Paella Revolution – Barcelona
I’ve never been particularly keen on Paella except perhaps a strange affection for the Knorr dehydrated variety which was very popular in the seventies. Subsequent visits to Spain did nothing to change this view. The seafood always seemed overcooked, tough mussels shrunked to the size of raisins, rubbery squid and dense burned rice. It was more of a ritual trying to supress my gag reflex than a great eating experience.
Things changed though on a recent trip to Barcelona. My eating companion was my mum who had never been to Spain and not tried paella even though she is a huge fan of seafood. Indeed I have to save the prawn heads for her so she can suck out the brains, thats how into it she is!
We took the taxi to Barcelonetta, the seaside area by the port. Potentially foolishly, we asked the taxi driver for his recommendation and he drove immediately to Restaurant Salamanca on the beachfront in Barcelonetta. Seeing the driver shake the hand of the owner didn’t fill me with confidence so I took a good look at the restaurant before deciding that we would definitely eat there. I needn’t have worried. The experience turned out to be excellent.
We were led to a great table overlooking the beachfront between a huge table of locals enjoying assorted platters of seafood and cooing couples sharing a paella. We were brought good bread and slices of sausage as an appetizer. We ordered a portion of razor clams to share and the Paella Salamanca. It wasnt cheap, the paella was 30 euros each and the razor clams about 18 euros. While we waited we watched the neat choreography of the waiters who were attentive and dedicated without hovering.
The razor clams arrived and were huge! Cooked in olive oil, wine, garlic and parsley they had were incredibly meaty and delicious. We polished them off with ease. A slightly longer wait for the paella which is a good sign as so many paellas in Barcelona come microwaved to table. As it arrived it was taken to a side table and divided evenly onto two plates.
It looked and tasted incredible. Cooked in an intense seafood stock, the rice would have been delicious just on its own. It was crammed with clams, prawns, langoustine, squid and crowned with a glorious half lobster which made it ‘Salamanca’. No finger bowls were provided but napkins were constantly switched out. I couldn’t manage the whole portion but was incredibly impressed. Everything was cooked perfectly, a first for me with paella. Defeated, we were offered coffee which we declined but were served some moist almond cake which was delicious.
I read reviews of the restaurant when I got home and was shocked to see that many people accused it of being a tourist trap which we didnt experience at all. Alas, a lot of Barcelona is a tourist trap (Did I mention to never eat or drink on the Ramblas?) but we found Restaurant Salamanca to be an authentic spanish experience and will remain as a happy memory of Barcelona.
Almirall Cervera, 34, 27
Tel. 93 221 50 33
Fax 93 225 51 56