I love Barcelona. Unpretentious. Friendly. Old town and new town. And Tapas. Tempting tapas!
The Catalan capital is a city that lets you wander - aimlessly if you like; as we did: Stumbling upon hidden streets and strolling musicians; dancing in sunlit courtyards; a food market groaning under the weight of tapas upon tapas and pea-shelling peoples and the chance to taste; to try. Repeat.
Which we did. I'd like to say that our tapas touring and tasting was purely for research purposes - we are catering for an amazing barn wedding this summer where the emphasis will be on relaxed tapas style food - so I suppose to a certain extent it was. I came away totally inspired by wonderful combinations of flavour and presentation; great ideas for hearty canapes - based on the montaditos (sculpted tapas served on bread); and a reinforced appreciation of small taster dishes kicking a real punch.
I loved some of the nu-trad tapas bars as much as the darker, heavily wooded ones. I loved the milk-soaked anchovies added to oxtail stew; crispy jamon; patatas bravas with aioli - not so much the spiced tomato versions: I became connoisseur of chocos (creamy squid rings) and garlic and tomato bread - ideally toasted on a griddle pan until almost charred.
I drank mojito cocktails and rose wine - the former because one particular bar made the best I've ever had; with spicy stem ginger and angostura bitter. Tapas tasted good with both.
So now to the kitchen. To practice tapas Lazy Sunday style. Maybe even with a mojito to hand. In fact, almost definitely!