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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Taste Cutting-Edge Cuisine in Barcelona


3. What to Do

Check out the vibrant scene at the indoor Mercat de Santa Caterina.  

Beat the busloads and start shopping at 8 a.m. at La Boqueria, the famous covered food market that has supplied restaurants and hotels since 1836. Order top-quality jamón ibérico de bellota (made from acorn-fed pigs) from La Masia (stall 970), and hear vendors patiently explain the ham’s aging process while vacuum-sealing the translucent, marbled slices (from $58 to $118 per pound). If you’re feeling adventurous, pick up ready-to-eat grasshoppers and scorpion vodka from Petràs Fruits del Bosc (stalls 867 through 870).

Escape the mobs that descend around 9:30 a.m. to find more edible goods below the undulating roof of Mercat de Santa Caterina in the less hectic Ribera district. Inside, the Olisoliva shop stocks 100 types of Spanish extra-virgin olive oils. Look for the “100% Arbequina” label to ensure it’s made from traditional Catalan olives.

Reserve a spot at least two weeks in advance to learn how to make foams and jellies during a three-hour avant-garde cooking class with A Taste of Spain (from $222). Chef Monica Mayor, who cut her teeth at Barcelona’s modern Mediterranean restaurant Bestial, simplifies restaurant-quality recipes for home cooks of all levels. Lessons are taught in a private apartment with a terrace overlooking Tibidabo Mountain.

Sip Spanish bubbly in the cava-producing town of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, a 45-minute train ride away from the Plaça de Catalunya station. The family-run Freixenet winery is across from the station. Reservations are essential for the hour-and-a-half tour ($9) of the arched cellars, bottling plant, and tasting room. Time your trip with the harvest, which usually lasts until late October and includes a cava festival that’s part carnival and part culinary showcase.

Published on Oct 14, 2010 as a web exclusive.

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