Spain: We’re not just hungry, we’re Americans.

I went to Spain in late August for a week with my friend Mala. We met up with four other people (only one of whom we already knew) in Valencia in the southeast of Spain, threw some tomatoes, then headed to Barcelona for a few days with just the two of us. It was rad. A whirlwind trip, for sure, but definitely fun and definitely worth all the flying (2 stopovers on the way there!).

Seafood paella in Valencia, Spain

You might imagine that we ate food while we were there. It was pretty much a main activity. Since I could type about this all day, and I have about a billion photos, I’ll give a summary below and then you can scroll through the pictures until the rolly wheel on your mouse breaks. Enjoy.

  • Valencia is not my fav. We did have some good food there, but the city is mostly either touristy and cheesy, or sorta run down and Hayward-esque. They do have a strange area with a bunch of rad buildings housing museums and the like, and a cool beach area that’s super touristy but still nice. And it definitely was an AWESOME place to rent an apartment with five other rad people. And provided good access to the aforementioned tomato fight.
  • Barcelona is rad. Super touristy in the main part, but it’s beautiful, has great restaurants and shops, a nice wharf and beachfront area, and lots to do. Def way better on the gourmet food front. Mala and I felt like we were home here.
  • When you order wine, you order “vino tinto” or “vino blanco” (at least in Valencia). It’s funny. There typically isn’t a wine list (again, at least at all the places we went), and I have no idea what kind of wine I’m drinking. You just choose red or white. I thought it was funny.
  • Tapas. They’re everywhere. Lots and lots and lots of tapas restaurants, all boasting their own form of paella, which I think are all exactly the same. We never found great paella, unfortunately, and ended up getting pretty sick of tapas pretty fast, sadly. But we still had plenty, and they were usually pretty good. Here’s  a typical tapas menu:

Tapas menu in Valencia, Spain

Ok, now for food.

Tapas Hall of Fame

Calamari. I know, I love calamari. There were often many types of squid offered on any one tapas menu, and I never could figure out which one was the one I wanted (above). Sometimes I got grilled (still good) or big onion-ring sized rings (not as good). The smaller pieces of fried squid (above) was my fav kind.

Bravas. These are fried potato pieces slathered in an aioli sauce. When they were good, they were really good.

Russian salad. It’s everywhere. We finally mustered the balls to try it. It was delicious. Apparently it’s common in many regions, but the Spanish version typically consists of: minced boiled potato, minced boiled carrots, canned tuna, minced boiled eggs, peas, roast red pepper strips, green olives, and mayonnaise. The weird breadsticks are just there as an obstacle, as far as I can tell.

Tortilla. Yeah, it’s not like a Mexican one. This is like a potato quiche. It’s really good. And, I find it funny that they make tortilla sandwiches. In case you want some carbs with your carbs. Totally yum though.

Those were def my fav tapas. We ordered them again and again, while also trying to branch out each time. We tried paella a variety of times, and it was good, but it was never great. So much so that I’m not even going to include it in this post, except as the cover photo to make you think I’m going to talk about it. Trickery.

Other Good Food

When we got to Barcelona, we immediately made reservations at a fancy restaurant. It was necessary. And delicious. Mala powered through a bout of food poisoning from the day before, and we bought the crappiest umbrellas known to man to handle the pouring rain to make it to this schmancy Barcelona restaurant. This is the tuna tartare. Totally worth it.

This chocolate mousse (from aforementioned schmancy Barcelona restaurant) was amazing. It was light and fluffy and made almost completely of air somehow. The taste was incredible. We were mesmerized.

We found a vegetarian restaurant in Barcelona. We almost ordered everything on the menu. Then we didn’t. This was a good decision. These fried rice balls were bomb.

Pasta from vegetarian restaurant: good.

Chocolate fondue from the vegetarian restaurant. Mala was excited.

And, for the season finale, Mala and I found a nice place to have a full English breakfast. I’m not sure if you can tell how much food is on that table, but we each had 2 eggs, potatoes, baked beans, a grilled tomato, grilled mushrooms, bacon, toast and jam, and a blueberry pancake. We ate every bite. (She ate my bacon, I ate her tomatoes and much of her beans.) The Aussies next to us were impressed. Because “we’re not just hungry — we’re Americans”. Booya.