It is close to impossible to visit Barcelona and not take the short jaunt south to Sitges, where you can bask in the stunning blue waters and grand villas of this small but bustling Catalan town. Renowned for its gorgeous beaches, festive gay ambiance, Film Festival and Carnival – it’s a place of stunning beauty and incredible food.
I have been to Sitges only a handful of times, the last of which I spent eating a mouthwatering pot of mussels while longingly staring at the sea wishing that my ridiculously heavy, plaster cast was water resistant. Having recently broken my hand in a moronic sailing accident, where I tripped over a mooring line while “gracefully” leaping onto the cement dock, I was left only to wonder what the clear blue water felt like. But all was not lost. The mussels were fresh, sumptuous and delicate, and when paired with the Raventos i Blanc Cava Brut, my experience was salvaged – well, almost.
This past weekend, I was finally able to return to Sitges with 2 new Flemish friends in tow. It was a gorgeous sunny day with a cool breeze blowing off the sea, making it considerably difficult to choose from the seventeen beaches that grace Sitges’ shore; but having walked a considerable distance southwest from the city center, we finally stumbled upon the perfect spot, Platja de Terramar (as seen above). And what do you do when you find your sandy slice of heaven? Well, you saddle up to the local Chiringuito (aka, beach bar) and order a glass of cava and a plate of olives.
Later, when hunger strikes, you can either seek out a cute hole in the wall restaurant that barely fits you and your mates, but serves fresh seafood off the grill, or you can go big, and head to L’Arrosseria del Terramar. An arrosseria, or arroceria, is a restaurant that specializes in rice dishes such Arròs negre or Paella. These dishes are amazing when done right, and absolutely horrific when done poorly. On more than one occasion, I’ve had the very unfortunate experience of eating something that tasted of fishy glue, as the rice was overcooked, chewy and bone dry.
But, when done right, rice dishes are a pure slice of heaven. They’re juicy, tender, fresh and delicious, the perfect addition to any Spanish beach adventure. We chose the Arroz Caldoso de Cigales del Mar, a slightly soupy rice dish made with rice, olive oil, Cigales (small lobsters), garlic, tomato, red pepper, guindillas, onions and seafood stock. Though slightly oily(olive), it was fantastic! The rice was tender, the cigales were perfectly cooked, and their house rosé was the ideal combination for this dish as it provided just enough body to hold up to the rich texture, with the ideal amount of vibrant acidity to wash the palate clean.
House wines in Spain can range from amazing to tasting something like bathwater. And as I’m a firm believer in experimentation, if the wine list doesn’t throw something interesting my direction, I’m prone to go with the house wine. Will it win awards? No, but then again, that’s not my goal. My goal is to find a lovely, simple bottle of wine that will pair with the food, and will become a backdrop to the conversation.
I’ve included a video below from El Cocinero Fiel, a Spanish video food blogger who does a stellar explanation on how to create a similar dish called, Arroz Caldoso con Bogavante (Lobster). The video is in Spanish, but it’s worth checking out.
Do you have a favorite foodie jaunt in Sitges? Tell us about it in the comments below.