Dinner @ Can Recasens
I feel like taking a red-eye from NYC to Europe is a gift and a curse. In my mind, getting there first thing in the morning is like cheating an extra day out of the trip. I always have these grandiose visions of getting to the hotel, showering, and heading out for a day of adventure. This almost never happens.
My first day in Barcelona, I ended up spending half the day waiting for the room to be ready because the hotel wouldn’t let us check in “early”…arghhh! I felt trapped, sleepy, and un-showered…not a great combo. And as I waited, I watched as the sun clouded over, the skies turned a deep gray, and then opened up…a thunderstorm our first night in Barcelona. I was told it only rains 28 days out of the year…. what luck!
That said, I heard about a cute, local, uber-authentic spot in an area called Poble Nou. The name of the place was Can Recasens, and I trekked (through the rain!) for dinner. Family-owned, this place was a butcher shop until 2003 when it was converted to a full restaurant. As you enter the front, you are surrounded by shelves of different olive oils, vinegars, and spices and a case full of cured meats and cheeses (all of which are for purchase). Why do the shelves in shops like these look so elegant whereas in my apartment kitchen, it’s just clutter…in any case, it was more reminiscent of a quaint, Catalonian specialty shop than a restaurant, incredibly warm and vibrant.
I felt like I was entering someone’s home, a series of small adjoining rooms, each named after an artist. The rooms were full of diners, none of whom were speaking English. If Spanish diners are there at 11 p.m. on a rainy Thursday, the food must be the truth…
Meats, cheeses and wine – that’s what to expect (as well as being completely dehydrated the next day…). The dinner started with a lovely cava and a salad loaded with oranges, lamb’s lettuce, mint, pine nuts, chili oil and crispy, fried onions. Then came a Spanish cab, delicious, nutty pernil(Iberian acorn-fed ham, a house specialty), luscious sobrassada (cured sausage from the Balearic islands) with rosemary honey, caramelized chorizo from Leon, melted gruyère cheese over roasted red peppers…Many items are featured as torrades, meats and cheeses stacked or melted over crunchy bread. They also have fondues as well as fustes, which are large wooden cutting boards piled high with various Catalan meats, sausages, pates, and cheeses.
We finished with something that was called chocolate mousse but was a bit lost in translation. I would definitely go back for a casual and (slightly) lighter alternative for dinner. All in, a completely delectable evening and well worth the trek through the rain…