Barcelona Part 3 - the dramatic conclusion

For the final evening in Barcelona we met a friend who was psychotically adamant we should go to to Quimet & Quimet.

I had recommended it to him the previous day and he enjoyed it so much he insisted we return. He got there before 7 and waited in a queue excitedly texting me that we would get a table.

Upon arrival I saw a traditional tapas bar (full of japanese and americans and us and couple of Spaniards squeezed into a far corner) specialising in preparations of preserved, mainly tinned, ingredients (and some cheeses), served on their own or topping half bagel style crispbreads. I pulled a bottle out of the bank of fridges, a basque white with lots of T's K's and X's in the title, off dry and very slightly sparkling and we happily slurped whilst working our way through a selection of fish and seafood. sorry no photos even though almost everyone else was taking pictures it never occurred to me as i just havent got the hang of this. When the food arrives i eat it. full stop.

My friend was raving about the salmon and it was rather nice (other people agree, I thought the vinegar was a pedro ximenez reduction rather than a balsamic/honey mix), the goats cheese topped with green olive tapenade was also delicious as was the tuna and piquillo pepper. I like the idea of bespoke Tapas/Pintxos created by my frenzied finger pointing. I made to grab another bottle of TKXAOLI ? but my fried insisted an a different Spanish white as he had seen "a cool dude" drinking it the night before. Never trust a Germans wine choice, they make the best beer in the world (sorry Belgium) but wine is not their core business. so we started swigging the hangover in a glass and down went my prospects of a clear head.

We ate our fill then started again and finally digested as we took in the surroundings. They had some bizarre products on the shelves locked in the wooden cabinets on the wall; chateau d'yquem sharing space with English jam, vanilla sugar, balsamic and all with a handwritten price like a gastronomic second hand book shop. We only left because I had made a dinner reservation at Passadis del Pep  which was recommended by a very thin (suspicious in a foodie) colleague and unknown to the taxi driver or his walkie talkie pals. I googled the address and we drove round and round the square until I needed the loo at which point it was time to bail out and pigeon spanish ("donda es la Passadeis del Pep") a waiter outside an Irish bar who was English and sent me to the wrong place; Cal Pep where there was a massive queue just to speak to the barman so i was hopping up and down and finally it was my turn and he pointed back up the passage. So round and round the square increasingly desperate counting the buildings and finally finding the restaurant (and running into the little boys room).

A trendy Cava (strange 3D label which you look at through red/blue glasses) was opened which i did my level best to refuse, however the waiter insisted because it was free (in retrospect i wonder if they lubricate you so you keep on eating). I reluctantly agreed to a small glass and ordered a white Penedes but the damage was done and the slightly sweet bubbles conned my brain into thinking it would all be fine and I should avoid the Penedes and drink all the Cava. NB the only sparkling wines worth drinking in volume [for me at least] i.e. those which treat you kindly are Champagne and, if you can find it, Franciacorta which is a champenoise from a small area (the size a handkerchief I was told) east of Bergamo in Northern Italy.

no menu and the food arrived as follows;

jamon iberico produced by the acceptable 5 Jotas (i checked on the way in) duly appeared along with the ubiquitous pan amb tomaquet. Incidentally there are a small number of 5 Jotas restaurants including one outside the Bernabeu where I really enjoyed a few plates of post-match egg and chips and jamon iberico; a bit different to a pie and a pint.
small (again with the little creatures) clams with garlic, parsely, olive oil and sand. This is the first ever picture ive found which looks remotely like one of my photos ! )

8 whelks on a bed of sea salt. I was ready for them and did not eat any of the salt re: the Fat Duck experience and I also cut off the digestive tract at the end of the whelk which is sandy and a bit poo. Initially I thought they were covered in sand but it was butter and finely ground hard cheese.
Some small (pattern developing) soft shelled prawns were served along with some tiny (what is the obsession with eating small animals?) deep fried fry. They looked like tiny hake but the Cava had taken over and I can't say for sure.
A so-so squid risotto was up next and I then spent some time hovering in front of the open kitchen as the chef cooked the lovely dark-red, deepwater shrimp, Gambas a la plancha, on the grill with salt. They are called Carabineros (the best I ever had were huge and hugely expensive and from Huelva), these were once the food of the porr fishermen. I would love to know where I can buy them in the UK...

I followed them back to my table and alternated between these and scampi which as they are native to the North sea probably travelled further to get to the restaurant than I did. In the BATTLE OF SHRIMP VS SCAMPI........SHRIMP WINS.

and that really surprised me as I have so often banged the drum about scampi but the sweetness of the head juice and the non-serration of my fingers whilst peeling the Carabineros tipped the balance.

The waiter casually asked if we were full or would like some more meat or fish, but I was a spent force after eating all day then enjoying 2 dinners. A final effort, like Sean Connery crawling across the floor in the Untouchables and i ordered a Crema Catalana, made lovely by the acidity of the layer of sliced strawberries under the creamy custard and bittersweet caramel.

a herbal tea machine which i couldn't operate resulting in boiling camomile all over legs and tablecloth and I was ready to leave. The waiter was adamant I should have a liqueur and offered a veritable smorgasbord of poison and venom. Why do they make this offer ? it took me 10 years to train my diminished responsibility self to never ever ever EVER drink liqueur at the end of a meal. To paraphrase William Blake (again), "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom because only by knowing what is too much can we learn what is enough. I went through doppelcorn, jaegermeister, struh, absinthe, the paradoxically named Eau de Vie and many other assorted toxins to learn to abstain and I watched with smug self-satisfaction as all around me sensible individuals poured strange brightly coloured perfumed herbal essences into iced (a dead giveaway) shot glasses and toasted their imminent poison imbibing. As it happens i woke up anyway feeling as though I had died in my sleep but imagine how much worse I would have felt if I hit the liqeurs. 

The morals of this story; see Barcelona and eat, only order Spanish food and don’t drink Cava.