds! The strawberries and ice cream sandwich was spectacular and I am still thinking about it today. Wafer cookies held the layers of cream and strawberries and maintained their crunchiness. The flavors were so well balanced with just the right amount of cream to berry. Michael was kind enough to let me finish the treat, which I am eternally grateful.
The melon was sweet with a light dusting of mint lending a fresh note. Surprisingly, the liquors did not add a bite to the melon. Instead the combination of the liquors worked with the natural sweetness of the melon and only added more flavor.
I had long been looking forward to purchasing Chef Adria's cookbooks, unfortunately they are not available in the US, so I was excited to find them here. Lucky for me Chef Adria was at his restaurant Tickets across the street and the waiter offered to run my books over for an autograph, bonus!!! A perfect ending to our first full day in Spain.