A guest post from the cava lady, Anna Wallner, on the delights of drinking cava in Barcelona.
The first time I visited Barcelona, I had already fallen in love with cava during my sommelier studies. It was in the beginning of April and it was still very cold in Sweden, but when we stepped out of BCN Airport the sun was on my face and the warmth was in the air (at least if you compare it to Sweden). Since that first visit I have come back as often as I can, usually 2-4 times a year. But even so I miss Barcelona when I’m at home in Sweden and especially now during winter when the snow builds high outside my door and the darkness is so thick it feels like you can cut it with a knife. But a glass of really nice cava on a Friday when I come home from work, really lights up even the darkest November day.
Barcelona makes me happy because the city embodies everything I love about life, fantastic food, great weather, the sea, wonderful architecture and history, great and friendly people and of course Cava. When visiting the city I feel free, and my husband and I can use our days for exactly what we want.
We usually start with walking down the Rambla and taking a turn in to La Boqueria to visit El Quim. There we usually get stuck for a while, since Quim and his boys make such wonderful food and there is an abundance of cava, always. His caramelized foie gras is one of my absolute favourites.
But when we can’t eat and drink any more we leave room for new guests and head for the beach. Always with a very slow walk passing the sailing boats in the harbour dreaming about how it would be to have a big boat, sailing the Mediterranean and making port in Barcelona. Even though it is just a dream, the discussion about it and how it would be lasts us until we reach the beach. Here, by tradition, we buy sangria in the bar, which still fascinates me, since they have it on tap, just as they have the beer. Watching the sea and the sailing boats, enjoying the sun and listening to all the languages spoken makes me calm in some way. And often we come across other Swedes of all ages, and it is always nice to hear what has brought them to BCN.
After relaxing we turn back up in town and usually wander through the gothic parts to get a change of scene. And if it’s our lucky day we will have dinner at Botafumeiro (c/ Gran de Gràcia, 81) later up in Gràcia. We only go once every trip since it is so pricey but it is worth it, since the seafood is fantastic and the cava is great.
But if it is not the day we go to Botafumeiro, we might go “tapas jumping” with friends, trying new places in the hunt of great tapas and cavas we might not have tried yet. Finding a fantastic new tapas or a new cava can make our whole night. Or finding a new place that just has that little extra when entering the door, and you just feel at home right away. Last time we were in the gothic parts we got lost and found just such a place, La Alcoba Azul (c/ Sant Domenec del Call, 14). They make great sangria and fantastic mojitos. So getting lost is not too bad after all.
My idea of a fantastic day in Barcelona is basically a day I can spend with my husband and friends and do exactly what we want without feeling that we have to hurry, but to take everything easy and to do what we want, when we want it. But a perfect day is very seldom complete without a visit to El Quim, that I must admit.
For more cava tasting experiences check out the best bodegas in Barcelona.