Spanish Restaurants

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blackduff
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Spanish Restaurants

Post by blackduff » Tue 05 Feb 2008 06:43

Something happened to this thread and responses were split from the opening posting by Rose, which read

I expect I will be heavily criticised for saying the following, but I have just spent four weeks in Barcelona during which I ate in many Spanish restaurants and I find it difficult to say anything positive about Spanish food. I did eat a good zarzuela in one and a good paella in another but I find it difficult to be enthusiastic about Spanish cuisine.

Blackduff then replied. (Vieux Hibou)


Rose
Where did you eat and how much you paid. This is the key to good Spanish cuisine.

For a starters, Paella is a poor man's meal. Even you mentioned that it was good, that's just by luck.

Valencia produces great Paella, Vallodid serves good Paella and also in the North part of Spain has good Paella. Other places serve rice with rubber seafood. Paella has to be served immediately. Most places have big dishes which are served whenever some hungry tourist enters the restaurant.

Again, where you eat and how much you pay and you're going to change your ideas about Spanish food.

Blackduff

Outie

Post by Outie » Tue 05 Feb 2008 08:27

We do prefere spanish food to french food,while working in spain I have had many meal,s in "workers cafes" ,many under 9euros for 4 courses with wine,some of which were worth the price for the wine alone.That said we have been served up some rubbish in tourist places.Saturday we ate out in little catalan hotel on the sea front just outside roses,4 courses with wine cola etc for the kids,could not fault it and a good walk on the seafront after.All at less than 40euros.

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Post by john » Tue 05 Feb 2008 08:42

I tend to agree with Outie on this. If you eat in the tourist places with pictures of the food outside,then more often than not it's rubbish.Go where the Spanish are eating.Far better. So long as it's cooked to order,Spanish paellas are far better than French ones,which IMHO are dreadful.They use the wrong type of rice for a start.

Why anyone would buy wine in Perthus/Jonquera baffles me. Ten minutes further will take you to Figueras,where the quality /choice is superior,and the prices lower. If you have time,Girona is even better.

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Post by blackduff » Tue 05 Feb 2008 11:37

In Figueras you can buy wine at the Wine Palace. The guys inside will give you a very good insight as to what's good and what's not. They always talk me into buying cases instead of bottles.

Although I buy quite a bit of Spanish wines, I never serve this to French friends. I only have one French friend who likes Spanish wines, mostly cavas.

I brought a bunch of Swiss wines too but the French didn't like that at all. Some were the Swiss whites but nobody liked them. I still have a bit of wine from Ticino (red) and it also was snubbed when I offered a glass.

One last item about Spanish wines. When I lived in Spain I could buy very good wines for about 500 to 1000 pesetas. Roughly this would be about 5 euros to 10 euros. The same bottles would be selling for 12 € to 15 € now.

Blackduff

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Post by john » Tue 05 Feb 2008 14:19

blackduff wrote:
One last item about Spanish wines. When I lived in Spain I could buy very good wines for about 500 to 1000 pesetas. Roughly this would be about 5 euros to 10 euros. The same bottles would be selling for 12 € to 15 € now.

Blackduff
BD ,the days of Spain being a "dirt cheap" country are long gone.Many things are now more expensive there (esp Catalonia) than here in France. In a few cases that applies to wine.But one area it remains very competitive is eating out.

Only recently I went to la Gaviota in L'Estartit,a spotless,upmarket restaurant. A choice of superb,innovative starters,an all singing/all dancing mixed fresh fish grill (there were alternatives),proper sweet (not just "flan/creme catalana"),pre dinner drink,a bottle of excellent wine,coffee and brandy,was all in for 50€ per couple. Where would you get THAT at THAT price in France?

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Post by Roger O » Tue 05 Feb 2008 14:36

blackduff wrote:I brought a bunch of Swiss wines too but the French didn't like that at all. Some were the Swiss whites but nobody liked them. I still have a bit of wine from Ticino (red) and it also was snubbed when I offered a glass.
Blackduff
Chauvins!
http://www.olivier-poussier.com/content.cfm?id=204
http://www.swisscellars.com/

(Not that I'm an expert, but my friend Pier-Giorgio ("Pierre") definitely is.)

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Post by john » Tue 05 Feb 2008 15:30

I've tried a number of Swiss wines,Rog,and I can't say it's ever done much for me. Always a bit thin and wishy-washy.

Outie

Post by Outie » Tue 05 Feb 2008 16:51

And the cheeses have holes in them.

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Post by blackduff » Tue 05 Feb 2008 17:38

Roger
You might have found this wine in Zurich, from time to time.

http://www.landolt-weine.ch/de/weinshop ... r=03900305

I still have a few bottles but maybe it's over the hill. The French really didn't like this wine.

For Outie, here's a good, cheap Spanish wine. Elejido, it's sold in one liter bottles. Now this is a great wine for beach party. This is sold all over Spain. It's usually used in "Tinto de Verrano" drinks. (1/2 glass of Elejido, lots of ice, and top this up with Casera~limonade). This is right in your price range~normally around one euro per bottle. Actually, it's not a bad wine.

Blackduff

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Post by blackduff » Tue 05 Feb 2008 17:45

Elegido is correct. I wrote Elejido, which is wrong. Mea Culpa.

Bad Blackduff

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Post by Rose » Tue 05 Feb 2008 19:39

As I was there for a month I hardly ever ate in the tourist restaurants as it would have cost a fortune. Also, I wasn't living in the main tourist area. I had one workers' meal in the Sarria district where there were only Spanish people in the restaurant. It was off the beaten track and people were queuing to get in. I ordered 'albondigas con una sorpresa.' The surprise was supposed to be a quail's egg in the middle of each one. The surprise I got was 2 days of food poisoning! I had a couple of paellas which each took approximately 25 minutes to prepare. I also went to one tourist restaurant called 'Los Caracoles' where you walk through the kitchens and again people were queuing in the street.

Most of the fish I ate was good but I found little in the way of meat dishes, except for roast lamb which was very fatty and entrecote steaks.

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Post by Roger O » Tue 05 Feb 2008 23:50

blackduff wrote:Roger
You might have found this wine in Zurich, from time to time.
http://www.landolt-weine.ch/de/weinshop ... r=03900305
Blackduff
Actually, we lived in Uerikon between Stäfa and Rapperswil on the Zürichsee "Goldküste" ("Goldcoast") between 1970 and 1980. There are quite a few producers along that (sunny) side of the lake.
http://www.goldkueste.ch/weinsorten.html

There was (presumably still is) above the "Risi" Lido, a smallish, very steep vineyard belonging to our neighbours, the Bertchinger family. Very local stuff which we used to enjoy from time to time at the Seehof http://www.gastroplanet.ch/d/restaurant ... estID=2779 , one of the better lakeside restaurants near the boat station with fresh fish specialities such as the "Egglifilets" http://www.restaurant-seehof.ch/

As one can see from the pictures, Switzerland is not all mountains, cows and cuckoo clocks (for Michael!!)!!

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Post by blackduff » Wed 06 Feb 2008 00:35

Roger
When I drove from Zurich to Lucern, often I drove along the lake and then, at Horgen, cross over the "hump" which will bring to the Zug area.

Where the road left the sea and started up this crossover, there was a lovely place to have eglifilet. I loved those small fish and I didn't find them in Lucern.

What a perfect place for lunch.

Blackduff

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Post by john » Wed 06 Feb 2008 09:08

Perhaps this thread ought to be re-titled "Swiss Restaurants"...?

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Post by Santiago » Wed 06 Feb 2008 10:20

Perhaps Roger should start a new thread :P

On the topic of Spanish restaurants, I do find it hard to find good ones. Maybe the posh kind a are great but most of the time when I'm looking for a straightforward family restaurant, I try to choose well but often get something out of the freezer or a can.

E.g. we went to Bezalu last week. A brilliant medeival town only 10 minutes from Figures. Rachel's food was OK (Steak and chips) but my merluza was a shaped piece of breadcrumbed frozen fish - similar to what I'd expect from Little Chef. So if anyone can recommend a restaurant in Bezalu I'd be really keen to try it. Otherwise it's a picnic for us next time.

My main problem with Spanish restaurant food is lack of vegetables. They seem to think that there are only three - iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and chips.

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Post by blackduff » Wed 06 Feb 2008 11:00

Certainly the cheaper restaurants will limit the veggies but most full size restaurants will have a large selection. Here are a few nice veggies in a Spanish meal.

Bell peppers (red, green, and yellow)
Long green sweet peppers - grilled and covered with sea salt
Pimientos fritos
esparages-wild grilled and sprinkled with sea salt
Zuchinni - sliced or put into small soldiers and cover then with flour and then grill. Of course, a bit of sea salt
green beans served with some jamon and tomato sauce
Garbanzos con meudo
Papas alinadas (simplified potato salad with vinegar and onions)
Potata Brava~potatoes served with a tangy sauce with cumin
etc., etc. etc.

I hate cabbage soup but I've been served some which is great. Same about broccoli-hate but liked.

If you're eating from a fixed menu, you wont see as many veggies but most al-la-carte restaurants will have a big selection of veggies.

Blackduff

Outie

Post by Outie » Wed 06 Feb 2008 11:51

Most restaurants that we have been in have a choise of at least two salads,some with cooked local meats some with russian salad,even in the most humblist of places a plate of salad will be severed without even asking for it.There are many veggie based(though most have a little local salami in them or dried ham) dish if you know what to ask for.

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Post by Anita & Peter » Wed 06 Feb 2008 13:09

We regularly eat at "El Quadro" in Macanet. The set meal is about 18 euros ans includes bread, appitizers (olives, sausage, small glass of gazpacho), three courses of massive proportions, as much wine as we can drink, sweet pastries with desert wine and coffee. Its very cozy in the winter and you can eat outside in summer. The only drawback for non meat eaters is that the choices are limited, but they are happy to serve two starters and a desert (the pears in coffee are brilliant).

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Post by john » Wed 06 Feb 2008 18:39

Only went to Besalu once.It looked a bit of a tourist trap to me.Nearby is Banyoles,where there are some lovely lakeside restaurants.

Spanish restaurants often serve vegetables as a starter (verduras).Bizarre,I know,but thats the way it is.Like Italy where veg (contorni) are served as a separate course.

As Anita says,it is not necessary to go to a posh restaurant to get a good meal in Spain,but in the end you get what you pay for. As in Britain if you go for the cheapo end your fish will come fresh from the freezer.

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Post by blackduff » Wed 06 Feb 2008 19:34

There's a small village across the border from Perthus called "Darnius" (sp?). It's a bit back up into the hills and there's a large camping next to the water resevoir. We ordered the daily menu and at that time it was about 1,500 pesetas each. Current price would be a bit less than 15 €. The meal gave a starter of Paella but a very large pan of this. I can't remember the main course but it was some meat dish. There's a dessert and coffee as well as 1/2 liter of wine per person.

Kid friendly~I think so but we only brought a Lab. The water is there but it's a deep "lake" so kids could be a risk.

You have to enter into the camping but just say you're going for eating.

SECRET SECOND HAND RESTAURANT ADVICE

I have a friend who buys the best olive oil across the border. This is in a small village called "Espolla" and you can arrive from the backroad from Banyuls. It's a small road but it's direct to Espolla. There's only a few business in Espolla but one is a bar, a oil place, and a restaurant called "Hostel".

The meal is 10 € including the wine. Lots of food. There are animals in the terrace and it's kid friendly too. The owners are very friendly to the strangers. The food is basic but it's what is normal for that range of money. The food is supposed to be tasty.

And, if you have too many sips of the Tinto, you can sneak back to France on this small road.

If anybody tries the place, post to the rest of us.

Blackduff

[/u][/b]

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Post by Santiago » Wed 06 Feb 2008 19:54

I still disagree about the veggies.

In a previous life I went to Madrid on business. Lunchtimes we had lots of tasty meat and seafood but no veggies (unless you count beans). Then tapas of cheese, meat and fish, though we did have some grilled mushrooms once. We went to a very popular (and expensive) restaurant where we had the Madrid classic of egg and chips, followed by various dished of lovely seafood and then the main course which was a huge steak on a hot rock. It was great food but at night I could never sleep for indigestion - I bet Rennies are a massive sell in ES.

OK, the average price os a meal in Spain is less than here or the UK but it seems to be becoming more and more because they use cheap ingredients.

Re Bezalu - It really is nice. Yes there are tourists but fewer than Collioure or Ceret and they are 99% Spanish, at least in winter. There are quite a few tourist shops but they actually have quite nice gifts. AND the publiuc toilets are some of the nicest I've ever seen!

I've been to Banyoles and trawled the lakefront restaurants for the least fast-foodie one - opposite the boat-hire place. It wasn;t that great. Which one did you eat in John?

We had tapas in the main square later and that was quite nice (NW corner) next door was a mini-mart which sold really good chorizo, tortilla and olives.

Now I'm rambling...

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Post by Rose » Wed 06 Feb 2008 22:37

I am not a vegetarian but I agree about the vegetables. They usually only come in the first course.

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Post by Rose » Wed 06 Feb 2008 22:39

ANITA - How do you get to Macanet?

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Post by blackduff » Thu 07 Feb 2008 10:49

Santiago wrote:I still disagree about the veggies....
Maybe to give you a bit more information.

Pisto: This is a dish served all of Spain. You can order this at restaurants and you can buy dishes wherever you order tapas. Check for this veggie dish with Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pisto

More specific for Catalonia, you can find this dish often at restaurants. Escalivada dish is a starter for a meal. Here's a good site which also gives a few other veggie recipes.

http://www.spain-recipes.com/spanish-ve ... cipes.html

In Andalucia you order dishes for various items. These are not specific for each person. It's dishes to put onto the table. This is called "para picar" or to "pick at the dish". Normally there will be numberous veggie dishes on the table as well as the main dish. One of fav. was a mixture of the three bell peppers~red, gree, and yellow. These are cooked together with a bunch of onions. Then, when it's finished, they serve this onto a plate and put a dollop of mayonaise ontop. To finish this dish you put some tuna. Okay, it's a fish dish but it's also a veggie dish.

When you were in a restaurant with some Spaniards, possibly they have made the choice during the meal. I'm sure that the restaurant had veggies but it wasn't served if it's not ordered.

This is making me hungry again.

Blackduff

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Post by Anita & Peter » Thu 07 Feb 2008 16:00

Macanet can be found off the La Jonquera/ Figures road after La Jonquera take the right turn to Darnius/Costoja/Arles sur Tech, it's about 10 minutes from Darnius. Otherwise you can go through the Tech valley and take the turn through St Laurent de Cerdans to Figures after Arles sur Tech. Its about 45 minutes from this turning. The restaurant la Quadra is behind the main square but well signposted. I have has a good cod dish at el Cacadors in Macanet, but it was more expensive and the service was creepily overattentive. The lakeside restaurant at Darnius is good for simple, local stuff (brown trout in my case) and has a great aspect when there's water in the resevoir, but I don't know that it's open all year.

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Post by blackduff » Thu 07 Feb 2008 18:15

One thing I remember about this meal at Darnius, there was zillions of wasps which ajoined with our food. I really don't like them being there but they do carry away some of food too.

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Post by Santiago » Thu 07 Feb 2008 20:03

I've eaten at the restaurant by the lake/reservoir at Darnius. It's a great setting and the food is very reasonable, if not that brilliantly cooked. In fact that is where we got canned mixed vegetables. But the views and the childrens playground made it pretty enjoyable. That was in December so I assume it's open year round.

In the same vicinity, at Aguliana, there is a restaurant in what looks like an old thetre or meeting hall. The food is in the pretty basic category but it has atmosphere and a pretty garden.

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Post by PaddyFrog » Mon 25 Feb 2008 14:01

john wrote: Only recently I went to la Gaviota in L'Estartit,a spotless,upmarket restaurant. A choice of superb,innovative starters,an all singing/all dancing mixed fresh fish grill (there were alternatives),proper sweet (not just "flan/creme catalana"),pre dinner drink,a bottle of excellent wine,coffee and brandy,was all in for 50€ per couple. Where would you get THAT at THAT price in France?
John following in your footsteps:
Anne and I ate at " la Gaviota" Saturday night! it is truly everything you raved about, excellent varied menu, attentive staff with a excellent ambience.
As you come out with the sea crashing onto the beach, the tranquillity adds to a very enjoyable evening.
Thanks again John.


Michael

Ps: They also have a restaurant at the Emporda Golf Club.

http://www.elciureny.com/

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Post by john » Mon 25 Feb 2008 15:06

Glad to be of service,Michael.

Here's another gem ,visited last night:

Lajui Restaurant
Carrer Sebastian 7 ,Villajuiga

This village,just off the Figueras -Llanca main road is a typical sleepy Spanish place. The owners ,Albert and Anna,have really tried to convert this old convent into an atmospheric eatery ,with some quirky features (eg the loo doors are from church confessionals!)

The 15 € menu is stunning value,with some unusual starters,and loads of home made mains.Sweet,wine,bread and coffee is all included. A la Carte,plus tapas/sandwiches also available.

Open all day Weds to Sun inclusive.

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Post by Steve&Julie » Sun 11 May 2008 21:43

Anita, have you ever been to the restaurant Can Mach above the supermarket at Tapis? (Further on from Macanet). Now that is good value for money! Menu is Rabbit, Chicken, Veal, Lamb etc etc served with fries and most dishes are around 7 euros. The steak is absolutely amazing! Its open every day except Tuesday from lunchtime until late. Great choice of starters and a free aperitif at the end.

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