Saturday, July 5, 2014

Barcelona...."The Eat/Life Balance"

Amazing glass work from
the interior

Many people focus on the work life balance, but if there is one thing I have learned in Barcelona it is that the 'Eat/Life' balance is just as important as the work life balance.

The food we ate was insane, and man did we eat a lot of it.  Thank goodness my wife had a vision of how to better our lives while I was very focused on bettering my stomach.  In an effort to focus on history we hit a few spots, but most important were Sagrada Família and Park Güell.
Exterior of Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Família is what we would call the greatest pet project ever for Antoni Gaudí. It is a church that began construction over 100 years ago, and it was very clear that they are still going strong, as it doesn't look to be ready for completion for another 50 years. His work is amazing and it is seen all over Barcelona, but this was really cool. In November of 2010 the interior was concerted and proclaimed it a 'minor basilica' by Pope Benedict XVI. It is truly one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica.
Interior of Sagrada Familia
After the climb
Parc Guell

Park Guell was, once again a Gaudi work and is truly spectacular.  This was truly part of the 'life' segment of my 'Eat/Life balance' as you ahve two options in getting there.  Take a tram or escalator up, the stairs.  My wife, who is a Cross Fit maven said, we should take the stairs...and we did.  According to her fitbit we climbed over 60 flights of stairs that day, so our guess was that two-thirds of that was walking up hill to the top.  It definitely feels like the highest point of Barcelona (which it probably is not, but either way, it was a hard trek but a great adventure.  One of these pictures truly shows Gaudi's style, which I now feel was an inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.

With all the fun and excitement of being touristic, our other objective was to attack the rumors that Barcelona is one of the key food capitals of the world.  Though not planned, most of our time was focused on the food and creations of Ferran Adrià.  Click on the link to see the wonders he creates, but with 5 nights of dinner, I will highlight 4.

  • Sauc - With only 26 seats (that we could see) the tasting menu was exceptional.  I had goat for the first time, but overall the creativity was out of this world.  Not to mention it allowed me to check the box for another Michelin Star conquered.
  • Pakta - Now Pakta (the first of three dinners by Ferran Adria) was something extraordinary.  In the July issue of Food and Wine, there was a feature about it.  Who would go to dinner at a place that is Peruvian/Japanese fusion with a flair of Spanish influence?  Well let me tell you, it was in my top 5 dinners ever.  We sat at the counter as we both hoped to see as much activity as possible.  In front of us was the dessert maestro.  She was a machine, using tweezers for every possible step as this was about both beauty to the eye and the stomach.
  • Botega 1900 - The second of Adria's establishments, we stumbled on it by mistake.  A person during our travels told me that we would 'never get a table at Tickets' (more to come on that later) and if you know me at all, when it comes to food, I will take on any challenge.  Mrs. Moss (against her better judgment) agreed to try the 'walk in'.  The walk in is when I show up at a restaurant and find a way to charm, grovel, or beg my way to trying something, that I surely should have made a reservation for.  Sadly, only one thing will always shut down the walk in,.....the private party!.  Yep, I was screwed since there was no way to take that down.  The lovely person at the door (who was much like a security guard) recommended trying Bodega 1900 as it was directly across the street, a traditional tapas and wine bar.  We were there quite early so they gave us a seat outside. While sitting we are introduced to Paco.  Paco, we believe, was sent from heaven to support us on our gastronomic adventure.  Paco started by asking what we wanted and we deferred to him, but let him know that we were at 1900 for a thing we knew, new items like fresh snails and sea anemone were our delicacy.  It was pretty amazing, but our mission remained Tickets.  Paco, who will be taking over Adria's new Mexican restaurant around the corner in a few weeks, came back offering 6 different dining options....all accompanying a name of someone he knows that we should ask for and lastly mentioned that he would try to make Tickets a reality.  We ended up eating enough for dinner and ended our evening earlier than any night thus far.
  • Tickets Bar - Remember our friend Paco, well while taking advantage of the 'life' part of our Eat/Life balance again on our final day in Barcelona I noticed an email from a name that wasn't familiar...Paco.  Oh YES!  Paco, and the email said this:
"HI, How are you? I´m Paco from Bodega 1900... YOU'LL HAVE TABLE AT TICKETS TONIGHT AT 19.00, ??? Tell me something before 15.00....Paco"
I immediately responded with extreme gratitude, and we were off and running. Tickets, another single Michelin star resturaunt is like nothing I have ever seen. Like Pakta the kitchen and prep is art and such art is where the naked eye can see, but there was something else.  Tickets was truly a 50/50 measurement of show (not just the food) and food (all food).  The front door has a woman in a top hat and circus leaders outfit standing behind a velvet rope.  Once sat, we were once again asked...'you chose or we chose' for our meal.  We obviously asked them to pick the best that they could, but stay within our budget as we had read on places like TripAdvisor and Yelp that people had made mistakes in the past and ended up with bills far exceeding 400 Euro.  About half way through our meal, a nice man in glasses showed up to see how our meal was PACO!  Our new friend from 1900.  He continued to be welcoming and ask us about our meal.  In the end he wanted us to come by 1900 after.  Not for a drink, but he wanted to hear about the experience and if he could do anything to make the trip more enjoyable.  
Menu at Tickets
Awning for Tickets looking
like the  show that it is

It's funny, over the years I have always put myself out there and at times it was too much.  I have had friends and family that have asked me to pull back, don't be so loud, why are you talking to these people, they don't care about you and more.  As a confident person who has always loved to hear and learn from others, I push those comments aside and the outcome of caring about others and asking questions about their lives will lead to a number of "pay it forward" moments.  We left Barcelona loving the food, nightlife, culture and most of all, the people (both local and new friends on holiday).  The trip reminded me of an old quote I used to hear while working on a morning show in high school.  They would always close out the show with this one quote:

"Its nice to be important, but its more important to be nice"
Our New Friend Paco!

Not a bad adventure,  eh?....more to come tomorrow...thanks for listening. 

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