It was now the end of the cruise and what a place to finish … Barcelona, Spain. I had been here once before, over 15 years ago when my son was just a little boy and I really loved it. I hope I’d feel the same way this time.
A very helpful part of this cruise itinerary was that the ship would be staying in port overnight so this meant I could go back there to sleep and wouldn’t have to rush off to the airport or find a hotel. It also meant a bit more time to enjoy this exciting city.
My time would be spent with Yves Nicolier, a local food guide and “social cooker” (as he calls himself.) Yves runs cooking classes, caters, hosts dinners and basically, loves bringing people together to cook and eat. Today would be my turn and I was ready to see what we would be doing.
I knew in advance that Yves had his friend coming with his Harley Davidson motorcycle with sidecar that he’d want me to ride. Since I had an entire day to get through I held off on that adventure until later in the day when I knew I wouldn’t care what the wind did to me. But, for now, a comfortable air-conditioned van would be just right.
We headed to the restaurant Spoonik, a modern and very original dining place recently opened by Chef Jon Giraldo and Jaime Lieberman. I was given a glass of Cava to sip while looking around and waiting for Chef Jon to arrive, a pleasant start to this visit. When the Chef came in, he quickly moved into the kitchen and invited us in with him. He explained that he always includes his guests in the kitchen to observe his first dish. Today he made a vegetarian ceviche with mango and some olive oil caviar. He sat down with us and popped open a bottle of his favorite Champagne while we talked about the restaurant and his love of cooking. While we sat, he whispered something to one of his colleagues and suddenly, the lights dimmed, the table lit up with moving lights and color and the sound of thunder and rainstorms filled the room. This unusual event is one of the scenes that can be projected while you are eating here.
After that unique experience it’s time for tapas and we head back to the Barceloneta waterfront area and a tiny looking place called Maians. The place is packed and we struggle to find a spot to stand while Yves and the owner discuss what dishes we should have. Dish after delicious looking dish arrive and I’m thinking how good it all looks. There’s a salad of tuna, codfish and anchovies in romesco sauce, (made with tomatoes, garlic, almonds hazelnuts & a small round red pepper that I don’t remember the name of), a marinated white fish (Yves says, a mini shark) floured and fried into nuggets, a traditional looking paella (yum) and then another paella that’s a special round rice with cuttlefish ink, clams and an aioli sauce. That dish was absolutely fabulous- salty but creamy and impossible to stop eating.
I finally get my ride in the sidecar of the Harley on our way to the final stop at Yves place. It’s fun zipping by the sites and the famous Sagrada Familia basilica as we make our way to his pretty town just outside of Barcelona. The views from his rooftop are spectacular and after my cooking lesson of romesco sauce with codfish we head up there with a glass of wine and our food and finish our day off spectacularly.
It might be many years since I had my first great experience in Barcelona but I now have had another. I truly feel at home here and thank my wonderful friend Yves for making it so.
That’s the end of another fabulous cruise thanks to Holland America and the MS Oosterdam crew.
Cheers and all the best,