Given that here, in Barcelona, the food markets, providing local fresh ingredients, play a huge role in the history of traditional dishes, we go today to the market but not to buy, instead to try the bistros and restaurants there – or cocina de mercado.
The food served at the restaurants in (and around) the markets is prepared with the fresh ingredients sold in the market – hence the term of cocina de mercado, or market kitchen.
Cuines Santa Caterina
Opened, since 2006, in the market of Santa Caterina, this restaurant is serving dishes that reflect the variety of fresh market produce. The menu includes Mediterranean, Asian and vegetarian choices. The tapas bar is open all day and the restaurant – for lunch and dinner.
The best places, inside, are the ones at the dining bars, as you can see the kitchen team working. While they are preparing the orders, the name and prices of the dishes appear on the led screen stripe.
Traditional Smoky Grilled Veggies à la Català: Escalivada
Escalivada is a traditional dish from Catalonia, and typically consists of roasted eggplant and bell peppers with olive oil, and sometimes onion, tomato, minced garlic, and salt.
The name comes from the Catalan verb escalivar – to cook in ashes, referencing the dish’s traditional preparation in the embers of a wood fire – and this is the key of the dish, as veggies done this way preserve all their sweetness. There are many details that determine the quality of the final dish, such as the length of cooking and the intensity of heat for each of the vegetables, for instance the peppers need high heat for a short time, while the eggplant – just the opposite. The dish may be served as tapas, as a relish for grilled meats or fish such as tuna, with anchovies or olives in a salad, or as a topping for coca (or coca de recapte), the Catalan flat bread.