A Barcelona food blog
Dinner at Bar Cañete was going to be followed by some cubatas and dancing so, because of the constant Barcelona worry of being robbed, I prefer not to take my camera out with me on a night out. Therefore, in the spirit of the Sunday newspaper supplements I hope my words alone will convey my experience at Bar Cañete.
Bar Cañete is a shiny gem on a shabby looking street which links the Rambla with the lower end of Rambla de Raval, its royal blue canopy struts out to mark the entrance. Inside, the brightly lit, almost fluorescent tinged bar opens out, lined either side with bar stools and the open kitchen to the left at the rear half of the premises.
Catching up with friends’ post-Christmas visits home required my concentration as I was distracted watching the preparation in the kitchen which is encircled by diners seated on the stools. The fact they were packed out with clientele didn’t manifest itself in any stress in the kitchen, the team of chefs and serving staff, reminiscent of waiters from an ocean liner, worked calmly and quietly, only the chatter of customers and clanging of plates filled the atmosphere.
No meal in Barcelona is complete without Pa amb tomàquet, in this case the crusty bread was rubbed with Penjar tomatoes, a variety from near Valencia, they are tied together and hung after harvest and last longer than most other varieities. I have to admit I couldn’t really taste a huge difference but then again this is the tomato rubbed on the bread not pieces of the whole fruit which would make it much easier to compare the flavour.
Alcachofas del Prat fritas were wafer thin slices of artichokes from El Prat, piled high on the plate, it was almost a Jenga game to pull some out without the tower tumbling down. El Prat is the area outside of Barcelona in the region of the airport, it is one of the most famous areas in Spain for artichoke cultivation as the soil is supposedly perfectly suited to this crop. The artichokes were delicious but perhaps the most enjoyable part were the thin slices of lemon that had been fried in and amongst the vegetable. These were a revelation and absolutely beautiful, I found myself hunting them out in the pile, the frying having softened the sharpness of the citrus, I could happily eat just a plate of those again.
The Carpaccio de magret de pato, thin slices of duck breast drizzled with a mustard dressing filled our mouths with rich ducky flavour and the grains of mustard burst andperfectly partnered the meat. Shared between three the eight slivers were tortuously too few though.
Always the one to want to order all the fish options, the Pescado día con verduras, fish of the day with vegetables, was squid with baby spinach. Soft, fanned out strips of fried calamars sat alongside small bunches of baby spinach, neatly tied together in bouquets which had a superbly fresh, earthy, iodine taste but were sadly let down with a small smount of grit in one of them.
Huevo estrellado con chorizo ahumado gallego a ‘Paradanta’, eggs fried with potatoes and smoked chorizo from the Galicia region of Paradanta was good but obviously nothing memorable as it escapes me what to write about it here.
The crowning glory of our meal, however, was the Filete ‘Rossiñi’ con foie, a piece of soft, melt in the mouth beef fillet sat on two thin slices of toasted bread, topped with a generous slice of foie gras and a small pool of rich, unctuous jus that was just calling out to be dived into with another piece of bread when the fillet had vanished. Our plate had a neat puddle, others being served up seemed to be more of a lake. At 15.50€ this was an indulgent dish but a regal moment of eating.
The moral dilemma of eating foie gras doesn’t escape me and it’s something I often ponder. It is only since being in Barcelona that I have tasted this delicacy and it has an utterly marvellous flavour, one that’s very difficult to not sample more of. For the time being I justify my eating it because in the grand scheme of food crimes (see Hugh’s Fish Fight that I’ve been evangelising about on Facebook this week as just one example) its production is small scale and limited compared to the broad spectrum of animal, ethical, human and environmental cost our food production system causes on a daily basis. If you are interested in learning more about what I referring to here then a good place to start would be Felicity Lawrence’s book ‘Not on the label’.
Anyway, I digress. Bar Cañete was an enjoyable Friday night experience, though still not reaching the dizzy heights of Lolita Tapería which has set the benchmark for me in terms of high quality tapas in the city, as their menus are of similar price I feel it’s fair to make a comparison of the two. I brushed off the flecks of artichoke from my dress (I really must learn to sit and eat elegantly on a bar stool, no mean feat in my opinion) and we took our dancing shoes off into the night.
Bar Cañete, C/ de le unió 17, Raval