One of the most memorable meals of Underdog (the spousal unit) and my trip to Barcelona was at Salamanca in Barceloneta, a bona-fide Catalan restaurant (no English words here, either spoken or on the menu) with a lovely patio overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. When we walked in, we KNEW we were in Spain. Dark wood, tapestries, and red velvet curtains abounded. It was more rustic and exuberant than stuffy...which was wonderful...with closely placed dining tables which encouraged interaction with our neighbors (mostly locals).
We couldn’t read the menu, nor could we converse very well with our waiter, so we managed to communicate that he should bring us what he recommended. He actually seemed to enjoy this, and I must say he did not steer us wrong! We enjoyed a platter of steamed local seafood (crab, shrimp, langostinos) as a starter...all with heads on and incredibly fresh. We followed up with grilled sea bass, and accompanied the dinner with a bottle of local red wine, a bottle of cava, and some of awesome kick-ass liqueur our waiter turned us on to called Orujo de Hierbas (we liked it so much he sent a complimentary bottle along with us at the end of the meal). After scouring U.S. liquor stores and the internet for a few years (to no avail), I finally located a shop in Barcelona that would ship it to the U.S. and was recently able to enjoy it once more. Check out www.spiritscorner.com to order Orujo de Hierbas and other Catalan treats…they provide excellent customer service, good communication (English-speaking staff) and reasonable overseas rates.