February 1, 2008
Barcelona’s Boquería market is spectacular, but if the Boquería is the only market you see in this town, you’re missing out.
Every neighborhood in the city has its market. Some are beautiful (like the Mercat de Santa Caterina, above, with its fab new roof), most are amazingly well-stocked, and they are much friendlier to roam than the increasingly tourist-crowded stalls of the Boquería. Information on all the city's markets can be found here.
Smaller shops, they tell a story, too, about what ingredients are most prized locally. There, you’re more likely to get the chance to chat with shopkeepers about their wares. Catalans can be a little taciturn, but ask for a culinary advice and you’ll likely find yourself snagging a recipe. Here are some of my favorite food-oriented shops beyond the Boquería:
- Mercat de la Concepció (C/Aragó 313-317) down the street from Gaudí’s Casa Batlló. It’s a wrought-iron classic built in 1888 and beautifully integrated with a modern-day supermarket below.
- Mantequeria Can Ravell (C/Aragó 313) the Eixample neighborhood’s top cheese, cured meats, and luxury specialties purveyor. Taste at the marble table or feast in the restaurant upstairs.
- Cacao Sampaka (C/Consell de Cent 292). Albert Adrià, chef Ferran’s brother, offers wild flavors, but the chocolate here is Barcelona’s best. Research it yourself: at this Eixample location you can order a bonbon tasting.
- Formatgeria de la Seu (C/La Daguería 16), in the Barri Gotic, a tiny, artisanal-Spanish-only cheese shop run by Katherine McLaughlin a Scots ex-pat. Don’t miss her cheese ice creams.
- Herboristeria del Rei (C/Vidre 1, off Plaça Reial), has been a fine source for herbs, honeys, and saffron since 1860. Check out the marble fountain where they used to stock leeches.
- Casa del Bacalao (C/Comtal 8), sells top-quality house-salted cod including thick, white loin pieces, unlike any you’ll find in the U.S
- Vila Viniteca (C/Agullers 7, in the Ribera). Young owners have turned their family corner store into a trove of fabulously curated cheese, cured meat, and wine. There are regularly scheduled tastings.
- Targa Ferretería (Pla de Palau 5-6, in the Ribera), sells restaurant and retail cooking equipment including clay casseroles, oil pitchers, and paellas (translation: skillet, but also the pans used for paella) of every size.