If you’ve been following my European Vacation posts on this blog you must think we are the most boring diners since almost all of our meals in Spain include paella. That’s because we love paella and we’ve been obsessed looking for the BEST paella. This was our last paella in Spain and thank goodness it was also the best. Read on and find out who the chef was.
From the Sagrada Familia we all took the metro to Place de Sta. Maria where some wanted to go to the Picasso museum while the rest just wanted to eat lunch. Our tour guide Marta suggested the area as a good place to find good eats.
There was a wedding at the Santa Maria Del Mar church, one of the most beautiful churches in Barcelona with a Gothic style of architecture.
Outside we saw a Filipino guy and asked where’s a good place to eat and he said at the restaurant where he worked, Sta Maria del Mar restaurant. He told us the chef was Filipino too and we jokingly asked him to tell the chef to make our paella extra good and to give us more.
An order of paella costs €10.80 and was good for 2 people so we ordered two paelleras of black rice with cuttlefish.
menu (click to enlarge)
When the paella arrived we were shocked at how plenty it was. How on earth were 4 people supposed to finish an order let alone two. We asked the Spanish waiter if this was really good for two. He said normally an order was only half the depth but the Filipino chef gave us more. Even the cuttlefish was plentiful. We didn’t expect them to take us seriously but we’re glad they did.
Words cannot describe how good the paella was. The rice was soft without being overdone. It wasn’t too wet nor too dry. The cuttlefish was as tender as fish and there was a piece with every spoonful of rice I ate. The flavor of the squid ink and the broth used were intense without being overpowering. In short it was just perfect.
black rice with cuttlefish (paella negra) €10.80
What made the paella over-the-top freakin’ good was the aioli which was so much lighter than regular mayonnaise. It had the texture of whipped cream and the garlic intensity only a Filipino would understand. No mild garlic flavor here. This was ‘not on a date’ aioli that Ilocanos will be proud of.
This is what we managed to consume and we still had a whole paellera untouched. What did we do with it? My cousin Sha mixed in all the remaining aioli in the paella and we had it wrapped up. We kept it in our hotel room’s refrigerator not knowing how to reheat it.
After lunch we went to the kitchen at the side to thank the chef. Their entire kitchen staff were Filipinos. The chef used to be a nurse who became a cook. We bowed at his feet for his excellent cooking.
To all the Filipinos in Barcelona please do visit this restaurant and let them know I sent you there. I told them their pictures will be on my blog. You will not regret it. It may just be the best paella of your life too. The Spanish manager of the restaurant was obviously proud of his staff too.
The next day we had the leftover aioli infused paella reheated by our hotel’s restaurant and it was just as good. After lunch we still had a container left so we brought that with us on the plane ride to Florence. Yes, that’s how precious it was to us.
I can’t find any address or telephone number for this restaurant. Just go to the Santa Maria del Mar church and you will see it. Say hi to all the Pinoys there for me!