Barcelona for the Toro Bravo Cookbook

December 17th, 2012

Just off the plane from Madrid John and David cava in hand at Quimet Quiemt in Barcelona. One of my favorite spots from the trip.

A couple weeks ago I posted about the first part of our trip to Spain — to Madrid — late September for the Toro Bravo Cookbook and this week I’m posting about the second part of our trip, in Barcelona, with Toro Bravo’s chef-owner John Gorham, our McSweeney’s Books editor Rachel Khong, the book’s photographer David Reamer, the restaurant’s chef de cuisine Kasey Mills and charcuterie manager Josh Scofield.

The Barcelona part of the trip went much as the Madrid part — loads of great food, lack of sleep, loads of good drink, lack of moderation, loads of exploring, lack of inhibition. In other words, it was an adventure and we had so much fun. Here are some photos…

Our tiny table at Quimet Quimet filled quickly with tapas. These tinned razor clams, mussels and calamari were super tasty.

The food kept coming...

Another view of the tiny but mighty Quimet Quimet in Barcelona.

Outside La Boqueria. Had heard so much about this place. Dream come true to go...

Inside! So many raw and cured meat stalls. And everything else that is Spanish and delicious...

If only this was in Portland.

John and Josh checking out one of the many processions of the last day of the La Merce Festival -- Barcelona's largest annual street festival.

We got the grand tour of Avinyo Cava that's been run by the same family since 1597. Toro serves Avinyo's cavas and wines so we toured the caves here, the production facility and, of course, tasted cavas, wines and house vinegars.

Mmmm cava.

Our last day in Barcelona. Sad but true. Kasey and Rachel in a happy blurry sunny haze. Viva Espana!

You can check out the first part of our trip to Spain — in Madrid — here.

Madrid for the Toro Bravo Cookbook

December 3rd, 2012

Toro Bravo chef-owner John Gorham digging in to fried brains at Madrid's Taberna Bola. Open since 1870.

In late September I was lucky enough to get to go on an eat/drink pilgrimage to Madrid and Barcelona for the Toro Bravo Cookbook with Toro Bravo’s chef-owner John Gorham, our McSweeney’s Books editor Rachel Khong, the book’s photographer David Reamer, the restaurant’s chef de cuisine Kasey Mills and charcuterie manager Josh Scofield. We hit the ground running and only slept a few hours a night the entire trip so we could maximize or eating/drinking/exploring time.

The last time I’d been to Spain was in 1996 when I’d I worked on a culinary herb farm via WWOOF for three months a couple hours outside of Madrid in the Extremadura region. At the end of my work stay I traveled around a quadrant of Spain — to Toledo, Cordoba, Sevilla, Cadiz, Malaga, Granada and more — with my mom and grandma who came to visit me there. It was a magical time for me and I was so excited to find out that I would get to return 16 years later with the brave bulls for the cookbook.

And just a word on how extremely generous Toro Bravo chef-owner John Gorham is: he bought all of our tickets, paid for our hotels, paid for a major meal every day during the trip and then some. Forever grateful. Incredible.

I’m going to let the photos that I took speak for themselves. After this post about our time in Madrid I’ll post about Barcelona. Without further ado…

Langoustines on ice at the Mercado de San Miguel just across the street from our hotel near Plaza Mayor.

First bites and drinks at the same market fresh off the plane.

Meaty goodness at one of Madrid's many Museos del Jamon -- a cured meat chain there.

John took us later that night -- still no sleep -- to the Argentinian steakhouse De Maria Parrilla for their grilled sweetbreads and chimichurri that he'd loved on a previous trip to Madrid. Josh (next to John) liked them a lot and so did we.

Kasey serving up Taberna Maceiras' house specialty arroz marineiro for brunch the next day.

Funny menu at a cafe in Retiro Park. One of my favorite parks in the world. Went here every time I visited Madrid when I was in Spain in 1996.

David is not about to eat that entire roasted suckling pig on his own. Dinner at Sobrino de Botin -- the oldest restaurant in the world. Open since 1725.

Churros and chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines. Where all the staff hates you if you aren't Spanish but you don't care because you are still slightly drunk from the night before.

This was taken at the end one of the best meals that we had in Madrid. That bottle is filled with a really tasty housemade peach liqueur. Go to Portobello if you're in Madrid -- some of the best food of the trip.

Of course we went to a bullfight on our last night in Madrid.

The procession at the beginning...

Can't think of a better closing shot for the brave bulls' trip to Madrid.

Stay tuned for the next installment — Barcelona!