It’s been four years since I was last in Barcelona and during those four years we have both changed. Wushu, my favourite restaurant, has closed and I have started to eat more locally and seasonally. I credit my year in Barcelona for planting the seeds of a more seasonal diet but it was during the past three years getting most of my fruits and vegetables through a CSA scheme that really pushed me to appreciate foods grown closer to home. In Toronto I often eat at Fabarnak, which gets as much as 80% of its food from local sources. It shouldn’t be hard to find a similar place in Barcelona, I thought. I hit the jackpot with a place called Patxoca, near Mercat Santa Caterina.
I wish I could say I discovered my new favourite restaurant through word of mouth and that it is the kind of place you would know only if you lived here. That would be a lie. I got it from the TimeOut guide (which is in fact written by people who live in the city, so not that far off). The description in the guide book seemed enticing:
Describing itself as ‘agroecològic’, Patxoca endeavours to source produce locally (with the curious omission of most of its wines) and buys organic whenever feasible. The cornerstones of Catalan soul food are all present, from cap i pota (stew of calves’ head and meat) to salt cod, while homesick Brits can take comfort in a local take on shepherd’s pie (pastis de vedella) or cauliflower cheese.
Since we were on that side of the city, we decided to check it out for lunch. They were bound to have a lunch menu, I thought. And they did:
The deal was good: for €10.90 we got appetizer, main, dessert, drink, and bread. To start, I had escabeche de sardinas y pico de gallo. The Pico de gallo was extremely fresh and the sardines were just right. For the main I was torn between the fish (gallo, a flat fish) or salsitxes de vic, a fresh pork sausage from the region north of Barcelona. The sausages won and came in a very tasty bean stew with a carrot pure. I loved the fact that the meal wasn’t oversalted as in many restaurants, allowing for the taste of the fresh ingredients to really shine. The meal was topped with fresh homemade flan. I asked the waiter if they had paella on thursday and his reply was simple and direct: “jueves? siempre!”
Thursday is paella day in Barcelona. For some reason, all the bars and restaurants that offer menu del dia have paella as one of the choices on thursdays. I wanted Dana to have a good paella in Barcelona so we decided to give Patxoco a try for paella day. We were not disappointed! Our paella came in a pan for three (as it should!) and the seafood was as fresh as it could be and the rice was cooked to perfection with seasonal vegetables (I spotted garlic scapes!).
I didn’t think Patxoco could make the meal any better until I ordered greek yogurt with honey for dessert. It was the most unctuous, sinful even, yogurt I ever tasted. We are leaving the day after tomorrow and I keep trying to think of opportunities to go to Patxoca again.
C/ Mercaders 28