41º, 50 Best, Alicio Garro, Arzak, Asador, Azurmendi, Basque Country, Björn Frantzén, Den Gyldene Freden, Ekstedt, El Celler De Can Roca, El Quim, Elena Arzak, Eneko Atxa, Etxebarri, Fäviken Magasinet, Gaztelugatxe, Ibai, Juan Mari Arzak, Lisa Elmqvist, Magnus Nilsson, Martín Berasategui, Matbaren, Michelin, Restaurant Frantzén, Rolfs Kök, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Scandinavia, Tickets, Victor Arguinzoniz
I remember it happening like it was a yesterday. It was a late September rainy evening when I picked Sonny up on our way home from work. “I found a restaurant we should go to, its an hour plane ride from Stockholm, then an hour drive out and it only has six tables” he said to me. Then later that evening, I read a little more and saw this YouTube video. I was sold and Sweden was pencilled into our annual summer trip east of the Atlantic which generally included a trip to Basque Country in Spain and another country in the vicinity.
But that was more than a year ago and since then, our timeline had changed. What was supposed to be a trip in the summer turned to autumn due to professional circumstances, and an unwillingness to coincide with San Sebastián’s international film festival in late September, Gastronomika in early October and Arzak‘s closure in November. To time our trip with a new season, the change of ingredients and the Aurora Borealis up in Sweden was another consideration and late October is what we settled on.
If I woke up one day in Barcelona completely hung over from a long night of pAArtying and intense alcohol consumption, I know exactly what I would do to feel better. I’d go to La Boqueria and hit up a tapas joint called El Quim. Once someone leaves their bar seat and I have the presence of mind to nab it, I’ll order some cava or beer to drink and eat some legit hangover food. Luckily, the food here at El Quim is not the typical North American hangover food drenched in grease, but instead, sauces and hearty flavours that sooth the stomach queasy from the deterioration of the lining the night before.
Every time S and I are in a different city we make it a point to go somewhere that serves truly traditional cuisine without all the grandeur of fine dining or the colloquial tourist atmosphere of a bar. In Barcelona, I’m not talking about those places along Paseig de Gracia, La Boqueria or La Rambla. I’m talking about Can Vallés, a place far away from the tourist hubs, doesn’t speak English and is absolutely packed with locals.