Inopia is a small tapas bar/restaurant that has been receiving a lot of press both here in Spain and internationally based on the strength of their tapas and the name of their owner, Albert AdriÃƒÂ (brother of world renowned chef Ferran AdriÃƒÂ ). This culinary nook is tucked into the lower end of the Eixemple – a central Barcelona neighborhood surrounding the gothic district – and is defiantly out of the typical tourist areas, but is definitely worth a little adventure to sample some of the best tapas in the city.
Inopia strives to be a typical place for Tapeo (meaning, going out for tapas). This fact becomes bluntly obvious as you walk into the restaurant and notice that there is only one table available for sitting, while two others remain in the corner solely for those with reservations. Otherwise, it’s standing room only, if you can’t manage to snatch one of the precious stools that dot the landscape of this relatively small bar. Coupled with the fact that this place has become wildly popular, it is suggested to get there early to avoid the inevitable jockeying for position around the main bar or the small bars lining the walls. Filled with hungry city dwellers, Inopia is a great place to practice your high school Spanish, or help someone with their English, as you try to maneuver your way in to taste some of those cheese triangles scattered upon your plate. Worthy to note that there is no smoking allowed in the interior of the bar, so you won’t have to battle clouds of tobacco as the scintillating aromas of freshly grilled fish and meat are handed out to willing hands of the many regular patrons.
In staying with their typical tapas bar them, Inopia offers many of the traditional tapas found throughout Spain, but often with a special twist that only they can deliver. If you are like me, you won’t be able to resist their fried treats like the petite Bombas (little balls of mashed potato stuffed with tasty meats and topped with a spicy pepper sauce) or their fresh Chipirones (lightly battered baby squid). On a lighter note, try their Escaixada, a tasty plate of select pieces of Bacalao (reconstituted and desalinized salt cod ) topped with a fine mesh of spring onion and exceptional olive oil. Aside from cooked delicacies, Inopia has arguably one of the best selections of canned seafoods like razor clams, berberechos (petite cockles) and sardines, among a myriad of others. These typical canned delicacies are often the substance behind the traditional dinner in homes throughout Spain. Don’t be surprised by the steep prices of these little tins though, as Inopia places a high premium on quality.
Address: Tamarit 104, Eixample Esquerra, 08015 Barcelona
Tel:+34 93 424 52 31
Open Tuesday through Saturday
The grilled Ventresca de atun, or the belly cut, is one of my favorites of their signature dishes. In Spain, we have access to some of the best seafood in the world, and one of the greatest fruits of the sea may be the mighty tuna. Hence, there is nothing I want more when I walk in the door than a perfectly grilled slice of ventresca. This long and glistening slice of fish is grilled so that the outside is nicely cooked and hot, while the inside retains its natural pink color with swirls of white fat interlaced in a way only nature can imagine. This warm and juicy flesh is sliced into sashimi like slices and topped sparingly with a spicy and smoky pepper garlic sauce that lovingly complements the rich flavor of this cut of tuna.
Obviously, a restaurant offering such a display of fine cuisine cannot be complete without a wine selection that rivals the quality of the food. Inopia is amply stocked with some of the finest regional wine offerings of reds, whites and Cavas to be had. And for those who prefer a pint, bartenders are constantly pouring what many consider to be Barcelona’s finest local brew, Moritz. Finally, a specialty of Inopia is a chupito (meaning, a small glass) of their outrageously tasty and aromatic Red Peach Patxaran. This sweet desert liquor is great way to top off your evening and soften the blow as you reach for your wallet.
Typical may not be the best word to describe Inopia but after a few treats from this kitchen it’s hard to argue with the Catalan ideology that simple done well is best. If you come to Barcelona, and are hoping to get in on some of the culinary hot spots, don’t pass up a little jaunt to Inopia.
And for those of you who still want to savor a taste of Spain in your kitchen, try making Inopia’s Bombas Mexicanas! Why are they called Bombas Mexicanas? Because bomba means bomb, and if you’ve ever had a spicy dish before, I’m sure you can relate to experiencing a minor explosion in your mouth. This dish is often topped with a hot sauce similar to traditional Mexican sauces made with spicy vinegar. With little preparation and easy to get ingredients this can be big hit if you want to impress with cooked tapas.
RECIPE: Bombas Mexicanas
1. Make your traditional mashed potatoes, but add very little milk and butter in order to get a good thick consistency. While the potatoes are cooling, finely chop the garlic and onion and toss it into a pan with a splash of olive oil. Lightly cook the onion and garlic before adding the meat. Season with salt and plenty of pepper, allowing it to fry for a few minutes. Add a splash of Spanish wine (a simple white table wine from Catalonia will do nicely!) cooking the meat until the wine evaporate completely. Then add a few drops, or more if you wish, of Tabasco.
2. Spoon a nice dollop of potato onto your hand and press it into a little hamburger shape. Then put a little of the meat on the little potato cake and form it into a ball shape. The size of your Bomba is up to you, but take note that the smaller you make them, the rounder they will be. At Inopia, they tend to shape them like little meatballs, which are easy to consume in seconds flat, but in many restaurants and bars, they are typically the size of your fist.
3. Scramble an egg and coat each Bomba in egg and then breadcrumbs, respectively. I suggest you coat them twice, as it helps to prevent the Bomba from exploding in the fryer!
4. Deep Fry the Bombas until golden brown and crispy. As previously mentioned, they are often served with a traditional spicy sauce poured casually over the dish. My personal recipe the quick and easy method of adding hot sauce to mayonnaise and viola, Bomba Sauce!
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