While I was in Barcelona, it rained. It rained copiously. It rained more than it rains in England in the winter, but at least and this is a huge but, it was warm rain. I’ll forgive any rain that’s warm. When I was looking for somewhere for supper, I wanted somewhere I could sprint to in the rain and so I turned to our trusty friend, our second mind, the hive mind, Google and Twitter. A lot of love was being thrown about for Tapas 24 which Google Maps told me was only just around the corner and which Twitter advised me I should run to in order to get a table.
I borrowed an umbrella from the hotel and off I tottered, trying to get used to the traffic lights and the cars going the wrong way, and it took me about 5 minutes from my door to find this much talked about eatery. You might miss it from the outside, especially on a dark night, the awnings outside are bright yellow but the restaurant/bar is tucked away down a narrow set of stairs. The restaurant is run by the chef, Carles Abellan, who was at El Bulli and who owns 4 restaurants dotted around the city. This is his easy, quick, fast tapas option and the reviews online are enough of an indicator that it’s a place worth trying. The New York Times gets jolly excited and the bloggers out there were whooping and even the mean-minded of Trip Advisor (well the majority) had their thumbs up.
I walked in and was sat, immediately, at a bar table next to the open kitchen. The waiter was charming and friendly. He let me speak some appallingly bad Catalan and he smiled despite the gibberish I must have been spouting. I ordered half an Estrella and set about reading the menu. Everyone on the internet, and you know how forceful they can be, said I had to try something called a ‘bikini’ which sounded strange and not at all like something I’d like to eat. It transpires that it’s a toasted sandwich and not a piece of underwear and this one was stuffed with iberico ham, truffles and burrata. I also ordered croquetas because I can not go anywhere without having to have them. I love them so very much. These ones were also stuffed with iberico ham. I chose the patatas bravas because I fancied a bit of spice and pa amb tomàquet because this is yet another food I go on and on about. Bread, toasted, rubbed in olive oil, garlic and a ripe tomato. The actual food of my dreams and one of my earliest food memories. I would go a long way for a piece of bread that has been headbutted by a tomato. I also ordered calcots from the daily specials board. These are a Catalan speciality, soft sweet spring onions, baked in local clayish soil and served with a tomato sauce.
The chap in the photo above was my waiter. He disappeared off into the kitchen and I waited for my food to arrive. This little room was buzzing with people, both Spaniards and tourists. It seemed that a lot of parties were locals bringing business associates which I think says a lot about a place, it’s the kind of place you’d use to impress people. After a very short wait my food arrived.
Everything was absolutely delicious. The patatas were piled high with aioli, cutting through the oil of the frying and the rich tomato sauce. The croquetas were thick with that wonderful béchamel and potato sauce with large chunks of iberico, which lent a huge amount of flavour. The calcots were a strange thing, I realised a little too late that I could scrape the soil off and nobody would be offended but they were delicious and the texture was silky and the flavour sweet. The bikini sandwich was lovely, almost fragrant with the iberico fat, the truffle and the soft, white cheese. The pa amb tomàquet made me smile, happy smiles of happy memories. It was all so delicious and brilliant.
The waiter asked if I’d like a pudding and I wasn’t going to bother but he suggested the xocolata and I’m so glad he did. I discovered the best pudding I think I had ever eaten. Just perfect in its flavours and simplicity. Little quenelles of the richest chocolate mousse, topped with olive oil, cracked salt and toasted bread. Heaven! Actual heaven!
It wasn’t the cheapest meal I’ve ever eaten and a lot for somewhere like Barcelona, but for a super, one-off, special supper on holiday, I would really recommend it. I walked back to my hotel and bought these macarons from a famous French patisserie, McDonalds, yeah you read that right. They were amazing as well. The best thing I’ve ever found in a McDonalds. Except a Hamburglar toy.
Tapas 24, Diputació 269, Barcelona, Espana