Lunch at NAP Barcelona

As many readers may remember, we have often visited NAP, a great little Italian restaurant in Barcelona. This weekend, we went there again. Even though we had dropped the car off for its annual servicing that morning, we decided to travel all the way to Barcelona by train, just because the food is that good. I’ve wanted to write a post about this wonderful restaurant for quite a while, but never really got down to it because I always forgot to take pictures of the food. So this time, I made it a point to take pictures of everything for your visual pleasure.

We arrived at the restaurant and were fortunate enough to get a table without waiting. We wanted to try something new…so we ordered a Burrata cheese salad to start off.

Apparently, this dish is not easy to come by because the cheese has to be special ordered and only comes in a couple of times a month. For those unfamiliar with it, Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. It is served in the form of a ball. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture.

To accompany the salad, we also ordered some mixed bruschetta, which apart from the traditional tomato also included mushroom and aubergine with a variety of herbs and just the right amount of olive oil.


The moment the plates arrived at our table, I kid you not, the entire restaurant was looking curiously at these mouth-watering delights. A whole bunch of people asked about them and a number of them even ordered these for themselves. The couple at the table next to ours stared so long and hard that things became kind of awkward.

For the main course, we ordered a pizza. The Regina, to be exact. This pizza sticks to the basics-cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and parmesan all mixed together by hand in NAP’s own tomato sauce, all baked in a wood fired stone oven. The final result was a lip-smacking, finger licking, utterly delicious pizza we just couldn’t get enough of.

To top it all off, we had to order some desert. Even though we were stuffed, we couldn’t leave without ordering a panna cotta, which they serve in a cold glass, topped off with a delicious forest fruits sauce. This was followed by some super chilled limoncello (li-mon-chello) served in a tall shot glass.

By the end of it all, we were so content we were already making plans to come back next week. We left the restaurant with our bellies significantly fuller and heavier, our wallets only slightly lighter, and a big beatific smile on our faces.
 

 

 

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Mexican Festival in Barcelona

Last weekend the Honey Bee and I, accompanied by some good friends, visited a big Mexican fiesta in Barcelona right after a very heavy brunch. It turned out to be a medium-large sized event that was quite popular. There was even a fairly long queue to enter.

Once inside, we walked around the central plaza where there were a number of Mexican style food trucks and kiosks selling food and drink. We tried a burrito, which turned out to be not so great, and had a long white hair in it. But I’d be kidding myself if I expected anything less (or more). After all, it was a street food festival.

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We also tried a drink which, as it turns out, is a Mexican specialty. The Michelada is a spicy concoction of beer, lime juice, tabasco, other assorted sauces, spices, and peppers served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass. It really wasn’t as bad as it sounds, but it wasn’t anything spectacular either. Apart from the ephemeral gleeful feeling of having dared to try something new, followed soon after by a slight uneasiness in the stomach, it didn’t bring much else to the table. I probably won’t try it again, but then again, I am told it depends a lot on the person who makes it. And the skinny guy in sleeveless t-shirt with the mullet, thin mustache, hat and single ear-ring didn’t really inspire confidence. So who knows? Maybe I will try it again.

After we were done experimenting with the food, we walked  around and found a number of kiosks selling Mexican wrestling masks, and Mexico specific products. We even found some guys selling a variety of Habanero peppers. They pointed out the Carolina Reapers to us, saying they were the spiciest peppers in the world. Unwilling to believe them, I carried out a quick Google search and turns out they were right. As of August 3, 2013, Guinness World Records has rated the Carolina Reaper as the World’s Hottest Chili Pepper. Yikes!

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Around this time, we heard music. We followed the music back to the central plaza and watched performers dressed in colorful authentic Mexican attire dance their hearts out for the eager crowd. One after another, the performers dazzled the audience and we couldn’t help but tap our toes to the wonderful songs they were dancing to.

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We wrapped up the evening with some popsicles made from actual fruit (something that I am proud to say the Honey Bee knows how to make very well), with none of that artificial flavoring bullshit they sell on the market.

All in all, I’d say it was a fun Sunday, well spent with good friends.

Viva Mexico!

 

100 Words on the Olympics

Recently, someone at the office drew a comparison between the number of medals won by India & Spain. Worst comparison ever!

Although talent matters, when all is said and done, wealthier countries stand a much better chance of winning (more) medals. Critical factors like a superior sports infrastructure, better nutrition, more qualified coaches, advanced training, a fairer (corruption-free) selection process and stronger incentives all significantly bias the results of the Olympics in favor of wealthier countries before the games even start.

I’m not saying winning Olympians from wealthier countries aren’t talented. I’m just saying you can’t compare apples with oranges.

 

 

 

 

 

PS: I realize that there are plenty of developing countries that win medals. But if we step back and look at the larger picture, it is undeniable that wealthier countries, individually and as a group, take home the lion’s share of medals.

To give you an idea of the numbers, of the more than 200 countries that participated in the 2016 Olympics, just the top 25 countries by GDP/Capita (all 25 had a GDP/Capita of more than US$ 25,000) took home a whopping 53% of the medals. 

The Tradition of Neighborhood Festivals

An integral part of Spain’s culture is the widespread prevalence of the neighborhood fiesta mayor (big neighborhood party). An important celebration in the Hispanic world, each neighborhood hosts a party which is generally dedicated to its patron saint. The logic is that in the past, each neighborhood was essentially its own little town. With time, the size of these neighborhoods grew and they merged into what today are large towns and cities.

The festivals gave neighbors a chance to hang out and get to know each other. Apart from food and drink, they include performances of all kinds, allowing grownups and children alike, to show off their abilities to the entire neighborhood. They also involve a wide variety of workshops and opportunities for artisans to make and sell their goods, providing an impetus to local commerce.  Overall, an all around fun time for the entire family.

Last month, the city where we live celebrated their fiesta mayor. Apart from each neighborhood that hosts its own fiesta mayor, the city itself hosts an even larger fiesta dedicated to its patron. Along the same vein as the neighborhood festivals, numerous streets were closed off to traffic and became pedestrian only. Artisans put up kiosks & shops on these streets to sell their wares ranging from locally made clothes and purses to cheese, milk and honey. There were also large tents hosting events (like square dancing) where hundreds of people from the general public joined in and followed along as the instructor danced on stage.

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Even one of the largest and most important thoroughfares was entirely blocked off to traffic and taken over by the celebrations. There were food stands, game kiosks as well as amusement park attractions, creating a very carnival like atmosphere.  The Honey Bee and I decided we weren’t up for any of the rides, but we did play a number of games like throwing darts at balloons and ring toss. I’m happy to report that we went home winners, with a lot of prizes. For about 2 years, the Honey Bee has had her eye on a big plushy yellow duck that I was finally able to win for her at darts. She couldn’t have been more excited. As the name suggests, the ring toss involved tossing rings. But what was different were the prizes. You were playing for bottles of various types of alcohol. We won 4 bottles, including a 1993 Gran Reserva from the renowned Penedes wine growing region, valued at around US$ 20.

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We wrapped up the night with some great strawberry and vanilla ice cream in a cone and some crispy fries doused with loads of ketchup, mayo and mustard. All in all, we had a great time and look forward to visiting more city and neighborhood festivals in the future.