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Traditional Spanish paella

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A Taste Of Spain!

A Culinary Mediterranean Adventure.

For our “Food and Drinks” issue, I’m sharing the best-kept secrets of Spain! My family is from Spain. I spent many summers there and attended college in Barcelona for a year. Although the towns have grown, what stays the same is the amazing culinary experiences you will find from the local cafe to the most elegant restaurant in these amazing cities!

First stop Bilbao, Spain. This gorgeous Basque coastal town is a must-visit. Originally known for its shipbuilding industry, “La Gran Ria”, the river that runs through the town has transformed into the waterside social hub filled with access to restaurants, shops and the Guggenheim designed by American Architect Frank Gehry. The museum’s design is meant to resemble colliding ships, an homage to Bilbao’s history.  Visit “Café Iruña”, established in 1903, has the original tiles, millwork and warmth of the original built. The main meal in Spain is around 2:00 pm. Be sure to ask for “El menu del dia” (menu of the day) which provides three choices of a first entrée, plus a second entrée, dessert and includes, beer, wine, or bottled water, all for only around $20 dollars per person.

Next, “Bar Arantzale”, a clifftop bar located in a traditional fisherman’s town and dine with the locals. No tourists here. Open late, for evening get-togethers, sit outside on quaint wooden furniture and order traditional Basque shareable dishes like, “chorizo” baked in clay pots, savory small squid, muscles in a savory sauce with wine or beer.  

Bilbao’s final recommendation, an upscale waterfront restaurant, “Café La Veranda”. Enjoy a posh mid-day menu with a view of the beach. The menu of the day includes choices like “Gazpacho, Bacalao Ahumado, Langostinos Sobre Crema de Maiz, Medallon de Bonito”, and finish with “Bizchoco de Almendra”. Meals include wine, beer, and local spring water from “Gernika” for only $37 per person.   

Next stop, Benidorm, Spain. Here, order their traditional regional rice “Arroz del Senoyoret”, it’s like a paella, but with a tomato savory base and seafood, no chicken or chorizo here.  Available at “La Terraza”, beach front restaurant where the “menu of the day” is $22 per person. Enjoy your meal while taking in the beach views and people walking by on the promenade.  In the evening, the social life continues until late, with bar-café style locations crowded with locals and tourists enjoying the traditional last meal of the day, typically around 10 pm. At “La Tapita” you can order a “caña rubia”, a blonde beer or wine, and you get a “pincho” (single serve appetizer) free with each drink for only $2.60 each!

Final stop, Barcelona Spain, filled with centuries of rich Catalan culture, home of artist like Picasso, Miro, the 1992 Olympics, and of course the works of Antonio Gaudi. You will love the architecture, old and new, the food, shopping, and hospitality.

For an upscale dining experience, visit “Disfrutar” in Barcelona which boast of having two Michelin Stars, voted the best of Barcelona yearly and ranked in third place as the world’s top 50 restaurants in 2022. Be sure to get a reservation in advance! Its very hard to get into this restaurant because of its fame. A culinary experience you will treasure!

On the opposite side of your culinary adventure, be sure to visit “La Boqueria”, this famous market located off La Rambla, it’s a must visit for locals and tourists. In this indoor food market you will experience food stands, offering a variety of local vendors selling their top rated “Jamón Ibérico”, seafood bowls you can eat while you are walking around, sample and purchase classic treats like Spanish “turrón” (Spanish nougat bar) with unexpected flavors and options made with pistachios, or Bailey’s liquor and more. Discover, small bar stands with seating areas that wrap around their space, serving you “pinchos” (single serve appetizers) with a drink. It’s a must-go-to and experience!

A must have, “churros con chocolate”, a Spaniard classic you can have for breakfast, dessert and as snack any time. “La Selecta De Churros”, established in 1950 offers a wide variety, including traditional churros, salty options like “Churro de Jamón y Queso” and sweet churros stuffed with dark chocolate or mango cream.

Anywhere you eat in Barcelona is a treat. My final favorite that offers multiple locations is “Casa Carmen”. Consider this in-between “La Boqueira” market and upscale “Difrutar”. Menus are available in English, offering a wide range of traditional Spaniard cuisine, with a mix of modern flair. My favorite, “Pimientos de Padrón”, (regional small green peppers, flash fried and sprinkled with sea salt).  Shareables with drinks is the way to go.  

Experiencing Spain through your palate is an adventure you will always remember! Enjoy!

  • Spanish "Pinchos"
  • Spanish "Tapas"
  • Spanish Tortilla, Croquetas, Jamon & Green Olives
  • Churros Con Chocolate
  • Traditional Spanish paella