Drinking and Dining in Barcelona

by : Gaizka Pujana

One of the first things you'll notice about the culture in Barcelona, and in Spain in general, is that time is pushed forward. In many cultures, you eat lunch between noon and 1:30; in Barcelona, you eat lunch between 3 and 4. Dinner is often not served until very late, between 10 and 11:30 in the evening; if you're lucky, you may find eateries opening at 9:30, but that is the very earliest; if you try to eat too early, you will end up stuck in a tourist trap and over-paying. Make sure that you pack light snacks to take with you through the day if you are not used to eating at such times.

Wine is cheap and good in Spain. You can often find markets that sell wine for less than 1 euro; midrange wines go for 3 euro. Do not fall victim to thinking that the more expensive the wine, the better the quality. You will find some vintages are a bit foreign, meaning they are made from grapes that aren't standard to the main markets.

If you're looking for suggestions, Tempranillo is an excellent choice and Jumailla is both vintage and unique to Spain; more obscure yet is Yecla. When you head out to dinner, Torres is a standard and affordable table wine that you will find is served in most of the restaurants; even at about 4 euros a bottle, it is quite above average. Still another option is to visit a vineyard and get some straight from the vine or head in to a local wine store and make your own!

Pan tumaca is a bread that you will receive with many of your meals. It will come to your table with garlic cloves and tomatoes. The best way to approach this is to cut the garlic clove and rub it on the bread, then cut the tomato in half and do the same. The topping is a decent amount of olive oil and salt to your liking; it is quite a yummy treat!

Another traditional dish in Paella, which is a Spanish rice dish. Saffron makes it yellow in color and it can be prepared in a number of different ways, whether it be with seafood, chicken, vegetarian or Valencia Style which is a mixture of chicken and veggies. This is a signature dish of Catalonia.

Finish off your meal with any variety of desserts such as chocolate dipped croissants and pastries filled with fruit. A wonderful alternative to a standard cup of coffee is a drink called Trifasico, which is 1/3 coffee, 1/3 milk, and 1/3 rum; warmed to just the right temperature, it is a delicious treat that you might find yourself ordering again and again.

As a last note about dining and drinking in Barcelona, remember that the wait staff is paid on an hourly basis, not by table so there is no need to worry about a tip. As it is in most European countries, the standard is to round up to the next euro. Then, sit back, sip your Trifasico, and enjoy some conversation with those you are dining with; the table is yours for as long as you like.