Saturday, July 08, 2006

La Boqueria

La Boqueria is the large permanent farmer's market in Barcelona, Spain. You can find dozens of produce vendors, butchers, and seafood stalls, plus various other specialty food booths. Yvonne and I had managed to rent for the week a small apartment with a kitchen in the Barceloneta neighborhood and were determined to cook some of our meals to offset the expense of our rent. We found an amazing array of processed and cured meat products, blood sausages, chorizos, offal and fresh meat in all shapes and sizes. You would be hard pressed to find a meat market anywhere in the United States with such an amazing selection on-hand.





















One of my first encounters with a cheesemonger on our trip, I very excited to see that the few Catalon cheeses I was familiar with and promptly bought a big slice of Nevat goat cheese. It is a luxuriously rich, soft-ripened goat cheese that comes in the basic shape and size of a large round peasant loaf of bread.


There was also a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, both local and from around the world. I was hoping for a more seasonal, regional produce selection. The strawberries and other berries were incredibly fragrant and delicious. Most of the greens were not chilled in any way and looked the worse for wear, as did most of the asparagus we saw in Spain and France. We did find a vendor with some lovely head lettuce and fresh herbs, morel mushrooms and fava beans. We ended up making a yummy risotto with the morels, favas, asparagus and some goat cheese.



The day we visited La Boqueria the fish stalls were all closed, but there were a number of seafood restaurant stalls open. We ate lunch at one particularly busy stand that specialized in huge platters of prawns, shellfish and molluscs. All of the stools around the counter were full when we arrived and there was a formless crowd of people standing around evidently waiting to eat. After standing in the crowd for about ten minutes we finally figured out that there was actually a method to the madness and that if you alerted the guy at the register that you were waiting he would assign you stools to wait behind. While a little disconcerting to have people standing behind you while you eat waiting for you to hurry up and go, the system actually seemed to work pretty well for them. I'd like to say that we splurged and sampled some the seafood platters but instead we went with the fixed menu lunch and had relatively unexciting fish plates.

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