Monday, February 21, 2022 | Written by Claire
For spring break, I had the opportunity to hit numerous cities in Spain and Portugal. Other than the welcoming warmth of the sun, the beautifully adorned architecture, and the serene natural beauty on the coast, the food was also worth the lengthy travel time. If you’re a seafood lover, then you’re in luck!
Paella in Barcelona
One of the dishes I was most excited to try when traveling to Spain was their famous Paella. Having never tried or even seen the dish before, I could feel my mouth watering when I smelled the sizzling scent of seafood and rice at the door of the restaurant. The most popular Paella style is the one topped with shrimp, prawns, mussels, clams, and various vegetables such as bell peppers and onions. After being baked at high temperatures, the drizzle of oil and seafood soup on a fine layer of rice makes the perfect afternoon lunch along the beach with the cooling ocean breeze. Most of the time, since Paella is made in larger batches in a large pan, the food is to be shared amongst a few people. While the pan might look huge, don’t be fooled, it’s just the right amount to fill you up! You can even save some room for some extra tapas or dessert.
Pulpo and Boatellas Tapas in Valencia
Another famous Spanish delicacy is the Pulpo or octopus with potatoes. Usually, they are served in smaller portions sprinkled with red spices and then drizzled in olive oil. With such neutral and little flavoring on the octopus slices, the natural taste of fresh octopus is brought out, paired with the tender, bouncy texture of pure octopus meat. Depending on the place you go, the meat has a drier texture with which you could bite chunks off easily while others have a chewier texture that is gummy in your mouth. The potatoes are also another story… While they are slightly sweet to the taste, they have a springy feel. Instead of becoming mush like a normal baked potato, these special Spanish potatos break off into smaller, chewier pieces, with incredible tenderness at the surface.
If you happen to visit many of the traditional street markets, you will often find them selling mountains of fresh cuttlefish, squid, and prawns, so fresh that they’re often still twitching on the ice. At this one tapas bar, I ordered a plate of small cuttlefish for about 14 euros. It was literally the best dish I have tasted on all my trips thus far. As a seafood fanatic, I couldn’t help but to sink my teeth into the delicious, tender cuttlefish flesh. While most of the time, if you order the traditional fried squid, or calamari, the meat is usually pre-cut into rings. This dish however came with the full head, filled with tentacles as well. The garnish on top with lemon zest and olive oil added an extra seafood zing. It was one of the most tender and juiciest squid dishes I have ever had. If you find yourself in Sevilla, definitely pay a visit to La Tradicionale for big portions with reasonable prices.