As you may know, the inspiration for baresca tapas family struck in a small, unassuming tapas bar on the corner of Boqueria Market. The food, the atmosphere, everything came together unlike any restaurant we had ever experienced.
And for the first time since the pandemic, we’ve been back to experience the taste of Barcelona all over again — head to Boqueria, and the very tapas restaurant that inspired the decor and aesthetic of Baresca.
First stop: Valencia
This actually became two holidays combined. We went to Valencia to see our friends get married (congratulations to Laura and Santiago), which, as it turns out, was also a fantastic place for food and drink.
The Estrella is on another level in Spain. Yes, that is indeed a handwritten label on the back. Closer to its source in Barcelona, the beer has an incredible flavour that has far more depth due to the freshness.
And we tried tapas places of all budgets, including one that served mozzarella sticks with a strawberry jam dip for just €3 (it sounds so weird, but oddly, it works). But the best by far has to be La Otra Parte by the beach. Among the many dishes we had, the Ensalada de Burrata combined the most incredible flavours into an unbelievably good dish.
There’s just something special about tomatoes from places further south than the UK, and they play with the creamy burrata on the palate with the additional crunch of crispy black olives and an intense sun dried tomato tapenade.
After a few days in Valencia, we got on a four-hour train to Barcelona. Quick tip: first class gives you way more space around your seat, reclining chairs and that all comes at just a small amount of extra money!
Boqueria Market: A foodie’s paradise
Of course, any holiday in Barcelona must include a trip to Boqueria Market. The lively atmosphere is one-of-a-kind, and you can either pick and choose from the many market stands or try your luck waiting for a couple of stools at one of the few small tapas bars.
Seeing how energetic this place is and feeling the passion of the merchants, the chefs and their craft — it all just comes together and makes you wish we had something like this over here!
Fortunately, we timed it right and got a seat at Ramblero: the tapas bar within the market with a particular focus on seafood dishes. And their focus has well and truly paid off, as the deep fried white fish with aioli was fantastically moreish, especially with the sea salt finish.
But the star of the show was the incredible garlic prawns. Now I know you’ve probably had this dish a few times in the past, but these are so much more intense with garlic flavour with a hint of spice too and a few small mushrooms in there. It all comes together in a unique umami.
Also if you do go, tell Gi we sent you! Not that it will get you a discount, but we told her all about Baresca and she loved the idea of tapas culture being enjoyed here in Nottingham.
And before we left, we just had to take in the sights of all the fresh ingredients from the fish market to tomatoes as big as your head. Seriously, if you ever get to Barcelona, this is a must-see.
Bar Lobo: Baresca in Barcelona
And finally. The tapas bar we went to in 2002 that started the culinary journey we are on may not be open anymore, but this is the closest we can get to it: the restaurant that inspired the decor of baresca.
From the get-go, you can immediately see it. The vibe of this place just matches what you feel when you visit our place on Byard Lane: relaxed and inspired by the culture to create a laid back, fun dining experience.
Plus the menu lives up to the hype too. Again, like Baresca, it’s more tapas-inspired dishes rather than authentic Spanish tapas options. The chicken wings, for example, come with a deeply flavourful hoisin coating, and the Asparagus tempura is served with an irresistible romesco sauce.
These are not what you’d expect from traditional tapas, but as has been our approach, the idea of experimentation with flavours and taking inspirations from around the world is ingrained in the spirit of tapas.
Taste tapas at the source
So what did we learn on this trip? First of all, we still melt in the Mediterranean heat. We applied tonnes of suncream and yet I still came out of it with a badly sunburnt back.
Second, there is no place for foodies quite like Barcelona. Look beyond the tourist hotspots. Don’t settle for any old place within a minute’s walking distance of The Sagrada Familia. Go out of your way and try the small, independent places. You will love their food so much more.
And finally, there really is nothing on this planet quite like Boqueria Market. I still can’t get over it!