A Barcelona food blog
Summer, for all the wonderous activities and experiences it brings making it my favourite time of year, it can also feel like a season where you are constantly on the go with a flurry of visitors, day trips, excursions and weekends away. Kicking back and having a lazy Sunday can sometimes feel frustratingly unattainable. Reading that back I am well aware that sounds like a non-existent problem and you are thinking “oh woe is me”.
However, with this in mind last Sunday we took ourselves, our books and, fittingly for the location, the Greek backgammon board to enjoy the cool(ish) shade and peaceful oasis of the Jardins Grec and Jardins Laribal at the foot of Montjuic for a few hours.
After soaking up the pages and trying to remember all the backgammon rules correctly (must not turn that phone back on to check!) , our hunger pangs got the better of us and we made our way down to the ever more bustling and cafe crammed Carrer Blai in Poble Sec to try out what turned out to be a few Basque snacks. Our first stop was Koska Taverna at the Nou de la Rambla end of the street.Having learnt from previous mistakes of ordering several dishes straight away to then find them either a) over sized portions or b) poor quality, we’ve now decided to take the ‘start small and build up’ approach to ordering. So along with a couple of sharp, scrumpy style Basque ciders we ordered a dish of chorizos in said cider and a braised beef cheek.
The whole, sliced chorizo surprised me arriving in broth and opened my eyes to other ways it can be served, previously the accompanying ‘sauces’ I’ve tasted have been more of a reduction. The broth was richly flavoured with bay and the paprika from the sausage and the quality sourdough bread was perfect when dipped in it but on its own had been sat for too long pre-sliced and was bordering on hard.
Beef cheek was new territory for me, but a first choice when I saw it on the menu as I am rarely disappointed when I tread new ground in offal. This had clearly been lovingly braised slowly in a dark red wine or port, the exact alcohol I’m unsure of, and was rich, tender, delicious yet rather too salty for my tastes. That heading-to-stale bread was rather defunct this time round.
Both dishes were satisfying but didn’t quite hit the spot, so we decided to venture on, feeling slightly out done as well by the 19€ bill for two small tapa and two glasses of 1.50 cider. The next stop had to kill those hunger pains for good and give us better value.
Continuing the Basque theme we dropped back in at new find La Tasqueta de Blai, where the setting is relaxed, the vermouth is moreish and the pinchos are a euro a piece.
Pinchos bars are popping up more and more frequently around the city. In these economically lean times the simplicity of just going to the bar and choosing as few or as many as you please, the ease of the set price per ‘stick’ and their surprising fillingness make it almost impossible to bust the budget and contribute to their popularity.
And such variety! Here a marinated anchovy atop crunchy chopped vinegary peppers; roasted aubergine with goat’s cheese and onion relish; a spicy chorizo and speared quail’s egg; and a mini burger sat on more onion relish, crowned with a mini slice of cheese and tomato jam.
The burger tempted me too, along with serrano ham, another quail’s egg and a padron pepper; and then a sweeter piquillo pepper stuffed with strongly seasoned morcilla black pudding and a dash of romesco sauce.
The bread is not outstanding but otherwise these pinchos were a pleasure, the ingredients more than outdid the price tag. We walked away with a bill that offset the first and filled with contentment that we had finally achieved that laid back Sunday vibe.
Koska Taverna, C/Blai 8
La Tasqueta de Blai, C/Blai 17, Poble Sec