Are you a foodie family looking for activities to suit everyone? These are some of my recommendations to make a delicious tasty holiday out of your stay in Barcelona.
La Boqueria Food Market
La Boqueria market on the Rambla is THE market to visit with your family. Go there Tuesday to Saturday before 1pm to catch all the stands open. As soon as you enter the 19th century wrought iron gates, freshly made fruit salads and a variety of drinks are on offer in the front stands. The display is so colourful and tempting that I have actually seen kids beg their parents to buy them a healthy juice or a fruit salad!
In the circular centre, a huge variety of fresh fish is available (octopus, lobster, cod… You name it). This is the real heart of the market. Stall owners will gut and bone the fish under the watchful eyes of discerning housewives and the atmosphere is loud and raucous.
Radiating out from this will be the meat stands, from skinned rabbits to sheep’s brains. I recommend the faint hearted or vegetarians to avoid these counters ;-).
Cold meats and cheeses must be sampled and, if you are serious about buying, they will give you a taster. Manchego cheese and Iberian ham are considered the best so be prepared to spend a pretty penny on these products. Some stalls will sell small skewers of ham and cheese to nibble on.
Lunch out at a stand (with older kids that can handle the tall stools) for the ultimate market experience. Bar Pinotxo sells great tapas and Kiosko Universal does good fresh fish and seafood dishes. Note that you will also have to bone the fish and peel the shells but that is all part of the fun.
Chocolate and Churros
A must if you are visiting Spain. Not as healthy as the fruit stands but what parent can deny their child this cultural treat? This freshly fried batter coated in sugar is served with a steaming cup of thick hot chocolate. In Catalonia people prefer to have ensaimadas (Mallorcan pastry) or melindros (lady fingers) with their delicious drink rather than the heavy churro. The classic institution for this culinary experience would have to be Granja Viader. It is like stepping back in time. The old décor is just fab. This is a morning or evening snack so churrerías close between 1pm and 5pm.
Escribà De Luxe bakery
Want to go a little off the beaten track to discover some fabulous cake creations? Escribà designs sweet impossibilities, from edible walls to delicious shoes. Visit their base of operations in Gran Via at the Eixample. There, you will find amazing displays and exhibitions of their work. If a show cake is being decorated, there is a viewing area so you can watch Escribà himself and his team in action. Round off by having a bite in their adjoining coffee shop.
Escribà has a second cafe in the very accessible Las Ramblas. Check out their amazing window display in their Art Noveau cafe next to the Boqueria in la Rambla.
Although not very extensive, the Chocolate Museum is a very sweet place to visit with kids. The small exhibition area displays chocolate sculptures, videos and tells you how chocolate developed over time. Take a look at the activities for children on their website. They run workshops revolving around this scrumptious delight (enquire about the language they will run in). Do not leave there without trying the hot chocolate from their cafe.
This can be a great activity for the whole family. A visit to the local market is usually included in the itineraries of different schools. You and your kids can learn some basic Spanish dishes and cooking techniques. I have had great feedback from visitors on my family tours that have done these courses. Barcelona Cooking is a recommended family-run establishment here in Barcelona with a great reputation.
I hope I have inspired a few foodie families out there. If you happen upon my Kids & Family tour I promise a few sweet tasters for the younger pallets so that they can make their own judgements (usually with brutal honesty!). Have fun!
If you are thinking of visiting Barcelona with your children, don’t miss our special post Gaudí for kids: a family guide for Barcelona, the best way of making the most of Gaudí while having fun all the way.