Thursday, April 7, 2011

Photo Essay - Mercat de La Boqueria de Barcelona

Kathy and I recently spent a little over a week in Barcelona in celebration of her birthday. We were looking for a city in Europe that neither of us had visited that was large enough to keep us busy for an entire week. We were more than satisfied with our selection.

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Mercat de La Boqueria de Barcelona, or simply La Boqueria. It’s an absolutely enormous public market just off La Rambla in the old part of town. It dates back to 1217 when tables were set up outside the old Gothic city gates for local ranchers to sell meat to the citizens of the city. Today La Boqueria resides under a massive open sided roof structure covering an area roughly equal to 3 American Football fields and I’ve been told that it’s the largest open air market in Europe. It makes Seattle's "Pikes Place Market" look like your local grocery store.

La Boqueria offers a cross-sectional view of the best of Mediterranean ingredients. Seasonal, mostly local, fresh and astonishing in variety. 

The widest variety of goods is found in the market’s fish sellers. The Mediterranean sea is, to this day one of the most vibrant commercial fisheries on the planet. It’s bounty is placed on display in mind-numbing fashion

Lungfish, Monkfish and other things I can't possibly identify.

Sea Urchin's, and barnacles

Langoustine & Barnacles

These ladies were amazing.  Using these massive knives they are able to break down and or fillet even the tiniest of fish. I watched a woman break down what looked like a flounder of about 10" into four perfect fillets with nary an ounce of flesh left on the bone. She used the back of the knife to break the spine in two places, folded it like a letter then snagged a langoustine with the tip of the blade which she flipped into the package for free before handing it to her delighted customer.


Some kind of dried/salted fish. It's not baccala and I have no idea really what it is, but it's cool looking.

Next up is a look at the variety of veggies available at  La Boqueria. Most of it is seasonal and local but there is apparently quite a bit of off-season variety that is imported from Southern hemisphere locales.

Morrels, Chantralles, Truffles and other yummy bits

There are also a number of small eateries in La Boqueria as well. Most doing simple tapas but a few turning out dishes of astonishing complexity given the absurdly tiny kitchen spaces.

Beautiful steamed clams

Stewed rabbit "chops". You can eat a hundred of these little things and if you are drinking as well, you'll be snockered long before you'll be full. Delicious and  mouth wateringly tender.

Fried goat chops. Rich, with a bit of the gamey flavor you'd expect in goat but none of the toughness.

Baby octopus & caramelized onions. I can't even begin to describe this. Still drooling.

Oxtail and calcot risotto. The calcot is a large green onion that is native to the area surround Barcelona. When in season it's a very popular featured ingredient in Catalan cuisine. I make a damned good risotto but this is perhaps one of the best risotto dishes I have ever enjoyed.

The highlight of a visit to La Boqueria for the carnivorously inclined is the meats. All manner of local charcuterie, dried and cured ham's of at least 8-10 different variety, fresh meats and offal of all kinds.

Tons of different sausages. Here a form of chorizo, blood sausage, iberco sausage etc.

An entire meat case full of nothing but foie gras and stuff with foie in it. OH MY!
Delving into the offal. Here - beef trotters, lamb trotters and tripe.

Either you know what these are or you don't want to know what these are.

Honeycomb tripe.

Hungry yet? I am. Hope you enjoyed it.

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