Spain, a top food and wine destination, has six distinct culinary districts - the North, Pyrenees, Valencia, Andalucia, Central and Catalonia.
Travelers, however, will find all types of culinary delights, reflective of the colorful history and centralized location in relation to northern Africa and all of the Mediterranean.
A great way to try a variety of regional specialties are with tapas - small plates meant for sharing. No trip to Barcelona would be complete without them. Some dishes you should try:
Jamon Iberico: Iberico ham is to Spain what prosciutto is to Italy. This ham has become a famous ingredient known well to world-class chefs as one of the best hams in the world. This ham can be served on its’ own or as an ingredient in a dish. It is cut thicker than prosciutto, so it is not as delicate and a little meatier.
Croquettas: Similar Bombas. Croquettas are filled with meat (usually chicken or Iberico ham) and cheese. They are a long, oval shape.
Pulpo a la Gallega: Octobus and potatoes. It may not sound like it, but a great combination!
Bocadillos: This is the Spanish version of a sandwich. They are made on baguettes that are soft and crusty all at the same time. You can choose the meat that you want on it and then they are topped with multiple sauces and toppings that can include lentils, lettuce, corn, or cucumbers.
Bombas: Bombas are a combination of mashed potatoes and meat that are rolled in bread crumbs in the shape of a ball and fried. They usually come in two different sizes (like snack and meal size) and they are usually served with one aioli on top and another on the bottom.
Calcots: Calcots are a milder and sweeter type of scallion or green onion available November through March. Very popular in restaurants during the harvest season , they come lightly grilled or roasted with a romesco sauce made with tomatoes and almonds.
Sangria: Everyone knows that you have to try a great glass of Sangria - a great refreshment, especially on a hot day. The great thing about Sangria is that every restaurant and Sangria maker has a different take on it and some places will even offer up to 6 different varieties on their menu.
Cava: This is a sparkling wine unique to the Catalonia region, and may be white (blanc) or rose. Normally on the sweeter side, however there are variations, including Brut Cava, that is drier, tasting more like traditional champagne.
A few tips: Stay clear of the touristy restaurant locations of Las Ramblas and consider taking a food tour, one that explores more off the beaten path places. You won't be disappointed.