Barcelona: Maritim Restaurant

This post will be the most difficult that I will have ever written. I don’t even know if I will be able to finish describing the dishes I had after I insert the photographs of the them into the post. Hopefully I will be able to suppress all of the negative images and feelings that my mind has associated with the food I had at Martim Restaurant. It’s not that the food was bad-tasting; The food that my wife, kids, and I had there was actually quite delicious. It’s just that I fell ill with an acute case of food poisoning eight hours after dining at the restaurant. I don’t even think it was the food from Maritim restaurant that gave me the food poisoning. My wife, daughter, and son were all perfectly fine after eating all of the same items that I ate. I was the only one that fell ill and the only one that couldn’t eat any solid food for two days after suffering the initial symptoms. The more likely culprit for my food poisoning was a package suspicious Iberian ham that I had all by myself earlier in the day. But the brain works in strange ways, and mine has forever associated the dishes I had at Maritim Restaurant with all of the undesirable symtoms of food poisoning…Excuse me for a second while I physically relive those symptoms.

Ok…with that out of the way, I think I should be able to power through this post.

We visited Maritim restaurant for the sole purpose of experiencing authentic and delicious-tasting paella. We were greeted with the promising prospects of local families feasting on large pans of paella as we were led to our table. I won’t lie and say that every single table at the restaurant was occupied by locals – because there were definitely numerous tables with tourists and foreigners ordering non-paella items – but seeing locals ordering what we intended to order was a very encouraging sign.

Since the restaurant was a Catalonian seafood restaurant, we also ordered some of their region-specific tapas-styled and tapas-portioned appetizers. The first of the tapas was – according to servers at other restaurants I visited in Barcelona – one of the most basic and classical Catalonian tapa: The pan amb tomaquet (bread rubbed with olive oil and tomatoes).

The bread itself was nicely charred with an yeasty flavour and a chewy texture. The olive oil did not impart a lot of flavour and the tomatoes were not rubbed on too thick. The subdued tomato and olive oil flavours allowed me to enjoy the yummy bread, but I’m not familiar enough with the dish to know whether this version had flavours that suit the preferences of local diners.

After the pan amb tomaquet came a sampler of the restaurant’s five most popular starters.

The mussels and clams were steamed in their own juices, showcasing their fresh-from-the-ocean sweetness. The deep fried calamari tasted equally as fresh as the clams and the mussels. The batter was crispy yet not greasy, and the cut-up squid pieces themselves were teeth-bouncingly chewy without being too tough. The patata bravas – a classic pan-Spanish tapas dish – seemed like it was well-prepared. The thick cut fries were crispy while the dollop of spiced tomato sauce layered with mayo was sweet and slightly spicy. None of the four of us were fans of the dish, so each of us felt rather indifferent after tasting the fries. The final tapas in the group of five was the deep fried anchovies. I felt that the anchovies were the best-tasting of the five appetizer components. The anchovies were expertly deep fried and achieved an extremely crispy texture that allowed the bones in the fish to join the batter as partners that made up the dish’s crispy textural component. The anchovies themselves were fresh, salty-sweet and had none of the fishy-brininess usually associated with poor versions of marinated anchovies that have been given a bad reputation by American television shows and movies in the late twentieth century.

After the starters came the main attractions: the paella dishes. The first one we ordered was indigenous to Catalonia: the rice cooked with squid and squid ink – referred by some as simply “black rice”.

Forgive me for being brief; I can’t dwell on these dishes as they reside in front of a chain of negative associations in my mind. When I was eating the dish, I liked it a lot. Although the rice was covered by a sauce that was quite watery, each individual grain had a nice al dente center that balanced out the wet sauce. The black ink-based sauce was deliciously savory while each thick cube of squid was chewy but easy to bite through.

Quickly moving on, here is a photograph of the second dish that we had: the shrimp/prawn noodle paella.

Neither my wife nor I have ever had a noodle paella, so it instantly became the dish we had to order as soon as we saw it on the menu. The dish looked like crispy Chinese noodles but tasted more like the black rice that came before it. Like the black rice, the noodles were enveloped by a wet sauce that had savory flavours of the sea. Also like the black rice, each chopped up strand of noodle had an enjoyably firm and al dente texture. The three included shrimps were also fresh and sweet-tasting. All in all, the noodle paella was just as enjoyable as the black rice.

I did it! I worked my way through the post! As you can see, the meal was actually an enjoyable one while I was eating it. The negative association came much later in the day…and it persists to the present day. It is around dinner time now and I am currently sitting at the dining table in my kitchen soaking in the flavours of the items I am about to have for dinner. Normally, I would be anxious to finally consummate the aromas by introducing the food items that emit them to my taste buds. But not today. Not after rekindling the images of the black rice and noodle paella. I have to reiterate again that they were both tasty dishes…But I think I’ll be skipping dinner tonight.

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