Pitarra Restaurant: The Perfect Introduction to Barcelona's Catalan Cuisine

After taking leave of our wonderful couchsurfing hosts who introduced us to calçots and bees, we ventured into the heart of Barcelona to do some real damage to the city with our remaining days.

When my dad told me that I simply had to go to this restaurant called Pitarra that he'd frequented during layovers in his pilot days, I had to ask myself how cool/fun/tasty it would actually be.
The unassuming sign for Pitarra, off d'Avinyó Street 
And a generation later, he meets the daughter
But all "uncool" dadness aside, he was right (just kidding dad, you're waaaay cool).

Case in point: By the end of the night I was drinking local Cava (America's "champagne") out of a purrón, smoking Cuban cigars (or attempting to), and eating homemade chocolate truffles with the owner of the place. Sound like a good time? It was.

As you might expect, the evening started out a bit more benign. We approached the restaurant, I found the owner, Jaime (hi-may), and told him about my dad. Upon seeing a picture that I'd brought along, his eyes lit up, "Of course we remember him!"

I wondered why these evenings with my father and the flight team  were so memorable...and I have a feeling it's because they, too, were introduced to the Cava purrón.

John and I were quickly seated and Jaime immediately brought an order of crunchy baguette slices that had been rubbed with the cut side of a garlic clove and of a halved tomato. Atop sat a delicate piece of Spanish tortilla (which is actually more like a condensed potato and egg omelette). The tapas (translation "little appetizers") were accompanied by a mixed Spanish olive selection and soon after flanked by two glasses of house-made Sangria, also on-the-house (thanks dad!?).

We ordered squid as an appetizer, which looked beautiful surrounded by a parsley-garlic pesto, but taste-wise was under salted. Luckily, we still had some olives to add the missing brininess.
Once you get over the appearance, squid offers a texture that is hard to beat
Our authentic Spanish paella with plenty of delicious seafood from the nearby ocean
Jaime suggested a 2010 Cabrenet Sauvignon/Tempranillo D.O. mixture called Clos Abadia to have with our meal, and it was smooth, reasonably priced, and earned extra points because the producer practices sustainable viniculture.

Then came our first authentic paella (pie-ay-yah), a typical Spanish dish of rice, saffron, vegetables, and seafood or other proteins. What we've learned is that you should never buy paella in tourist cities unless you know it's coming freshly made from a reputable kitchen. Most of the restaurants buy paella in frozen portions and simply reheat it for your order and still charge you over ten dollars a pop. Not the case with Pitarra. This paella was moist and perfect, generous on the clams, mussels and shrimp (all local), and clearly not from a freezer bag.

John and I then shared a partridge with a wild mushroom cream sauce and shaved pate on top. The flavor was wonderful, and there was luckily plenty of sauce because as is often the case when one orders small birds, some sections were overly dry. The pate also served to add textural moisture, but the delicate flavor was unfortunately lost within the mushroom sauce.
Our stuffed partridge halves with a creamy mushroom sauce and pate
Violet ice cream in a flowery chocolate shell with layered chocolate pie in the background
Any trespasses of dryness were quickly made up for, however, once dessert came out.

Violet ice cream in a chocolate shell with a light banana syrup moating its way around the plate? Divine.
And the three-chocolate mousse pie with raspberry syrup topped with homemade chocolate truffles? I still get emotional.

After dinner, we were full.

But somehow a bottle of Cava (sparkling wine) appeared. Oh, and what's that? It's from a local estate that bottles especially for Pitarra? Don't mind if I do...
Dessert and free sparkling wine is exhausting.
  
The building used to be a watchmaker's shop, so along with this theme are displays of Spanish artwork.
Time slipped away while John and I sat in our corner table until the only other souls in the restaurant seemed to be Jaime, John, myself, and two middle-aged ladies at a table in the opposite corner of the room. And suddenly, somehow, we were at their table, too. And then came Jaime with what else but more Cava and dessert. With bellies full of bubbles, we quickly made friends with these two lovely sisters from Holland and spent the rest of the evening talking, watching Jaime's skills with a purrón, smoking Cuban cigars, laughing, and spilling glasses (I won't name names).
Adjusting the contours of his mouth so as to create the perfect side-portal for the steady onslaught of bubbly Cava, Jaime has this down to an art
Do I really need to tell you I'm a badass?
(ok, that huge bottle was actually just for show...)
  
Perhaps I could tell you how long the night went on like that, but I guess the Cava made the tracking of time a bit of a non-essential (I don't think Ill trust John anymore when he says "never say 'no' to free champagne"...)
I'm going to apologize now for any embarrassment this picture causes...but let's admit that it's amazing.
Somebody's in Heaven...(notice the Pitarra-specific bottle)
  

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