Spain part 1: Barcelona + Artichoke, Sausage and Pine nut Sauté

This post is long overdo. Last time we posted on Traveling Fork was over two months ago and we said the next time you'd hear from us we'd be in Spain. Well Spain has come and gone and now it's the middle of June. Where does time go! It seems like our trip was just yesterday but also a lifetime ago. Not sure how that works... But we're back and excited to get started on posting recipes and travel stories again. We have lots of exciting ideas in the works! First, though, let's talk about Spain (and then France)...

We started our trip in Barcelona. After traveling for 16 hours from Seattle, we arrived at the city center at about 9am, wondering what we were going to do - jet-lagged and toting our bags - until 2pm when we could check into our airbnb. We found a little cafe that sat beneath a gigantic medieval stone church (one of the many in Barcelona) and sipped on small coffees that we would later learn to order as cortados. After caffeinating, we decided to jump onto a double decker hop-on-hop-off sight-seeing tour bus that whisked us to the different neighborhoods of Barcelona. We're not typically keen on doing these types of tours, but the bus was perfect for our jet-lagged situation. We didn't actually get off the bus (expect to switch to the second line) because we were too exhausted to even think about figuring out a plan. 

Neither Noah or I are big city people (yet we live in a big city...) so our plan was to spend a couple of nights in the gothic quarter, explore the sights, then book it west toward Basque country. The following days were filled with delicious tapas, €2 glasses of wine, lots of walking and exploring, window shopping, and of course, siestas. Despite not loving big cities, Noah and I found Barcelona to be extremely charming and livable. The pace of life was laid back, everyone was super friendly, and there were no mega box stores; everyone had their own little cute boutique shop .We both agreed that we could spend several months blending into the city. Maybe that's just the €2 glasses of wine and siestas talking, though... 

Highlights of Barcelona:
- Renting bikes and cruising through the narrow alleyways of the Gothic and Born neighborhoods then down the waterfront esplanade. This is probably our favorite memory of Barcelona
- The markets! I loved wandering through the stalls and crowded aisles of Santa Catarina market and La Boqueria. So many amazing smells, textures, colors, tastes, and varieties of cheeses, sausages, and olives. Try the yayas - they're amazing!   
- Cafe Bar Centric restaurant. We ate here twice because it's that good. The artichoke and sausage sauté recipe in this post is inspired by a dish we had there
- Parc Guell. The park was ok - we're not really into tourist attractions like this. My favorite part of that experience was listening to a busker play guitar under a stone colonnade while waiting out a downpour
- Our epic walk up to Parc del Laberint d'Horta, a beautiful and lightly visited park north of the city. From there we came back through north Barcelona and climbed up Parc del Carmel (behind Parc Guell) to get a widespread view of the city
- Sit-down coffee in tiny glass cups. Seriously. We loved taking 10 minutes in the morning to sit down in a small coffee shop to enjoy our cortados and watch the city move around us. This is one habit we've tried to maintain back home: no to-go cups and 10 minutes to just enjoy the coffee
- Quiche at The Pan's Club (strange name, but the quiche's are amazing!)
- Dumplings at Mosquito in the Gothic Quarter. Not exactly Spanish cuisine, but some of the best dumplings we've ever had

Market in Spain

// Artichoke, Sausage + Pine Nut Saute // serves 4-6
The inspiration for this recipe came from a dish that we had at Cafe Bar Centric in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona. Their dish was just artichoke hearts, sausage, and lots of olive oil. It was so good that we ordered it twice! I found that I needed to add more variety and flavors to make this recipe work, though. Use the highest quality sausage you can get your hands on. It's worth it! 

6 small artichokes
1 lemon, halved and juiced
4 chorizo sausages, about 6" in length  
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup parmesan, finely grated
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
black pepper to taste
Lemon slice to serve

1. Fill a large bowl with cool water and add lemon juice and lemon halves. Cut the stems off the artichokes and remove the outer 2-3 layers of tough leaves. Discard leaves and stems. Continue to remove the outer leaves of the artichokes, placing the leaves in the lemon water as you go, until you get to the tender inner leaves. The tender part will be mostly yellow or bright green. Once all the outer leaves are removed, cut off the pointy, sharp tips of the inner artichokes and discard tips. You need to cut off more than you think, about 1/2 inch, or else they'll be too tough to chew. Working quickly to prevent browning, quarter artichoke hearts, roughly scoop our fuzz if there is any, and place in lemon water

2. Prepare a large bowl filled with ice water to blanch artichokes. Bring a big pot of water to boil and salt heavily. Add artichoke leaves and hearts and boil for 3-4 minutes. Add sausage links and boil for another 4 minutes. Drain and immediately add artichokes to ice water. Set sausages aside and slice into rounds when cool

3. Gently heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or frying pan. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add artichoke hearts and leaves, white wine, and salt. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently then add sausages. Cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes. When artichokes are soft and sausages are cooked all the way through, turn off heat and add pines nuts, parmesan, most of the parsley (reserve some for garnish), and black pepper to taste. Serve immediately with lemon slices