Barcelona, Day 2 – Dinner at Hisop

If you’re alive and have taste buds, you can’t help loving the food scene in Barcelona.  The city has great restaurants — unlike our experience in Paris, we found that even the places where we walked in from the street without further research have been decent.  So if the run-of-the-mill places are good, just imagine what the real stars are like.  Or, stop imagining — get out your Michelin guide and try one out first hand.

That’s what we did.

During an afternoon break in our sightseeing, we spent about an hour poring over the Barcelona section of Amanda’s “Best of Europe” Michelin guide.  Some of the restaurants were out of our price range; others out of business.  Of those that would work for us, several were already completely booked or wouldn’t take reservations online.  But then we found one that was still accepting reservation requests online.  We submitted our request for 8:30pm (practically lunchtime by Spanish dining standards) and invoked all the saints we had seen in the cathedral that morning to weigh in on our behalf (come on Saint Eulalia, show us what you’ve got!).  About half an hour later, we received confirmation that our reservation was good (yay!), which was very lucky because, as we discovered later, the place was tiny and totally booked.

We arrived at Hisop at 8:30pm sharp, suspecting that we might have to wait a couple of minutes for the restaurant to finish opening up and getting the kitchen up and running.  But no — we walked in and they were clearly expecting us.  They welcomed us (would have been by name had the name been legibly written in the ledger) and seated us at a table for two.  The ambiance was minimalist and modern, very clean and cool.  Small tea lights on the round tables with white floor-length tablecloths.  We ordered the tasting menu and let the servers and kitchen take over from there.  The meal was fantastic — everything we had hoped it would be.

Bread with two types of Spanish olive oil: one from Catalonia, one from Jaen
Asparagus sorbet with tomato, mussel and olive oil
Sardine with almonds and almond sauce
Mackerel with chanterelle muschrooms, Iberian ham and shaved green apple

Squid with truffles and basil

Monkfish with mashed potatoes, sea foam and a bonbon of saffron
Suckling pig with carrot, garlic mayonnaise and ginger sauce
Assorted Spanish cheeses, arranged, bottom to top, from mildest to strongest
The third and fifth cheeses were exquisite

Lychee sorbet, melon cubes and peach puree

Grilled milk with sea foam; underneath the foam was a brown paste of bacon,
caramel and something with a citrus tang — definitely the most unexpected
flavor combination of the night

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