If anyone follows my instagram (if you don’t – go give it a follow ;-)) they will know that I recently went on holiday to Barcelona.
This was VERY exciting.
Not only did I enjoy the many attractions that the city offers, I also indulged in both the healthy (and the occasional unhealthy) food.
So here is my small but MIGHTY experience of Barcelona’s food (and its nutritional value):
Now then, I cannot start a guide on Spanish food without starting with the ultimate fishy dish…
We were so excited about experiencing this delicacy that we splashed out a little, going to Xiringuito Escriba on Bogatell beach. We had done a full day of beach activities, and with the restaurant being conveniently placed on the beachside, and the raving reviews from the locals, it was a no-brainer on which paella place to choose. We were not disappointed.
Although the restaurant is known for its speciality ‘sea and mountain’ paella (with chicken, ribs, Norway lobster, mussels, cuttlefish, vegetables & mushrooms) which sounded AMAZING, we opted for the special fish paella. For 21 euros a head, we received a generous amount each of sticky aromatic rice and perfectly cooked fish (in shell and out). At the bottom, the rice had toasted to the pan which gave the dish texture and a crisp flavour, which cannot be praised enough – I have discovered now this layer is called socarrat and is essential to a perfect Spanish paella.
We also, to get the full authentic Catalonian eatery experience, bought red wine Sangria to complement this dish. And boy it did! I had actually never had Sangria before as I am not a big drinker, however, in moderation this fruity flavoursome drink was refreshing and, as my mum would say, just what the doctor ordered.
Nutritionally, fish paella is pretty healthy! The rice forms a good carbohydrate base for any future activities you may be partaking in when in the beautiful Valencian capital, and the fish provides a useful protein source without being high in fat – in fact, with most fish paella, the large remainder of the fat will be from the oil that it is cooked in (which generally isn’t that much, especially if you are wanting to recreate this at home). If mixed or meat paellas are chosen, the fat and calorie content may be slightly larger however as long as it is eaten in moderation, it is also a good choice compared to some other restaurant options. The main concern with paella will be salt and calorie content of the dish – it will be high, especially if eaten out. However you just need to be aware of this and make sure that, if you are going to indulge in this delicacy, it is of a normal portion size and paired with low-salt food options for the rest of the day.
To see another review of Xiringuito Escriba, look no further than this one on the Culture Trip that I found: Restaurant Of The Week: Xiringuito Escribà – Culture Trip
MARKETPLACE DELICACIES: LA BOQUERIA
La Boqueria is the largest and most well known marketplace in Barcelona – so of course we had to visit it! As we walked in, the first thing I noticed is that it is HUGE. So huge that I am surprised we didn’t get lost. The stalls within are arranged in aisle-fashion, with no particular order to them, which I quite enjoyed. They also offer pretty much everything.
The fruits and vegetable stalls were definitely the most abundant, with the produce coming in all shapes and sizes. This was a refreshing concept, with not just La Boqueria but the whole city embracing the uniqueness of their fruit and vegetables, and not just selling the ‘perfect’ products and chucking those that don’t conform away like most of the UKs supermarkets. The fruits were also offered in refreshing smoothie form, so you can get your 5-a-day in whilst cooling down from the Catalonian heat.
There was also meat and fish stands offering pretty much every protein source that you could think of if you are wanting to eat in but still experience the food that Barcelona offers. As Barcelona is a costal city, the array of fish that was offered was impressive (as was the smell…). The cured meat stalls were also remarkable, with large Jamon Iberico – the back leg of an Iberian pig – on display around every corner. They also offered cones of cured meat and cheeses, as shown in the picture above, which are perfect as a light snack and providing protein and calcium!
I didn’t manage to take a picture of the tapas that we ate (sorry!), mainly because we were so hungry it was pretty much gone as soon as it arrived.
We went to Tapa Tapa, a chain tapas restaurant which did not disappoint. There was so much choice… so we ordered a rather large amount of food…
This included: mussels in white wine, shellfish and avocado salad, Spanish omelette, cured meat platter… and quite a few more!
And the thing about tapas is that it is really easy to be healthy! When selecting the tapas, I would think about a few things. What will the food be cooked in? Excess oil or butter will rank up the calories and fat content. Is the food naturally high in fat? Meats and cheeses tend to tick this box, so if opting for these options, make sure they are consumed in moderation. Is the food high in salt? Again, some meats and fish are naturally high in salt, so be careful to avoid this option if needed. There are plenty of salad or potato-based options in the menu, so think about looking for those compared to the fried options.
We didn’t manage to go to this restaurant, however we were recommended Elisabets in El Raval for good tapas – with Bombas, a specific tapa on their menu being highlighted. Check out their website here: EN
EATING IN: CLAM AND CHORIZO LINGUINE
We actually only ate out a few times in Barcelona, but we still wanted to experience the food, so I whipped up this quick but delicious dish from the food traditional to the city.
Find the recipe here: clam-chorizo-linguine
You cannot go on holiday without enjoying the occasional ice cream, and that is exactly what we did! There are plenty of gelato bars dotted around the city, with Gelaaati di Marco being one of our favourites, with it offering vegan and low-sugar ice cream, as well as sorbet and frozen yoghurt, and some pretty cool flavour combinations (the hazelnut, chocolate and citrus fruit one was INCREDIBLE).
To pick the most healthy option for you, here is a short guide:
Lower-calorie – sorbets are a good option as they don’t contain any fat, however if you are wanting something creamier, choosing the plainer, less chocolatey options may be a good idea. Pick a tub rather than a cone to prevent any extra calories to be added!
Lower-fat – again, sorbets are the best option but frozen yoghurts if offered may also be good.
Lower-sugar – sugar is hard to avoid when eating ice cream, so it may be best to ask the waiter which options that they have.
OR, just enjoy the odd scoop of ice cream – in moderation it is actually quite good for you, providing calcium and protein.
I hope that this has been useful for you! Please leave any questions that you may have about Barcelona below and I would be happy to answer! I cannot stress how beautiful the city is and, if you ever have the opportunity to go, how you should try to experience as much of it as you can.