Sunday, October 11, 2015

#1524 2 weeks in Barcelona day 4: El Born and lunch with Ferran

Surprise! I have something to do tomorrow night, and I'm free tonight, so I'll write now about the fourth day of our trip.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Our big event of the day was meeting Mom's cousin Ferran for lunch at a restaurant in the Barri Gotic. Mom told us the reservation was at 12:30 and I didn't even bat an eye. That's normal lunchtime in States. However, it's quite early for lunch in Spain. We made the by now routine journey via the metro to Placa Catalunya and walked along La Rambla and quickly found the restaurant. We were just a little early, so Mom popped in to ask if we could be seated and wait for Ferran. We were more than a little early. The reservation was for 2:30, not 12:30. The restaurant and the kitchen weren't even open yet! We all had a giggle over it, but I can understand how Mom may have misheard Ferran. Dos is 2. Doce is 12. Dos y media would have sounded a bit like doce y media on the phone.

But now what were we going to do? Mom was in no condition to do much walking with her blister, even though she had been to the pharmacy to get something like moleskin for it. But we had a good two hours to kill and we were already in the area.

We decided to go ahead and go to the El Born area to see the church Santa Maria del Mar. None of us had ever seen it and it was on our list of things we wanted to do. We caught a cab for the short ride over to the El Born neighborhood.

El Born is an area of the city that I was unfamiliar with, but I instantly fell in love with it. It's just so  charming!

Passeig del Born

El Born's version of La Boqueria

a street in El Born
One of the many wonderful things about the area is the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. We came up to the church from back and we couldn't get in.

the back door of Santa Maria del Mar
We walked around and the doors in front were shut, too. I guess you have to take a tour to get inside, which we didn't have time to do. We did get to go in for a moment to take a look at it. It's enormous and beautiful. I won't miss going in next time I'm in the city. Since I didn't get to take photos inside, you can click on this link to take a look at the website. And here are some photos I took of the outside.

Santa Maria del Mar

the bell tower of Santa Maria del Mar
The Museo Picasso is also in El Born. It was on my list of things to see, but it didn't look like our schedule would accommodate a visit. We did the next best thing: we went to the gift shop! While browsing around, Lizzie found a replication of the menu card that Picasso had painted for our favorite place, Els 4Gats. Of course we all bought one. Here's what it looks like:

Picasso's painting for the menu at Els 4Gats
We bought a few other things too. Going through the Picasso Museum will have to wait until next time I visit Barcelona. But I don't regret not going through it this time. You've got to save something for the next visit!

It was getting closer to our meeting time with Ferran, but we didn't take a cab back to the Barri Gotic. It was really only about a ten minute walk from where we were back to the restaurant. The old parts of Barcelona are quite near each other. It's a walking city.

We got to the restaurant and Ferran was there, waiting outside in a light blue sport coat, a Panama hat and a bouquet of flowers. Such a gentleman!

Mom and Ferran
Let me tell you about the restaurant, Can Culleretes. It is the second oldest restaurant in Spain, having opened in 1786. Can you believe that? It is the oldest restaurant in Barcelona. It seems pretty small when you walk in, but there are several nice size dining rooms. The wall of the dining room we were seated in was dominated by a huge painting depicting the clientele and restaurant back in it's early days:

inside Can Culleretes
The walls were filled with 8x10 photos and drawings of celebrities, politicians, painters, poets, etc. who had dined there over it's many years.

We ordered from the menu del dia (menu of the day) from which you chose a starter, a second and a dessert. For the starter, everyone had canelones. How do I describe canelones? They are a soft, pasta like shell filled with finely ground meat and seasonings, covered in a luscious bechamel sauce, baked, then broiled so the bechamel is just browned. My grandmother made exquisitely delicious canelones as does my mother. I have never tried to make them. You have to have the right pasta. It's not even really a pasta! I don't know how to describe it, but these are the things that my grandmother and my mother use. I might have to figure out how to make them someday, because they really are delicious and absolutely remind me of Spain.

canelones at Can Culleretes
The canelones may not look like much to you, but let me tell you that the first bite of this very dish brought a tear to my eye. The sauce was so rich, the canelone itself so tender. My mouth waters just looking at this photo. What a treat. For my second I had a steak, but I wish I'd had the calamare a la Romana like Mom and Ferran had. I could have had calamare every day. For desert I had a lemon tort that was wonderful.

Ferran speaks English and we all had a very nice meal and conversation. When we were nearly done with our meal I looked behind me and saw this fellow behind my right shoulder.

I'm not exactly sure who he is; he was a poet or a politician back in the 20s. What caught my eye was the artist: Pablo Picasso sketched this man in 1921. How awesome is that?

After lunch, we went our separate ways from Ferran with a plan to see him again the next week at his home for lunch. I can't really remember what we did then, but I think we went back to the apartment on Carrer Bertan and hung out for a little while until we could meet up with Melani, Eric's daughter, to get the Bus Turistic tickets.

The original plan was that we would meet downtown near Placa Catalunya, but Melani was working on the bus and she would be making a stop on Avinguda Tibidabo and we could just meet her there. That arrangement was way easier for Lizzie and I, so at the appointed time, we walked down to the bus stop. We were a little early, so we wandered through a garden near the bus stop that was completely wonderful and unexpected. The gardens were undoubtedly part of the grounds of a beautiful mansion that stood on the property but that was now a private business. There was a playground and lots of steps that led tantalizingly up to hidden gardens. Lizzie and I didn't have much time to explore, but we saw enough to know that we would be back with Mom.

We met Melani and got the tickets (score!) and went back home. I'm a little unclear about what happened that night. Maybe we walked to Putxet with Mom, or maybe it was the next night. I'm pretty sure we just had sandwiches at home for dinner that night, since we had a nice lunch out. I'll just save walking to Putxet with Mom for next time.

Just like the three days before it, day four was completely wonderful.

Next time I write, probably Wednesday, I'll tell you all about our excursion to Montserrat.

1 comment:

Kteach said...

Did I mention I love reading your impressions of the trip and also looking at the pictures? and now reading Lizzire's as well. It sure brings back memories :)