Catalonia is one of our favourite holiday destinations - I think I have been six times now! I am drawn to the area for it's lovely weather, gorgeous beaches, culture and fabulous food and drink.
We always tend to stay self catering (read about our last holiday in Sanguli here) as it allows us complete flexibility in being able to try lots of local restaurants and cook some local delicacies ourselves. The food markets (and even the supermarkets) in Catalonia are fantastic and like nowhere else in the world (don't miss the world famous La Boqueria food market in Barcelona). Everything you can imagine is for sale and we like to pick up some freshly baked breads, local cheeses, fruits and cured meats to pop in our cool bag en-route to the beach. Beach picnics like this are inexpensive and very simple to put together but feel like an indulgent treat.
Catalonia and tapas go hand in hand - there is an abundance of tapas bars and restaurants to be found on every corner but again we like to head to the local markets and stock up on olive oils, breads, fresh seafood, fruit, cheeses, meatballs and freshly made tomato sauce which we use to put our own tapas table together and enjoy before heading out for the evening. Our children always love shopping for food on holiday and when they help to buy food they are always more keen to try it. Our children shocked us during this feast and helped themselves to pan-fried prawns and calamari with no complaints!
Hidden gems and cobbled streets
One of the most exciting parts about holidaying in Catalonia is wondering around the cobbled streets in anticipation of finding somewhere new for dinner. I have fond memories of walking around the winding streets of Sitges (which by the way is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been) and stumbling across the most wonderful chicken restaurant. There was a queue of locals outside but the smell from the street was just too good to resist. We waited in the bar for a free table and it was definitely worth it. The chicken was cooked rotisserie style and some of the most succulent I have ever tasted. No Nando's in sight!
Children are welcome everywhere
Another of our favourite destination's in Catalonia is the upmarket town of Cambrils. Expect designer boutiques and a harbour lined with welcoming restaurants. Seafood is a speciality here and we walked past numerous lobsters in water tanks that were going to be somebody's dinner that evening. Despite the upmarket nature of some of the restaurants here, children are always made to feel VERY welcome and are made a huge fuss of by the staff. In one particular restaurant our children were given about 10 lollipops, free toys to take home and a bag of sweets for the taxi home! It was lovely to see our children being made to feel welcome like this and one of the reasons we return.
Paella and Sangria
We can't visit Catalonia without sampling some of their famous Paella. Cooked to order, bursting with fresh seafood and designed to be served between 2 or more people, it is our holiday tradition to order a dish on our first evening and there is nothing like those first few fork fulls.
Beach side dining
There is definitely something special about eating next to the sea. Nothing beats relaxing with a cold glass of wine, taking in the spectacular views and enjoying some food with friends. There are so many beach side dining options available in Catalonia from the beautiful harbour restaurants to rustic beach shacks.
A beachside restaurant at Barcelona harbour
Taking in the views before lunch in Sitges
Catalonia produces it's own fantastic wine - many of which is organic, but for me, I love nothing more than a cold, crisp glass of Cava. Enjoying a glass or two of Cava in Catalonia is always special and tastes at it's best when it is chilled and your skin is feeling sunkissed.
I have thoroughly enjoyed re-living my food and drink memories of Catalonia. I would describe the food as traditional and simple but often with modern twists. If you are looking for your next foodie adventure, I would certainly recommend a trip to Catalonia.
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This post has been written in collaboration with the Catalan Tourist Board.