Exploring Spain… one bite at a time

After a brief hiatus, A Culinary Quest is back! This post highlights my recent food adventures in the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain.

Placa ReialBordering the Mediterranean sea, Barcelona is an edgy, avante garde city bursting with energy. Fascinating medieval architecture, painted street performers, violent protest rallies and sprawling open-air markets make up the daily scene.Cathedral  Street performer

More importantly, here you’ll find fresh-caught seafood, cured meats by the ton and more wild mushrooms than you can shake a stick at. In short, it is a Foodie’s haven.DSC00645

Upon arriving in Barcelona, I soon discovered that cured ham is a local obsession. A butcher shop could be found on every corner and enormous legs of ham were hung out in the open at the markets, selling for prices that would bring American chefs to tears ($800 in the US, $150 in Barcelona).

The most famous (and expensive) cured ham is Jamon Iberico… and with good reason.  This world-renowned delicacy comes from black-footed Iberico pigs that graze on acorns, which provides the ham with a complex, savory, nutty flavor.  In addition, the fat in Iberico pigs has high levels of Oleic Acid, which causes the meat to melt at room temperature.  When sliced thinly, you can see the meat “sweats” the moisture out, and each bite literally melts in your mouth.  *Sigh*

DSC653During my stay in Spain, in keeping with local traditions, I began nearly every meal with a small plate of Jamon Iberico and Pa Amb Tomaquet: fresh bread rubbed with tomato and garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt.

And a glass of wine.  Or two.  Or three or four.  But who’s counting?SAMSUNG

Stay tuned for more foodie adventures in Spain, coming soon…