In May of 2015, El Ninot market reopened after five years of refurbishment. Barcelona can pat itself on the back. It’s got a market at the service of citizens with such a fantastic range of foods that for the next few months I’ll have to shut myself up in there like Viktor Navorski, played by Tom Hanks in The Terminal. For this first foray into the city’s new gastro paradise, I head to La Barra, also known as La Barra d’en Jorge. Add the surname González, and you know who the chef is. You can buy your own fresh fish, and González and Co. will cook it to your taste.
But the dishes that stand out are ones that, if their creator doesn’t get tired of making them, will become local classics. Just for example: the Barcelona-style fried squid baguette, a tribute to a classic Madrid sandwich but paired with a salad and xató sauce (made with toasted almonds or hazelnuts), and served on a soft, round bread made with squid’s ink, giving it a unique taste.
Also not to be missed are the squid croquettes. Extremely light with a crunchy outer layer of breadcrumbs that hides a startling amount of squid, and the béchamel filling is light years away from the usual stodge. It was a shame they’d run out of the langoustine ravioli: if you have a chance to try the dish, we’d love to hear your opinion. However, the ‘Punx Punx’ langoustines, served on a fantastic base of onions, were outstanding, and helped us forget the ravioli. Such is the fickleness of human nature.
We finished up with an arròs de gamba i cargol de punxa (rice with prawns and spiny sea snails). The flavour was potent, a strong sea taste that makes no concessions, but with a velvety smoothness provided by a slice of pork jowl confit. A real find. Incidentally, this was the first time I’d ever tried spiny sea snails (the spiny dye-murex). For his part, González recommended a ceviche of corbina de roca (brown meagre). Another time. He also offered us bunyols de bacallà (cod fritters), which we’ll also save for our next visit.
|Venue name:||La Barra del Ninot|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat: 9am-9pm.|
|Transport:||Hospital Clínic (M: L5)|