Thursday was supposed to be a recovery day. Instead of the Boqueria we took a stroll in the morning to shop at El Mercado de Santa Caterina. We walked through the La Ribera neighborhood and passed by The Palau Musica Catalana, where we had been the night before last. Now in the daylight, we could better appreciate its external features including the kind of tile work that Barcelona is well noted for. Designed by Gaudi’s slightly less well-known contemporary, Lluis Domenech i Montener, the building is stunning, both inside and out, though it is difficult to get a full view from the outside due to its relatively cramped quarters.
The Santa Caterina Market has been in operation since 1848. It is located within a stone’s throw of the old Cathedral on the other side of the Via Laetana, an easily accessible area.
Starting with a breakfast at the atmospheric Bar Joan that included bocadillos of tortilla with spinach, with potatoes, meatballs in a red pepper sauce and incredibly light fried anchovies, our shopping proved fruitful.
We walked around the market to scope out what was available. The meats, fruits, vegetables and breads were extraordinary. We bought some duck and goose eggs to have for breakfast. The ostrich eggs, while intriguing, were just a bit too much for us. There were cuts of meat and offal that one just doesn’t see in the US other than via special, high-end or ethnic butchers including all sorts of offal.
Watching a female butcher expertly dissect and carve a leg of lamb into cutlets with minimal waste, we couldn’t resist ordering the same thing for our upcoming Easter dinner.
Anticipating dinner for that night, we bought cockles, immaculately fresh bonito fillets, fresh anchovies, bread and some vegetables. The market was an absolute delight with great product, reasonable prices and room to move around in. It was also about equidistant with the Boqueria to our apartment. The Boqueria is certainly a special market – very atmospheric, photogenic and possessing a few truly unique stalls like Petras and some totally must do small breakfast or lunch restaurants like Pinotxo, Quim and Kiosk Universal. The Boqueria will always be a must-visit destination, but for serious shopping, Santa Caterina is a better value and a more relaxed shopping experience.
On the way back to the apartment we strolled through the plaza in front of the old Cathedral. It was a hopping place with a flea market and some exciting street performers. It is this kind of energy that helps make Barcelona as special a city as it is.
We were to meet our good Catalan friends for a light lunch and then maybe a trip into the countryside, but when they came, they suggested that perhaps we take a drive up to Vic and the restaurant Can Jubany, a restaurant I had previously mentioned as one I would some time like to try. They had previously checked into the closer restaurant, Montse Estruch’s El Cingle, another restaurant that had greatly interested me, but that was closed for la Semana Santa. We wound up driving to Can Jubany for a late, but quite fine lunch. We arrived too late to have the tasting menu, but we were able to order off the menu. I had the rice with esperdanyes (sea cucumbers) and crawfish broth followed by a split order of the roasted lamb and suckling pig. The food was elegant and delicious. We left the restaurant to stop at our friends’ home in Manresa, making it back to Barcelona late enough to call it a night for some of us. The fish we bought would have to wait.