La Vinya del Senyor
I'd read in The New Spanish Table and in a Food & Wine round-up (by the same author, so it was sort of like only one very enthusiastic recommendation) about a coca (Catalan pizza, as opposed to Italian pizza, which we ended up eating this same night) with candied red peppers and I loved the idea of it. I wouldn't have necessarily sought it out but the wine bar happened to be just down the street from our hotel.
Totally discombobulated, we stopped by on our first evening in Barcelona. I couldn't figure out the seating etiquette (I'm spastic about following the rules and doing things the right way to the point of annoyance). All of the prime tables out front were taken, as were the stools at the bar. No one was standing like in some tapas places so I couldn't decide how to position ourselves as to not be in the way, but still have a place to put food and drink if we ordered.
Eventually, I mellowed out and ordered two glasses of cava and the coca, which they were out of. Somehow I wasn't surprised, not to be a naysayer, but this typically happens when I have a strict idea in my head about what I want. Instead, we tried bacalao, which came cubed, splashed with olive oil and topped with crunchy sea salt and thin tomato shreds (this was the only actual tomato we ate in Spain. Barcelona is all about the pa amb tomaquet–I love Flickr pools obsessively devoted to single food items–tomato rubbed on bread. I couldn't figure out why the essence seemed more coveted than the flesh) and what I swear was called an anchovy empanada, but turned out to be breaded filets. (I just discovered this afternoon while looking at a Salvadoran menu from Queens that empanizado means breaded, so the words are related). I was just happy to be eating some fish and fresh vegetables after my brief meat and boiled carrots and cabbage stint in the U.K.
On our last night in Barcelona, a mere four days later, we thought we'd do a quick try for the coca again. It was that weird time of night where it's too early to eat dinner in Spain but well past lunch. A lot of restaurants hadn't opened yet, but La Vinya del Senyor seemed to be doing business so we popped in, got a couple cavas and asked for the coca…and were thwarted again. They don't start serving food until 8pm, only cured meats or a cheese plate were available. No wonder everyone had the cheese plate. We got it too. Cheese is great, but I started feeling like god didn't want me having that sugary red pepper coca.
La Vinya del Senyor * Plaça Santa Maria 5, Barcelona, Spain