A ‘barrio’ – say what?

‘Barrio’ is a Spanish word that describes a neighborhood or quarter of the city. Each of Barcelona’s Barrios has something unique to offer!  The variety gives us stacks of possibilities for Barcelona group activities. It is exactly what makes Barcelona such a vibrant place to visit for your private or company events.

We will delve into each of the city’s barrios to give you a taste and feel for the different areas. You will be left with a ‘Barcelona bucket list’, overflowing with all the interesting and diverse attractions you will want to dive into.

Where?

Sandwiched between the Gothic Quarter and the main city park (Ciutadella), El Born has grown in popularity with the trendsetters. Like its Gothic neighbour, the barrio has its share of winding narrow streets.   It is full of contrast between Gothic, medieval history and modern influences. Over recent years it has also become popular for its boho yet fashionable stores, bistros, and bars. This eclectic mix gives the area a very unique charm.

The Back Story

Originally sitting outside of the city’s roman wall boundary, it was in the 15th century when growth meant that the walls were extended to include the area. The Roman archaeological remains can be seen inside the old El Born Market, now a dedicated center for culture and history of the area.

This old market is definitely worth a visit: https://elbornculturaimemoria.barcelona.cat/en/explore/archaeological-site/historia-del-born/

The Born’s location near to the working port was convenient for traders who began to build palaces in the area. A financial crisis meant that Filipe V decided to destroy much of the neighborhood to build a castle, which is now park Ciudatdella. It’s colourful history is what gives the area it’s unique aesthetics and curb appeal.

The Current Vibe

We love the local designer boutiques, diverse selection of restaurants, wine bars and antique curiosity shops.  Let’s not forget the beautiful architecture steeped in history, cobbled streets, terraces perfect for long lingering lunches and an impressive medieval church (Santa Maria del Mar).  We can’t recommend the area enough!

Get it on your itinerary for an organized group tour or a just a saunter around area taking it all in slowly.

For those culturally inclined it is also home to the Picasso Museum: http://www.museupicasso.bcn.cat/en

We also recommend the lesser known, but in our opinion, equally interesting Museum of Modern Art:
https://www.meam.es/

Top Picks

Plan your group trip to Barcelona with some of our top picks, see below!

El Xampanyet

Looking for an authentic bar experience? Go back in time to experience one of the areas longest standing traditional bars. Dating back to 1929, the name comes from the sparkling wine served there. Enjoy a glass and some tapas in the hustle and bustle of this unique bar.
https://www.elxampanyet.es/

Guzzo Club

Guzzo Club is café, bar, art gallery and music club all rolled into one. Get down with the hipsters for a bite to eat, a few drinks and a late boogie.
https://www.guzzorestaurante.es/en/

Hoffman Pastries

We wholeheartedly recommend getting your sweet fix here! Try one of their award-winning croissants (our favorite the mascarpone croissant!) or whatever seduces you from the selection mouthwatering selection of pastries!
https://www.hofmann-bcn.com/en/patisserie

Cal Pep

Don’t be fooled by the laid-back vibe, Cal Pep is a real hidden gem and one of the best places to eat tapas in Barcelona!
https://www.calpep.com/Ingles/index_ing.html

Aire de Barcelona

Tired from all the exploring? Check out Aire de Barcelona. The ancient thermal baths offer a calm and relaxing space to chill out and recharge your batteries ready for the next ‘barrio’ adventure.
https://beaire.com/en/aire-ancient-baths-barcelona

Suara

One store that shows the diversity and creativity of the Born is Suara. Offering fair trade products, they donate the profits to caring for stray cats! Check out the fun fashion offerings for cat and non-cat lovers alike!
https://www.suara-store.com/es/

 

The popularity of plant-based diets has exploded in recent years. More and more people are reducing their consumption of meat, fish and dairy, and looking to get their nutrients from plants. People have also become more concerned about additives, such as artificial colours, flavours and preservatives in their food.

Vegan or plant-based diets may once have seemed restrictive. However, as time has gone on and restaurants have become more creative, the plant-based revolution shows no signs of slowing down.

Unique Restaurants: Impress your clients

Join the plant-based revolution with a group dinner in Barcelona

We’re sure your clients are always looking for the new and interesting when it comes to booking group dinners in Barcelona. Host your group dinner somewhere that will get people talking and excited about plant-based food.

Enter Roots & Rolls. Opened in November 2018, Roots & Rolls is a delicious, stylish, plant-based restaurant located in the Eixample neighbourbood of Barcelona. Their original and innovative menu will satisfy carnivore, vegetarians, vegans and everyone in between, with the focus being on fresh, healthy, flavoursome food.

We are very lucky that their restaurant is located just a short walk from the BarcelonaTours office, so we have been able to sample a great deal of the menu.

The Restaurant: Group Dining in Style

Stylish plant-based restaurant Barcelona

Roots & Rolls is light and spacious, making it a wonderful place for group dinners and events. Decorated in black and white with wooden floors and tables, this chic venue has private dining spaces, as well space for long tables. The restaurant also has a covered patio at the front, a great spot to share some sushi and a glass of wine with friends.

The capacity of the restaurant is 120 people, so there’s plenty of space for everyone!

The Menu: Try the sushi

The stars of the Roots & Rolls menu are their incredible uramaki sushi rolls, each more creative in its flavours than the last. In their efforts to ensure that their sushi rolls are as jam-packed with flavour as their fish-featuring counterparts, Roots & Rolls went all out.

They have eight sushi rolls to choose from. You’ll be forgiven for not being able to choose which ones to try, so they have helpfully included sushi tasting platters, ranging from 20€ for 20 rolls and two varieties of nigiri, up to 75€ for 46 rolls and three varieties of nigiri.

Our personal favourites are the “Srirango” roll, composed of black rice, mango, avocado, cucumber, roasted red pepper and topped with sriracha veganaise (a sriracha-infused vegan mayonnaise which adds a delightful kick) and “Kimchi-me”, a roll of four grains, kimchi, cucumber, sesame tofu, spring onion, coriander & cashew pesto and gochujang veganaise.

Beyond sushi

corporate dining event Barcelona

The delights don’t stop at the sushi menu. The snacks (“pica pica”), starters and salads are great to share between your group, and then we come to the main dishes.

We love the rich thai red curry with sweet potato, figueres onions, courgette, portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, coconut milk and basmati rice, a dish sure to fill you up and warm you up in the colder months. Ramen lovers will be quick to order the tofu ramen miso, which layers up the flavours of dashi stock with shiro miso, prunes, shiitake, kombu, roasted peppers, caramelised figueres onion, portobello, sweet potato, pickled daikon, sesame, julienne veg and udon noodles.

As for the desserts, plant-based and healthy doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself! Try to the chocolate avocado brownie or the chocolate truffle symphony for a rich, indulgent treat.

Group Dinners: Menus for Groups

Roots & Rolls currently offer two group menus starting from just 25€ per person. The menus offer a great cross section of the delicious food on offer, including an appetiser, a starter, a sushi platter, a main and a dessert – everything you need for a full and happy group.

Hungry to know more? Book your group dinner in Barcelona with BarcelonaTours and choose Roots & Rolls.

Book a group dinner in BarcelonaThe Owners: An Interview with Sandra de Jong

We wanted to know more about the restaurant, the owners, their favourite dishes and their plans for 2020. We put some questions to Sandra de Jong, one of the two owners.

What made you want to open a plant-based restaurant?

It was a combination of many things. We wanted to create a restaurant that could have a positive impact in a stylish and elegant setting. Plant-based food has a much smaller impact on the environment and is better for the planet and, of course, for the animals. We also wanted to ensure the food was healthy, and plant-based food has been proven to be a healthy addition to any diet.

Why did you choose a Japanese-inspired menu?

So many reasons! A personal love of sushi played a big part. I had tried some inventive vegan sushi elsewhere and really loved it. I saw it as an opportunity to get creative as you can put so many complimentary ingredients into one sushi roll and make a real explosion of flavour. A lot of the vegan sushi you find in Barcelona is just cucumber and rice or red pepper and rice, so there was definitely a gap in the market.

Making food that non-vegans would love was also important. The food needed to be exciting and match or exceed the variety offered by non-vegan restaurants, and Japanese food, not just sushi but curry and noodle dishes too, is highly adaptable.

I also wanted it to be something that you wouldn’t make at home. To make just one of our sushi rolls at home would take hours, so coming to visit us and being able to try multiple sushi rolls in a welcoming setting is a much better idea!

Which three-courses would you recommend to someone visiting the restaurant for the first time?

We would suggest four courses! It’s difficult to say if sushi is a starter or a main in our restaurant, but we suggest following the sushi with one of our hot dishes. This way you will experience a little bit of everything we have to offer.

  • “Pica-pica”/Starter: Kale chips, cauliflower popcorn and the gyozas
  • Sushi course: a sushi tasting platter
  • Main: Kari coco (we described this Thai curry in a previous paragraph)
  • Dessert: Chocolate avocado brownie with ice cream.

Meals for large groups

If you could pick only one sushi roll from your menu, which would it be?

This is so difficult! Our bestseller is the Jumping Jack which is made of black rice, heüra (a scarily-realistic meat substitute, similar texture to chicken), bbq jackfruit, rocket, caramelised onions, sesame, alioli & homemade hoisin sauce.

What have been some of the highlights for Roots & Rolls in 2019?

There’s been so many. I personally get a real kick out of messing with the “carnivore mindset” when it comes to plant-based food. We have so many clients who come in for their first-ever plant-based meal and they’re always stunned and thrilled with the quality of the flavours, textures and variety that we offer. This makes me really happy.

We feel that we’re still on the “edge” of things in Barcelona and it can be difficult to convince people to have a group dinner in an entirely plant-based restaurant, but thankfully things are changing. Over Christmas, we had several large groups from tech companies with lots of young employees that are more eco-conscious. It’s wonderful to see companies making these choices for their employees, to show them that you can still have a great Christmas event with no meat, fish or animal products involved. These groups were a real highlight.

Of course, we also love when we see repeat customers and we have a really high number of customers that come back again and again. People will come back with different members of their family, with friends, with visitors, it’s wonderful to see that so many people want to shout about our food and share it with others.

And finally, what does 2020 hold for Roots & Rolls?

We have so many fun things lined up. Firstly, we change the menu three times per year to fit with which vegetables are in season. We have also changed our head chef and we can’t wait to see what creativity they will bring to the table.

We will also have lots of exciting events and are collaborating with other vegan and plant-based people and businesses in Barcelona under the umbrella title “Living Plantastic”. There will be a gala event on Saturday 18th January – red carpet, drag queen and DJ included! There will also be smaller group activities, from plant-based cooking workshops to beach trash pickups.

In general, we want to make plant-based, eco-conscious living more appealing and more exciting to the masses. If we work within mainstream channels, engaging with carnivores and herbivores alike, then we will reach more people and maybe convert more people to a eco-friendlier, more plant-based lifestyle.

We will continue to work on these ideas in 2020 and beyond, so watch this space!

Thank you Sandra!

BarcelonaTours.net: The Agency You Need for Event Planning in Barcelona

Make your group travel arrangements with BarcelonaTours.net to ensure the highest quality services. We organise hotels for groups, private transfers and group dinners in fantastic restaurants, such as Roots & Rolls!

Get in touch today for a personalised quote and start planning your event in Barcelona.

Now that the sweltering summer has subsided it is time to haul our lazy (but oh so bronzed) backsides off the beach and take part in some autumnal seasonal activities. Considering Spain, is arguably most famous for its food, we thought a few foodie related frivolities would be a rather appetizing place to start.

A few fascinating facts to get our mouths watering. Did you know that the word ‘tapas’ derives from the Spanish verb ‘tapar’, ‘to cover’. This is because originally slices of bread or meat were used by sherry drinkers to cover their drinks in-between sips, to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry.

And did you know that originally paella was not considered a seafood dish but consisted of chicken, pork, rabbit and even snails? I know, us neither, but we’ll take the modern version of scallops and shrimps over snails any day.

We couldn’t possible discuss Spanish cuisine without giving Sangria a little shout out. Sangria comes from the Spanish word for ‘blood’ and used to be served by peasants who could mask the taste of cheap alcohol by mixing it with fruits, sugar and spices. Today it is a favourite tourist tipple which is a good job as Spain produces 306,187,429 gallons of sangria making wine every year. But you must get to the bar quick as apparently the average Spaniard drinks over 10 gallons of wineper year. Impressive hey!

In Spain, eating is not just about filling bellies but is a strong part of everyday life and friendships. So with that in mind lets reveal our most appetizing autumn activities onoffer here in the food capital of Spain.

Tapas Tour

The old quarter of Barcelona is a bustling hub of endless restaurants and tapas bars, but the real challenge is to find the little gems off the tourist track that offer high quality, culinary excellence. We have all been first-time tourists to Barcelona and have all fallen foul of the often tasteless and overpriced tapas on offer in the usual tourist traps, so it is essential to dig deeper for that true tapas experience. Barcelona Tours are on hand for just that. Our guide will take you on a mouth-watering journey of some of the top tapas haunts in the Gothic, washing the delightful delicacies down with of local wines.

Cookery Class

Consider yourself a bit of a Delia in the kitchen? Even better! Why not try a cookery class right here in the heart of foodie heaven. You will be greeted with a cold glass of bubbles as you begin creating your very own 3 course Spanish meal. With a widerange of dishes on offer you can tailor make which ever creative concoctions youdesire, from cod fritters, to Catalan pastry bread, through to typical Catalan romescofish and pork with apple sauce. Why not try your hand at creating the traditionaldesert of ‘Emporda Bunyols’ (Catalan donuts) accompanied by your very ownCatalan cream and sweet pastry bread. If this has still not satisfied your appetite whynot let our guide take you on a one hour visit to the world famous Boqueria market where you can learn more about the local produce and the ingredients that you haveused in your cooking class.

Cocktail Class

If you’ve always fancied yourself as a bit of a ‘Brian Flanagan’ character (Who could forget Tom Cruise in cocktail?) why not see if you’ve got what it takes to create theperfect cocktail concoction. You will receive a private group lesson with a top mixologistwho will guide you through the tricks of the trade before allowing you to unleash yourcreative genus in a fun cocktail making competition. If mixology is your thing, this is an absolute must- the perfect autumnal group activity.

A group trip to Barcelona in the autumn is the perfect way to bridge the gap between summer and Christmas, with the warm weather and fewer tourists. So let BarcelonaTours tantalise those taste buds and organise your perfect Autumnal Barcelonagastronomical get-together. Salut!

Spring (Onion) Your Way into Spring….

It is no secret that here in Barcelona we love to eat. No matter the occasion or season we always manage to tie-in some gastronomic angle to every get-together. One favourite foodie traditions loved by Catalans, ex-pats and visitors alike is that of ‘The Calçotada’. The Calçotada is a popular ritual which brings together families and friends, in the colder months, to eat these large green onions, called ‘Calçots’. There is certainly no escaping these giant spring onions if you’re visiting between the months of December and May.

So why are we so obsessed with getting together and eating these over-sized green onions? Firstly it’s the social ritual, they are a great excuse to meet up with friends in the countryside, and of course the city also, and spend time together eating, drinking and generally being merry. There is a real knack to eating calçots which people love spending time mastering and, despite maybe perfecting, will always result in dirty hands, charcoaled chins and smelling of smoked onion.

The second reason is the sheer deliciousness of them. The most popular way to cook calçots is to grill them over an open BBQ. The onions are not completely cleaned as a little earth protects their outer skin. They are most commonly served in newspaper and must be eaten directly with the fingers. Although the outer layers will be barbecued until black, the inner bulb remains deliciously tender and white and is dipped into the ‘Salsa Romesco’. This gorgeous sauce is made from nuts, dried red peppers, vinegar, garlic and olive oil. The combination will leave you in doubt as to why this ritual is such a popular leisure time with the locals throughout the colder months.

So whilst we still have a couple of months left of the Calçot reigning supreme we wanted to share with you our top 3 places to go and experience the immensely fun Catalan Calçotada. For anyone with a special interest in learning about Spanish cooking, getting their hands in the mix, we offer a Spanish food class.

Casa Juaco

This country-style restaurant is located in the hills of Collserola, so you will need a car to get there. The restaurant has beautiful views over the lush hills of Catalunya and has a very relaxed and tranquil ambience. This restaurant is famous for its Calçotadas and is very popular so it’s advisable to book in advance.
https://www.casajuaco.com

Can Carbonell

A veritable institution for the calçotada, Can Carbonell is well worth the drive to get to. Aside from the star-guest-calçot, the other delicacies on offer are superb, including artichokes, escargot, steak, chicken, lamb, and rabbit. This place is also very child friendly so feel free to bring all the family.
https://www.cancarbonell.com

Les Espelmes

You can’t even discuss calçots without paying homage to the birthplace of the Calçotada in Valls, near Tarragona. One of our top restaurants in the area is the amazing Les Espelmes. The staff are incredibly friendly and once you’ve made your way up the twisting roads the views that greet you are spectacular. With the restaurant being perched on the top of a mountain the views over Barcelona are worth the trek, let alone their award winning calçots. This place is also one of the most popular places for calçotadas, so again make sure you book in advance to avoid any disappointment.
https://www.lesespelmes.com

Contact us to find out how to hire a venue and do a calçotada of your own! Email us at info@barcelonatours.net or call +34 935 008 226.

Dining in Barcelona restaurants is undoubtedly one of the most popular pursuits of the city by tourists and locals alike. But dining with a great view always adds a special dynamic to your dining experience. Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner or just a place to take in the city views Barcelona has it all. From sky high restaurants with dazzling city views right down to eating on the water we have hand-picked a diverse selection of restaurants with a view for every mood. Barcelona/Catalan cuisine is cutting edge, and a great view can spice up your meal!

Panoramic City Views: Mirablau

Mirablau is often described as ‘the place to be seen’ in Barcelona as it draws in a glamorous crowd looking for that unique combination of outstanding views and a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Through its floor to ceiling glass windows is a stunning panoramic view of the entire city glimmering below. It’s the ideal place for an early evening cocktail as it opens at 7pm, but make sure you make yourself at home as it is best enjoyed later on in the evening when the city lights are at their most “illuminating” and the music is playing.

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By the Sea: Martinez

At the other end of the city, halfway up the other famous mountain: Montjuic, is the fantastic Martinez restaurant.  As the entire restaurant is seated outside this is the ultimate in al fresco dining. It still however appeals to diners in the cooler months as they supply cosy blankets and heaters to ensure you still enjoy the outdoor dining experience without feeling the chill. As Martinez is nestled into the cliff of montjuic it is a unique setting as the imposing mountain towers above you the sprawling harbour and medieterian sea lies beneath creating an impressive contrast. Specialising in Paella and rice dishes this restaurant has carefully selected a range of creative set menus offering some unique twists on the traditional dish.

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Historical Location: Babilonia- Sagrada Familia

We couldn’t possibly cover the cities best dining views without including one with a view of arguably the most iconic view of the entire city. Babilonia is located, smack bang in front of the stunning Sagrada Familia and offers a fantastic selection of tapas and Mediterranean food. The restaurant has a very cosy, home-from-home feel so this is great place for families too. With a heated terrace and a privileged location, right at the foot of Gaudi’s masterpiece,  the restaurant can be enjoyed all year round.

People watching: Citrus – Views of Passieg De Gracia

Recently renovated this modern and stylishly decorated restaurant sits proudly on the prestigious Passieg De Gracia. It offers wonderful views of the street below through its enormous windows and offers very competitive prices for its luxurious location. It gives off an upscale and ‘exclusive’ first impression whilst offering a very personal and welcoming service – which is a combination that one would like to find more often in Barcelona. The waiters are attentive and friendly and the menu offers a very generous vegetarian selection.

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People Watching: Attic – La Rambla

It doesn’t get much more central than La Rambla, but the area itself, though stunning and lively, can be a real challenge for people looking for somewhere special on the never-ending strip of over-priced restaurants and bars.  The Attic restaurant offers modern, well presented cuisine in one of the best people-watching spots in town. The relaxing terrace, perched directly above La Rambla, offers the best views of the hustle and bustle of the street activity below. The cuisine is heavily focused on combining classic mediterranean flavours in an innovative way to create a unique gastronomic experience and the large historical columns give the place a very regal ambience.

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Sea Views: Bestial

This modern and sophisticated space boasts a beautiful view of the sea and offers fine, but unpretentious, cuisine. The terrace itself is sprinkled in twinkling fairy lights which gives it a very romantic setting and the Italian-inspired cuisine is always fresh and of top quality. They also do fantastic cocktails so this is a great spot to unwind with a drink and spend some time socialising before settling down for a top-notch Italian feast.

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Barcelona really is any gourmand’s wet (and dry and humid and moist and..) dream! Catalan cooking tradition has spawned several generations of world-class chefs, many of which have their own place (restaurant) in Barcelona, even though they orginally started somewhere else. For instance, “the world’s best chef” Ferran Adriá and his brother, Albert, have several restaurants in Barcelona, after closing their three star temple of experimental cuisine, El Bulli in northern Catalonia a few years back. Most known is their tapas “bar”, Tickets. Furthermore, the brothers Roca whose Celler de Can Roca in Girona consistently is on a top 3 list of the best restaurants in the world, have Roca Moo in the Hotel Omm in downtown Barcelona. Whether you are looking for fine dining at the uppermost level or prefer to eat on a more modest budget, Barcelona has it all! Check out our list of ten recommended tapas restaurants in Barcelona. If you travel in a group, in a larger family or with colleagues, we’re happy to set up a group dining experience for you!

Contact us at info@barcelonatours.net or call +34 935 008 226.

Get to know the wine regions of Catalonia: the reds and the whites, and naturally, the Cava. There’s a rich variety of wines flowing from the region these days, and we’d like to argue that some of the regions are under-appreciated. We’d like to point you in the direction of some real palate waking wine experiences!

History of Wine Making in Catalonia

As so many roads and ties, this particular ones goes back to the Romans who made wine produced around its strongholds in the region Tarraco (Tarragona) and Barcino (Barcelona) into a commodity. However, wine was most likely introduced by the Greeks who took the journey before the Romans and settled in Empordá, on the northern coast. To this day Empordá is producing fine wine.

Wine production spread under the Romans, and today the 11 “denominaciones de origen” (DO) are laid out from the French border to the southern tip of the Tarragona region, bordering Valencia.

Producing wine in Catalonia hasn’t been without its challenges, however, and at the end of the 19th century all the vines were wiped out by the Phylloxera vastatrix bug. It was a case of starting over for winemakers, and some regions lay fallow for decades. Some, like Priorat, are even regarded as reasonably “new” regions in the global market as it is just lately that they picked up momentum, creating exceptional wines.

But, let’s start at the beginning and at the (geographical) top, Empordá.

Empordá

Grape varieties: Grenache, Syrah, Carinyena, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay

Total acres: 5115

Total wineries: 49

The wine here is produced between the mighty Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea in the rugged Costa Brava coast landscape. The region has had its DO since 1975 and is known for its full-bodied reds and fresh whites as well as the sweeter type made from garantxa and moscatel grapes.

From the windswept, rocky landscape of the Costa Brava we move to the tranquil plains of:

Pla de Báges

Grape varieties: Grenaches, Tempranillo, Picapoll, Macabeo, Parellada, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

Total acres: 1485

Total wineries: 14

This is one of the smallest and the youngest wine regions (achieved DO in 1995) in Catalonia. Located at the foot of the impressive saw tooth Montserrat mountain, the climate is dry and hot in the summer and chilly in the winter. The not so rich soil yields a low output, but wines of quality: fruity and aromatic reds and rosés and whites made from the fragile Picapoll grape that are light of colour and taste yet rich in fruit notes.

From the “plains of Bacchus” we turn towards the coast again, and arrive at another small wine region:

Alella

Grape varieties: Grenaches, Xarel.lo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin, Macabeo, Malavasia, Moscatell, Parellada, Picapoll. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Monastrell, Pinot Noir, Samsó, Syrah and Tempranillo.

Total acres: 818

Total wineries: 8

A tiny region on the coast (Maresme) just north of Barcelona with white granite-based sand that characterises the soil here. The climate here is cooler and more humid than most Catalan regions. The whites are light and fresh with ripe fruit notes, and the reds range from light, uncomplicated to more full-bodied barrel aged types.

When turning south from the smallest Catalan region we pass Barcelona and get to the largest:

Penedés

Grape varieties: Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel·lo, Garnacha, Tempranillo, Merlot

Total acres: 64247

Total wineries: 140 +

With a history of wine making that goes back 1500 years it is fair to say that 1870 is a date in the history of Penedés with a particular “sparkle”, as it is the year of the first cava production. The sparkling wine that this sandy clay and limestone rich soil produces has become a global “hit”.

The region is, naturally, famous for the cava, but exports a substantial amount of quality red, whites and rosés as well. The reds are, in general, smooth with velvety textures and the whites are low in alcohol but high on fruit notes and freshness. The rosés are also fresh and fruity and flowery on the nose.

Setting the course due south we enter the next region:

Tarragona

Grape varieties: Garnach tinta, Carinena, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Macabeo, Garnacha Blanca, Pedro Ximenez

Total acres: 16304

Total wineries: 58

The climate here is stable with little chance of frost, resulting in a stable output. The region might be most known for its sweet reds. The Tarragona Clásico is made from (over) ripe Tempranillo grapes, fermented until reaching an alcohol level of 17%. The topography allows for a great variety as the vines stretch from the River Ebro to the sea, resulting in wine production across very different types of soil.

Setting the course west towards the interior part of Catalonia we get to:

Conca de Berberá

Grape varieties: Macabeo, Parellada, Garnache, Trepat, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay.

Total acres: 10378

Total wineries: 24

Another small region with a recent history (1985) of having the DO status. The whites actually represent 75% of the production in the region. No reason to overlook the reds, though, with both younger with smooth and light finishes as well as heavier oak barrels aged ones that can be both complex and linger on the palate.

Continuing our journey westwards to the Lleida province and a more mountainous landscape we reach:

Costers del Segre

Grape varieties: Macabeo, Parellada, Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Garnacha tinta, Tempranillo, Trepat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, Merlot, Pinot noir and Syrah.

Total acres: 11604

Total wineries: 37

Due to the elevated position of the vineyards here, temperatures can vary greatly in 24 hours, which contributes to the development of the grapes. The whites tend to have a “classic profile”; light, fruity and with acidity. The red wines are identified by their potent aroma and the taste revealing plenty of tannins with strong structure and balance.

Turning south again we reach one of Spain’s very finest wine regions:

Priorat

Grape varieties:  Garnacha Tinta, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximenez

Total acres: 4695

Total wineries: 103

The Priorat is a small area, less than 5000 acres used for growing wine, but its unique micro-climate is a basis for some extraordinary wines. There are valleys and hills with the hot Mistral winds coming in from the East to caress the vines, and cold winds coming in from the North to roughen up those very same vines. Hot summers and cold winters create more contrast, and summer days can produce temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius with night temperatures dropping down to a cool 10 degrees.

Winemaking here dates back to the 12th century, but quality started to become a focus in 1985 when winemakers sought to take full advantage of the natural assets here. A high-quality red from Priorat tastes of sun-dried red fruits, plum, black cherry and have a very mineral taste and aroma – the soil pushing through the senses! Traditionally, red rules in Priorat, but more and more makers are realising the potential for great whites here as well. A good white often reveals fruit blossoms, almonds and balanced citrus notes, rich and fresh.

Pushing further south, approaching the very southern border pf Catalonia we find the hills of:

Montsant

Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Garnatxa, ‘Hairy’ Grenache, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Red Picapoll, Syrah, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Garnatxa, Macabeo, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Parellada, and Xarel·lo.

Total acres: 4590

Total wineries: 57

Montsant is yet another small and “young” region, achieving DO status in 2001. Like Priorat its landscape is like a “mini-Toscana” with hills and valleys full of pine trees and olive groves.

For a region that occupies the part of the Priorat county that doesn’t belong to the Priorat DO, it is not surprising that the reds tend to be of the powerful kind, and about 95% of the wine production here is reds. Montsant also produces fresh white wines, rosé and the sweet red dessert wine, “vi ranci”.

Moving into “higher ground” further South (West) towards the interior we end up in:

Terra Alta

Grape varieties: Garnacha tinta, Garnacha Peluda, Samsó, Garnacha blanca, Macabeo and Parellada.

Total acres: 20262

Total wineries: 42

We are now in Picasso territory, as the Andalusian painter spent summers here, painting the landscape before going back to (art) school in Barcelona in the autumn. As the name indicates, the vines are planted in “higher ground”, about 500 m above sea level.

As it, historically, has not been the most accessible of places, production has been low and for local consume. Today, however, Terra Alta produces reds, whites, rosés as well as the “vi ranci” of high quality. The best red wines have petrol notes, almond and stone fruit in their make-up, and the whites showcase tannins and citrus acidity.

Catalunya

The final DO in Catalonia is the Catalunya DO. This is an “umbrella” for about 200 wineries scattered around the region that do not pertain to one of the other official wine regions

If you, after reading this, feel the urge to try out some of the unique and excellent wines produced here, we suggest you join our wine tasting in Barcelona for an evening’s journey through the Catalan wine regions!

Here we serve up a list of ten recommended tapas restaurants in Barcelona. You’ll find places run by famous Michelin starred chefs as well as the traditional tapas bar that has served locals for decades. Get to know Tickets, Cal Pep, Quimet and more!

Despite the fact that the tapas food tradition is not really a part of the Catalan cuisine, today’s local chefs have fully embraced it and are adding a lot of creative touches. We’re recommending ten tapas places that together make up a tasty cross-section of the types of tapas dishes you can indulge in, in Barcelona.

We are not going to rank these restaurants, as, with such widely different concepts of tapas on the menu in Barcelona, that really would be comparing apples and pears! The ten on this list, in our opinion, offer some of the more memorable tapas tasting experiences you can have in Barcelona, and you’ll find restaurants run by famous chefs as well as traditional, time tested, tapas bars.

10 Recommended Tapas Bars in Barcelona

Tapas 24 – Even though run by a Michelin starred chef, Carles Abellan, the atmosphere here is suitably informal, busy but friendly. As with any “real” tapas bar you can’t book a table, just turn up and hope the line isn’t too long. It is a tourist favourite so be warned! The food is worth waiting in line for, though, especially the “bikini” – a traditional ham & cheese toast, here “spiked” with black truffle. The chocolate dessert lined with olive oil and sea salt is another winner Type of kitchen: Creative Tapas.

Cal Pep – This is a classic tapas restaurant with an air of authenticity and a lively atmosphere. Suitably for a place close to the Barceloneta (a former fishing village, now the home of beach lovers), seafood takes center stage at Pep’s. The clams and ham dish (cloisses amp peril) is a must, and it’s also one of the best place in town to enjoy a traditional Spanish omelette. Type of kitchen: Classic Tapas/Seafood

Dos Pebrots is the place of a former head chef at “the world’s best restaurant”, El Bulli, Albert Raurich. He is another chef who has found inspiration in Asian cuisine as well as the Spanish tapas tradition and Catalan products and dishes. Type of kitchen: Creative Catalan.

Quimet i Quimet. You can’t beat Quimet for atmosphere! It’s one of the longest standing tapas bars in Barcelona, and they never fail to serve top produce. They specialise in conservas, food preserved in tin-cans, which might be odd for a non-Spanish, but is, in fact, a real time-honoured tradition in Spain. And, the montaditos – tapas on bread are a perfect snack to go with one of the many bottles of wine they can offer. Type of kitchen: Classic Tapas.

Tickets No article about food in Barcelona gets written without mentioning the Adriá brothers.We have already mentioned a couple of chefs who learnt their trade at Ferran Adriá’s iconic restaurant, El Bulli. When closing the “mothership”, Ferran and his brother Albert branched out into various culinary projects, one being Tickets – a “tapas bar” that showcases a lot of the kitchen innovations cooked up at El Bulli, in an informal and playful setting. You are basically guaranteed a menu filled with tapas dishes that you have never tried before.  Type of kitchen: Tapas deconstruction.

Tapeo  This is a relative newcomer to the Old Town tapas scene, and they are, so far, getting it right. The menu is based on (mostly) traditional Catalan dishes, but in general they are served with a culinary “twist”. The spare-ribs are among the best we’ve tried. The cannelloni stuffed with blood sausage, Morcilla, is another winner.Type of kitchen: Creative Tapas

Bar Tomás As most tapas bars tend to be located in the Old Town, Tomás is an exception, location wise. This bar is located in the Zone Alta – in the Sarriá neighbourhood, at the foot of the Collserola heights. It’s a Barcelona classic and frequently mentioned as having “the best patatas braves (potatoes in spicy sauce) in town.” Type of kitchen: Classic tapas

Blai 9  We need to include a bar from Carrer Blai in Poble Sec in our list. This is about the only street in Barcelona where you can hop from tapas bar to tapas bar, and the bars are lively and the food cheap, making it a favourite for young people on a night out. The food is nothing to write home about, or write about in a blog, in general – the exception being Blai 9. They serve pintxos – tapas on a bread pierced by a toothpick. The toothpicks are counted at the end to sum up what is a reasonable price for tasty tidbits of quail eggs, mini burgers and more. Type of kitchen: Creative tapas

El Vaso de Oro. So far we have visited the Old Town district with detours to Poble Sec, Sarriá and Eixample. Any list of eateries wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the “beach district”, Barceloneta. The “Golden Glass Bar” is an excellent alternative for enjoying quality drought beer while chomping away on typical tapas, among these meatballs with cuttlefish. This is, after all, the original fishing district of Barcelona! Type of kitchen: Classic tapas.

Ten’s Tapas – Another tapas place under the supervision of a famous chef, in this case Jordi Cruz, a familiar face in Spain due to being one of the judges on the Spanish version of Masterchef. Ten’s specialise in taking cues from the tapas tradition and mixing them up with Asian dishes and ingredients, like the Sichuan ice cream. They do keep things interesting by changing their menu frequently, which makes it more difficult to recommend particular dishes. Type of kitchen: Catalan/Asian fusion.

Want to know more about Spanish food tradition, in a hands-on manner? Join our Spanish cooking class in Barcelona!