Barcelona so far has been a delight. I would rate Spain over France as a traveller, because in comparison, so far, Spain feels lived-in and energetic all the time, with something intriguing on every corner, in every square (of which there are a lot of) and in every tapas bar.
The Bruce clan unfortunately hadn’t really looked into Barcelona fare prior to us getting here, so we’ve had a few iffy experiences – which I’ll get to in another blog post. At any rate, the best experience so far has come in the surprising form of a seafood stall – Universal Kiosk – about an hour ago, in Boqueria Market just off Las Ramblas. I was so excited about it I figured I should write about it immediately, while the experience was still fresh in my mind.
What immediately becomes apparent at Universal is that every dish is fresh and simple, and unpretentiously tasty. There was none of the truffle and flower garnish fanfare of French cuisine here, that’s for sure. We ordered the mixed mushrooms, razor clams, mixed seafood plate and squid and chips. Sounds basic, right? Well you’d be correct. And with seafood that fresh, you can afford to be basic.
The dishes were all flash-cooked and then doused in a pre-prepared condiment of olive oil, garlic, lemon, parsley and salt and pepper. And it needed nothing more. The mixed mushrooms were incredible with a flaked salt, end varieties of mushrooms that I’d never come across before. They were so flavorsome with sea salt and garlic that I wanted to order ten plates more.
The razor clams and mixed seafood plate weren’t as salty, sadly, as I’m always a fan of brain aneurysm on a plate. But the seafood was juicy and sweet without that horrible oily fishiness that you can come across in unfortunate seafood experiences.
But the standout dish was the squid and chips. The squid was meaty and tender, without that chewiness that is often associated with squid, and the chips were soggy with olive oil and garlic, which was surprisingly delicious (I normally LOATH soggy chips) and went so well with the squid I almost wanted to cry with happiness – or maybe that was the delicious glass of champagne that accompanied the dish that cost next to nothing.
Anyway, Universal Kiosk is worth a visit. Located at the edge of the market, the atmosphere is busy and wonderful and afterwards, you can take yourself off to get a freshly squeezed coconut and mango juice, or blackberry and coconut juice, or artisanal gelati, or whatever else takes your fancy, because apparently this market does everything well. I highly highly highly recommend.